Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Regional Food Systems Working Group - Iowa

The Iowa Regional Foods System Working Group (RFSWG) is comprised of practitioners and community leaders with a goal to increase the investment in and support for local and regional food businesses. A regional food system supports long-term connections between farmers and consumers while helping to meet the health, social, economic and environmental needs of communities within that region. Representatives from more than 25 groups meet quarterly to discuss and coordinate efforts to build more vibrant regional food systems.

The goals of RFSWG:

  • Identify the key elements found in specific geographic areas that create a vibrant and sustainable regional food system.
  • Work with leaders and food businesses in specific geographic areas and/or communities to identify and support the key elements that are not yet well developed.
  • Help identify and measure key indicators that determine whether there is positive change in the regional food system as a result of projects or programs.
  • Develop and implement a process for continuous learning across Iowa about what it takes to make a regional food system more vibrant and sustainable.

This publication outlines the impact of Leopold Center support for this working group.

The group was convened in 2003 by the Leopold Center Marketing and Food Systems Initiative as part of the Value Chain Partnerships program.

Iowa map of local groups


  • Flavors of Northwest Iowa: Working in Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Ida, Lyon, Monona, O’brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties.
  • Central Iowa RFSWG: Working in Boone, Hardin and Story counties, and managed through Prairie Rivers of Iowa.
  • Greene County Local Foods Working Group: Working in Carroll, Greene and Guthrie counties.

Working group resources

Our partners

  • Buy Fresh Buy Local (Iowa)
  • Cedar Valley RC&D
  • Crossroads Resource Center
  • Drake University Agricultural Law Center
  • Golden Hills RC&D
  • Hometown Harvest of Southeast Iowa
  • Iowa Community Vitality Center
  • I-Food
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
  • Iowa Department of Public Health
  • Iowa Department of Transportation
  • Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
  • Iowa Farmers Union
  • Iowa Network for Community Agriculture
  • Iowa Valley RC&D
  • ISU Center for Transportation Research and Education
  • ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • ISU College of Business
  • ISU Extension
  • Johnson County Local Food Alliance
  • Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Limestone Bluffs RC&D
  • Marshalltown Community College
  • North Central Regional Center for Rural Development
  • Northeast Iowa Farm and Food Coalition
  • Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership
  • Northwest Iowa Regional/Local Foods System
  • Pathfinders RC&D
  • Practical Farmers of Iowa
  • Prairie Winds RC&D
  • Prairie Rivers RC&D
  • Southwest Iowa Food & Farm Initiative
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Wallace Foundation
  • Washington County Economic Development
  • Webster City Area Economic Development
  • Women, Food and Agriculture Network
  • In addition, we work with many Iowa farmers

To learn more about the RFSWG, contact Craig Chase, (515) 294-1854, cchase@iastate.edu, or Lynn Heuss assistant coordinator, leheuss@iastate.edu, (515) 201-9405.