Farm to Fork


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The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers: Keeping the Dream of Farming Alive

As older farmers retire, fewer young farmers are stepping in to take their place. The number of beginning farmers dropped 20 percent in the last five-year census period, and the average US farmer now tops 58 years of age. more

CIAS Mini-Grants Support Graduate Student Research in Sustainable Agriculture

CIAS supports innovative graduate student research addressing the challenges faced by small- and medium-sized farms and food businesses. Awarded annually, our competitive mini-grants aid students as they initiate their research in sustainable agriculture and food systems. more


Announcing the 2019 Market Farm Madness Champion!

Hoophouse is your 2019 Market Farm Madness champion! They withstood high winds, late snow storms and controversy over cost share payments to win the tournament. more

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Exploring Demand, Distribution and Infrastructure Needs for Local Food in Madison

Posted March 2018

On February 21, 2018, CIAS co-hosted a meeting with the City of Madison to convene Madison-area food buyers, including restaurant groups, institutions, grocery retailers, area distributors, and allied professionals to (1) gauge the specifics of demand for regionally sourced products, (2) explore distribution and infrastructure needs and opportunities, and (3) identify areas of greatest potential for future collaboration.

This meeting built on CIAS’s ongoing participatory research on regional food freight and infrastructure as well as the Madison Public Market District Project. Public market meetings hosted by the city have indicated that Madison-area food buyers are interested in purchasing more locally-sourced food and taking part in co-located aggregation, distribution and storage facilities. However, the first phase of the Public Market Project will be retail-oriented, leaving a gap in greater Madison’s food infrastructure development.

Following are the key take-aways from the February 2018 meeting. CIAS is continuing to collaborate with area partners to secure resources to support this work. Please contact Lindsey Day Farnsworth or Michelle Miller for additional information.

Reflections on Aggregation and Distribution Needs and Possibilities

Food and the Greater Madison Economy PPT Presentation

Take-Aways from February 21st, 2018 Madison Area Food Distributor/Buyer Meeting

There is strong multi-stakeholder interest in developing collaborative food aggregation/distribution infrastructure in Madison. There is a need for a “backbone” organization to serve one or both of the following functions:

  • Short to mid-term: lead subsequent shared infrastructure planning efforts
  • Mid to long-term: manage operations

Securing a lease will require a commitment by one or more bankable master lessees/anchor tenants. A commitment from investors will likely require:

  • Aggregated demand across Madison-area wholesale food buyers (institutions, retailers, restaurants)—initial strategies could be sector-specific
  • A commitment to participate from regional businesses
  • A working pro forma based on storage and transport costs, and purchasing data from multiple Madison buyers and distributors

Potential next steps include:

  • Incorporating wholesale food infrastructure into Madison Planning & Economic Development priorities and budget allocations
  • Collaboration between public, private, and/or non-profit partners to secure resources for (1) leadership, coordination and planning of multi-organizational activities, and/or (2) aggregation and distribution pilot projects