Fourteen Food Friends & Partners You Should Know About in 2014

This post first appeared on the Peterson Garden Project blog We Can Grow It!

The news you hear via mainstream media around the food system may be depressing but I can tell you, from the trenches, there are a lot of smart people doing amazing things to change our relationship with food. From supporting local farmers to showing us all how our little bit can help, from illuminating the important role of food-as-culture to how our dining choices matter, these friends and partners have been – and continue to be – the do’ers in the Chicago food scene.

Check them out. Like you, they’re doing what they can to make our world a better place.

In no particular order…

Food Patriots 

In 2011 we met Jeff and Jennifer Spitz from Groundswell Films. They were starting a documentary and engagement campaign about how individuals can make a difference in the food system and, collectively, the impact can be huge. They’ve worked tirelessly creating a powerful film and showing it to thousands in small community settings. The “world premier” is happening in February at the Chicago Cultural Center so stay tuned for that.

Watch the official trailer HERE and sign up for their newsletter HERE.


Good Food Festival

Each spring this local event brings together farmers, small food purveyors (like our very own Lee Green from Scrumptious Pantry), leaders and consumers to learn, network and make an impact. We’ll be there again this year for our third annual seed swap – with our friends at Chicago Foodies – to introduce event goers to heirloom/open pollinated seeds and organic gardening techniques.

Mark your calendar! Click HERE for more info on how you can participate.

To sign up for the Chicago Foodies newsletter, click HERE.


Chicago Flower and Garden Show

In 2013 we got the opportunity to showcase Peterson Garden Project and the Chicago Victory Garden movement of WW2 with an exhibit at the show. Thanks to that experience, CFGS and Mariano’s are partnering to support our 2014 Grow2Give program where 5% of each garden is set aside to grow food for our food and nutrition partners. We’ll be at the show again this year featuring our new month-by-month gardening guide for beginners – Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland.

Plan to attend! Click HERE for more details and to order tickets.


Edible Chicago

The hard working team behind Edible Chicago has been a great supporter of not only PGP but of local farms and programs dedicated to the food system in our region. The quarterly publication has informative articles and inspired photography from Grant Kessler. Even the ads are terrific.

You can subscribe HERE.


Swedish Covenant Hospital

SCH has been a big supporter of PGP from day one. Over the years they’ve allowed us to use their facilities for our annual seed swap and other events. This year we put in a small garden together at the corner of Carmen and California and partnered with their nutritionists for our Operation Vegucation blog posts. And, hats off!, SCH was just voted the best hospital in Chicago! But we knew that – they’re amazing.

Check out their Well Communities blog HERE.


Provenance Food and Wine

Tracy Kellner from Provenance Food and Wine is a leader in the local food movement. Not only does she educate her customers at two retail locations – while highlighting local farmers and their products – but she provides coaching and consulting to local food purveyors who want to get their products to market. This job creation, food system-changing juggernaut is much more than a specialty grocery store; it is a living example how one person’s passion can make a huge difference.

Stop by one of the two Provenance locations (Lincoln Square and Logan Square) – find the addresses and hours HERE.


Chicago Cooperative

Interested in a food coop on the north side of the city? This group has been planning for the past year and is about to make some big announcements. We’re looking forward to partnering with Chicago Cooperative on some cooking programs and other community based food projects in 2014.

Stay up-to-date with Chicago Cooperative on Facebook.


Connecting Chicago Community Gardens

CCCG is a coalition of the individual community gardens and community garden programs throughout the city. A small history lesson – Chicago, in 1979, was the birthplace of the American Community Gardening Association. In honor of its 35th year, the annual conference will be held here in Chicago. Everything comes full circle and Chicago is, once again, leading the nation with its community garden programs and CCCG is in the eye of the storm.

Join the Chicago community gardening movement HERE.


Cook Co. Seed Exchange and Hull House Seed Library

These two initiatives underscore the local in local food. For gardeners and food system practitioners, having regionally strong crops is vital. Taking a page from the playbook of the amazing Seed Saver’s Exchange, these two organizations are bringing people together to learn how we can all do our part for a regionally-focused food system.

Hull House Seed Library Website


Tasting Table Chicago

Tasting Table highlights what’s happening in the world of Chicago restaurants. Not only that, they emphasize (and educate) on how restaurateurs (like our hero Cletus Freedman from Fountainhead and others) are supporting local farmers and the local food economy. As consumers, our tastes and preferences drive the market and TT’s reporting on the Chicago food scene helps you make good decisions when dining out.

Tasting Table Chicago can be found HERE



You might not think of a large food chain as a solution to food issues (and NO they’re not owned by McDonalds.) But Chipotle is taking the lead on the GMO discussion – they were the first large food chain to disclose which of their products contain GMO material and they continue to educate and advocate through their Cultivate Festival and their Film Series. We’ll be hosting “dinner and a movie night” throughout the summer to highlight some of these great films. And, yes!, our very own Food Patriots made the cut!

To learn about Chipotle’s stand on GMO products, click HERE


Slow Food Chicago

For 25 years Slow Food has been bringing awareness to the value of food as culture. Their Ark of Taste program highlights once valuable crops and livestock that are on the verge of extinction. The Chicago chapter offers education and events around food as culture and also has a kick ass PreSERVE garden where they grow heirloom crops (this year was an heirloom sweet potato bonanza) and donate them to the community.  They’re also our partners in the Seed Saving Garden at our Global Gardens site.

To learn more about Slow Food Chicago, click HERE.


Food Tank

Food Tank is new on the scene and we’re looking forward to partnering with them in 2014. Their goal is to provide environmentally sustainable ways to alleviate hunger, obesity, and poverty. Worthy goals! And their meteoric rise to prominence in one year only portends great things…

To sign up for the Food Tank newsletter, click HERE

LaManda JoyFourteen Food Friends & Partners You Should Know About in 2014

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