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 works directly with family farmers as well as with local and national organizations that serve farmers and are working to build local food systems. We also work through our website, annual Good Food Festival & Conference, and Chicagoland CSA Guide to educate the public about eating locally grown food, supporting farm families, and becoming members of local CSA programs. Our Programs Include:
Farm to School
FamilyFarmed has partnered with the Chicago Public Schools to develop their local food procurement program. During our partnership, their foodservice provider Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality has purchased over $3 million in fruits and vegetables from local farmers in the FamilyFarmed network. This innovative program includes a preference for farms using Integrated Pest Management techniques and produce grown without the use of organophosphate pesticides. FamilyFarmed looks forward to strengthening and expanding this win-win program to additional schools and colleges.
Developing wholesale markets for family farmers is key to building local food systems as more than 99% of agricultural products consumed in America are purchased through wholesale channels. FamilyFarmed works to build demand and supply and helps to create infrastructure that supports the growth of the system. FamilyFarmed works with many leading buyers of local food including Whole Foods Market, Chipotle, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Sysco, Compass Group, Goodness Greeness, Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality (Chicago Public Schools), Irv & Shelley’s Fresh Picks, Testa Produce, and others to connect them with local food sources.
FamilyFarmed also provides technical assistance and training for farmers. We published Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Selling, Postharvest Handling and Packing Produce. The 255-page manual includes comprehensive sections on issues such as Building Relationships with Buyers, On-Farm Food Safety and Calculating Return in Investment. It also includes over 100 crop profiles that give specific harvesting, cooling, storage, and packing information on most of the fruits and vegetables grown in the United States. It is the basis for our Wholesale Success farmer training workshops that are conducted across the US. We also do “Meet the Buyer” events in select markets to link local producers face to face with wholesale buyers.
On-Farm Food Safety is key for all farmers of all sizes. As such, FamilyFarmed is leading the development of a nationally significant on-farm food safety program whereby small to mid-scale fruit and vegetable farmers will have access to a no-charge, easy to use online tool that will help them create a personalized on farm food safety plan. FamilyFarmed will then present workshops to farmers to train them how to use the tool to create a food safety plan, as well as on the importance of incorporating food safety best practices into their regular operations. FamilyFarmed has also worked with both the USDA and the WI Department of Agriculture on food safety projects.
Good Food Festival & Conference
FamilyFarmed produces the annual Good Food Festival & Conference, a trade show, financing and food policy conference, and celebration of local and responsibly produced food. The purpose of the event is to link local farmers and family-owned producers of food and farm products with the public, trade buyers and leaders in the field to foster relationships that facilitate the growth of local food systems. Past speakers at the event have included local and national leaders such as: USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Mayor Richard Daley, journalist and rancher Bill Kurtis, Congressman Bobby Rush, Goose Island CEO John Hall, researcher Mari Gallagher, Organic Valley CEO George Siemon, urban farmer Will Allen, Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Farm Aid Director Carolyn Mugar, farmer Fred Kirschenmann, and leading chefs such as Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan, and Gale Gand.
Local Food Systems Leadership
FamilyFarmed has a history of providing leadership in the local food systems arena through participation in councils, speaking engagements, conferences, meetings, and through consulting. FamilyFarmed.org helped pass the Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act and is represented on the Illinois Food Farms and Jobs Council and on the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council. We also conduct research and consult on Local Food Hub development, an important component of developing regional food systems. Food Hubs are an integral part of the infrastructure necessary to aggregate product from family farmers, and then process, pack, sell, and transport the product, all while meeting the quality and food safety needs of wholesale buyers. FamilyFarmed has produced studies in Illinois and Virginia looking at the need for produce food hubs and is currently working on developing business plans in both states.
FamilyFarmed’s Guide to Chicagoland CSA’s connects consumers directly with farms offering CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares. Consumers can purchase a share of the farm’s harvest at the beginning of the season and then the farmer delivers periodic (usually weekly) boxes or “shares” containing the best of what the growing season has to offer. We also match-make farms with drop-off locations ranging from individual homes to commercial locations such as the Illinois Tollway Oasis and the Aon Center in downtown Chicago.
FamilyFarmed works to enhance fresh local food availability and access throughout Chicago, especially in disinvested communities. Working with community partners and the City of Chicago, FamilyFarmed helped develop a pilot program whereby federal food benefit program benefits can be accepted at farmers markets. Additionally, we partnered with the Wholesome Wave Foundation on a program that doubles the value of such benefit programs at three farmers markets in Chicago serving low-income families. Finally, we are assessing other innovative programs that increase access to fresh local foods in communities without full-service supermarkets.