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Bemidji is interactive site for food conference

"The Home Grown Economy 2010," a conference on building community-based food systems, will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn., with interactive video sessions at Bemidji and three other locations.

The conference is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, DFL, 7th District, who will deliver a presentation during a local food and wine sampler showcase from 5-8 pm. Feb. 15 at SCSU.

The satellite locations for the Feb. 16 conference will be Bemidji State University, University of Minnesota-Crookston, University of Minnesota-Morris and Minnesota State Technical College in Fergus Falls.

The conference will begin at 7:30 a.m. with registration, followed by a welcome at each site and presentations by Peterson and Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture.

Ken Meier of Crossroads Resource Center will do a presentation on "Nurturing Economic Recovery Through Home Grown Foods" and community-based food system innovators will be featured in morning sessions.

After lunch, each local site will feature panels and facilitated participant discussions, followed by an interactive wrap-up with Colleen Landkammer, USDA Rural Development state director.

The Bemidji discussion topic will be "Improving Your Community with Local Food: It's All About Jobs," with Del Moen, chair of Stimulating Economic Progress. Moen will discuss Harvest Thyme Bistro and Prairie Rivers Kitchen, a food partnership in Wadena.

Roundtable discussions will address storage and processing facilities, selling to institutional customers, local food and improved health, farm to school, and other topics related to building a strong local food economy.

Serving on the panel will be Moen; Terry Nennich, University of Minnesota Extension, commercial vegetable and fruit production; Marti Lundin, executive director of Beltrami Wellness Education for Long Life; and Ashley Stevens of the White Earth Lake Recovery Project.

The fee is $45 for the Tuesday conference, $17 for the Monday sampler showcase; $62 for both the conference and showcase. The student conference fee is $10. The fee includes food, beverages and materials.

For registration information, contact Molly Werner at 507-752-5062 or