Indiana Uplands Food System

Emerging Strategies for Stronger Food Systems

Indiana University’s Sustainable Food Systems Science (SFSS) and Center for Rural Engagement (CRE) are teaming up to help increase the economic, environmental, and social well-being of the food system in the Indiana Uplands Region.

Regional and local food system development is an emerging strategy for building employment, social capital, and better health in rural places like Southwest Central Indiana. Local and regional food systems continue to evolve and consumer demand for locally grown food is increasingly tied to community resilience, economic development, and the well-being of community members. Communities across Indiana are working to develop intentional plans for change, including: policy, infrastructure, farmer programs, public health programs, and creative distribution solutions to connect more eaters with food grown from Indiana farms.

Indiana Uplands Food Network

Join us this April for the virtual launch of the Indiana Uplands Food Network with a three part series of COVID-19 related webinars to focus on local food marketing for farmers and direct-to consumer markets.

Though social distancing measures have thrown a wrench in the normal operations of our farmers' markets and many other direct sales channels, the Indiana Governor’s executive order explains that farmers' markets are essential food outlets and can remain open during this time. If your market or your farmers are considering moving some of their business into an online marketplace, we have some tools available for you! Demand for local food has increased dramatically in the last few weeks, and existing online markets are selling out every week! Please join our webinars to learn more about how you can bring your market online this season.

In the meantime, there are a number of best practices that can be implemented by markets who do remain in operation to ensure that county health inspectors approve of the safety measures being taken. Please see these resources from the Farmers Market Coalition regarding best practices for markets to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

April Webinar Series

Tuesday 7 April 2020, 11am-12pm EST (10-11am CST)

Jordan van Everdingen will be presenting about Local Line, a web platform for creating virtual farm markets. Your local market could be up and running by May, in an online setting where farmers manage their own inventory and customers can shop from multiple farms with one checkout experience. Please see their direct to consumer guide for farmers related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the Recording Here

Tuesday 14 April, 11am-12pm EST (10-11am CST)

Register Here

Join us to hear organizers from The People’s Market in Bloomington present about a modified, multi-farm CSA model they are implementing that allows their market to operate safely under the constraints caused by COVID-19. With weekly orders, pre-payment, and structured drop off and pick up times, models such as this help communities accomodate the public health considerations necessary during this time of crisis. Presenters will discuss logistics, why this is a good model for certain communities, what they have learned in the process of developing this model, and some special ways they help get good food into the hands of those who can't afford the weekly CSA order. In this webinar, we will also discuss ways that farmers and home vendors can donate fresh food to the food pantries and food banks who are in high gear this season helping the many people who have lost their jobs and access to food using resources such as Ample Harvest.

Tuesday 21 April, 11am-12pm EST (10-11am CST)

Join us to discuss best safety practices for Farmers' Markets, whether in-person or online, during this time of concerns around the spread of COVID-19. 

Tuesday 28 April, 11am-12pm EST (10-11am CST)

Join us in learning more about social media marketing and engaging with your customers when you cannot see them at the market each week. We can explore what types of social media accounts work best for different purposes, what kinds of posts get the most engagement, and other ways to stay connected and support business during this time of social distancing.


 * All webinars will be recorded and available for viewing at a later point for those who are unable to attend or would like to share with others.

Indiana Uplands Winter Food Conference

In January 2020 we had more than 100 people from our regional food system attend the Indiana Uplands Winter Food Conference in Bedford, IN, to learn, share, and network. A diverse range of people from farmers, food businesses, chefs, food service directors, economic development officers, technical assistance agencies, elected officials, community organizations, health coalitions, farmers markets, food access organizations, students, and more came to the table to be a part of the conversation. The conference was designed to address issues that were raised during the Local Food Local Good community input meetings, held throughout the region in fall of 2019.

Local Food, Local Good

The conference and its preceding listening tour are just a small part of the work that the CRE and SFSS are doing in the region. For information about some of the many things going on, explore the links below:

Indiana Uplands Local Food Local Good Report - find your county in this 48 page document with primary and secondary data collected during our community meetings and from more than 200 survey respondants to learn more about your local food system, the Indiana Uplands as a whole, and some recommendations for regional efforts!

SFSS Regional Initiatives - a summary of Indiana-based research being conducted by members of the Sustainable Food Systems Science group 

CRE Regional Initiatives - learn more about how the Center for Rural Engagement is partnering with community partners to design and implement innovative approaches to enhancing opportunities and addressing the challenges faced by rural Indiana

Senior Food Insecurity Study - this active IU research project is working in Crawford, Orange, Lawrence and Greene county to learn more about the issues our senior community members have accessing food