Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Marketing & Food Systems Initiative


  • Research and test new marketing strategies and business structures that allow Iowa's farmers and communities to retain more of the value for energy, food or fiber produced
  • Support education, conduct research and facilitate partnerships to increase investment and support of local and regional food, fiber and energy enterprises
  • Conduct research and education to address various challenges that impede farmers and farmer networks from being equal partners in energy, food or fiber-based value chain

Outcomes for Marketing and Food System Projects

  • Establishment of  new or contribution to existing multi-organizational working groups based on farmer and community needs and challenges in food, fiber, or energy enterprises
  • Increase market opportunities, enhance profitability, and reduce risk for farmers aggregating supply
  • Increase knowledge and/or decision tool development related to: (1)  community, health, safety, economic, and environmental impacts of Iowa-grown foods produced using sustainable agriculture; and/or (2) energy efficiencies, greenhouse gas emissions, value-adding technologies, food safety, producer marketing networks, labor markets, and other economic, environmental and community factors
  • Increase access to healthy, nutritious, affordable local food produced using sustainable agriculture practices. 
  • Increase knowledge related to market access, profitability, and marketing and educational support for fiber and energy enterprises that use sustainable production practices.

Economic impacts of local food in Iowa - see our newest report and profiles of local food champions. USDA resources to help communities showcase local foods [PDF]

Initiative coordinator: Craig Chase, (515) 294-3711, cchase@iastate.edu

So what's been learned from our projects? Here's a snapshot of nine MFSI grants and an evaluation of seven Local Food & Farm Initiative grants. See also summaries from each completed MFSI grant here.

Latest News from this Initiative

November 23, 2015
AMES, Iowa— Iowa Local Food Organizational Toolkit: Structure, Management and Finance from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is a set of new publications now available for those looking for a thorough treatment of how to start a local foods organization in Iowa.

October 28, 2015
AMES, Iowa - A new publication is now available from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Store. Using Accounting Software for Food Hubs: Processing Traceable Orders (LF0009) is a step-by-step tutorial based on QuickBooks Professional accounting software.

October 15, 2015
AMES, Iowa - A coalition of gardening enthusiasts, in cooperation with the Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit program, a grant project funded through the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, will host a morning workshop Nov. 14 to explore community gardens. The workshop...