The Wisconsin Local Food Network


Thank you for visiting the Wisconsin Local Food Network’s (WLFN) website.

The WLFN is a collection of individuals and organizations (hopefully you) that all share a common vision for Wisconsin: a state that offers communities and businesses a local food system that supports sustainable farms of all sizes, a strong infrastructure for those farms and supporting food business to thrive, and affordable access to healthy locally grown food for ALL Wisconsin residents. If you support this vision and are working toward such a Wisconsin – then you are a part of the Wisconsin Local Food Network.

You may be wondering, “But what does the WLFN do?” And it would be a great question.

In the fewest words possible: We help local food businesses (whether a farm, a processor, a distributor, a restaurant, a farmers market, or a grocery store) thrive!

Continue reading

Calling Members with Marketing and Branding experience

The Wisconsin Local Food Network has created a Communications Committee to better unify our messaging and create a consistent image and presence as we grow the network.

If you are interested in volunteering on this committee and providing your expertise in this area, please contact any or all of the current Board Directors on this committee:

Thank you so much!

UW-Extension Evaluating the Idea of a Food Innovation Facility

Wisconsin Ag Connection – 02/27/2014

The University of Wisconsin-Extension is in the process of assessing the state’s food processing and manufacturing support infrastructure. This study aims to identify current assets, gaps and industry needs and then will develop a statewide plan which could include a central facility that provides technical assistance to business and entrepreneurs, incubator space and other amenities to spur industry innovations.

The agency was awarded a grant last fall from the Federal Economic Development Association. The funds will enable UW-Extension to bring on board Mary Pat Carlson, a statewide expert on food entrepreneurship and value-added food processing with twelve years experience consulting on starting and operating incubator kitchens as well as founding and running two incubators herself.

“The opportunity to work with the University of Wisconsin-Extension is very exciting,” Carlson said, “Wisconsin has a strong history of innovation in the food sector of the economy. This Economic Development Association supported project will help define what the future holds for emerging, expanding, and established food businesses in the State of Wisconsin by helping identify the resources and support needed for continued growth.”

Supporters say that boosting Wisconsin’s more than 1,000 food processing firms, which employ 62,000 people and have combined annual revenues of $10 billion, would have significant positive impacts on the economy.

To develop the statewide plan, UW-Extension specialists, university experts and industry leaders will visit several research and development facilities in other states to gain perspective on how these types of facilities look and function around the nation. This first-hand knowledge combined with the statewide input, will provide insight on improving Wisconsin’s support infrastructure for food processing and manufacturing and will inform the preliminary business plan for a Wisconsin Food Innovation Facility that will elevate Wisconsin as a national leader in innovative food process and manufacturing.

WLFN Local Foods Capitol Day

Register now for the WLFN Local Foods Capitol Day!

The Wisconsin Local Food Network will be hosting the first ever Local Foods Capitol Day in downtown Madison, Wisconsin on Wednesday, March 5th at Cooper’s Tavern. The day aims to educate both attendees and legislators about three main topic areas that are important to WLFN members:
• Supporting Wisconsin’s local food program: Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin
• Increasing Farm to School programs statewide
• Promoting local food statewide and educating legislators on why they are so important to Wisconsin

In the morning, attendees will hear from speakers on all three of these topics and will have a Lobby 101 training with professional lobbyists. In the afternoon, attendees will meet with their respective legislators to educate them on the topics discussed. Talking points about each topic area will be provided.
9:00 AM – Arrival/Check-in
9:30 to 10:30 AM - Issue Briefings
10:30 to 11:30 AM - Lobby 101/Roleplaying Exercises
11:30 to 1:00 PM - Networking Lunch at Cooper’s Tavern (order off regular menu; cost not included)
1:00 PM – Break for Legislative Meetings at the Capitol
There is no fee to attend, but participants should expect to cover their own lunch and transportation costs. All those who affiliate with the mission of the WLFN are welcome to join! Please contact Theresa Feiner at if you have any questions. Registration deadline is Wednesday, February 19th, 2014.

Register here

New Farm Bill Contains More Funds To Encourage Eating Local Foods

Program Will Influence Wisconsin Farmers Markets

Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 11:42am
By Maureen McCollum
The U.S. Senate has passed the long-awaited $956 billion Farm Bill, and a small portion of that funding will go towards programs aimed at growing local food systems.

Funding for the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program tripled in this Farm Bill: Thirty million dollars in grants will be awarded annually to get people eating more locally-grown foods.

Margaret Krome is the public policy director for the East Troy-based Michael Fields Agricultural Institute. She says the program will not only improve research and development, but can help Wisconsin’s entrepreneurs flourish.

“It helps to build farmers’ markets, expand farmers’ markets, help CSAs get started, expand them,” Krome said. “And now with this new mandate, it’ll do work with institutional marketing, with processing: some of those other barriers that get in the way of the flowering of local foods and regional food systems.”

Other Farm Bill provisions fund programs that aim to get more fresh, local food on the tables of low-income communities.

George Reistad also works with Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, as well as the Wisconsin Local Food Network. He says the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive increases the value of food stamps at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, which Reistad says could have huge impacts.

“To just eat healthier, eat better. To have access to markets where you can buy the fresh, nutritious produce and to then give an incentive,” Reistad said. “Because you have more purchasing power with your EBT card, it gives them the incentive to buy more produce.”

Another program will award grants to groups seeking solutions to combat food insecurity in low-income neighborhoods.

Buy Local Buy Wisconsin Grants Awarded

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced the eight recipients of the 2014 Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grants at the Wisconsin Local Food Network Summit in Milwaukee on Friday January 31st.


“I am pleased that DATCP was able to provide support for these innovative local food projects through the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Program,” said Dan Smith, DATCP’s Division Administrator of Agricultural Development. “The outcomes generated by these grant recipients will provide benefits in their local communities and serve as models to share with others in the local food industry.”

Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin is a DATCP economic development program designed to increase the production and sale of local foods. As well as the grant program, Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin offers one-on-one technical assistance, educational seminars and food safety tools.

Grant recipients will use the awarded funds to reduce the marketing, distribution and processing hurdles that impede the expansion of Wisconsin food product sales to local purchasers. Previous Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant recipients have generated $5.95 million in new local food sales, created and retained 120 jobs, and benefited more than 2,060 producers.

The 2014 Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin recipients:

● American Hazelnut Company – Statewide: Establish a grower-owned hazelnut processing and marketing company.

● Appleton Downtown Inc. – Appleton: Create a midweek farm market with local food producers, live music and onsite food sales.

● Country Ovens, Ltd. – Forestville: Educate consumers about the health benefits of Wisconsin natural tart cherry juice and whey protein.

● FairShare CSA Coalition – Madison: Develop new markets for community supported agriculture through innovative partnerships with businesses and their employees.

● Fifth Season Cooperative – Viroqua: Create infrastructure to manufacture, market and distribute value-added frozen food products.

● Gorst Valley Hops, LLC – Mazomanie: Design and implement a web-based hop production quality database.

● Wausome Foods, LLC – Wausau: Increase demand for Wisconsin milk and cheese by growing production of Wausome Wafers.

● Wisco Pop – Viroqua: Increase market demand for Wisconsin-sourced ingredients by adding a product line and expanding distribution.

Grant recipients were selected through a competitive process. Each project recipient will provide cash or an in-kind match equivalent to or greater than 50% of the total project costs.

Learn about Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin at For more information, contact Teresa Engel, the Program Manager, at or 608-224-5101.

Welcome new Board Directors

After 158 votes from across the state, here are the results of the 2014 WLFN board election!

Amy Wallner, Southeastern Regional Representative: beginning farmer, Milwaukee area

Luke Zahm, Southwestern Regional Representative: Owner, Driftless Cafe, Viroqua

Lisa Shirek, Northeastern Regional Representative: Painted Rock Farm, Amherst Junction

Joseph Luginbill, Northwestern Regional Representative:  Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association, Alliance for Strong Communities Executive Board (and many others!)

Andrew Bernhardt, Infrastructure Development Representative: UW Extension, Madison

George Reistad, Policy Outreach and Education Representative: Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, Madison

We would like to thank all of you that took the time to cast your votes – THANK YOU.

And we would also like to give a big thank you to other candidates that were not elected – thank you so much for your interest in making local food systems stronger and better in Wisconsin and for your support in the Wisconsin Local Food Network. Thank you.

2014 WLFN Board of Directors Elections now open

The WI Local Food Network board is holding elections for six open seats, and we have excellent candidates from across the state running for these positions. Will you take a few moments to vote for the new leaders of the WI Local Food Network?

You can learn about the candidates here:

And you can vote here:

And thank you!

Bridget Holcomb

WLFN board chair

Farmers Needed in Africa – Farming and Teaching Opps (No formal teaching experience needed!)

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES 2014. We need your skills!

GHANA or UGANDA: Teach at Agricultural College No teaching or university
experience necessary.
What is needed are farmers with a strong background in organic farming, perma-culture and/or sustainable agriculture.

RWANDA: Cooperative Management
After the genocide and after much agonizing reconciliation work, organizations and the national government realized that the next step is having Hutus and Tutsis working side by side.  More than any other African country, Rwanda emphasizes cooperatives.  Come help teach how to run and manage a cooperative.

UGANDA: Dairy Farming
Experienced dairy farmers are needed to help improve production and milk yield.  Heifer International helped launch dairy program and now 10 years later, floundering dairy farmers need guidance on what to feed the animals and other best practices to improve yield.

UGANDA: Poultry Farming
A Domestic Violence program plans to sustain their organization by having 3,000 laying hens which supply eggs to Kenya.  They need help with preventing disease amongst poultry and preventing salmonella; of learning best practices for poultry farming.

CAMEROON or INDONESIA: Rural development Farmers in the rural villages in these countries are just starting to learn organic farming and sustainable agriculture.
They are eager to learn more about composting; rain water harvesting; drip irrigation; soil improvement & crop rotation.  Their goal? Improved yields so that they can sell some of their crops so they can afford a mosquito net.  When I was out in the villages in Cameroon, they barely had food to eat; and did not have $5 for a doctor visit.

ANTIGUA: Agri-Tourism
Farmers barely eke out a living on the Caribbean island of Antigua either.  The government has launched an initiative to build alternative livelihoods for the farmers.  Do you have a creative mind? An entrepreneurial spirit?  Come help farmers build alternative enterprises that attracts tourists to their farm:  e.g. live music; local food served; history tour; or a demonstration of
making steel drums.

Children’s Center for AIDS orphans feeds their children from the food grown out back. Come help in the fields!

Both experienced farmers & students needed.

Interested?  Please read NGOabroad website and send answered Questionnaire and resume to:

These are volunteer opportunities.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

WLFN Seeking Self-Nominations for Board of Directors

We have had a great first year with our newly created Board! We have accomplished a lot in our first year and are looking forward to bringing on some new board members for some newly created positions! (visit to learn more about the current Board)

We have SIX open Board of Director Positions and the current WLFN Board welcomes you to nominate yourself for one of the six open positions. Candidates have until Friday November 29th to nominate themselves.

Complete the online nomination form at the following link: WLFN Candidate Nomination Form for WI Local Food Network Board of Directors

However, if you do not feel that you have the time, please help by forwarding this info to farmers, nutrition specialists, community leaders, local food consumers, etc. that care about creating more sustainable, fair, profitable and healthy food systems. If you have someone in mind that would be a good fit for this Board – please send your suggestion to Shannon Havlik ( and she will contact the person for you.

Here are the open positions:

Regional representation (learn more about the 9 different regions at

  • Southeastern
  • Southwestern
  • Northeastern
  • Northwestern

Topic area: (learn more about the 9 topic areas at

  • Infrastructure Development
  • Policy Outreach and Education


WLFN Policy Survey

The Wisconsin Local Food Network Policy Committee would love your feedback to help us determine the focus and scope of the WLFN’s policy efforts.
Click here to take a brief survey (only 4 questions). It will take just 1-2 minutes of your time. Hint: when using the ranking feature, it works better to drag the box and reorder, rather than use the numerical ranking feature to the left.
Thanks! Your input is much appreciated.