FamilyFarmed Raises Money to Educate Young Family Farmers

Familyfarmed.org is a 15-year-old Chicago organization that aims to get wholesome, local and sustainable food on every table. This year, their goal is to educate the newer wave of young family farmers through a direct sales manual called “Direct Market Success.” The launch of this new manual seemed like the ideal opportunity for the organization to try their first ever crowdsourcing campaign through Indiegogo.

Over the past decade, FamilyFarmed has helped thousands of farmers with the daunting process of safely and legally getting their farm-fresh products into wholesale grocery markets. The nonprofit’s publication, Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Food Safety, Selling, Postharvest Handling, and Packing Produce,” is a training source on selling into wholesale markets. The publication, now in its fourth edition, serves as the foundation for “Direct Market Success,” which aims to assist and educate small family farmers on the details around selling produce directly to consumers rather than to stores via outlets that include farmers markets, farm stands and community supported agriculture (CSAs).

 FamilyFarmed's efforts to advance the Good Food movement have drawn an increasing amount of attention from major policy makers, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Here Durbin visits the trade show at FamilyFarmed's Good Food Festival & Conference March 20 and chats with Dave Rand, chief operating officer for Local Foods, a Chicago-based distributor and grocer.
FamilyFarmed’s efforts to advance the Good Food movement have drawn an increasing amount of attention from major policy makers, including U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Here Durbin visits the trade show at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference March 20 and chats with Dave Rand, chief operating officer for Local Foods, a Chicago-based distributor and grocer.

Jim Slama, president and founder of FamilyFarmed, is attributed with coining the phrase “Good Food,” which symbolizes the adoption of regional, sustainable food systems. This concept has grown into a movement in America with FamilyFarmed hosting the Good Food Festival & Conference, the longest-running sustainable and local food trade show. Nearly 5,000 people attend the Chicago event, including farmers, policy makers, food hub operators, artisan food businesses, retailers, restaurateurs and distributors. All attend to meet, learn, find inspiration and do business.

“There’s a huge movement now, in the flow of the Good Food movement, where young folks in their 20s and 30s are motivating to go back to run their family’s farm,” Slama says. “They don’t necessarily want to go the wholesaler route, but rather want to sell directly,” he says.

These young farmers need some direction on how to do it legally, efficiently and safely. With farmers markets more than doubling in the U.S. over the past 10 years, the demand for farm-fresh local produce seems able to support the direct sales model. The younger generation, who has grown up on Whole Foods Market, is especially focused on eating local and buying responsibly grown produce.

On Sept. 22, FamilyFarmed will launch their Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the revenue they need for the direct sales manual. The goal is to use the manual to help these younger farmers adopt best practices in food safety, post harvest handling, packing, and business management so they can function more efficiently and profitably.

In anticipation of the launch of the campaign, FamilyFarmed is actively spreading the word via social media to generate pre-campaign buzz. “One of the most important factors we learned is how important a jump start on donations during that first 48 hours of the campaign is,” Slama says. Campaigns that raise 50 percent of their goal in the first two days raise 47 percent more funds, on average, according to Indiegogo.

“We want to generate as much excitement [as we can] prior to the Sept. 22 launch,” Slama says.


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