Statewide map will help institutional & direct buyers find local farms
By Forrest Humphrey
Local Foods Organizer
Farmers can now sign up to be a part of the Wisconsin Local Food Directory. This new project of Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU) aims to connect farmers with their communities and ultimately, make local food systems stronger and more resilient in the face of continued supply chain disruptions.
The directory is the result of a partnership between WFU and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Marbleseed, and the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative. Together, the groups have pulled together to launch the Local Food Purchase Assistance (LFPA) program. The aim of this program is to strengthen local food systems across the state by getting produce from small farms into the hands of hunger relief organizations. While other states have similar programs, the Wisconsin LFPA program is special in that we are providing funding directly to farmers in the form of contracts for the growing season.
The directory component, which launches to the general public in June, will allow farmers to create a profile for their farm and list the types of products they have available. In turn, institutions, wholesale purchasers, food security programs, and consumers can search for producers in their region. This directory is available to all WFU members regardless of whether or not they are participating in the LFPA program.
A few weeks ago I had a chance to speak with Michael and Angie Lungren, LFPA participants and new members of Farmers Union. Michael and Angie operate Rocky Run Farm near Tomah. They expressed their excitement at being able to provide vegetables to the LFPA program, noting “We have a tremendous passion to grow healthy vegetables to provide to others using organic practices.” In addition to participating in the LFPA program they sell produce throughout the growing season at the Sparta and Camp Douglas Farmers Markets and also deliver produce to the greater La Crosse area.
For many LFPA farmers like Michael and Angie, farmers markets are a central part of their livelihood. The relationships built with consumers through continual presence at farmers markets are critical. WFU is in a great position to help producers foster these relationships.
In order for the directory to be a success, we are recruiting a robust list of farms to include. WFU encourages members to join and those who aren't yet members to reach out for more information. I hope that people take advantage of this opportunity–the strength of our rural communities depends on our social networks.
If you're a Wisconsin Farmers Union member, you should have received an email with a survey in your inbox on May 1st, 2023. If you want to opt into the Local Food Directory, please fill out the membership questionnaire and be sure to answer the directory-related questions. If you're not already a member, you can learn more about the project at wilocalfood.org and about WFU at wisconsinfarmersunion.com.
You can learn more about the directory and how to set up your farm profile by tuning into a webinar on May 2nd at 6 PM. Register for the webinar here (will be archived on the website afterward).
If you have questions about the WI-LFPA program or the Local Foods Directory, please contact Forrest Humphrey at email@example.com or 715-450-9179.