Monday, November 19, 2012
Main Lounge, Iowa Memorial Union

On behalf of the University of Iowa, I welcome you to our campus and community. We are very proud to host this historic event. For the first time in the twelve years that Iowa State University and the University of Iowa have partnered on the Annual Iowa Organic Conference, we are holding it here in Iowa City. Our community has many enthusiastic and creative people who are dedicated to organic and local foods, and I know you’ll find a very welcoming and friendly environment here with us.

Our commitment at to environmental stewardship at the UI has only grown since I challenged our university to take up the university’s sustainability initiative. Through this initiative, we seek to incorporate sustainability principles throughout the university:  in our teaching and learning, in our research and scholarship, in our campus operations, and in our service to society.

The University of Iowa’s Office of Sustainability, directed by Liz Christiansen, has obviously played a key role in our efforts, and it has played a major leadership role in this conference as well. The Office has provided meeting space for the planning committee’s monthly meetings. And they have provided incredible support for student activities, including the UI Gardeners, whose produce you will be enjoying in the organic meal today. Our sustainability office is a leader in working with the campus on the principles used in organic farming practices: recycling, re-use, and resource conservation. I am very proud of the Office of Sustainability’s record, and I look forward to more great work from them on energy conservation, renewable energy, and local foods.

As I mentioned before, this area of Iowa is very well-known for its organic farmers and consumers. Within 50 miles of Iowa City, we have one of the largest concentrations of organic farmers and processors in the state. We also have the state’s largest organic food co-operative, New Pioneer, who is also a sponsor of the conference. And we have Iowa’s most popular farmer’s market. This fall, the Iowa City Farmer’s Market was named the number one market in the state by American Farmland Trust in its annual “America’s Favorite Farmers Markets” contest. The Iowa City market also made the national Top 20 list in the large market category, garnering the #17 spot and sharing the limelight with markets from much larger metro areas, including Seattle, St. Paul, Omaha, and Baltimore.

As you can see, we are enthusiastic about good and healthy food here in the Iowa City area. So it is a great honor to have such outstanding organic leaders with us today, including Will Allen of Growing Power, Fred Kirschenmann of Iowa State’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Jeff Moyer of the Rodale Institute, and many other talented farmers and organic specialists.

Of course, no food conference is complete without great food! As I noted before, you are in for a treat with a phenomenal noon meal prepared by UI Dining Services, led by Executive Chef Barry Greenberg. Barry and his staff have done a fantastic job of sourcing local and organic meats, dairy, and produce for this conference, and we salute them for leading our farm-to-fork efforts on campus.

We appreciate your attendance today, and I offer you my best wishes for an enlightening and inspiring meeting. I also look forward to hosting many more joint activities promoting sustainability with Iowa State University. Enjoy our beautiful campus and enjoy the conference!