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Published February 11, 2010, 11:13 AM

Peterson sponsors 2010 Home Grown Economy Conference in Marshall, Feb. 15-16

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL-Minn.) will sponsor the “The Home Grown Economy 2010 – Equipping You to Build Community Based Food Systems” conference in Marshall on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 15-16. In addition, to improve access for constituents throughout the 7th Congressional District, interactive video sessions will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the following college campus locations: University of Minnesota, Crookston, University of Minnesota, Morris, Bemidji State University, and Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls.

U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL-Minn.) will host the “The Home Grown Economy 2010 – Equipping You to Build Community Based Food Systems” conference in Marshall on Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 15-16.

In addition, to improve access for constituents throughout the 7th Congressional District, interactive video sessions will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at the following college campus locations: University of Minnesota, Crookston, University of Minnesota, Morris, Bemidji State University, and Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls.

“Changing attitudes about food, its impact on health and well-being, and growing opportunities for small farmers have sparked a movement across the country and in Minnesota of consumers seeking out locally grown foods," Peterson said, “and I’m hosting this conference to help get the word out and link people to the available resources.

“With this demand for more locally grown foods, farmers and rural communities can benefit from a variety of new opportunities. The farm to school program, linking local agricultural producers to school lunch and breakfast programs, is growing in Minnesota. Farmers markets and food co-ops are springing up all over the state and in grocery stores; 'Minnesota Grown' and 'locally grown' labels are being sought out by shoppers.

“In 2007, I sponsored the first in a series of meetings on Local Foods, addressing how local foods can be an economic development engine for rural communities. Since then, I’ve held additional meetings on connecting local foods and economic opportunity.”

“This year I’ve invited USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide the keynote address. In addition, Ken Meter of Crossroads Research Center will present his insights on how food networks thrive and strengthen local economies. Panel presenters will provide information about what is happening at the local level and each regional site will be afforded an opportunity to discuss how they can expand upon their local community based food system.

“By sponsoring this conference again, I’m hoping to provide people in western and northwestern Minnesota with practical and useful information about how local foods can become an economic development engine for farmers, rural communities and development organizations, and how we can all work together to meet growing market demands for healthier food."

For more information on the 2010 Home Grown Economy conference, go to www.regionalpartnerships.umn.edu, or contact Congressman Peterson’s office in Detroit Lakes at 218-847-5056.

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