We at FamilyFarmed conduct most of our work to build a better food system from our base in the city of Chicago. So we relish the opportunities to get into the country and visit the farmers who are the heart and soul of the Good Food movement — such as our trip Monday (July 24) to two of our woman-farmer friends in Pecatonica, a farm town 100 miles to the west with a whole lot of progressive thinking about Good Food growing.
Brenton Balika grew up in the Chicago area in a family in which food and cooking were shared experiences. By his early teens, he developed the passion that led him to a career as a chef; he says the only jobs he has ever held are as a golf caddy when he was in the 8th grade and working his way up through restaurant kitchens. But Brent took a long and winding road to his current high-profile station: developing the soon-to-open Margeaux Brasserie and Petit Margeaux patisserie at Chicago’s Waldorf Astoria hotel for Chef Michael Mina’s San Francisco-based Mina Group. Brent will participate with other top chefs in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for FamilyFarmed and the Frontera Farmer Foundation.
George Siemon co-founded and heads Organic Valley, the Wisconsin-based producer of dairy products, meats and vegetables that is the nation’s biggest organic farmer cooperative. The work of the company to advance the Good Food movement was honored with FamilyFarmed’s Good Business Business of the Year Award.
Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery, LLC, located in Champaign, Illinois, makes artisan, farmstead goat cheeses and goat milk gelato from its herd of 80 milking goats. Owners Leslie Cooperband and Wes Jarrell also host Slow Food, farm-to-table meals and other agri-tourism events. And now they are movie stars, And now they are even movie stars, thanks to A Farmer’s Road, a new documentary about Prairie Fruits, which will be shown March 26 at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival.