People worldwide are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food. Local foods are typically fresher than foods that have traveled long distances to be sold in supermarkets. Generally this means the food is tastier and more nutritious. Buying foods from local farmers also boosts the local economy. A number of outlets are available for consumers to purchase these local products, such as farmers markets, roadside stands, on-farm stores, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), pick-your-own operations, restaurants and other retail and wholesale arrangements.
A key component of the Department’s Market Development Program is the promotion of Iowa grown food to consumers and wholesale buyers. Directories of producers of Iowa grown products are made available to the public to facilitate this producer-to-consumer connection. Listed below are resources to help you locate farm-fresh products near you. The directories allow you to search by county or state-wide.
Agritourism is defined as the act of visiting a working farm or any agriculture, horticulture or agribusiness operation for the purpose of enjoyment, education or active involvement in the activities of the farm or operation that also adds to the economic viability of the site. Included in agritourism are corn mazes and pick-your-own operations. These sites may be found within the directories or in the Iowa Mazes Apples Pumpkins Strawberries (M.A.P.S.) map.
The purpose of this program is to support and promote Iowa value added agricultural producers, processors and agritourism destinations to consumers.Click Here for more information
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSA is a partnership between local community members and local growers that work together to create and maintain an economically stable food system, encourage land stewardship, and promote community development. The consumers support the farmers acting as shareholders in the operation, taking on many of the same risks and benefits of each year’s crops. This partnership allows the community to be directly linked to the food they eat while keeping their dollar within the community which contributes to the economic sustainability of the area, biodiversity through small farm preservation, and a sense of responsibility for the stewardship of the land.
As one of the leading states in the development and sustainability of farmers markets, Iowa is home to more than 174 farmers markets throughout the state. This directory will provide you with locations, dates and times of the various markets.
Farm to School Program
The mission of this program is to promote the purchase of locally and regionally produced or processed food by schools in order to improve child nutrition and strengthen local and regional farm economies.