2020 Annual Local Food Dinner February 5, 2020
Thank you to everyone who attended the dinner this year. Save the date for the 2021 dinner on February 3, 2021. Check out the SLIDE SHOW that includes all of the producers who attended the dinner.
Thank you to our Local Food Panel!
Jim Marks, Marks Purebreds
Stephan Kaus, Whistling Thistle Farmstead
Eric Jensen, Yellow Table Farm
Brent Hansen, Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy
Carolyn Adolphs, Adolphs Produce & Bakery
Champion of Local Food
Congratulations to Solstice Farm (Mark and Theresa Westbrock) to winning the 2020 Champion of Local Food Award!
Here is the information the Local Food Dinner Committee received for the nomination of Solstice Farm.
Mark and Theresa only arrived to the community from Las Cruces, New Mexico in 2017 and already have made a great impact on the local food scene. After moving to Iowa, Mark did an internship at Joia Farm, starting Solstice Farm soon after. He had been a hobby farmer for about 15 years prior. Their small farm is operated through sustainable practices. As they put it, "Our farming practices aim to minimize fossil fuel inputs and to maximize healthy outputs." Mark attends several farmers markets in the area from Cedar Falls to College Hill to Waverly to Waterloo to Cedar Rapids. They have turkeys, eggs, chickens, pigs, fruit, and more recently mushrooms. It's amazing to hear the buzz about Mark's mushrooms he is cultivating. They are often sold out in the first couple of hours of the market if not before. They are also installing a solar photovoltaic system to offset electricity use on the farm with renewable, clean energy (Mark's other work is in solar energy). Mark and Theresa are involved in their community in a variety of ways beyond her job at UNI and his/their work on their farm. They are incredibly supportive of other local farmers in the area, often giving them a "shout out" on their Facebook page and other media. What I am most directly aware of is their involvement and support of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op. Mark has been on the Operations Committee almost since arriving, and has also been an integral part of the site selection team - a group who needs to vet many sites for the Co-op and be discrete about this work. He is very thoughtful in the work he does, and he always looks out for the best interests of the community. Knowing them personally, I know Theresa is the same way. She served on the board of the Co-op in their New Mexico community so understands the importance of supporting local food in her community. They also instill similar values in their daughter, Robin who can often be found at their side at the market or other events.
We have many amazing local farmers in the area. What I've seen Mark and Theresa accomplish in their short time in the Cedar Valley is worth recognizing and celebrating. They are an inspiration to us all. They are also incredibly humble and would not seek out this recognition at all, but I believe they are very deserving of it.
Other Nominees for the Award Include:
Kaiser Farm (Travis and Lindsay Kaiser)
They are a young family that started a vegetable farm in addition to their family dairy operation. They have a successful stand at the CF and Waverly Markets.
ARNKA Acres (Rachel Houts)
It is amazing how they have been able to create a great enterprise in a tiny town, and generate excitement around fresh food, and fill a gap in rural small town with fresh veggies. They have been very generous and helped Greens to Go mobile produce stand.
Cedar Falls Food Co-op
No group has spent more time, energy, and resources promoting the value of local foods than the Co-op. This start-up business has been hosting events (from potlucks to the annual Fall Food Fest), touting the benefits of local foods at booths and online, and acting as an advocate for local foods when presenting at local business and service clubs. While The Co-op doesn't have a brick and mortar store yet, it has built an large community of people who are investing thousands of dollars and volunteer hours to help launch a business with the mission to support local foods. The Co-op has sponsored local food events, promoted local foods in the parade at Sturgis Falls, brought a best-selling author to town, and connected consumers with producers and other businesses through countless events.
Past Winners of this Award include:
Rudy's Tacos, Hansen's Farm Fresh Dairy, UNI Dining Services, and Adolphs Produce & Bakery