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

Project to evaluate how farmers markets benefit communities

July 9, 2014

A new project in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Farmer’s Market Coalition will analyze the impact of farmers markets in communities.

Alfonso Morales, associate professor in urban and regional planning, secured funding through the USDA to advance the Farmers Market Metrics Project, which will allow him and his team to develop practical tools for evaluating farmers markets and communicate impacts to local, regional and national stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to grow a knowledge base about optimal impacts of markets on communities.

“Marketplaces have a rich history serving many functions in communities and this project helps us understand those functions and will assist market masters and market management in advancing the goals of the market and the community,” Morales says.

Continue reading

Schools, distributors and farmers to get funding for local food technical assistance

Release Date: June 13, 2014                          

Media Contact:  Ann Marie Ames 608-224-5041

Jim Dick, Communications Director, 608-224-5020 or

MADISON –Seventeen Wisconsin schools, farms and food distributors will get one-on-one professional help to expand local markets, improve profitability and increase the amount of local food going in to local markets. The Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) worked with Transform Wisconsin to administer awards totaling $47,000 to three food distributors, six schools or school districts, and eight food producers.

Continue reading

Crowd sourcing campaign to help launch the 2nd season of Around the Farm Table

Short Summary

Moo Land Productions LLC, the production company behind Around the Farm Table, is in production of season two.  We have been creating this show for over three years now, and we are finally getting our message to a bigger market — IF we can complete all 13 episodes.  This means we need to finish shooting 5 more episodes, as well as post-production on the entire 8 new episodes.   Including the 5 episodes from last year, we will have a total of 13 episodes, allowing us to air in several new markets.  

The message of our show is simple. Put farmers back in the minds of people eating food.  Our goal is to put these farmers on the map and keep them there.   

Learn more:

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Healthcare Rebates Among Leading Green Innovations

Chris Brockel, Executive Director, FairShare CSA Coalition: (608) 226-0300 or
Marie Louise Gorvild, Communications Manager, / +45 61709104
The full Sustainia100 publication with 100 case studies:
JUNE 16, 2014 – Today, Scandinavian think tank SUSTAINIA, released a study of 100 leading sustainability innovations deployed on global markets. FairShare CSA Coalition based in Madison, WI, was selected for its state-of-the-art innovation in partnering with regional healthcare providers to provide healthy living rebates to customers signing up to receive community supported agriculture shares from local farms.

Consumers Buying More Goods Directly From Farmers In Wisconsin

Wisconsin Farms Selling Produce Directly, However, Has Shrunk By 6 Percent Since 2007

Consumers are increasingly buying more produce, dairy, and meat directly from Wisconsin farmers, according to the latest federal Census of Agriculture.

The local food movement is alive and well in Vernon County. In 2012, its farmers sold almost $2.7 million worth of products directly to consumers – nearly twice as much as what was sold in 2007, when producers made $1.4 million at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and through CSAs.

Vernon County is second in direct sales to Dane County.

Viroqua Farmers Market manager Kaitlyn Karasek says the high concentration of organic farms in the county plays a role in the high direct sales. She says consumers and producers are also more closely connected.

“It’s super important for our community that we continue this, because then all of the sales are staying local and it’s just going to continue to grow, continue to boom,” Karasek said. “It’ll encourage more people to maybe consider farming, or maybe even shop more locally.”

According to the census, the number of Wisconsin farms selling products directly has shrunk about 6 percent since 2007, but the value of direct sales was up across the state.

Steven Deller, a community development economist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, says although more people are buying directly from farmers, the rise wasn’t as high as many anticipated.

“Which probably means more of this food is going into grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals, (which) are showing a tremendous amount of interest in sourcing local,” Deller said.

Deller says the drought in 2012 may also have affected the sales numbers.

Roundy’s embraces trend for fresh local produce

By Joe Taschler of the Journal Sentinel, May 20, 2014 –

Fresh sweet corn is hot.

So is just about every other fresh fruit and vegetable.

Grabbing hold of the trend in which consumers are watching everything they eat, Milwaukee-based grocer Roundy’s Inc. is building on a partnership begun last year with the Madison-based Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative to sell produce from local farms in the chain’s stores around the state.

While not entirely new, the trend of consumers increasingly asking for fresh, unprocessed foods shows no signs of slowing.

Continue reading

Wisconsin Cooks Invited to Kick-Start Culinary Dreams

Food Entrepreneur Challenge Lights a Fire under Great Ideas

Milwaukee, April 14, 2014– Inspired cooks with an innovative food or beverage business concept or early stage business are invited to enter this year’s Hottest Kitchen Entrepreneur Challenge, a regional contest to find Wisconsin’s next great food entrepreneur.  The Challenge is sponsored by Milwaukee Area Technical College and by Reliable Water Services, a statewide provider of commercial water heaters, boilers and water softeners.

This year’s contest features a start-up category for those with a brand new food business idea and a new category for early stage food entrepreneurs who have already launched but are looking for help to get to the next level.

Beginning April 2, aspiring chefs, home cooks and early stage food entrepreneurs throughout Wisconsin can enter online at by submitting a short application and uploading a photo of their recipe or product concept. The site has contest rules and details.

The adult grand prize winner in each category will receive:

  • $2,000 in seed money from Reliable to start their business
  • Comprehensive entrepreneurial consultation package from MATC
  • Private meeting with food industry executives serving on FaB Milwaukee’s advisory council
  • Funding and growth consultation with financial specialists at MW Growth Partners

     Finalists will be selected in late May to participate in a final judging event in July at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s 6th Street Café.

“Whether you are just starting with a new concept or have already launched your food business, this contest could give you the culinary boost you need to succeed,” said Andrew Schneider, MATC bakery/pastry arts instructor and owner of Le Rêve Patisserie and Café, Wauwatosa.

Judges for the contest include:

  • Kurt Fogle, executive pastry chef for SURG Restaurant Group
  • Jan Kelly, owner and chef, Meritage restaurant, Milwaukee
  • Angela West, co-founder/publisher, Alcoholmanac Magazine
  • Lynn Sbonik, co-owner of Beans & Barley Deli, Market & Full Service Café
  • Eric Olesen, co-owner and president, O&H Danish Bakery of Racine
  • Jen Ede, publisher, Edible Milwaukee
  • Daphne Jones, owner, Glorious Malone’s Fine Sausages.
  • Rakesh (Ryan) Rehan, owner, Café India

“We can’t wait to see the innovative concepts this year’s entrants bring to the table,” said Lynne Robinson, President of Reliable Water Services.”

      For more information and to enter, visit Reliable Water Services at

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’


April 17, 2014 3:30 AM ET

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

It’s inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone’s proprietary product.

At an event on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. In fact, any future plant that’s derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well.

Read more or listen to the story at:

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.