Food conference, writing workshop available online


The Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement is hosting online workshops pertaining to food access and sustainability.

The second Indiana Uplands Winter Food Conference will start Monday and run for three weeks. The conference will focus on local food access and economic value.

"The food system impacts all of us, from farmers and producers to consumers,” said Kyla Cox Deckard, director of communications for the Indiana Univerity Center for Rural Engagement. “We encourage anyone in Dubois County and the surrounding region who is interested in local food to join us for these sessions.”

“We are building on the first county meetings from the Local Food, Local Good project and the Indiana Uplands Winter Food Conference last year to continue discussing and sharing ideas related to food system issues,” said Jodee Ellett, community engagement specialist at IU’s sustainable food systems science.

Week one will focus on school and community gardening. “Parents, students, teachers, families, cities, gardeners and others will come together to discuss how public gardens enhance communities,” Ellett said, “but also some of the ways to link gardens together and fund them.”

Week two will focus on food access, literacy and health. “The second week ‘food as medicine’ presentations and discussions is open to those in health care, nonprofits, public health, farmers, food distributors and support actors who are actively working to leverage healthy diets for healthier people and communities,” Ellett said. “From hospitals to farmers, how can we assemble programs in a community to use healthy, locally grown food for the prevention and treatment of diet related diseases?”

Week three will focus on local and regional food value chain, the roles and market channels of coordinating professionals and an exploration of community roles. “The last week will help us work through the ‘what is a value chain’ conversation and how businesses and others participate and support a more vibrant, locally oriented food system. We will learn about all the ways people can intentionally work in this space.”

The conference will end with an interactive chocolate tasting and discussion led by Indiana University professor Anya Royce.

“The Indiana Uplands Winter Food Conference is one of many initiatives informed by partnerships between IU and community residents and leaders,” Deckard said. “The sessions will expand upon topics we discussed together in Dubois County during 2019 community meetings.”

Also in 2019, surveys were dispensed with questions about food access and sustainability. Surveys were done in Dubois and other counties and much of that information was reflected and discussed at the first food conference, held in January 2020.

The center for rural engagement is also sponsoring a six-week online writing workshop called “Cold Comfort: Writing Our Lives in Troubled Times, Part Two.” The workshop will be held via Zoom from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays from Feb. 2 to March 9. An online writing class for teens was held last summer.

“This past year finds us exhausted, antsy, helpless, bewildered, angry, and fearful,” an event spokesperson said in a press release about the workshop. “The weight of all this has left many of us worn out. In this virtual workshop we will come together to write together in our living rooms around the fire of our collective imaginations.”

Indiana University Provost Professor Catherine Bowman will guide participants through the process of writing, encouraging each to create new writings. There will be writing suggestions, exercises, experiments and readings.

The class is open to all writing levels and for all writing genres, such as fiction, nonfiction and poetry. A private class page will be available for participants to post if they choose, and the workshop will culminate with a live reading

“Together we will ignite our imagination and visions and get the juices flowing on the page,” the spokesperson said.

Registration for the writing workshop and winter food conference can be completed through Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement’s website:

More on