The Local Beet is With FamilyFarmed Expo

March 15, 2011 at 8:49 am

Rob Gardner




Is there any believer in good food who is not aware of this week’s FamilyFarmed Expo?  We plan on meeting this Friday, Saturday and Sunday we believers in a better local food system.  We bankers and funders and farmers and producers looking to expand their businesses.  We policy folk and urban advocates.  We looking to learn and network.  We who just want a good party.  We have it all this week.  And the Local Beet is there with you.

We at the Local Beet gladly participated again in the planning for this Thursday’s Financing Farm to Fork Conference.  In fact, if we had no other involvement with FamilyFarmed, we would want to be involved with this particular event.  The Financing Farm to Fork Conference looks to answer one simple question: how can we build the enterprises that will serve a thriving local food system.  The Farm to Fork Conference answers that in several ways.  There are discussions and keynote addresses by business leaders like Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farms, but especially, there are direct, hands-on workshops and sessions.  The event offers growers and food businesses the chance to meet an array of professionals.  They can meet potential financiers for their businesses.  They can learn from others, including several involved with the University of Chicago Booth Business School, how to better build their enterprises.  This is Thursday, March 17.

On Friday the policy folks interact with the local food trade.  The topics sometimes may seem high or broad, yet in deep you can meet many of the key people involved with building an eat local system in the Chicago area.  If you want a chance to play in the local food playground, Friday is your chance to skin your knees.  Last year, for me, it was especially good to meet various parties launching farmer’s markets across the region.

Friday night we continue with a party, Localicious.  Our friend Alan “Jazzfood” Lake has brought together an interesting collection of food and drink to prove the point that the best way to sell local food is through the tummy.

You do not need to be in private equity or partake in farm policy to come to the Expo on Saturday.  Rather, you have to be interested in learning about all sorts of topics from vertical farming to composting, backyard chickens to understanding the cache behind heirloom foods.  The Local Beet is right there with you for these workshops.  Host of Cheesy Conversations with Keighty, Keighty Alvarez, shares her passion for home cheesemaking in a session at 3:30.  Me, Dad in the Local Family, will speak to a topic near and dear to me, eating local all the time.  And what makes my plea so much more doable, I share my panel with three experts on four season eating.  Terra Brockman, Paul Virant, and Vicki Nowicki will give you all solid advice on how to can, freeze, dry and cold store your food for year round local eating.  I’ll be there telling how I do it.

Saturday is not just about listening.  It is about meeting and sampling and tasting.  Many involved with good foods will have tables in the event’s exhibition hall.  There will also be demonstations from some of your favorite chefs including Top Chef Stephanie Izard.  What’s especially interesting about this year’s demonstrations is that the chef’s are teaming up with some of their favorite local farmers like Peter Klein of Seedlings Fruit.  Of course as she is wont, the Sustainable Cook, Melissa Graham will be holding court in the Kid’s Corner.  One of those many will be the Local Beet.  We wil be at a table with our friends from Slow Food Chicago.  We will have copies of our big, big CSA list, and we will be there to answer all your questions about how to eat local.  Please stop by.

Remember the we is you, me and us.  We will all be there.  If you have not yet, go here to get your tickets.

FamilyFarmed EXPO takes place at the UIC Forum.  The UIC Forum is located at the corner of Halsted and West Roosevelt and is accessible to public transportation.  Inexpensive parking is also available at UIC.