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.
“FamilyFarmed has been great for our business. When we had a bumper crop of blueberries, they helped us land the financing to get them processed so we could provide them to our customers throughout the year. Sure beat leaving them on the vines!” – Frank Corrado, Owner, Joe’s Blues
“Our business would not be here without the help of FamilyFarmed and the Good Food Festival & Conference. Through these relationships, we built our network of trade buyers, raised over $1 million in financing, and even hired our ‘Chief Poperating Officer.’ Heck, they even helped us be featured in a two-page spread in a New York Times Food Section cover story.” – Gene Mealhow, CEO, Tiny But Mighty Popcorn
Since its launch by FamilyFarmed in 2011, the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference has played a major role in connecting farm and food entrepreneurs with investors so their business can start up or scale up. The Financing & Innovation Conference in 2014 also spawned FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator program, and between the two, FamilyFarmed has helped generate more than $36 million in equity and debt financing for rising food businesses.
Now the Financing & Innovation Conference is entering a new phase: After seven years as the first day of a three-day is part of a three-day Good Food Festival & Conference, Financing & Innovation is being broken out as a stand-alone event starting in 2018. The broader event will now take place over two days and is next scheduled for March 23-24, 2018; Financing & Innovation will be scheduled for May or June, at a date to be determined.
The Financing & Innovation Conference brings together national and regional leaders in farming, food production, and finance to facilitate efforts by small-acreage farmers and food entrepreneurs to access capital and fund growth. Launched in partnership with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2011, this conference helps attendees gain new insights and inspiration from successful farmers, food entrepreneurs, and investors, and learn strategies to grow their businesses.
The event also includes a Financing Fair where promising businesses exhibit and selected businesses pitch directly to potential funders, investors, and bankers who have interest in small farms and growing Good Food businesses. Since 2015, Fellows participating in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator program have pitched their business plans at the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference.
SLoFIG, a Chicago-based angel investment group focused on sustainable food businesses, debuted at the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, and the Angel Food Network first participated in the 2014 conference. Together, these groups have 40 angel investors. One of the best examples of FamilyFarmed’s impact in this area is Chicago’s Phoenix Bean Tofu, a member of the first Good Food Accelerator cohort (2014-15), which secured a $1.5 million SBA-backed loan that will enable the fast-growing business to increase its production capacity five-fold.