Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Good Food Economy Grows Here 

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Our Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference is the event of the year for anyone with a financial or commercial interest in the Good Food sector.

Meet buyers, retailers, wholesalers and distributors and connect with rising farm and food entrepreneurs — all innovating to meet fast-rising consumer demand for delicious food, produced as locally as possible using sustainable, humane and fair practices.

This event each year brings our community and nation closer to our goal: Good Food on Every Table!

The centerpiece of the Conference is Pitch It! Good Food Takes the Floor, when some of our region’s most promising entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to an audience packed with potential investors and buyers (some of those pitching are Fellows of the latest cohort of FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator). The Financing Fair that follows also provides businesses, buyers and investors with exciting opportunities to meet, greet — and make deals!

Learn more about participating in the Financing Fair. Applications are due by February 20, 2017.

The Thursday schedule also includes informative discussions among industry leaders such as Danny Murphy of MightyVine tomatoes and Viraj Puri of Gotham Greens discussing advances in indoor growing; Michael Bashaw  of Whole Foods Market on urban impact investing; and the hot issue of whether Big Food’s increasing embrace of Good Food is a good thing, a panel that includes Victor S. Friedberg of the Seed 2 Growth venture capital firm, Dave Donnan of the A.T. Kearney management consulting firm, and Julie Smolyansky of Lifeway Foods.

This day-long networking opportunity is capped by a Networking Reception where you will enjoy local food and craft beverages while engaging with funders, investors, entrepreneurs and other attendees.

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 – 12:45 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.

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.