HistoryA New Vision for the Prairie
“In April, 2001, our team of university and community members came together to begin the long and intricate process of using foods grown in the Upper Minnesota River Valley to fuel the humans who reside here. This simple concept is made complex by a loss of interest and skill in growing food for people, reliance on fast foods, centralization of terminal markets, deterioration of the regional processing infrastructure, institutional requirements, lack of access and availability, and misunderstandings about the legality of using local foods.”
- Audrey Arner, producer and organizer
Pride of the Prairie is:
- A BRAND that identifies the Upper Minnesota River Valley region and it’s local, sustainable, healthy foods.
- An EDUCATIONAL MOVEMENT to help people understand food systems and to make ethical and sustainable choices.
- An INITIATIVE that is supporting and developing a local sustainable food system.
- A COLLABORATION of partners representing diverse parts of a food system to move the work forward.
The Pride of the Prairie initiative began in Spring 2001 with a new vision for the prairie:
Morris Prairie Renaissance Project’s community visioning process (a
multi-year Blandin Foundation funded effort) identified a local foods
initiative as asset building priority.
• UMM administrators re-bidding the campus dining services management contract asked the next management company to serve local foods: “The Contractor shall give first preference to products purchased from community based family farmers (to include organic produce) when the product meets menu requirements and price expectations.”
• The new UM West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership made a local foods initiative one of its first priorities, funding the Land Stewardship Project to lead the initiative and convene interested community members and groups.
"Seeds for the first local foods initiative on a University of Minnesota campus were sown. Today the program is one of the longest running local foods efforts in Minnesota higher education."
- Sandy Olson-Loy, Vice Chancellor, University of Minnesota Morris