Illinois Farm Families (IFF) is a coalition comprised of representation from Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Midwest Dairy, and Illinois Pork Producers Association. IFF’s mission is to work together to create confidence in Illinois farming practices and build Chicago parents’ trust in Illinois farmers by inviting and engaging in conversations about food and farming. Rather than ask busy Chicago families to visit a farm to ask their questions and learn about their food, this entry shows how IFF brought about awareness of IFF among urban adults and brought the farm to busy parents and families at one of Chicago’s most iconic and popular street festivals, Taste of Randolph.
Prior to the event, IFF encouraged people attending Taste of Randolph to visit IFF’s booth using paid and organic social media, influencers, Google search ads, and digital banner ads.
To encourage conversations between farmers and consumers during the event, attendees were invited by farmer volunteers to join them in:
- Playing cornhole to win a reusable sandwich bag, reinforcing conversations about sustainable farming
- Touring the mock kitchen and fridge stocked with food labeled with fun facts and QR codes that linked to stories about the food’s production, local origin, or other information that works to make a connection to the urban consumer
- Picking up recipes, quick meal ideas, and bento box lunch suggestions produced by influencers in partnership with IFF and featuring foods from the IFF coalition commodity members
- Collecting farm coloring pages and soy-based crayons to use with their children
- Picking up magnets off the booth fridge that had useful information on cooking temperatures, food substitutions, and measurement equivalents.
- Viewing the photo gallery featuring farmer photos. Each photo included the picture of the farmer, their location in Illinois, the crops they grow, and individual QR codes that linked to stories about how they are applying innovations on their farm to grow healthy food, support sustainability, and counter climate change.
Another booth attraction that helped spread awareness of the brand was the IFF Photo Wall and Sweepstakes. Attendees who took a picture with the props, posted it on their Facebook and/or Instagram accounts, and tagged IFF would be entered into a random drawing for an IFF BBQ prize package.
IFF also spread word about their presence at Taste of Randolph by contracting Chicago-based social influencer and registered dietitian Maggie Michalczyk @OnceUponAPumpkin, who made an appearance at the booth to answer consumers questions about nutrition and shared posts and a reel to her 79,000+ followers encouraging them to check out IFF and visit the booth at the street festival. Dietitians completing internships at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center were also on-site to talk work with the farmers and converse with attendees.