“Farm to table” dining may have become commonplace on Chicago’s restaurant menus. But Chef Paul Virant was in the vanguard of the movement just 13 years when he opened Vie restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. And he is all about giving back to the community. Within a recent three-day span, Paul did a cooking demo with the Gardeneers audience for schoolchildren in Englewood, then was the honoree for Angelic Organics Learning Center at their annual dinner.
Visiting Growing Home’s urban farm would be a great field trip for FamilyFarmed wherever it was located. But Growing Home’s location, at 5814 S. Wood Street, and the social mission that it entails is what makes this nonprofit organization truly amazing: It is in the heart of West Englewood, a neighborhood of about 35,000 residents — nearly all African American — that has suffered from decades of job and population loss, economic decline and high crime rates.
We often highlight the potential for Good Food businesses to revitalize economically challenged communities and improve the lives of those who live there. Few businesses combine both of those elements in one person as much as Chicago’s Westside Bee Boyz. Founder Thad Smith’s beekeeping and honey company is still quite small, but he has big dreams for the company. He views it as a platform for community and young entrepreneur development in North Lawndale and other troubled communities in Chicago.
Windy City Harvest operates four training programs on 13 farm sites that, according to Director of Operations Kelly Larsen, “all aim to create a pathway of opportunity within local food” for urban farmers, including youths from economically challenging circumstances. Larsen will share her experiences and expertise in growing Good Food and Good Food jobs in urban communities tomorrow (Thursday, March 16) as a panelist at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference at Chicago’s UIC Forum.
FamilyFarmed is officially launching a Growing Young Farmers series on this Good Food on Every Table site. And we are crowd-sourcing for some of the great stories that we know are out there.
Chicago is a national leader in the urban agriculture movement, and FamilyFarmed recently conducted a bus tour of four of the leading sites that are growing food — and jobs — on the city’s South Side.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator held on event to promote applications for its next program session, which runs from November to April. And the four program grads who took part in a panel discussion agreed: Entrepreneurs seeking to scale up their small Good Food business and dramatically expand their networks should apply.
Urban agriculture in on the rise, in many cases providing jobs, opportunities and access to Good Food for residents of underserved communities. But the farm Jen Rosenthal manages on Chicago’s South Side has particular social significance: It is on a site once occupied by apartment towers of The Robert Taylor Homes, which had grown so troubled-plagued that its residents were relocated and the buildings torn down.
When U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack delivered the keynote address at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference March 24, he spoke three little words that are close to the hearts of the Chicago nonprofit organization and its community of like-minded advocates: Good Food movement.
Chicago nonprofit FamilyFarmed will greatly expand its efforts to train farmers across the United States through cooperative agreements with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and a partnership with Whole Foods Market. These developments also sync up with FamilyFarmed’s own new Direct Market Success program — aimed at “growing young farmers” — supported by an IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign.
FamilyFarmed has launched a fundraising campaign — titled “Help Us Grow Young Farmers!” — to support the latest expansion of its extensive efforts to train farmers across the United States so they can achieve sustainable success. The campaign, staged on the IndieGoGo crowd-funding site, is titled “Help Us Grow Young Farmers!”
Farm Aid publishes a series of profiles on its website of “Farmer Heroes.” Their most recent profile is of Darius Jones, a young Chicagoan and friend of FamilyFarmed, for whom the “hero” title is apt. A troubled youth that resulted in him being incarcerated also set him on the path to the cutting edge of urban agriculture in his hometown.
Chicago will host the 30th anniversary Farm Aid concert this Saturday (Sept. 19). Residents of the nation’s third most-populous city will have the opportunity to reacquaint with issues concerning family farmers, through the highest-profile — and most star-powered — event that benefits them and their causes. Farm Aid is not just about the music, though.
Can a rich dessert be considered Good Food? It can when it is Eli’s Cheesecake and its owner, Marc Schulman, is a strong supporter of the Good Food movement and makes the effort to source from local producers when it is possible to do so.
Chicago on Monday hosted the annual James Beard Foundation culinary awards ceremony, and Rick Bayless was one of the event’s co-chairmen. Famed for popularizing regional Mexican cuisine in the city, he is a celebrity chef with a long-running TV show, and he has just added to his long list of cookbooks. But to many in the Good Food movement, it is his history of helping building the region’s local food system that is his biggest starring role.
Retail outlets, restaurants, schools, and other wholesale buyers have a difficult time finding enough local food to meet the fast-rising consumer demand. FamilyFarmed is addressing that issue through its Wholesale Success program, which has scheduled workshops around the country over the course of this year.
Organic farmer Atina Diffley’s trip to provide food safety training to small farmers in West Virginia underscored the fact that water quality and quantity is a difficult challenge.
Consumer interest in Good Food is growing fast — so fast that it will be impossible to meet demand unless the supply of sustainably and locally produced food expands. One requirement for that expansion is assisting a new generation of young farmers to get established, and giving them the tools they need to succeed. If you are part of one or want to bring one to the world’s attention, please click the link and post a comment.