Local Foods Conference 2022 Recap

After two years of virtual conferences,  attendees of the South Dakota Local Foods conference were excited to be back together in person for this year’s conference in Sturgis.  

SDSU Extension & the S.D. Department of Tourism kicked off the conference with a day long Agritourism training for producers who have added, or are curious about adding, this type of enterprise to their operation.  Thursday evening, those who had made it to town despite the snow storm, gathered at the Sturgis Brewing Company for conversations while connecting with friends and meeting others involved in local foods. 

Friday morning the conference started at the Strugis Community Center with Natatlie Stites Mean’s keynote speech. From there, the day of breakout sessions began.  Attendees could choose from three different speakers during each session, with topics including soil health, technology for food production, sheep production, farm to school, a chef panel, and more. 

Saturday morning began with a panel of SARE grant recipients sharing their stories on a Lakota regenerative agroforestry permaculture demonstration farm, Creating a Roller Crimper on a Budget, and a project to help producers build small meat processing capacity. Before resuming more breakout speakers, a second keynote speaker, Hannah Breckbill, gave a talk on ‘Relying on Each Other: The Practice of Community’. The day concluded with tours of Bear Butte Gardens and Belle Valley Ancient Grains.

Throughout the conference, meals and snacks all featured foods prepared by local chefs utilizing local and in season ingredients. During breaks, attendees were also able to stop and visit with the twenty vendors who were present. But perhaps the most important aspect of the 2022 Local Foods Conference were the conversations happening at the tables and in the hallways of the conference, where attendees were discussing new ideas gained from the speakers, sharing knowledge between each other, and building on ideas to strengthen the local food system in South Dakota.