By Rosie Powers, CNT Young Innovators
Attendees of this year’s CNT Young Innovators’ Summer Fundraiser were greeted by a day full of sunshine, locally-sourced fare, and an engaging discussion about sustainable food systems.
This year’s event was held at Homestead on the Roof in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood. The restaurant’s rooftop garden was a perfect setting for a discussion about sustainable food systems in the Chicago region.
CNT’s new CEO Bob Dean introduced the event, highlighting the organization’s commitment to equitable urban sustainability and resilience. Kathy Nyquist, founder and principal of New Venture Advisors LLC, led the discussion.
Nyquist, who had a long career working for some of the world’s largest food companies, switched focus to the Good Food movement after realizing that consumer preferences were shifting to local and organic food — preferences that reflected her own values. She then founded New Venture Advisors, which provides business strategy and thought leadership to groups at multiple levels of the Good Food supply chain, from small family farms to processors and distributors.
Saturday’s discussion focused on the expansion of food hubs, which facilitate trade between local farmers and customers. Through her work with FamilyFarmed.org, Nyquist’s work led to the launch of the Wisconsin Food Hub Cooperative and Blue Ridge Produce, some of the first food hubs in the country. With the rise of other programs like Consumer Supported Agriculture, Nyquist highlighted the importance of equity as the localized food movement continues to grow.
CNT values urban agriculture because it creates local jobs and utilizes open land in cities, both of which improve residents’ quality of life. Food closer to home is better for the environment: fewer vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for producers, consumers, and food itself means lowered greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere. Equitable distribution and access to local food is also paramount to the sustainable development of cities.
Many thanks again to all who joined us on Saturday; thanks to your generosity, we raised over $600 for CNT!
Interested in learning more about urban agriculture here in Chicago? Join the CNT Young Innovators for our next event, “Growing Communities,” on October 20! We’ll be joined by Ginkgo Organic Gardens, Metropolitan Planning Council, FarmWorks, and other organizations currently innovating in green infrastructure and urban agriculture locally. Stay tuned for more info from us soon!
Rosie Powers, CNT Young Innovators board member, is a digital marketing strategy consultant focused on helping nonprofits and socially-minded businesses engage with audiences. She is passionate about the intersectionality between environmental and social justice in communities as well as the planet at-large.