Yellow squash is sold during the Oxford Farmers Market in Johnson County, Iowa. The county is offering a public forum to discuss the local foods movement on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Yellow squash is sold during the Oxford Farmers Market in Johnson County, Iowa. The county’s Food Policy Council is hosting a forum to discuss the local foods movement on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Iowa City. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Johnson County is really becoming a hot spot for the local foods movement.

Michelle Kenyon Brown, chairwoman of the county’s Food Policy Council – newly created in 2011 – expects a great turnout at the council’s upcoming public forum. If you have anything to share or just want to hear from a great lineup of speakers, mark Saturday, Feb. 8, on your calendar.

Michelle noted that’s the day after the Come to the Table summit and also follows other events that week in Iowa City.  Bonus: if you sign up by Monday, Feb. 3, you can dine on a free lunch, provided by the Motley Cow.

Here is more about the public forum:

The Johnson County Food Policy Council announced that registration has opened for the free community forum “Growing the Local Food Movement in Johnson
County: Share Your Vision!”

The event is 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday, February 8, in Montgomery Hall at the Johnson County Fairgrounds, 4261 Oak Crest Hill Road, SE, Iowa City. Attendee check-in begins at 9:30 am. A locally-sourced lunch prepared by Iowa City restaurant Motley Cow is available free of charge to those who register by Monday, February 3. Attendees may register online at

Questions may be directed to or 319-688-8011.

Forum presenters will address farm conservation, edible landscapes, local food impacts and policies to support farmers in Johnson County. Several “open mic” opportunities will provide time for attendees to share their ideas. Attendees are also encouraged to interact with Food Policy Council members and members of the Johnson County Board of Supervisors.

Keynote speaker for the event is Kyle Richmond, a member of the Dane County, Wisconsin, Board of Supervisors, who also is a member of both the Dane County Food Council and Madison Food Policy Council. Supervisor Richmond will share how those bodies have worked with farmers and the community to create positive changes within the county’s local foods movement.

Grant Schultz of VersaLand, a 145-acre learning farm near Morse, will talk about soil and water conservation. VersaLand develops code, systems, and machinery for sustainable farming systems, and shares its knowledge through public workshops.

Fred Meyer, founder and director of Backyard Abundance, will discuss edible landscapes. Backyard Abundance is a Johnson County environmental education nonprofit that helps build vibrant communities by creating beautiful, resilient landscapes that provide healthy food and habitat.

Anyone with an interest in Johnson County’s local foods movement should attend this forum, including farmers, restaurateurs, environmental groups, municipal officials, students and consumers.

The Johnson County Food Policy Council, created by the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, is a volunteer citizen-led group with the purpose of improving dialogue and discussion and providing necessary advice on food and agriculture issues to the County, municipalities, community boards, local agencies, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and other interested groups.