Ever wonder how your favorite local beer went from the field to the bottle? Do you dream about making your homemade product into a food business?
Then check out the second annual Food Ag Ideas Week led by Grow North. The initiative of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota will be held Oct. 10-15 at a variety of locations in the Twin Cities and in Northfield.
It offers several sessions of interest to emerging and growing food entrepreneurs. This year’s series of speakers, events and tours crosses industry sectors and is focused on sustainable agriculture, food innovation and tech, and social impact.
Geared toward career professionals, there are also several sessions that provide entry points for those who want to get more involved and are curious about the business of food.
Take the “From Field to Glass: Innovation in Brewing and Distilling” session on Oct. 10 that covers the latest advances in the brewing and distilling industry, with a focus on locally sourced artisan grains.
Hosted at the Lab, the new brewing innovation center and taproom in St. Paul (767 N. Eustis St., Suite 115, St. Paul), the daylong event will bring together experts, craft brewers and distillers who will share their stories and discuss opportunities for innovation and continued growth.
“We want to celebrate Minnesota’s amazing brewing and distilling community and spotlight innovative collaborations and inspire new ones,” said Jen Wagner-Lahr, director of Innovation from the Agriculture Utilization Research Institute.
Budding food entrepreneurs will want to meet the most recent class of makers and alumni of the Maker to Market Slow Food Accelerator program showcase. This initiative, a partnership between the Good Acre of Falcon Heights and Lakewinds Food Co-op, provides tools and support for very early startup food companies. Attendees will hear what it takes to bring a homemade product successfully to grocery store shelves and learn about the application process for the next class of participants.
If you’ve ever wondered about alternative sustainable farming practices, take the tour of Northfield’s Main Street Farm, where perennial farming practices are regenerating the land while producing organic vegetables, hazelnuts and poultry.
“It’s really exciting to collaborate with so many innovative leaders in Minnesota’s food and agriculture community,” said Lauren Mehler Pradhan, managing director for Grow North. “The events that our partners are putting on are great ways to learn more about the many ways that entrepreneurs in Minnesota are positively impacting our food system.”
Other sessions of general interest include a panel on emerging food trends and another on reducing food waste.
“The conference provides a remarkable opportunity for anyone in the business of food,” said Rhys Williams, executive director of the Good Acre. “Getting industry leaders together with small farmers, producers, schools, institutions and retailers just doesn’t happen enough.”
Farmers, agriculture researchers and food business professionals will connect on the subject of new crops that offer environmental benefits and an income for farmers.
“Consider Kernza, a perennial wheat developed out of the University of Minnesota, now being used in cafes and bakeries across the state,” said Constance Carlson of the University of Minnesota’s Forever Green Initiative.
Participants can register for individual events. No event costs more than $50, some of them are free, and there are scholarships available for small nonprofits, students and beginning entrepreneurs.
For the full agenda and more information, go to foodagideas.com.