Tenth annual Local Foods Banquet honors Kevin Dietzel

IVRC&D Local Food Banquet

Hallagan Center — Friday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m.

Boots on the Ground honoree Kevin Dietzel stretches mozzarella. — video still

Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) will hold its 10th annual local food banquet on Friday, Nov. 3, at Mercy Medical Center’s Hallagan Center (701 10th St SE, Cedar Rapids) beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets for the banquet are $40. The organization focuses on regional food systems and creative placemaking. It’s executive director, Jessica Rilling, says there is a lot to celebrate at this year’s banquet.

“In the past 10 years, Iowa Valley RC&D has found its niche as a leader in food system work and this banquet is truly a display of our greatest strengths,” Rilling said. “We treat the event like we treat our work, as a collaborative engagement. This year we are excited to feature 18 producers as well as our partner, a leader in local food procurement, Mercy Medical Center.”

This year, Iowa Valley RC&D will give its annual Boots on the Ground award to Kevin Dietzel of Lost Lake Farm, a grass-based dairy farm in central Iowa.

“It is an honor to get recognition for the work we have been doing here at Lost Lake Farm,” Dietzel said. “But I now truly understand what people mean when they accept awards and say they feel humbled, as I also feel humbled to be the one getting an award when there are so many people that help make this farm happen, allowing and enabling me to be in the privileged position of working full-time as a farmer and cheesemaker.”

A wide variety of area farms and other producers will contribute food for the banquet.

He believes the award is about far more than his own work.

“The most valuable part of the Boots on the Ground Award is that it helps us to showcase our grass-fed dairy and cheesery as part of a growing sustainable food and farming system to regenerate and revitalize rural Iowa,” he said.

Dietzel has big goals for what might be accomplished in Iowa agriculture.

“Iowa is such a productive environment,” he said. “We should have a goal of producing all of our own meat, milk, cheese and grains, but also at least 75% of our year-round produce and 50% of our fruit. This is a lofty vision, and it takes a whole food system to do it: lots of farmers and farm workers; distributors and truckers; processing plants for meat, vegetables and dairy; retailers and restaurateurs; and organizations such as Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Iowa Valley RC&D to help make it all happen.”

Rilling is confident that her organization will, in fact, help make goals like Dietzel’s a reality.

“Our goals in the coming years are to do meaningful and measurable work, grow our organizational capacity and our statewide network and realize positive change in our food system,” she said.

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