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Before we begin modeling any thing ....

Before working any further on developing a model of a local food economy, it is clear that we need to know a great deal more about what is being done in Iowa to help develop/drive local support for local food producers.

Farmer's Markets are a pretty obvious example of a local food economy system. Do we have a list yet of how many are in Iowa, where they are located and as much information as we can find about each? If not -- there's a research task that needs some attention.

Farmer's Markets are one thing and we may choose to limit our modeling efforts to only Farmer's Markets this go round. But only understanding the role and importance of Farmer's Markets in the local food economy markets of Iowa is not enough.

There are other organizations, groups, stakeholders, etc., out there in the State working to support local food economies with various agendas and projects. Although we may not include them in this modeling effort, our background research on the "big picture" should certainly include all of them.

There are MANY variables at work in ANY model of any part of a local food economic system.

We must have a clear idea of what these variables are and how important they may be to the system we choose to focus on in OUR model.

So, after doing the Iowa Farmer's Market research and posting all that background information here, the next step would be to research into any organizations here in Iowa that are working to develop/support local food economies.

Right off the top is a must check organization called Practical Farmers of Iowa (http://www.practicalfarmers.org). Take a good look at this organization. Post a synopsis and your assessment... then do the same for any others you can find.

You should post the set of questions you want to have answered as you look into Farmers Markets across Iowa and all the other organizations as well. This will provide a clearer focus to your research efforts and your informtion here will then be useful to everyone as the project unfolds over the next year or so.

Comments

The following link contains a listing of all Farmer's Markets in Iowa, arranged by city:

http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/States/Iowa.htm

In all, there are 178 Farmer's Markets in Iowa. The above link contains contact information, locations and times for each market.

I know that URL and could go there myself. I am not interested in just an alphabetical list of marekets and their hours, locations, etc.,

What I would like you to do is to dig into that data and come up with some findings about the Farmers Markets in Iowa.

Sit with a state map and find out where they are located in general (at least by county). Get a sense of where most are, which appear to be larger; which smaller. And, if you can find individual websites for any that would be important too.

Are there any researchers in Iowa looking into Farmers Markets? If so, who are they? Where are they? And can you get a copy of their research? If so, summarize and post it here.

This should give you some paths to pursue. We need this kind of background data for grant applications we will be pursuing this year to continue on this project.

Just having a list of markets is not very useful. It's what you do with that list - how you use it to mine for information relevant to the project at hand that is the whole point of checking into it in the first place.

Now that you have the list -- do something with it.