Our Town Waukon - Locally Grown

WAUKON - One food coalition is making a major impact not only on the town of Waukon, but in other surrounding cities in northeast Iowa.

Today we share an Our Town story that impacts more than Our Town Waukon, it impacts five different Iowa counties. The northeast Iowa food and farm coalition has made a mark in northeast Iowa by promoting locally grown food. The group has been awarded a $500,000 grant, with more money on the way.

"For living in an agricultural area, it can be difficult to find food grown right here," said Solveig Hanson, local grower.

The northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition has the same concern. And now, with new grant funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, they have the resources to accomplish it. The grant money will go towards encouraging farmers to keep their crops local.

"We are not asking them to convert 100-percent of their acres. We're asking them to put an acre here of beans, an acre here of sweet corn, something that can go directly into the food system," said Teresa Wiemerslage, ISU Extension Education Director.

Solveig Hanson runs one farm that is part of the grown locally co-op near Waukon. She says there are many benefits to buying local produce and meat.

"One thing we can do as local growers is get things to people 24 hours after they are picked, in the freshest condition they can be without being grown in your own garden." SPLICE "We have direct contact...we personally know everybody who uses our food so we certainly do everything we can to keep them safe and healthy. And those connections just aren't there in the larger global economy," said Hanson.

And there are also benefits for restaurants to buy from local co-ops.

"They want a way to differentiate themselves from competitors, other restaurants. When they can say these are tomatoes from this farm right down the road and you know the people, that's a fabulous thing."

The northeast Iowa area was one of nine communities in the U.S. to receive the Kellogg grant. The Kellogg Foundation has committed up to $12 million in the coming years.
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