Local Foods College Goes Online, Stays Connected

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I first learned about the Local Foods College last year while working for a short time with the Statewide Health Improvement Program in Mille Lacs County.  Through that work, I met Barb Eller up at the Farm Market Cafe in Onamia, MN -- one of the six public viewing sites across the state.  I love the community-centered approach they took while keeping the "doors" open for individual access and convenience.  Read on to learn more about how Extension Technology worked with the a program team and educators to make it happen.

From face to face to online, while still meeting social objectives

The Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Program and Extension educators in the Northwest region have worked to provide a rich webinar series on local foods, with topics ranging from soil fertility to backyard poultry, basic business planning and beyond. Past series have connected local foods enthusiasts from across the state with the support of both iTV and UMConnect technology. The team worked with Extension Technology to conduct an audience analysis of past participants’ experiences with the Local Foods College, and to identify new avenues for serving participants. Participants surveyed were enthusiastic about the ability to engage on local foods issues in a flexible format they can access from home. Feedback also showed, however, that participants valued the Local Foods College as an opportunity to network and gain valuable contacts. To meet these dual goals of flexibility and community-building, the Local Foods College decided to expand their outreach to support more group discussion and interaction online. Extension Technology supported the production of a Moodle site with space for online discussions, video posts, and engagement with presenters and peers on local foods issues.

Image of Local Foods College website.


This project was selected through the Extension e-Learning Proposal Process. We work with Extension Educators, Program Staff, and Faculty who offer training or education, like the Turf and Ground Field Day, Equine Demonstrations, the Local Foods College, the Serve it Up Safely Course, and the Master Gardener Core Course. They are ready to expand their reach, make education more accessible, and/or collaborate with colleagues and community members at a distance. If this is you and you’re ready for help, contact us for a consultation or propose a project!

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