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Food, Ag, Ideas Week brings together an array of leaders

The event, which happened in person for the first time since 2019, aimed to create change in the food system in Minnesota and beyond.

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Heather Tansey, VP of environmental sustainability for Cargill, speaks on Oct. 3, 2022 at Food, Ag, Ideas Week at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minn.
Noah Fish / Agweek
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ST. PAUL — Business leaders from Minnesota’s food and ag industry met at the Science Museum of Minnesota last week for the Food, Ag, Ideas Week

Food, Ag, Ideas Week was led by Grow North, an initiative of the Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, Carlson School of Management and University of Minnesota. According to its website, the mission of Grow North is to “accelerate and support Minnesota’s growing entrepreneur and innovation ecosystem in food and agriculture.”

Alison Hohn, executive director of Grow North — which will soon be called Naturally Minnesota — called Food, Ag, Ideas Week the “ultimate convening moment for the food and ag industry.”

Hohn said the audience at the convention included everyone from industry leaders from companies like General Mills, Land O’ Lakes and Target, to entrepreneurs of new products, to students, professors, investors, and people from other government and nonprofit entities.

“It really is the entire ecosystem,” said Hohn.

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She said the topics covered at the event ranged from food insecurity to supply chain issues and brand storytelling.

“There's a lot of mega climate change events happening with hurricanes, drought and fires,” she said. “And then everything with the geopolitical conflict in Ukraine impacting supply chains and growing production there.”

She said they also considered socioeconomic disparities in the state, and people who are in need of healthy food options.

“We really wanted to talk about topics that impacted all of that, and the overarching interconnectedness of the global food supply,” she said.

It was the first time the conference was held in-person since 2019.

“There's a lot of je ne sais quoi serendipitous connections that you can make when waiting in line for coffee or lunch, so we really wanted to make sure we were offering that up to folks,” said Hohn

Sessions on company sustainability, supply chains and food security were held all day Monday, with networking parties held later that evening. Tours at the Good Acre in the Twin Cities as well as the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute were to be held later in the week.

“There's a little bit of something for everyone, so if you want to go out and see something or if you want to get a little bit deeper on a specific topic, and if you just want to learn more about a random assortment of things, we do have a little bit of everything,” she said.

Noah Fish is a multimedia journalist who creates print, online and TV content for Agweek. He's also the host of the Agweek Podcast. He covers a wide range of farmers and agribusinesses throughout Minnesota and surrounding states. He can be reached at nfish@agweek.com

He reports out of Rochester, MN, where he lives with his wife, Kara, and their polite cat, Zena. He grew up in La Crosse, WI, and enjoys the talent from his home state like the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers and Grammy award-winning musicians Justin Vernon and Al Jarreau.
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