Local Food & Film Fest held at Hearst Center

CECILIA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

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Students and community members gathered at the Hearst Center for the Arts on Saturday, March 2 for the fifth annual Cedar Valley Local Food & Film Festival. The free event featured a gardening class, a film screening and food and non-profit vendors.

Twenty-three different vendors occupied multiple rooms on the lower level of the Hearst Center. Fresh local food, ingredients and plants were on display for sale. Children could participate in an art activity in  a separate room. Non-profit organizations like Green Iowa AmeriCorps and the Cedar Falls Food Co-Op also had tables promoting missions related to local food and food security.

On the gallery level, Black Hawk County Master Gardeners held gardening classes from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Mae Latta Hall. From 1 to 3 p.m., the hall hosted a screening of “Fresh,” an independent documentary film advocating for healthier, more sustainable food on every plate as the norm, not just for a niche market. The viewing was followed by a panel discussion.

The Cedar Valley Local Food & Film Festival is in its fifth year of existence and its second year in Cedar Falls, having previously been held in Waterloo, according to UNI Local Food Program Manager Jodie Huegerich. Originally, the festival focused on local foods; this was its third year of expansion into film screenings.

This year, however, the format of the festival was different from years prior. Huegerich explained that in the past, films were shown at the same time the vendor fair was taking place, but the program decided to hold the vendor fair before showing the feature-length film, allowing festival-goers to attend both.

Organized by the UNI Local Food Program, the festival was also sponsored by UNI’s Recycling & Reuse Transfer Technology Center, Hearst Center for the Arts, Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition, Northeast Iowa Food Bank and the Cedar Falls Seed Library.

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