Local Food Conference to connect residents and resources across southern Indiana

BEDFORD, Ind. – With a focus on developing and bolstering the local food economy in the Indiana Uplands region, the IU Center for Rural Engagement and IU Sustainable Food Systems Science will host the Indiana Uplands Winter Food Conference open to all interested in strengthening the regional food system and learning more about local food issues.

The conference will take place on Thursday, January 30 at StoneGate Arts and Education Center, 931 15th Street in Bedford, Ind. Opening at 9 a.m. with informational sessions, the conference will conclude with networking and informal consulting from 3-5 p.m.

Speakers will include Leslie Schaller, Adam Kody and Carrie Carson from the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), sharing data and strategies and leading discussions on the development of successful rural, regional food economies in Ohio. Heather Tallman (Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Naima Gardner (Indiana State Department of Health), representing Indiana Grown for Schools, will present and foster discussion among food buyers, administrators, teachers and parents on connecting schools with fresh, local food through strategic food purchasing and education practices.

From farm to table, it is clear that residents are interested in increasing the supply and markets for local farms.

Jodee Ellett, IU Sustainable Food Systems Science

“A strong, regional food system can yield health, economic and resilience benefits for our communities,” said Jodee Ellett, who oversees community engagement at IU Sustainable Food Systems Science. “From farm to table, it is clear that residents are interested in increasing the supply and markets for local farms. This conference will set the table for ideas about how we can bring locally grown food to our school cafeterias, increase our collective efforts for agritourism, discuss the supply chain connectivity and processing needs of farmers and buyers with the idea that all of these activities are part of a robust regional food economy.”

This conference follows a regional community meeting series that took place throughout the Indiana Uplands region during the fall. The IU Center for Rural Engagement and Sustainable Food Systems Science will release findings from these meetings and relevant local data at this event.

Registration for the conference is now full, and a waitlist is available. Visit the event page for more information.

The IU Center for Rural Engagement improves the lives of Hoosiers through collaborative initiatives that discover and deploy scalable and flexible solutions to common challenges facing rural communities. Working in full-spectrum community innovation through research, community-engaged teaching and student service, the center builds vision, harnesses assets and cultivates sustainable leadership structures within the communities with which it engages to ensure long-term success.