All Things Local Food
in Central Louisiana
Regional Food Digest: January 19, 2018
The Food Digest aims to increase regional communication and collaboration, while inspiring local food movements throughout central Louisiana. The digest is a part of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, a community effort aiming to create a vibrant and healthy regional foods economy throughout central Louisiana. Stay tuned for more updates from initiative partners, including the Food Bank of Central Louisiana, the Louisiana Public Health Institute, MarketUmbrella, and the Good Food Project, as well as other Eat Local groups and farmers markets throughout the region.
For updates, follow facebook/cenlalocalfoods or visit Contact John Cotton Dean with specific questions at or (318) 441-3424. 
Upcoming Events:
  • Applications due to participate in Seed to Success in Fifty Days Farmer Training Program; Saturday, January 20th; Apply now by visiting
  • Workshop One for Seed to Success in Fifty Days; Thursday, January 25th from 5:30pm to 8:30pm at CLEDA; visit to learn more.
  • Central Louisiana Farmers Market Regional Taskforce Meeting; Wednesday, January 31st in the Vault at CLEDA; please contact Allison Tohme to RSVP or for more information at
  • Central Louisiana Food Policy Council Meeting; Monday, February 12th at 10:30am at CLEDA; contact to learn more.

Want to Get Involved in the Local Foods Movement? Here’s How:
  1. Spend just $5 each week at a local farm.
  2. Support local businesses that support local farmers.
  3. Apply to become a member of the Central Louisiana Food Policy Council.
  4. Host an Eat Local discussion in your parish or community.
  5. Follow us on Facebook
  6. Email with questions and suggestions.
  7. Learn more at
6th Annual Foodapalooza Connects People, Resources, and Opportunities     
Last week’s 6th Annual Foodapalooza was a culmination of a strong 2017 and a prelude towards an exciting 2018. More than sixty participants heard speakers representing federal government and grassroots coalitions from across the country and took part in discussions focused on the importance of local food to our public health and local economy.

Kicking off with the 2018 Foodapalooza Panel, participants were able to interact with diverse speakers, as well as connect with others in Central Louisiana’s local food movement.

“This was my first Foodapalooza, and I was so excited to be able to connect with national leaders, as well as fellow local advocates,” said 2018 Foodapalooza participant and Leesville resident Chris Richmond.

Highlights of the program included the Thursday evening Panel discussion highlighting the 2017 publication Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities; the Friday afternoon Foodapalooza Conference featuring keynote presentations by Angie Tagtow, a Senior Fellow and Endowed Chair at the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, and Rachel Reynolds, the project steward for the Oregon County Food Producers and Artisans Co-Op (Missouri); and an invite-only Local Food Leadership Luncheon for Food Fellows, FPC members, and Foodapalooza speakers.

The event concluded with a Happy Hour Networking event at the Alexandria Museum of Art. Make sure to stay updated with this newsletter, as well at to learn about the next Foodapalooza event, and how you can be involved in everything that is happening in 2018. And be sure to check-out KALB TV’s coverage of the 2018 Panel!
Apply Now to Fresh Central’s Seed to Success in Fifty Days Farmer Training Program!
Start your farm today and grow into the future with the farmer training program Seed to Success in Fifty Days.

This 2018 farmer training program is a workshop series designed for entrepreneurs interested in starting a farm- or ranch-based business and growing local food for direct sales to consumer or wholesale markets in central Louisiana and across the state.

Expert guest speakers from the National Young Farmers Coalition, Business Acceleration Systems, and Fresh Central’s own Director of Local Food Initiatives, will lead exciting and valuable workshops to take new farmers from Seed to Success in Fifty Days.

“Farming enterprises are businesses,” said Arthur Neal, Deputy Administrator for Farmers Markets and Local Food Marketing at the USDA, speaking recently at the 2018 Foodapalooza event. “Regional food systems thrive on relationships and help us transcend limited resources.”

The first evening workshop of the five-part series takes place Thursday, January 25th. You must apply to participate in the program. Applications are due by Saturday, January 20th, and can be found at

The 2018 Farmer Training Program will help participants form relationships that support start up business success and prepare them for entrepreneurship. “We are looking forward to the 2018 Farmer Training Program and providing technical assistance and wrap-around supportive services to new and beginning farmers and ranchers. Regional food systems are a viable and much needed portion of a modern economy; we are thrilled to support this sector through our work at CLEDA,” said Bahia Nightengale, Director of Local Food Initiatives at CLEDA.

Graduates of the Seed to Success in Fifty Days Farmer Training Program may also qualify for a CLEDA endorsement for a Kiva Business Loan application.

Seed to Success in Fifty Days is funded by the generous support of the USDA, Keller Enterprises, and CLEDA. Space is extremely limited so apply today
Want to Change Food Policy? Join the Central Louisiana Food Policy Council
Do you want to change your community’s local food system? Are you inspired to tackle challenges in a creative and dynamic way? Then the Central Louisiana Food Policy Council (FPC) is for you!

The Central Louisiana FPC engages policy makers from across the region, including city, parish, and state-level representatives, as well as private businesses, to increase access to, production of, and demand for local food. The FPC relies on diverse individuals who value long-term change and bring a systemic approach to the region’s food economy.  

“The Central Louisiana Food Policy Council has allowed me to engage with policy makers around the issues that I truly care about,” notes Bretta Lutz, Administrator of Nutrition Services at the Louisiana Special Education Center, and current FPC member.  

FPC members are expected to meet bi-monthly, with meetings held in downtown Alexandria. To learn more and apply to become a member of the Central Louisiana Food Policy Council, visit or contact John Cotton Dean at or by phone at 318-441-3424.
The Central Louisiana Farmers Market Development Taskforce Kicks Off 2018 with Fresh Central Certified
The Central Louisiana Farmers Market Development Taskforce – a working group of the Central Louisiana FPC – aims to strengthen the network of farmers markets across our region. The taskforce is open to market managers, vendors, volunteers, and anyone interested in seeing farmers markets succeed!

All are welcome to attend the first taskforce meeting of the year on Wednesday, January 31st, where we will introduce Fresh Central Certified, a pilot certification program that will offer training and resources for farmers market vendors and managers. You should attend if you:
  • Are a farmers market manager, vendor, or sponsoring organization
  • Are interested in improving farmers markets in Central Louisiana
  • Want to receive technical assistance on farmers market best practices
Participating in the Farmers Market Development Taskforce will allow you to network and put ideas into practice in your community. Please contact Allison Tohme to RSVP or for more information at This month’s meeting will take place on January 31st from 10:30am to 11:30 am in The Vault at CLEDA (900 4th Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, LA 71301).
The Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative was created in 2012 with a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana and matching funding from The Rapides Foundation. The Initiative is currently supported by funding from The Rapides Foundation and the USDA National Resource Conservation Service, as well as a philanthropic investment from Keller Enterprises, LLC. It is connected by CLEDA, the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.

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