The record attendance at FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago underscored important points about the Good Food movement’s growing momentum. More than 7,500 people attended the 13th Good Food Festival & Conference, held March 16-18 at the UIC Forum on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, coming up on Thursday, is Chicago’s must-attend event of the year for investors, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and others who want a heads up about the region’s most promising Good Food businesses and products. And the centerpieces of this world-class networking event are the business pitch event and the Financing Fair.
Though hard cider still makes up a relatively small percentage of the overall U.S. adult beverage market, it has for several years been one of its fastest-growing sectors. And while FamilyFarmed regards craft cider as part of the Good Food movement, it was gratifying to see — while making the tasting rounds at Chicago’s Cider Summit — that more and more producers are wearing their local and sustainable values on their sleeves.
Farmhouse Chicago, located at the west end of downtown, is a genuine farm to table restaurant that sources most of its ingredients from the states that border on Lake Michigan: Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. Since its opening five yeas ago, Farmhouse Chicago also has been a friend of Family Farmed. So it is no coincidence that an event scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 3 — at which Farmhouse will introduce its five new proprietary hard apple ciders — is also a fundraiser for our nonprofit, which will receive 100 percent of the proceeds from the tickets sold.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program has released $44 million in available funding this year, and applications must be postmarked by July 1. This is the right time for farmers interested in value-added production to make their move.
Building the consumer market for Good Food by helping food and farm entrepreneurs start up and scale up is a core principle of FamilyFarmed. It is also the reason why FamilyFarmed in 2014 launched its Good Food Business Accelerator.
So it is no surprise that the competitively selected Fellows who participate in the Good Food Business Accelerator have a high profile at the Financing & Innovation Conference that makes up the first day each year at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference.
T.J. Callahan, the founder and owner of the Farmhouse Tavern restaurants in downtown Chicago and suburban Evanston is a bit wary of the “farm to table” label, which some critics say has been overused to the point of becoming a cliche. “Farm to table, it’s such a nebulous kind of concept,” Callahan said in an interview with Good Food on Every Table. “So we’ve called ourself, from day one, a ‘Midwestern craft tavern.'”