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Local food for local tables part of food summit at Northland College
Ashland is the site of the 7th Annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit this year. Danielle Kaeding has the story.
The two-day summit kicks off Friday and organizers are highlighting the Chequamegon Bay region for its growing local food scene.
The Chequamegon Bay community is rallying around local foods. One example and topic at this year's summit is the Local Foods Initiative. The initiative brings together area farmers, schools, businesses and the local food co-op to put local food on the table. Engstrom is the regional sustainability coordinator at Northland College in Ashland. He says the college set a goal to buy 20 percent more local foods through the initiative.
"So, we've gone from starting as a blank slate a year ago to the point now where we probably have 12 to 14 different growers based on the time of year and availability of product. We've almost reached our 20% goal just in the first semester."
Engstrom says that represents a community investment of about $100,000. The desire to strengthen communities is central to connecting people with local foods, according to Carl Butterfield. Butterfield is another presenter at this year's summit, and an outreach coordinator for the AmeriCorps VISTA program. The program runs a farm just outside of Red Cliff.
"We do a community garden at the farm and then we go around and do individual gardens. We dig up the little garden plot for them. We give them the seeds to plant and we explain how to take care of them."
Butterfield says he would like to see the farm grow and hopes the summit will yield some ideas. Jason Fischbach says that's what the Wisconsin Local Food Summit is all about. Fischbach is an ag agent for UW-Extension in Ashland and Bayfield counties.
"A whole lot of learning is the main goal here. The folks that are involved in local food development work in our region will hopefully come away with some good ideas that we can implement locally. Hopefully, we'll see some new projects and ideas launched."
Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins is a keynote speaker at the summit. Wiggins will touch on Ojibwe harvesting methods and how treaty rights play a role in the tribe's cultural food system.
Those interested in learning about the Wisconsin Local Food Summit can contact Jane Hansen at (715) 339-5345. The summit runs all day Friday and Saturday at Northland College in Ashland.
(Danielle Kaeding is a journalist and manager at WRNC-FM at Northland College in Ashland)
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