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

Agroecology as a Tool for Liberation: Transforming Industrial Agriculture in El Salvador

Sunday, 16 August 2015 00:00By Beverly Bell, Other Worlds | Interview

 Beverly Bell interviewed Miguel Ramirez, National Coordinator of the Organic Agriculture Movement of El Salvador, about agroecology as a tool for liberation. An edited transcript of Ramirez’s replies appears below.

Miguel Ramirez training family farmers on seed bank management. (Photo courtesy of MAOES)Miguel Ramirez training family farmers on seed bank management. (Photo courtesy of MAOES)Beverly Bell interviewed Miguel Ramirez, National Coordinator of the Organic Agriculture Movement of El Salvador, about agroecology as a tool for liberation. An edited transcript of Ramirez’s replies appears below.

We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers.

We in the Organic Agriculture Movement see the soil as Mother Earth, a living organism, which gives birth to all kinds of life. Mother Earth is agonizing, and needs to be rescued. Even a new small plot of land under organic management is part of the effort to revive her.

We now have around 3,700 small local producers who are educated and working on organic agriculture in El Salvador. We’re just about one percent of all small producers, but 15 or 20 years ago we had no organic agriculture.

Our territory is made up of just 20,000 square kilometers, with 70 percent of the territory dedicated to agriculture. The challenge is to keep winning over new farmer families that will re-convert to organic farming and liberate the land.

For 60 years, Salvadoran peasants have been marginalized and impoverished by the agro-industrial model [chemically dependent, large-scale, corporate-controlled agribusiness], which is based on resource and human exploitation. Today, peasants in El Salvador, as throughout Latin America, are living in a system of semi-slavery and are subjected to expensive and toxic technology that doesn’t belong to them.


New Sugar Beet Store Sweetens Chicago’s Food Co-op Scene

by Bob Benenson, FamilyFarmed

Chicago has been something of a laboratory for the rise of the Good Food movement. Farmers markets have boomed since the late 1990s, when the city’s Green City Market made local and regional food the standard. Interest in Good Food was boosted by a major presence of Whole Foods Marketstores, which has been supplemented by other retailers who emphasize natural and organic products. Top chefs elevated “farm to table” from a trend to mainstream.

Yet there has been one element of the movement that has been largely missing in Chicago: food cooperatives, which invite members of the public to buy ownership shares and have a say in how the stores are run and what products they stock. For the past five years, the only food co-op in the Chicago region has been Dill Pickle Food-Co-op in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood.

Until now, that is. Sugar Beet Food Co-op, located just west of the city in suburban Oak Park, held its Grand Opening last Friday (Aug. 14).

Sugar Beet Food Co-opAnd the store — which actually first opened its doors to the public two weeks earlier with its shelves stocked heavily with locally and sustainably produced foods — is the first in what bodes as an unprecedented boom in this region. If all goes as planned, the number of food co-ops in the Chicagoland region will jump to six within the next few years.


More Americans Support Farm-To-School Programs

Christine Rushton, USA TODAY, August 18, 2015

Americans agree that food from local farms belongs in school cafeterias.

Nearly nine out of 10 people want to see an increase in farm-to-school food programming in the U.S., according to national survey results released Tuesday. The poll — commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation — asked 1,200 adults across the country for their opinions on school nutrition standards and healthy food educational programs.

Along with a desire to improve water drinking habits, the overall results showed more confidence in the quality of public school meals and support for increasing government funding.

The National Farm to School Network reports that about 23 million students currently learn about where their food comes from through activities with local farms.

“Farm to school not only has a significant impact on building a generation of healthy eaters, but also creates economic opportunities for farmers,” said Anupama Joshi, executive director of Farm to School. “It is so exciting to see the broad public support for this win-win approach.”

Patrick Simpson, director of food, health and well-being for Kellogg, said people continue to develop a stronger sense of what is healthy. And farm-to-table programs help more than the students.

“It creates healthier school meals, teaches children about healthy education and creates a market for small farmers,” Simpson said.


Are Hospital Farms the Next Big Thing in Healthcare Reform?

By on July 21, 2015

When it comes to improving the food on today’s hospital trays, some medical institutions are finding that onsite farms are the next logical step.

This summer, St. Luke’s Hospital started sending all new moms home from the hospital with a basket of fresh produce, recipes, and literature about the importance of a healthy diet.

All of the produce in the basket was grown on an organic farm on the hospital’s Anderson campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The hospital—part of a six-campus network—has been running a farm on the 500-acre grounds since 2014.

“Our mission is to provide great healthcare and part of that is educating patients about the benefits of a plant-based, organic diet,” explains Ed Nawrocki, president of the Anderson campus. “One of the best ways to do that is to lead by example and show them how delicious produce grown on our farm tastes.

But it’s not just new moms who benefit from the hospital’s bounty. In its first season, the farm at St. Luke’s grew 12 varieties of vegetables on five acres, producing 44,000 pounds of produce that was served to patients, incorporated into the cafeteria menu, and sold at weekly farmers’ markets on several hospital campuses. This year, the farm expanded to 10 acres and 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables.

Mark “Coach” Smallwood, executive director at the Rodale Institute, the nonprofit organization that worked with St. Luke’s to help get its  farm off the ground, believes there is a growing interest in serving organic, locally grown produce at hospitals.


Annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit coming to Sheboygan

Sheboygan Press Media 7:54 p.m. CDT August 7, 2015

The WLFN has announced its Wisconsin Local Food Summit will be in Sheboygan.

The Wisconsin Local Food Network has announced its 10th annual Wisconsin Local Food Summit will be in Sheboygan at the Blue Harbor Resort Jan. 13-15.

Hosted in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the three-day summit will feature comprehensive workshops on the production, marketing and purchasing of local food for farmers, corporate buyers, students and community members.

The summit activities commence Jan. 13 with Sheboygan-based agro-tourism field trips. Jan. 14 and Jan. 15, the summit will offer leading keynote presentations, local field trips, in-depth workshops and facilitated networking sessions.

Local community members, student groups, business owners and farmers may attend. A general information and planning meeting will be at Mead Public Library at 6 p.m. Aug. 20. Contact Greg Zahn at for more details.

The 2016 Summit is expected to draw an audience of more than 500 people.

Reversing the food desert, with local produce and help from Pembroke farm

August 4, 2015

By :Jon Krenek, The Daily Journal

Lorenzo R. Smith Elementary School will become the nation’s first food hub selling locally-grown food to distributors and providing the school with both free and low-cost produce for school lunches.

The transformation comes thanks to a $100,000 federal grant written by the Black Oaks Center for Sustainable and Renewable Living, which also is located in Pembroke Township. U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, was on hand Monday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by about 75 local, state and federal officials and several Pembroke residents.

“Food can actually create wealth in the place where it is growing,” said Frederick Carter, co-founder of Black Oaks and the organization’s executive director. “This will help local farming and ranching families achieve stability and make financial progress. We need to keep more money local.”


DARK Act Is Moving Through Congress Quickly

Robin Shreeves ; July 24, 9:59 AM

Read more:

H.R. 1599 would prevent states from passing GMO labeling laws and the FDA from requiring companies to label foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.

It’s been about four months since the introduction of the bill that’s become known as the DARK Act, and it’s an important moment for those interested in their right to know if foods include genetically engineered ingredients or GMOs. Originally introduced in 2014 as H.R. 4432 as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, it didn’t go anywhere at first. It was reintroduced in March as H.R. 1599 with the same name, but now it’s moving quickly.

While the bill’s name makes it sound like something we should all support, the bill serves to put an end to efforts to label GMOs. It would, according to Center for Food Safety, severely restrict the authority of states and the FDA when it comes to requiring labeling including:

Prevent states from adopting their own GE labeling laws.
Prevent state or county laws regulating GE crops
Prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring companies to label GE ingredients and instead continue a failed 14-year “voluntary” labeling policy.

Continue reading

FarmersWeb Is Making It Easier For Food To Get From Farm To Table

While it may be overused, the phrase “farm-to-table” is more than just a buzzword — it represents an important cultural shift over the past 10 years in both the food industry and in the dining public’s priorities. But as more farmers, restaurants and food purveyors try to source and serve food grown locally, infrastructure needs have grown.

Enter Farmers Web, an online portal that aims to connect farmers and producers with food buyers, making the farm-to-table process seamless. By removing the middle man, FarmersWeb says it enables farmers to cut down on costs, resulting in more local sourcing activity overall. Cutting out the middle man can also mean fresher food on plates. It’s a win-win for all parties.

On the site, which launched in 2012, farmers create a free online profile whereby buyers browse their inventory. In addition to increased exposure and a direct line of communication, the website also offers subscription tools for marketing and managing orders, deliveries and financials. Farmers are responsible for delivering their products directly to buyers, or they can hire a logistics provider with the help of FarmersWeb.
Continue reading

Technology to help farmers’ market managers better understand and serve customers

Case Western Reserve University signs option agreement with Wholesome Wave to launch FM Tracks app

CLEVELAND—FM Tracks, a new digital app designed to help farmers’ markets and local healthy foods initiatives manage and evaluate federal nutrition incentive programs, launches Monday, July 13.

The new technology, created to simplify the collection and evaluation process for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, also gives users in-depth reporting tools and real-time information on market performance and trends. The (FINI) Grant Program supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase.

  Continue reading

At World’s Fair In Italy, The Future Of Food Is On The Table

MAY 31, 2015 7:34 AM ET
Sylvia Poggioli

For the next six months, Italy is hosting a dinner party — and the entire world is invited to attend.

The event, called Expo Milano 2015, is the latest World’s Fair. This year’s theme is “feeding the planet, energy for life.” The global population is projected to pass 9 billion by 2050, and Expo organizers want to start a global conversation now about sustainability, biodiversity and food security.

With exhibits from 145 countries over a 12-million-square-foot area, the expo is a showcase for the many cultures of food and environmental technology. Some pavilions have vertical farms. Brazil has transplanted a tropical forest. And some countries are exhibiting jointly their staple products— such as rice, coffee and cocoa. Continue reading