FamilyFarmed is a non-profit organization committed to expanding the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food, in order to enhance the social, economic, and environmental health of our communities.
The annual Good Food Festival & Conference began in 2004 as the Local Organic Trade Show, the first event of its kind. The event has been foundational in building local food infrastructure and creating lasting relationships that have helped push the Good Food Movement forward. A decade and more later, the demand for local food is greater than the supply, everyone is more conscious of where our food comes from, and large buyers — including grocery stores, distributors, and institutions — are rushing to keep up with the rapidly changing marketplace.
The Good Food Festival & Conference has grown into a three-day event — next held March 16-18, 2017 at Chicago’s UIC Forum — that connects all parts of Good Food movement. It provides in-depth programming that helps finance farms and businesses; grow local procurement capacity; engage local school districts; discuss local, statewide, and national food policy; and educate the public about the importance and impact of Good Food. The increasing impact and importance of our big annual event has been underscored by the growing participation of major officeholders, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, and Cook County (Chicago) Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
With all of these stakeholders networking through our sessions and trade show, unique opportunities arise for growing the Good Food movement. Over the past 13 years, multiple local procurement relationships have begun at the Good Food Festival & Conference, new products have been launched, businesses have gained access to financing, and major local food procurement achievements by Midway Airport, McCormick Place, and Chicago Public Schools have been announced. In addition, the entire Good Food community has been inspired by more than 700 leaders who have spoken at the event.
The Good Food Festival & Conference is not simply a farmer- and industry-focused event, though. It’s a celebration of sustainable agriculture and Good Food. Members of the public who attend the full-day Good Food Festival programming have the opportunity to learn directly from experienced farmers and gardeners through long-form DIY workshops and “Good Food Commons” mini-sessions; hear from thought leader panelists about the future of our agricultural system; watch cooking demos, emphasizing local food, by culinary leaders such as Frontera’s Rick Bayless and One Off Hospitality’s Paul Kahan (both past recipients of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Chef of the Year Award); and engage with more than 150 farmer, food business, and nonprofit exhibitors. Speakers have included urban and rural sustainable agriculture pioneers such as Will Allen and Fred Kirschenmann.
In 2016, more than 5,000 people attended the Good Food Festival & Conference. The Good Food Festival educates the public about sustainable agriculture and Good Food systems, fosters lasting connections between farmers, food producers, and consumers, and inspires everyone to incorporate Good Food into their lives!
The Good Food Festival & Conference will continue to provide cutting-edge programming, as well as a place for farms and food businesses to network with consumers, buyers, and funders. No other event brings together such a wide range of farmers, food entrepreneurs, food policy stakeholders, sustainable agriculture visionaries, and community members all in one place. Our offerings will continue to be at the forefront of the Good Food movement, and our event will continue to be an important part of growing the sustainable agriculture community in Chicago and beyond!
“The Good Food Trade Show has been a great place to meet new producers and build relationships with the broader local food community.” – Bobby Turner, Vice President of Purchasing, Whole Foods Market
“The workshops were enlightening and inspiring. They gave me a base for which to begin further research and the drive to get involved. This event really added to my growing interest in the Good Food Revolution, Sustainable Design and overall green living.” – Zach Martin, Sustainable Design Student, Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago
“The Good Food Festival & Conference is a great forum in which to hear from the farmers as well as to meet new farmers.” – Eric Frame, Chipotle Mexican Grill
“I don’t know why we didn’t join the Good Food Festival before – it has been helpful on so many levels. We were able to interact with buyers from a number of companies that helped us not just gain customers, but to learn what they are looking for and how to develop products that suit them as well as hone our message to let them know we have what they want.” – Jenny Yang, Phoenix Bean LLC