by Lauren Janning, CFSP summer intern
In May, I had the privilege of traveling to Texas with the ISU Community Food Systems Program team. I was looking forward to observing and participating in the Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings. And I was excited to explore Austin and Elgin and experience the local food scene in rural and urban settings.
Courtney Long (CFSP manager) and I took advantage of our free time the morning after our arrival to check out downtown Austin. We saw a beautiful garden space built near a middle school, designed for outdoor learning experiences in growing fresh food.
We also came across a local eatery called Hillside Farmacy and noted its location to enjoy the next morning for breakfast. Thank goodness we did, because they had the most elegant menu featuring a variety of local items. The value they place on providing healthy, delicious, and locally sourced produce for their customers is admirable and very appealing!
Feeding 28 million in Texas
Next, the Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings brought us to the small town of Elgin. There, a diverse group of passionate food leaders congregated to learn about improving their communities in southeast Texas. I was grateful for the opportunity to witness Courtney and Kaley Hohenshell’s expertise as it pertains to community food systems. And I enjoyed hearing more about the successes of the advocates in this partner state.
These leaders are faced with the very challenging responsibility of feeding a state of more than 28 million. But they are wise, innovative, inclusive, resilient, and incredibly determined to make a difference one step at a time. I am excited for the impacts they will continue to make within their local food systems in years to come.
Our final adventure in Texas included a tour of the sustainable agriculture program at Austin Community College and a site visit to Coyote Creek Farms (pictured below). I loved witnessing the implementation and growth of educational programs and local businesses. We also saw examples of the procurement of local food at various restaurants throughout the region.
I realized on this journey that the community food system (and agriculture in general) is an incredibly unpredictable field and often lacks security. But with creativity, support, and a bit of mental endurance, positive change will continue to propel the local food movement forward.