Category Archives: Agritourism

Networking Across the Supply Chain – LaCrosse 2/20-21/2013

100 regional food supply chain entrepreneurs are gathering in LaCrosse this week to shape a public R&D agenda for getting local food to market in a way that is economically viable, socially just and environmentally sound.

Visit this link to see the agenda, speaker bios and a list of organizations attending.

Can’t join us? A proceedings will be published later this year.


Bikes good for the economy

When there was talk that Chicago was bidding to host the Summer Olympics, the word on the street was that bike races would happen in the Driftless. I know there are a number of bike-related events in the region and wonder if any organization is in place to organize and promote bike tourism? One of the best things about biking is that it burns lots of calories and so I can eat! So I see a natural affinity between local food and biking in the Driftless.

See the fastcompany article below that includes information on the economic benefits to biking around the country, and including Wisconsin and Iowa.

Culinary travelers

Culinary travelers make up roughly one-fifth of the U.S. leisure traveling population, according to the 2006 food and wine travelers study conducted by the US Travel Association. And, on average, they spend one-third of their travel budget on food-related activities.


The World Food Traveler Association is about to launch a follow-up study. If you are interested in sponsoring or knowing more, contact Laura Mandala at 703.820.1041 and

Increasing capacity in the tri-state area

Iowa State Extension just hired Brittany Bethel as the new Regional Foods Coordinator for Eastern Iowa and the tri-state area of IA, WI and IL. She writes,

” We have a vibrant community of farmers, consumers, institutions and agencies dedicated to promoting the use of local foods, and many resources for people interested in the nutritional, environmental and economic benefits of using more food produced in our region. I will be promoting promote resources, partners and programs that will support the further growth of our local foods community.

My position is supported by the Limestone Bluffs  RC&D and the Dubuque County ISU Extension.  The deliverables include: Producer Inventory, Local Food Buyer List, Email Distribution (to share events, information, and news), Training Events, Stakeholder Meetings, Business Development Activities and Development of a Regional Food System Expansion Plan.  Other organizations involved include Buy Fresh, Buy Local-River Bend and Dubuque Eats Well RFSWG.”

Sign up for their site – she is posting many local events that may be of interest, especially for those in the Dubuque area.

Welcome Brittany!

Appalachian Food Systems Work

Appalachia is similar to the Driftless in many ways – multi-state, geography, transportation, communications, even culture. So is it any surprise they are actively developing their regional food economy, too? Check out this conference web site to see what people are talking about, who is organizing good works, and how they are funding the work.

Driftless regional food policy council?

I posted a question on regional food systems to LinkedIn, and a respondent suggested I take a look at what they are doing in Puget Sound. What do you think? Would a Driftless Region food policy council make sense?

Another respondent shared what they are doing in Ontario. There is a nonprofit who organized its members to attend food shows in major markets. The equivalent would be to purchase some floor exhibition space at the Fancy Food Show in Chicago for Driftless purveyors. Ditto Twin Cities, Milwaukee, etc.. What do you think of that?

WANTED: a nuanced Driftless narrative

“Authenticity is a rare and valuable commodity, and people will travel far to find it,”writes editor-at-large Bobby Ghosh in Time’s Fall 2012 issue of Style and Design. And authenticity is about integrity. What does this tell us about developing a narrative for the Driftless that shelters the region’s integrity while inviting people into the region to taste of its bounty? Ghosh goes on to say, “When everyone wants a piece of paradise, can paradise stay intact?”

From Lila Marmel @ WDRT

I produced a news story for WDRT, which will air TODAY on the WDRT Local News at 5:30 pm. The station is at 91.9 FM, and can also be streamed live at The Local News is also available on the website for a week following the broadcast, but will probably not be posted until some time tomorrow. Look for it on the upper right area of the home page.

– Lila Marmel

Follow-up note: Go to to listen to the file. Nice interviews with Neil Heinen from Channel 3, the CBS affiliate in Southern Wisconsin, Brad Niemcek, the Kickapoo Community Kitchen, Tony Roth and their greenhouse / fishfarm. There are some fun clips of participants sharing some of their creative messaging on the Driftless — “Glacier-free since 8,000 BC”.