*Special Discount for the panel discussion on September 25th**

See below for details

Get to know your food system:

A six week course on sustainable food systems

Do you: garden, shop at farmers markets, and seek out restaurants that support local farmers? Do you wonder: what else is needed to broaden and deepen the local, sustainable food movement? This course will help answer these questions, by looking behind the scenes of our food systems to explore some of the forward thinking efforts underway. We will explore policies and other barriers that need to be addressed. This course will provide valuable insight and networking opportunities. 

We'll cover a range of issues such as: The Farm Bill, seed sovereignty, food waste diversion, the connections between healthy soil and healthy waterways with guest speakers who are experts on each topic. The series culminates with a panel discussion featuring local chefs and farmers.

The course will include a free meal from local restaurants. Sign up to get to know your local food system and to meet leaders in our sustainable food community.


When: Mondays from 6:00 – 8:00 pm August 14th – September 25th (except Labor Day September 4th)

Where: Urban Ecology Center – Riverside Branch

Who:  Contact info@groundworkmke.org with questions or for more information


Course Overview

This is a six week series exploring the key systems that make up our food system to highlight leaders creating practical solutions to expanding local food systems and major barriers that need to be addressed. There is an option to register either for the entire series or for each course. We encourage people to register for the whole course - if possible - because the classes will build off each other and to build community.

Learn. Connect. Activate.

August 14

Welcome! - Introductions - Course overview – why is there a need for this course?

Participant discussion about our own backgrounds, burning questions, clarifications.

Eat Local Challenge – what does my food system look like?


August 21

Food systems policy: Knee bone connected to the thigh bone

Guest speaker: Margaret Krome, Public Policy Program Director for the Michael Fields Institute where she has worked for two decades on state and federal sustainable agriculture policy advocacy. Over many years, she has collaborated to create and sustain funding for a number of state and federal initiatives supporting environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible agriculture.

Topics will include: Food systems overview, local and national policy, issues affecting equal access to healthy food, issues affecting farmers earning fair prices, and the importance of conservation policy

Farm Bill – creation process, who wins, how this affects end-users


August 28

Intro to Seed Systems: Ownership, Evolution and Heirloom Tomatoes

Guest speaker: Kitt Healy who coordinates the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, a project that engages local farmers and chefs in breeding high-quality vegetable varieties for organic systems. She has a joint Masters degree in Agroecology and Horticulture from UW-Madison.

You may know where your local food comes from, but what do you know about the seed from which it grows? In this class, we will explore this hidden element of the local/organic food movement- beginning with a brief 10,000 year history of agricultural seed, touching on how intellectual property laws apply to living organisms, and ending with concrete ways to grow seed sovereignty in your own community. 


September 11

Compost systems: Diverting food waste at the home, neighborhood, city scales

Guest speaker: Melissa Tashjan - Owner and founder of Compost Crusaders.

This course will explore the approaches of composting at different scales from the backyard, to the community wide, to a metro area. This will also cover the current status of Compost Crusaders – explanation business structure, and look at the pilot project for residential collection with the city and its vision for growth


September 18

Soil and water health: The connection between soil health and the health of nearby waterways

Guest Speaker: Jamie Ferschinger

Why does compost help water runoff issues, how does water work, how water retention in soil improves the nearby waterways?


September 25

Making farm to table work: A panel discussion with farmers and chefs

For the final class we will host a compelling panel discussion with chefs and farmers. This conversation will examine how people are innovating to make local food systems happen everyday. We will discuss some key innovations implemented by both farmers and chefs, while also delving into the existing barriers that need to be addressed.

Guest speakers:

Restaurant Chef – Greg Leon, Amilinda – Caitlin Cullen, The Tandem

Institution Chefs – Jack Kaestner, MATC – Charlotte Litjens, Sustainable Kitchens

Farmers - Peter Sealy, Springdale Farm – Amy Wallner, Fine Fettle Farm


The panel discussion on September 25th is being offered at a reduced rate of $8

($5 if you are UEC member, gardener at a Groundwork garden or a student)

Register Here by September 18th