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Rural Program Aims To Get More Local Food To Residents

Superior-Area Initiative Aims To Get 20 Percent Local Food By 2020

vegetables at a farmers' market
Cliff (CC-BY-NC-ND)  

A new initiative in northwestern Wisconsin aims to help farmers’ markets get their food to local buyers.

An AgriBusiness Academy hopes to build on regional demand for locally grown food.

Andrea Huggenvik, with the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, said the new academy will help farmers meet demand from local buyers.

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“They’re really looking to purchase food from local farmers and are sometimes struggling to have enough farmers to produce enough food that they need,” she said

Huggenvik said the academy will cover business plans, contracts and what foods local buyers want.

Chequamegon Food Co-op general manager Harold Vanselow said they’ve committed to buying 20 percent of their food locally by 2020.

“In the produce department, we are close to that goal,” he said. “In all other departments, we are further away from that goal.”

Vanselow said they’re in competition with people buying directly from farmers. He said there’s also a need for regional food processing and storage.

Around 20 businesses in 15 counties across northwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota have committed to buying 20 percent of their food locally by 2020 under the Superior Compact in the last two years.

The AgriBusiness Academy is funded by a Wisconsin Forward grant and will be held on three Saturdays this fall — Oct. 24, Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 — at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland.