Calendar of Events

Networking Reception
Mar 16 @ 8:30 am – 9:00 am

columbia-street-roasteryArrive early and connect with Good Food leaders over refreshments provided by official coffee partner and sponsor Columbia Street Roastery

Musical Medley
Mar 16 @ 8:55 am – 9:00 am
Welcome to a Center of Good Food Innovation
Mar 16 @ 9:00 am – 9:15 am

An overview of Regional and National initiatives to Finance and Expand Good Food Businesses.

Urban Impact Investing and Community Revitalization
Mar 16 @ 9:15 am – 10:15 am

FamilyFarmed and other Good Food advocates believe that the fast-growing market for local and sustainable food can fuel economic growth in general, and can have an especially positive impact on the revitalization of economically struggling urban communities. Leading experts in the Chicago area will share their views on how urban farms and food businesses can promote prosperity with the assistance of venture capital, other private funding, corporate programs abetting entrepreneurship, and public policy initiatives.

Good Food Business of the Year Award
Mar 16 @ 10:15 am – 10:30 am

We are pleased to present FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Business of the Year Award to Seed 2 Growth (S2G) Ventures — a venture fund investing in transformative food and agriculture companies — and its managing directors: Victor E. Friedberg, a 20-year veteran of investing in innovation, global development and sustainability; Chuck Templeton, acting chairman of Impact Engine, founder and former CEO of Open Table, and founding chairman of Grub Hub; and Sanjeev Krishnan, who has 15 years of experience in venture and private equity investments, including a focus on agriculture and food companies.

Producing Good Food Close to Home
Mar 16 @ 10:45 am – 11:30 am

Leaders from urban farms and indoor growing operations discuss Chicago’s emergence as a national model for urban farming.

Pitch It! Good Food Takes The Floor
Mar 16 @ 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Fellows from the Good Food Business Accelerator and other Good Food Entrepreneurs present their businesses to prospective investors and stakeholders who can help them grow their business. This session will be moderated by Bram Bluestein of the Bluestein & Associates LLC investment firm.

FamilyFarmed: Into the Future
Mar 16 @ 12:30 pm – 12:38 pm

Introducing FamilyFarmed’s new logo and branding for the organization and the Good Food Festival & Conference, and the organization’s strategic plan to initiate a national dialogue about Good Food.

Welcome from UIC Forum & Farmer’s Fridge Lunch Introduction
Mar 16 @ 12:38 pm – 12:53 pm
Financing Fair – Meet the Hottest Good Food Businesses Seeking Capital
Mar 16 @ 12:45 pm – 2:30 pm

GFFC_Barry_Brecheisen_IMG_1332_finfair_webThe afternoon Financing Fair provides a dynamic environment where innovative farms and food businesses seeking capital can engage with funders, pitch their business plans, and forge new partnerships! More than $30 million in business investments have been raised by past participants in Good Food Festival Financing Fairs and the Good Food Business Accelerator.

Networking Lunch with Farmer’s Fridge and Eli’s Cheescake
Mar 16 @ 12:45 pm – 2:30 pm

farmers_fridgeeli-logoLunch is generously provided by Farmer’s Fridge and Eli’s Cheesecake.

Farmer’s Fridge, which sells delicious, super-fresh salads in recyclable jars from customized vending machines, got a big boost from its participation in the Good Food Financing Fair. Marc Schulman, CEO of Eli’s Cheesecake, is a co-chairman of the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference.

Big Food’s Embrace of Good Food
Mar 16 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

A number of conventional food companies have moved into the Good Food space by either launching new products or buying up companies that market sustainably produced food. Many people view this positively as a sign that the growing consumer demand for better food is being acknowledged in our corporate food system, but there are concerns about Good Food products being “dumbed down” or used as window dressing. This panel of experts in this area is bound to be compelling.

Sustainable Agriculture Education Convening
Mar 16 @ 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm

This meeting will bring together organizations providing sustainable farmer education in Illinois and Wisconsin to discuss improvements that can be made in this area. This will include identifying unmet needs in sustainable farmer training, identifying how to extend the reach of conservation messaging, and exploring possible collaborations

If you would like to be included in this meeting, please email

Innovation in Food Marketing, Sales and Distribution
Mar 16 @ 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

An exploration of new programs, strategic initiatives and business models that are bringing innovations to the way food products go to market.

Craft Beverage Reception
Mar 16 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Enjoy food and craft beverages while engaging directly with funders, investors and attendees. Open to all Thursday attendees.

The current list includes:
Brickstone Brewery
Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery
Karma Kombucha
Simply Native
Skyline Kitchen Inc. (TeaSquares)

More partners are being added daily!

Routes to Farm Beginning Farmer of the Year Award
Mar 17 @ 9:00 am – 9:20 am

Routes to Farm is a collaboration of farmer alliances in the regional foodshed of greater Chicago dedicated to training the emerging generation of local and sustainable farmers. 

Angelic Organics Learning Center and the Upper Midwest CRAFT farmer alliance launched the Beginning Farmer of the Year award in 2013 in order to celebrate and promote new farmers growing for our local and sustainable food and farm economy. The winner of this award selects the Mentor Farmer of the Year, honoring an experienced farmer who generously provided mentoring at some time during their first 10 years of startup.

Read more about the 2017 finalists!

Vision 20/20 The Good Food Movement, Powered by Pecha Kucha
Mar 17 @ 9:20 am – 9:50 am

Pecha Kucha is a trademarked presentation format in which people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplined provide fast-paced, visually driven talks about their areas of interest. FamilyFarmed, for the first time ever, will present its own Pecha Kucha, with presenters from across the Good Food movement spectrum.

Does Good Food Need to be Local?
Mar 17 @ 9:50 am – 10:50 am

For many years, the Good Food movement and the Local Food movement were virtually synonymous. But the growing consumer demand for food produced sustainably, humanely and fairly has, for some products, outstripped local supply capacity. This panel will explore whether “local” is crucial, or whether the Good Food movement should be thinking globally while acting locally.

Get in the Game – Wholesale Readiness
Mar 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Despite the growth of direct market platforms in recent years, well more than 90 percent of the food Americans eat still goes through wholesale channels. Businesses seeking to reach buyers in or through the wholesale market will benefit for the expertise of the panelists in this session.

Good Grain Basics: What You and Your Business Needs to Know
Mar 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Join us in a wide-ranging discussion that will increase your local grain vocabulary and appreciation. Understand the types and varieties of sustainably-grown small grains available, the benefits these grains offer, and how to address the increasing demand for these products. From farm-fresh flour to local barley-brewed beer, we’ve got you covered.

Growing Urban Agriculture from the Ground Up
Mar 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:15 pm

A panel of leaders from Chicago’s urban agriculture movement will provide an overview of current policy initiatives that support urban gardens and farms, and lead a training on how to become a grassroots urban agriculture “Ward Ambassador” to effect positive change on the local level.

Setting the Table for Change
Mar 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:15 pm

State and local laws play an important role in how we grow, distribute and access food. Yet many times, it can be difficult to figure out how to monitor policy changes at different levels of government and make your voice heard. Whether you live in a small town or a big city, this session will help you craft a successful plan for changing laws. We will walk through a couple of case studies, and then provide you with an activist toolkit that you can take home and adapt to your own needs.

Take Our Lead: Education and Healthcare Good Food Champions
Mar 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Celebrate the successes of those leading Good Food efforts in education and healthcare institutions. Learn what has allowed them to succeed and what advice they have for implementing your own strategies.

The Forgotten Sector: Agriculture and Climate Change
Mar 17 @ 11:00 am – 12:15 pm

What is the role of the food system in global climate change? This workshop will consider the reasons why food and agriculture get so little attention in climate change policy discussions and call for a more robust approach to accelerating adoption of practices that will both reduce to greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and make farms more resilient to changes.

Networking Lunch on the Exhibit Floor
Mar 17 @ 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm

Please visit our Good Food Court vendors and support local food with your lunch purchase. Your purchase helps support local farmers and food businesses and continue to grow the Local Food Movement.

New Food Channel: Online Sales Workshop
Mar 17 @ 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm

Online selling presents a great opportunity for Good Food businesses to get their products to market. Join our expert led workshop on how to make this sales channel work for you.

Save the Soil: Soil Protection and Conservation
Mar 17 @ 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm

Is our soil dead? Find out why soil heath is critical to plant growth, nutrition and human health. Learn techniques for how to save and grow your soil and further understand why soil vitality is critical to a sustainable agricultural system.

Trends in Food & Entrepreneurship
Mar 17 @ 12:45 pm – 2:00 pm

New food businesses are creating a new breed of entrepreneurs. Come and explore emerging food & beverage trends.

Addressing Food Access Through Cooperatives
Mar 17 @ 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

A roundtable discussion on how healthy food access and food insecurity can be overcome through community-owned and supported cooperative food businesses. The session will highlight the power of cooperatives to create resilient local food economies for communities facing barriers to access and healthy food options. Successful models will be presented, both locally and nationally.

Chicago Food Policy Action Council
Mar 17 @ 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

The Chicago Food Policy Action Council will present on current and upcoming food policy efforts in Chicago including procurement, urban farmland access, urban farm licensing and commercial livestock, food access and developing a plan for expanding productive land use.

New President, New Congress – The Future of Federal Food and Farm Policy
Mar 17 @ 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

In this time of change, it is more important than ever that we in the sustainable agriculture community make our priorities clear, and that we take the opportunity to continue to shape the direction of agricultural policy for the next four years and foreseeable future. Join us for a discussion and listening session about the future of federal food and farm policy with a focus on opportunities and strategies to ensure that a diverse coalition of family farmers and ranchers, conservationists, and local and regional food enthusiasts have a place at the table over the coming years.

Good Meat: Raising Practices and Processing
Mar 17 @ 2:30 pm – 3:45 pm

Join smaller and larger meat raising operations in discussing best practices in caring for animals and processing the meat they provide.

Local Sourcing: Success & Failures
Mar 17 @ 2:30 pm – 3:45 pm

This presentation will explore how panelists have worked to expand their local food offerings and/or meet the demand for local purchasing.Challenges that have been faced during the procurement, distribution and sale will be discussed.

Producers Unite: Co-ops, Hubs and Aggregators
Mar 17 @ 2:30 pm – 3:45 pm

This presentation will explore how panelists have worked to expand their food offerings and “to market” opportunities by working in conjunction with other food producers and by creating necessary operations and distribution infrastructure.

Fair Wages for Food Workers
Mar 17 @ 3:00 pm – 4:15 pm

Living off tips is precarious, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Raising the minimum wage and eliminating the tipped credit would provide a significant stimulus to the U.S. economy in tipped wages alone, providing a boost to local economies and the broader food industry, as well. We’re launching the campaign in 2017 in Illinois and the Chicagoland.

Strengthening Alliances for Better Food Policy
Mar 17 @ 3:00 pm – 4:15 pm

In the upcoming years, it will be more important than ever for organizations to effectively work together. This panel featuring good food leaders from across the sector will illustrate examples of successful coordination, and discuss opportunities for shared effort and discuss ways that we can be more powerful when we discover common goals and unified strategies to achieve policy wins.

Closing the Loop: Effective Recycling and Recovery of Good Food
Mar 17 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Discover how the composting and donating of food can strengthen local soil and the community.

How to Grow Your Business through Good Food Partnerships
Mar 17 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

This presentation will explore how panelists have worked in tandem with producers, farmers, community organizations, non-profits and others to grow their businesses and bring Good Food to every table.

Transitioning to Organic: How & Why
Mar 17 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Join us in a discussion of the benefits and challenges of transitioning to organic. We’ll identify what education and ongoing support resources are available and how best to build capacity and community around organic production and transition.

Networking Reception
Mar 17 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

An opportunity to meet and network with business leaders, buyers, and producers. Local craft beers, spirits and wines will be poured with Good Food treats and refreshments provided by local partners. Open to all Friday exhibitors, speakers and attendees; others may purchase a ticket to attend the Networking Reception only.

The current list includes:

Brickstone Brewery
Forbidden Root Restaurant & Brewery
Karma Kombucha
KOVAL Distillery
Niman Ranch
Simply Native
Skyline Kitchen Inc. (TeaSquares)
Strauss Brands

More partners are being added daily!

Organic Valley Good Food Commons
Mar 18 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Cultivate your curiosity and learn new skills at informal, 20-minute micro-workshops. Topics may include growing and preserving; cooking and culinary techniques; composting; raising animals; and ways to build and strengthen the Good Food movement in our communities. Come ready to learn and bring your questions! Please check back closer to the date for scheduling updates.

Good Food Chef of the Year Award and Demo
Mar 18 @ 10:30 am – 11:15 am

Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Chicago’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken are the co-recipients of FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Chef of the Year Award. Honey Butter Fried Chicken, located in the Avondale neighborhood, has been a star of the Chicago fast-casual scene since it opened in 2013. And Christine and Josh have received well-deserved attention for their Good Food principles, including local and sustainable sourcing, fair and inclusive treatment of their workers, and their social conscience embodied in the fact that Honey Butter was the first in Chicago to declare itself a “Sanctuary Restaurant.”

After the award ceremony, Christine and Josh will conduct a cooking demo that will kick of our Chefs at Play program on the main stage.

FamilyFarmed presents its Good Food Chef of the Year Award to a culinary star who shares our principles for a better, healthier, more sustainable and more economically productive food system. Past winners are Rick Bayless of the Frontera restaurant group, Paul Fehribach of Big Jones restaurant; and Paul Kahan of the One Off Hospitality Group.

Mood & Food
Mar 18 @ 10:30 am – 11:45 am

How food impacts mood, behavior and learning.

Purple Asparagus with Chef Tom Van Lente
Mar 18 @ 11:30 am – 11:50 am

Purple Asparagus, a longtime participant in the family-friendly programming at the Good Food Festival, will do a presentation on its popular program that brings fun and information lessons on food to Chicago classrooms, accompanied by Chef Tom Van Lente of Chicago’s The Winchester restaurant.

Artisan Grain Collaborative: Growing, Milling, Baking
Mar 18 @ 12:00 pm – 12:45 pm

The Artisan Grain Collaborative will showcase and demonstrate the process of milling locally grown wheat — and baking a sourdough bread! We will present an up-close opportunity to see and learn the traditional methods of stone milling wheat into flour, and using that flour to bake a healthy and locally sourced loaf of artisan bread.

Good Food Programs In Our Schools
Mar 18 @ 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

The best way to instill good lifetime eating habits is to start when children are very young. Experts and advocates who bring food education to classroom will discuss at an engaging panel discussion.

Sustainable Seafood: What’s It All About?
Mar 18 @ 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

It is vital for consumers to factor species sustainability into their seafood choices, and programs such as Seafood Watch at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have greatly raised public awareness. This panel will help guide you on best choices and how to find sustainable seafood.

Urban Agriculture’s Presence and Importance with Good Food
Mar 18 @ 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

Chicago is recognized as a national center for urban agriculture and innovative growing practices. This panel will discuss how urban farming contributes to the economy, environment, health and culture of our cities.

Aaron Lirette, Green River: Chef Demo
Mar 18 @ 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm

Green River, in downtown’s Streeterville neighborhood, opened in 2015 and made its first splash with its mixology program. But the excellent cooking by Aaron Lirette and his team soon received the attention it deserved from diners — and from the Michelin restaurant guide, which gave Green River a coveted star. Green River‘s website says Aaron’s “culinary philosophy stems from his commitment to working with local purveyors.”

Good Food & Waste: What’s A Consumer To Do?
Mar 18 @ 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm

One of the most shocking statistics about our food system is that upwards to 40 percent the food we produce goes to waste. This is a rising issue of concern, and innovators — such as the participants on this panel — are developing ways to reduce this number while providing access to better food for those in need.

Good Food Is Good Medicine
Mar 18 @ 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm

Medical training in the United States typically focuses on treating symptoms of illness, and has been lacking in a crucial element — the impact of food on health. But there is rising interest in “integrative medicine” and other approaches that factor food into efforts to prevent illness. This important subject makes this a can’t-miss panel.

Paula Haney, Hoosier Mama Pie Company
Mar 18 @ 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm

As Hoosier Mama’s old-timey slogan goes, “Save Your Fork, There’s Pie.” Hoosier Mama Pie Company has been one of the Chicago area’s most popular bakers since it opened in 2009, in part because of Haney’s dedication to artisan ingredients. Along with two restaurants, Hoosier Mama Pie is a longtime vendor at Chicago’s Green City Market.

The Importance of Soil and Its Connection To Good Food
Mar 18 @ 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm

Maintaining the health of our nation’s soils is a vital factor in a sustainable future for our agriculture. This panel will discuss the challenges to soil health, what is being done to address them, and soil’s contribution to containing climate change

Rob Levitt, The Butcher & Larder at Local Foods
Mar 18 @ 3:00 pm – 3:45 pm

Rob Levitt studied at the Culinary Institute of America and was a highly regarded chef and restaurateur — before he shifted gears and opened The Butcher & Larder meat shop in 2011. The Butcher & Larder has become a Chicago Good Food icon a little more than five years, serving sustainably and humanely produced meat with a heaping helping of first-rate customer service. First located in a small store in the Noble Square neighborhood, The Butcher & Larder is now part of Bucktown’s Local Foods grocery store.

Rob is fresh off receiving a Good Food Award for charcuterie at a ceremony held in San Francisco in January.




Rick Bayless, Frontera
Mar 18 @ 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm

Rick Bayless not only popularized regional Mexican food in the United States through his much-awarded restaurants, TV shows and cookbooks — he did so as a pioneer among chefs in the Good Food movement. He first helped small farmers from the region build a market in Chicago through his ingredient sourcing. Then, starting in 2003, his Frontera Farmer Foundation has provided what now amounts to nearly $2 million in grants to regional farmers to help them succeed.

Rick’s Frontera Farmer Foundation is collaborating with FamilyFarmed on a major fundraising event on April 30 at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration will mark the 30th anniversary of Bayless’ landmark Frontera Grill. Rick also will participate on a timely panel titled “Does Good Food Need to Be Local?,” which will take place at 9:15 a.m. on Friday, March 17 during our Good Food Trade Show and Policy Conference, the middle day of our three-day Good Food Festival & Conference.