Good Food EXPO| March 9, 2019

Five Questions for EXPO Exhibitors, Part 5

The Good Food Marketplace has been the centerpiece of the Good Food EXPO since it launched in 2004. This will again be the case at the 15th Anniversary Good Food EXPO, March 22-23 at the Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. You will be able to sample and buy products from many of the Midwest’s best food and farm producers. 

We invited EXPO vendors to submit their answers to five questions. Meet Chicago Bread Club, Mud Lake Farm, Country View Dairy, and The Educare Foundation Mentoring Gardens.

There is still time to register to exhibit if you have a Good Food business or organization. Access a registration form at the Good Food EXPO site, and contact Lisette@familyfarmed.org if you have any questions.

You can purchase tickets for the Good Food Trade Show on Friday, March 22. The Good Food Festival on Saturday, March 23 is free, but pre-registration is requested


Chicago Bread Club

Artisan Bread and Local Grain Community

FamilyFarmed: Elevator pitch time: Tell us in a few sentences what your business does and why.

Chicago Bread Club: The mission of the Chicago Bread Club is to share the art and knowledge of bread and to promote the regional grain economy. We meet the last Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m., at locations around Chicago that allow outside food. We usually have a guest host, who can be a farmer, miller, baker, cook, extension agent, researcher, dietitian, brewer, thought leader, etc. — anyone who has knowledge of bread and/or is connected to our regional grain economy. Meetings are free to attend, no need to RSVP, all are welcome. Follow us on Instagram (@chicagobreadclub) and Facebook (/chicagobreadclub) for more information!

FamilyFarmed: We define Good Food as delicious, produced as locally as possible, using sustainable, humane and fair practices. How does your business relate to this definition?

Chicago Bread Club (Shulames Rouzaud, director): As the director of the Chicago Bread Club, someone who has her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietitics and communicates about food on a daily basis with her community, I would never attach moral imperatives to food: good, bad or otherwise. Food is food. All food fits.

In terms of local, fair and sustainable, the Chicago Bread Club’s mission charges us to look to ourselves and our surrounding communities to come together and celebrate staple crops and what comes from them. We are also concerned with regenerating, instead of sustaining, what is going on in our region.

FamilyFarmed: What do you view as the strongest short-term opportunities for your company or organization, what (if any) do you see as obstacles that need to be overcome?

Chicago Bread Club:The main obstacle/opportunity is inclusivity. We are concerned with continuously working on being a resource and a positive meeting space for ALL.

FamilyFarmed: For first-time exhibitors: How did you learn about the Good Food EXPO? What do you hope to gain as a result of your participation?

Chicago Bread Club: We are excited to make new connections! It’s amazing how easy it is to come together over bread, and we look forward to hearing from attendees about what is “bread” for them.

FamilyFarmed: Finally — do you market locally, regionally or nationally and where can we find your products (or get involved with your cause)?

Chicago Bread Club: We advise to all that you look to your neighborhood, city and region to support and celebrate the staple crops that sustain you. Join us every month to hear from farmers, millers, bakers, cooks, extension agents, researchers, dietitians, brewers, and thought leaders, and to connect with your fellow Chicago Bread Club members.


Mud Lake Farm

St. Steve’s Cordials & Sodas

FamilyFarmed: Elevator pitch time: Tell us in a few sentences what your business does and why.

Mud Lake Farm: At Mud Lake Farm, we focus on sustainably growing and making good, wholesome food. We grow a significant portion of the ingredients for our St. Steve’s Cordials and Sodas, striving to create farm-crafted products that are fresh, delicious and healthy.

FamilyFarmed: We define Good Food as delicious, produced as locally as possible, using sustainable, humane and fair practices. How does your business relate to this definition?

Mud Lake Farm: This definition of Good Food is what we are all about! We grow as much and as many of the ingredients as we can for our cordials and sodas. We care deeply about the land we farm and live on, and don’t use any pesticides or herbicides. We care for the people we employ as well as those who purchase our products, and we source from as many local suppliers as we can.

FamilyFarmed:What do you view as the strongest short-term opportunities for your company or organization, what (if any) do you see as obstacles that need to be overcome?

Mud Lake Farm: Our small-batch, farm-crafted sodas and cordials are made with fresh ingredients, are naturally caffeine free, contain less sugar than most on the market, and taste amazing. We’d love to have the sodas available to more customers in our region. The largest obstacles are distribution and secondly, finding a clean-label preservative that works for a small-batch process, and that we feel good about putting in our sodas.

FamilyFarmed: In what years have you exhibited at the EXPO, and how did the experience(s) persuade you to join us again? What do you hope to gain as a result of your participation this year?

Mud Lake Farm: We have exhibited in 2017 and 2018.  Both years we made some good contacts, and as we’re in a better position to grow the soda part of our business, we hope this year’s event will be even better.

FamilyFarmed: Finally — do you market locally, regionally or nationally and where can we find your products (or get involved with your cause)?

Mud Lake Farm: We are looking to market our sodas and cordials regionally in the Great Lakes and Midwest. We distribute through Michigan distributor Cherry Capital Foods currently, and are looking for distributors in other markets. Our sodas and cordials are also available to purchase online (www.ststeves.com) for shipping nationwide.


Country View Dairy

Farmstead yogurt

FamilyFarmed: Elevator pitch time: Tell us in a few sentences what your business does and why.

​Country View Dairy: At Country View Dairy, we make all-natural, minimally processed, award-winning dairy products, crafted in small batches right on our family dairy farm in our micro-creamery. Our focus is on quality over quantity.

FamilyFarmed: We define Good Food as delicious, produced as locally as possible, using sustainable, humane and fair practices. How does your business relate to this definition?

​Country View Dairy: We take great pride in taking care of our cows. We had a Happy Cow Survey completed and our herd ended up in the upper 10 percent of all farms surveyed. We work closely with our nutritionist to make sure their diet keeps them healthy throughout the year. Happy cows create high-quality milk. Our manure management includes pumping as fertilizer for our fields and neighbors’ fields. We recycle water used in the plant right on the farm. Straining the whey out to create Greek yogurt creates an acid whey by-product; we do not strain, but choose to leave the healthy whey on the yogurt and add Milk Protein Concentrate powder to add proteins and texture to our Greek yogurt. The Rapson family home right on the farm next to the creamery uses geothermal heating and air conditioning.

FamilyFarmed: What do you view as the strongest short-term opportunities for your company or organization, what (if any) do you see as obstacles that need to be overcome?

​Country View Dairy:  We are working on some co-packing opportunities right now. The only obstacle we can see is cooler space and warehouse space, but we have broken ground for plant expansion that will be completed this spring.

FamilyFarmed:  In what years have you exhibited at the EXPO, and how did the experience(s) persuade you to join us again? What do you hope to gain as a result of your participation this year?

​Country View Dairy:  We have exhibited either on our own or shared booth with a distributor in years 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018. We hope to find new foodservice customers and new opportunities to expand our product line availability in Chicago Metro.

FamilyFarmed:  Finally — do you market locally, regionally or nationally and where can we find your products (or get involved with your cause)?

​Country View Dairy:  Our dairy products are sold regionally in the Upper Midwest. Our products can be found in area health food stores, food co-ops, health care institutions, college dining, k-12 meal programs, corporate dining programs & as ingredients for packaged food companies. In Chicago, Local Foods in the Bucktown neighborhood distributes for us. 


The Educare Foundation Mentoring Gardens

Granola; education through music and media

FamilyFarmed:Elevator pitch time: Tell us in a few sentences what your business does and why.   

Mentoring Gardens: It was important for us not to compete with other nonprofits for grants, so that one “good” wouldn’t be canceled out for another “good” in a world that needs more “good!” So we made it part of our program to develop a solution, not derived from a handout, but hands-to-work. Through an educational process, working through all that’s involved in developing an idea from scratch to bringing a product to market, we moved toward a way to help support our program and create new opportunities for work. Our mission was motivated from the very core of being “in need” and seeing many needs yet to be filled; longterm change and new opportunities had to be part of the solution-idea. Mentoring Gardens became a fundraising solution to support the program, which we eventually hope to duplicate in underprivileged communities.

FamilyFarmed: We define Good Food as delicious, produced as locally as possible, using sustainable, humane and fair practices. How does your business relate to this definition?

Mentoring Gardens: Our recipe development became part of the learning, taking ideas from scratch, with local youth and individuals of varying ages. With the many hurdles to cross in bringing food ideas to market, learning about food safety and responsible purchasing from reputable suppliers, this was a several-year research and development process. It continued into learning how to legally sell the food we make, and finding “angels” who allowed us to rent their certified kitchen during the evenings. Every valuable lesson took its own time, from learning to communicate with suppliers, evaluate costs, and how to do business as close-to-home as possible while still meeting expenses. This is still “in the learning incubator” as we research buying larger quantities direct from local farms. There’s never a moment to relax when it comes to examining ingredients and the constant quality control required with foods. But then, this is 100 percent expected!!  

FamilyFarmed:What do you view as the strongest short-term opportunities for your company or organization, what (if any) do you see as obstacles that need to be overcome?

Mentoring Gardens: We’re ready to introduce Mentoring Gardens to more communities! We’ve tried and tested and are at that crossroads to do something bigger. It’s time to buy larger quantities of ingredients to bring our price point down. It’s time to develop the co-op that would allow member-owner duplication, possibly teach the skills at orphan teen homes and other shelters, how to make our product and sell it — not solely for work, but to pass on the idea of sharing real opportunities. If, in our nonprofit missions, we bypass the opportunity to encourage and extract individual potential to become part of the solution-discovery process, we cheat all persons involved from achieving the next ounce of courage and enthusiasm to go another step forward. In this project, it is vital to engage a person’s potential and sincere personal desire to take part in their own life-change and advancement, and to “run with the ball.”

If there’s a first obstacle, it’s a time crunch, working-to-earn and generate funds in order to operate. That presents a bit of a trick in developing the next stage. We try to take advantage of the slower months to do more research and development. It does make the journey real, as everything we make in the program goes back into operating the program. If there is a second obstacle, ours is not an easy product to make; there are countless checkpoints, and every second of every step counts to get it right. It’s easy to get it wrong. Nothing about this project has been “easy,” but the smile in a customer’s face when they come back every week, enjoying a bite, or in the young adults who see the vision of how to make a difference in the world with this tiny product, one bite at a time… Well, we just keep marching forward!

FamilyFarmed:For first-time exhibitors: How did you learn about the Good Food EXPO?  What do you hope to gain as a result of your participation?

Mentoring Gardens: This will be our first time exhibiting! I’ve read about Good Food EXPO for a few years now, and often events are recommended to us. We have to be quite selective in where we go, with finances limited; a necessary mutual mission is always the better choice. In this project, we have to go into any event with the attitude we will learn from the experience, no matter what. I feel like the exposure will help us gain insight to the process of duplicating our mission. We’re at that point where our resources are limited, and about to burst out of our current spaces.  While we can’t say exactly how, I do know that our attendance at Good Food EXPO will become part of the learning process in discovering our next step!

FamilyFarmed: Finally — do you market locally, regionally or nationally and where can we find your products (or get involved with your cause)

Mentoring Gardens: We started with a few samples of our product at a local farmers market in Woodstock, Illinois. The response was amazing, and we added a few certain events and seasonal farmers markets in Illinois, in Wilmette, Schaumburg, Cary and Huntley, to Wisconsin in Lake Geneva, Burlington, Kenosha, Racine and Beloit. We are in the process of getting all our Nutritional Labeling completed to move closer to selling in more coffee shops and small retailers, as well as researching other online venues. We do have an “online store” and try to keep our website www.MentoringGardens.com updated with our current locations, though the website is also an educational-work-in-progress!

Category

Good Food EXPO


Author

Bob Benenson


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