Local Food Festival shines light on local vendors


Iowa State horticulture students work the farmers market. All the produce that was sold came from the station.

Manichanh Naonady

Food is vital to sustainability and well-being, and by eating locally, people can educate themselves and others about the importance of knowing where the food we eat truly comes from.

The third annual Local Foods Festival will be held on Iowa State’s Central Campus on Tuesday.

The festival gives Iowa State University and the Ames community the opportunity to learn and connect with local farmers, restaurants, clubs and organizations who believe in the importance of healthy and sustainable living.

“Having a local food festival is a wonderful opportunity to provide education and fun to the ISU and Ames communities by exposing them to local producers and to learn about our community agriculture,” said Lynn Heuss, co-founder of the Local Foods Festival and program coordinator with the ISU Extension and Outreach Local Foods Program.

“Cardinal Eats,” a new publication at ISU, will be partaking in the festival for the first time this year.

“This event is important because it is bringing the community together and sharing different food options that are offered locally. In our first edition of Cardinal Eats we highlighted different restaurants in Ames, so we believe this is a great opportunity,” said Ashley Jones, marketing director, co-president and co-founder of “Cardinal Eats.

When it comes to the importance of buying and producing locally, Des Moines based Anderson Erickson Dairy is a prime example.

“All our milk comes fresh from family farms in Iowa, and we don’t accept milk from the farm with added hormones, antibiotics or pesticides,” said Kim Peter, director of marketing for Anderson Erickson Dairy.

AE Dairy has participated in the Local Foods Festival since its introduction three years ago.

“We see this as a great fit since we’re Iowa’s local family dairy for more than 87 years,” Peter said. “We’ve been very pleased to serve Iowa State University for many years, and we’re happy to share the AE story. We know that the students, and consumers in general, are very interested in learning more about the source of the foods and drinks they enjoy.”

Another vendor who has participated in the festival from the beginning is Wheatsfield Co-op, a local community-owned grocery store in Ames that focuses on local and organic products.

Wheatsfield’s mission is, ”to offer food, services, and education to support the health of the environment and community.”

“The local economy is important to understand and having an event like this showcases it and allows for a better understanding,” said Kim Corbin, marketing manager for Wheatsfield Cooperative.

This year there will be a variety of food samples for visitors. Some of the samples include homemade cookies, pastries, coffee, fruits and more.

“We will be offering samples of locally brewed kombucha, Shaktea. It is an alternative to soda and is lower in sugar,” said Corbin. “It tastes just like soda.”

Something often not found at a food festival is free water samples in reusable water bottles. The City of Ames Water Department prides themselves on the great tasting, safe, high-quality water they provide for the community and will be handing out water bottles at the festival.

“We are fortunate to have safe, high-quality water,” said Christina Murphy, Assistant Director for the Ames Water and Pollution Control Department. “ISU students come from all over the world and we are bringing consciousness and awareness of the great resources here locally in Ames.”

With about 30 vendors, there will a variety of different sources for attendees to learn from and enjoy. Along with the previously mentioned vendors, there will be Burgies, Cherry Glen Farm, HyVee, Purple Ribbon Beef, Salt and Pretzel, and more.

This event allows visitors to learn not only about where their food comes from but also the benefits of being a local consumer. It provides an opportunity for students to explore local sources for better food options.

Apart from focusing on food, the festival takes it one step further with free bike tune-ups during the event, courtesy of the ISU Recreation Services. The festival promotes healthy lifestyles with food and activities.

“We are supporting a local and robust economy,” said Merry Rankin, co-founder of the Local Food Festival and the director of Sustainability for Iowa State University, Office of Sustainability. “We are able to provide products and services to ourselves, which in turn will leave a lighter footprint.”

Attendees can expect to see educational displays, enjoy food samples, receive local food recipes and can purchase fresh produce and other goods from local vendors.

“There will be something for everyone,” Rankin said. “This allows people to discover the local foodie in them, and we are excited to awaken that.”

The Local Foods Festival will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on central campus Tuesday and the first 1,000 visitors will receive a free reusable Local Foods Festival bag.