A roundtable on Local Food Systems was held in Perry, Iowa on August 12 and 13, 2009. During the discussions at that roundtable it became clear that, in order to foster the growth of local foods systems in Iowa, there is a need to engage city, county and regional planners in discussions with those who are involved with local food systems production and distribution. As a result, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University funded a project to bring together key stakeholders in focus group settings to identify the key barriers to, and opportunities for, integrating local food systems into community (city and/or county) plans to foster the establishment and growth of vibrant local food systems. The focus groups identified the three most significant challenges facing the development and expansion of local food systems: (1) Defining and administering the agricultural exemption to county zoning found in Iowa Code 335.2, (2) Smart growth practices and their impacts on agriculture in and near city limits, and (3) lack of recognition of local food systems as an economic development opportunity.
Four Iowa State University Extension bulletins have been published from the work of this project. Each can be accessed on the “Local Food Systems project” page linked above.