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Book Data

ISBN: 9781603582544
Year Added to Catalog: 2009
Book Format: Paperback
Dimensions: 5 1/2 x 7 1/2
Number of Pages: 240
Book Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
Release Date: May 15, 2010
Web Product ID: 496

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Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money

Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered

by Woody Tasch

Foreword by Carlo Petrini

Associated Articles

 

 


Slow Money and Urban Guerilla Gardening

 

Care2.com - April 4, 2011

Green Diva Lisa was back in the studio from her travels and reported in about a video PSA she produced with her Mobile Film School for a Green Tech High School in Texas.

We had a warm and hopeful report from Green Diva Correspondent Khat O’Brien from Pittsfield, MA about her urban gorilla gardening preperations, which made us forget for a few minutes that it was snowing outside and got us psyched to start plotting and planning our spring gardening.

The highlight of the show was our conversation with Woody Tasch, author of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered.  The concept and growing movement of Slow Money is geared towards connecting small farm enterprises with investors who want to help nurture and grow good food and sustainable communities from a long-range perspective. We had some audience participation via Twitter, which was fun and interesting.

Laugh, learn and listen to the Green Divas Radio Show & Podcast!

 


Is Our World Destined for a Brutal, Science-Fiction-Movie Future? - Olean Times-Herald

 

March 17, 2011

“There are many community development venture capital funds in the U.S. that struggle to raise capital from well-intentioned investors, to create jobs in disadvantaged regions. The problem is, they have to offer ‘competitive’ rates of return (three or five or ten times the investors’ money back in a few years), so they’re behind the 8-ball before they even start.”

That was from The Sun magazine (June 2010) interview with Woody Tasch.

Tasch founded the Slow Money Alliance to attract investors who are more interested in a region’s overall health and prosperity than in quick monetary returns. He’s especially concerned about degradation and disappearance of good spoils, without which civilizations have collapsed before.

What Slow Money aims for is “real diversity — cultural, economic and ecological — which only for a large number of small decentralized food producers can accomplish.

“We have to invest in the million small acts of care and restraint that are essential to preserving the spoil of the economy, or we are not going to survive.”

The ancestor of the “Slow” movement is the Slow Food, founded by the Italian Carlo Petrini, with chapters all over the world. ...

Read the original article.

 


Natural Foodie: Low-interest investment club is No Small Potatoes

 

Portland Press Herald - March 10, 2011

Thirty Acre Farm is known for its lacto-fermented pickles, sauerkrauts and kimchis, which are made without added vinegar or sugar at the organic farm in Whitefield. The popular products can be found at health food stores and farmers markets, and they're distributed by Crown O' Maine Organic Cooperative.

Recently, Thirty Acre Farm found itself unable to fulfill its Crown O' Maine order -- not because it didn't have enough product, but because it was running short of labels and lacked the cash on hand to make a new order.

Crown O' Maine told farmers Simon and Jane Frost about a brand-new venture that provides low-interest loans to farmers and food producers. As a result, Thirty Acre Farm secured one of the first loans offered by the No Small Potatoes Investment Club.

"They want to work with farmers rather than being hard and fast with the rules," Simon Frost said. "They're all customers of ours who want to invest in our future."

The investment club is an offshoot of the Slow Money Maine meetings, which have been taking place in the state since January 2010. Part of a national movement, slow money aims to redirect capital from the stock market into sustainable, local food ventures.

Working from the slow money philosophy, nine people came together to form the club last fall and formalized their operating agreement last month. Members must make an initial contribution to the investment fund of no less than $5,000, and the club plans to cap membership at 20 people.

"We saw a need so we started making micro-loans," said Chris Hallweaver of Portland, one of the founding investors.

In the 1980s, Hallweaver, a former software executive and a current partner in the Maine Kombucha Co., was a member of a stock market investment club. Members would meet monthly, chip in $100 and then share in the profits and losses.

Wanting to conform to Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, the No Small Potatoes group decided to use the investment club model, and formed a limited liability corporation.

"We get together on a quarterly basis, and a member or two will take on the job of interviewing loan applicants, and then we decide whether or not to fund them," Hallweaver said.

So far, the group has made three loans. In addition to the Thirty Acre Farm loan, the club has loaned money to Heiwa Tofu in Camden and Lalibela Farm in Dresden.

"I love aligning my beliefs with my investments," said Eleanor Kinney of Bremen, another founding club member. "This is a different model than having stock in companies that make products which I'd never feed my children."

In addition to her work with No Small Potatoes, Kinney is an equity investor in the Maine's Own Organic Milk Company and sits on the board of the Maine Farmland Trust.

Kinney said she became interested in local, sustainable agriculture when her children were born and she was confronted with the need to feed them nutritious food.

When she heard about the budding slow money movement in Maine, she knew she had to get involved.

"For people in agriculture, traditional financing doesn't always work for them," Kinney said.

At its next quarterly meeting, scheduled for March 28, the club will evaluate 11 applicants seeking loans. The applicants want funding for things that range from building improvements to new pieces of restaurant equipment.

Money is lent at a 3 percent interest rate, and the terms vary from less than a year up to three years.

"We're not a bank," Hallweaver said. "So we want to serve people who banks don't lend to. We don't require business plans and great financials. If you have that, you probably don't need us."

Instead, one of the most important factors the club members use in evaluating applicants is their reputations in the community.

"We want to lend the old-fashioned way," Hallweaver said. "We take into account what their peers, suppliers and customers say about them."

"This is not for everyone," Hallweaver said. "A lot of these farmers need grants (rather than loans). This is one experiment we're doing with slow money. There will be many more efforts. But the need is now. If we want to eat local and support our farmers, we've got to figure out how to do it 12 months a year."

The No Small Potatoes loans are unsecured, and the club intends to work with any borrowers that find themselves unable to make payments. In case the worst-case scenario of a borrower actually defaulting ever happens, the club is establishing a loan loss reserve fund to cover such unpaid debts.

The details of the loan loss fund are still in the works, but Hallweaver said in the future they may institute a 1 percent fee at the time the loan is originated to finance the fund.

Unlike a traditional bank loan or mortgage, these loans have other objectives besides providing a return for investors. For instance, the club is interested in preserving farmland, creating jobs, building community and helping farmers sell value-added products.

"It comes down to, we want farmers to get a better price for their crops," Hallweaver said. "We need them to be profitable and successful."

This profitability and success will come as farmers and food producers improve their physical infrastructure and increase their processing, marketing and distribution capacities. All of these things will make local food more widely available, yet all of them take capital resources.

"We're a network of people who are trying to figure out how to bring resources to rebuilding a food system in Maine," Kinney said. "With what the Western diet is doing to people, we need a local, sustainable food system.

"In Maine, we have a huge problem with obesity and diabetes. How can we afford not to do this?"

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]

Read the original article.

 


Investing in local food key to growth

 

Red Deer Advocate - February 28, 2011

 

 

Woody Tasch believes he’s found a way to make the global economy stronger — by investing in small-scale food enterprises closer to home.

The venture capitalist, foundation treasurer, and entrepreneur from New Mexico, founded the non-profit Slow Money organization in 2008 as a way for consumers, entrepreneurs, investors and philanthropists to build a restorative economy.

Speaking at the Pathways 2 Sustainability conference at Red Deer College on Friday, Tasch said people are investing in abstract, countless transactions that are being made around the world.

They don’t know where their money is going and whether it’s actually doing more harm than good.

“We live in a world where we give money to strangers to invest in things that we don’t understand — in order to sustain something that we call economic growth,” Tasch said to about 150 delegates.

But he claims that at least half of that economic growth is destructive.

“Many of the things that are counted as economic growth are bombs, cancer treatment — that are not evidence of well-being,” he said.

“Once you realize that, the only solution is to start taking some money out of that system and invest it in closer to where you live and what you would understand.”

He said food is a start to this new way of investing. Everybody wants farms and food, plus soil fertility.

Slow Money brings the principles of the Slow Food movement that began about 20 years in Italy, in response to McDonalds opening up in Rome. Slow Food promotes small-scale organic food.

“We need billions of dollars in investment capital. How are we going to get a million farmers on farms? How are we going to rebuild processing and distribution of local food?,” he said.

“We’re not going to be able to do that with consumer dollars, we have to get investment dollars. The investment dollars are going to come from all of us.”

Slow Money’s goal is to see one million people invest one per cent of their assets in local food systems by 2020.

The benefit of doing this, Tasch said, is that individuals will know where their money is going, and that’s gratifying.

He spoke of one woman who approached him with news that he had saved her farm. She read his book, Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money – Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered, and decided to call upon the help of others in the community.

Eighteen investors came forward with $600,000 and she avoided foreclosure.

In total, about $6 million has been invested with a few dozen food enterprises in the United States.

“So we’re just getting going with money changing hands,” said Tasch. “We have a lot of people talking . . . embracing the idea and starting to organize in local communities.”

Vancouver may become the first Canadian city to launch a Slow Money movement after Tasch recently spoke there.

He said about 13,500 people have signed onto the Slow Money principles through the website at www.slowmoney.org.

The Slow Money movement has been described as revolutionary, but Tasch said it’s just plain common sense.

Edmonton economist Mark Anielski, author of Economics of Happiness, also spoke at the three-day conference that ended Friday.

He has developed a new and practical economic model called Genuine Wealth to measure the real determinants of well-being and help redefine progress.

“It’s time for us to build an economy of well-being and communion,” he said.

Conference co-ordinator Rene Michalak said people will be able to further connect through the Pathways Network, an online dialogue forum on sustainability.

ReThink Red Deer, a group interested in smart urban planning, and Sustainability Resources Limited, a nonprofit group in Cochrane, hosted the event.

Read the original article.

 


The Crowd-funding Revolution and the Reinvention of Capitalism

 

Berkeley Daily Planet - February 15, 2011

It’s never easy raising cash to start a new business. This truism was the focus of a recent meeting of the Sustainable Business Alliance (SBA). 

On February 7, scores of local entrepreneurs poured into The Hub, on the forth floor of Berkeley’s David Brower Center (corner of Oxford and Addison), to hear a panel of fund-raising experts discuss a host of cash-chasing solutions -- ranging from community financing and crowd-funding, to peer-lending, socially responsible investment funds and direct public offerings. 

While Wal-Mart has no problem raising millions to build a new box store in Biloxi, it’s a harder slog for a business school grad who wants to open a bagel shop in Berkeley. As the SBA outlines the problem: 

“Locally owned, small businesses constitute about one half of the private US economy in terms of output and jobs but they receive almost no investment from the nation’s pension funds or from mutual, hedge, venture, or any other kind of investment funds.” 

Cobbling together start-up capital for a new business is an even greater problem in a half-collapsed economy. (“Half-collapsed” because, as UC Berkeley economist Robert Reich points out, there are two US economies. Most Americans are struggling to survive in the jobless First Economy while the 2% in the Second Economy are sitting on trillions of dollars in uninvested assets.) What the small business sector desperately needs is a new generation of innovative cash-traps for the cash-strapped. 

Providing solutions was a panel consisting of Jenny Kassan (CEO of Cutting Edge Capital and Managing Director of the Katovich Law Group), Ari Derfel (Executive Director of Slow Money and co-founder of Berkeley’s celebrated Gather Restaurant), Gary Bell (CEO of the Coop Federal Credit Union) and Bill Peterson (Chief Credit Officer for San Francisco’s New Resource Bank.). The panel was moderated by Jody Colley, publisher of the East Bay Express (whose upcoming edition would feature a timely cover story on “Fundraising for the Facebook Generation”).

...

The Slow Money Movement Is Slowly Cashing In 

In the past two years, the Slow Money movement [www.slowmoney.org] has convened two national conventions, in the process raising $5 million that has been channeled into projects that support farms, food and topsoil. (Derfel noted that a study of history shows that all the major civilizations that have collapsed shared a common problem -- a loss of topsoil, leading to a collapse of their food systems.) 

Recognizing the critical importance of viable cropland, the Slow Money movement has created an entity called The Soil Trust. As Derfel explained, only 5% of the funds currently are used for grants while the remaining 95% are left to generate interest from stock investments. Eventually, 100% of the Soil Trust will be reinvested. 

If one million Americans invested 1 percent of their assets in local food systems, Derfel observed, this would raise billions for long-term investments in America’s Soil Bank. This would, in turn, erase the perceived “risk” for institutional investors who would then become interested in jumping onboard. One of the goals of the Slow Money eco-monetarists is to inspire the country’s Big Buccaneers to start investing in “the spirit of Biophilia (the love of Nature) and the Triple Bottom Line -- People, Planet and Profit.” 

For starters, the Slow Money movement is inviting millions of Americans to each invest 25 tax-deductible dollars. “If we do our job right,” Derfel grinned, “we’ll be losing 10-15% each year.” But because the Soil Bank doesn’t have to return the donations, he continued, “If we do make money, we are required by-law to turn the profits back into good things.” 

Meanwhile, the culture may be evolving faster than anyone anticipated. Derfel recently hosted Joel Salatin (the whip-smart, wise-cracking pig-farmer featured in the documentary Food, Inc.). “Thirty years ago,” Salatin confided, most of his customers were “crunchy-granola hippies” looking for sustainably raised, chemical free meat. These days, he reported, 50% of his clients are “Christian homeschoolers.” 

Derfel paused to recall a recent day at Gather where he encountered one investor leading a class of school kids on a trip through the downstairs restaurant and then ran into another investor upstairs, voluntarily engaged in a planning meeting. “The sense of community is the most important creation,” Derfel said with a wide smile. “Money becomes a means of creating community.” 

Derfel mentioned Martin Luther King’s observation: “We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” With every purchase (and contribution), we make a decision about what kind of country we wish to live in. “At the end of the day,” Derfel concluded, “we are all investors.”

Read the original article.

 


Sustainability: Nina Winham - Investing goes back to basics: The soil

 

Slow Money Part 1 - Business in Vancouver

You could call this “putting your money where your mouth is.” Or perhaps, where your stomach is. As the green investing movement grows, advisers are pondering where we most need to invest in order to build a sustainable world. The answer: invest locally, in healthy soil.

It takes roughly a millennium to build an inch or two of soil, and less than 40 years to strip away an inch by farming that is focused on current yield instead of sustaining fertility. So states the book Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered by Woody Tasch, a longtime venture-capital investor and president of a new U.S. non-profit – Slow Money.
 
Despite the undeniable necessity of fertile soil to our survival (it’s where our food comes from, for anyone a bit rocky on the basics), we are currently losing about 12 million hectares of arable land annually – or 1% of our global total – due to unsustainable farming methods. We’re also losing experienced farmers, depleting water systems and losing crop biodiversity.
 
Tasch, who spoke in Vancouver earlier this year, says the key problem behind these (and most environmental woes) is not one of technology, but finance, fallout of a system where investment has become seriously detached from knowledge and relationship. He says investors need to chart the course toward a new economy, where relationships between individuals in a community, and between human society and the land, are resilient and mutually beneficial. Here are a few of his ideas. ...

Read the original article.

 


Slow Money and Wisconsin Farming 3.0

 

The Madison area is at the forefront of a revolutionary approach to agriculture

Mark Olson talks about the combination of America's shaky finances and poor eating habits as though they were the Brady Bunch.

"We're putting together two systems that are broken," says the second-generation Spring Green farmer.

Olson is part of a group of farmers, investors and thinkers in southern Wisconsin who are trying to use new investment strategies to save a failing farming industry.

With his broad forehead, deep blue eyes and high, sharp cheekbones, Olson looks like the actor Michael Douglas — that is, except for the gray-flecked ponytail that drops to his bluejeans waistline.

"Local food is a trend," observes Olson, in a soft voice that nonetheless commands attention. "Guaranteed, it will shift to the next Pet Rock. Historically, nothing lasts."

Olson has earned the right to predict and critique Americans' eating habits: He's helped write standards for organic dairy products, is widely credited with introducing basil to the Madison area 30 years ago, and has been a mainstay of the Dane County Farmers' Market.

"But what's really clear to me," he says, "is that we have an opportunity right now. There's a consumer pull for local food, and if we're able to get infrastructure built underneath that, it will last past this consumer fad."

With that goal in mind, Olson and others have over the past 18 months quietly gathered at places like the Willy Street Co-op and the meeting room at Olbrich Gardens to discuss how to radically transform the local food economy. They hope to funnel millions of dollars from local residents into investments in the region's agriculture infrastructure: carrot processing plants for hobby farmers; slaughterhouses that will work with small-scale ranchers who know each cow by name; and other tools to let local farmers stand toe-to-toe with the agricultural giants.

"That's the challenge," Olson says. "I like to think that we're entering into what I like to call Wisconsin Farming 3.0." By this he means a third-generation model of agriculture and farming that will move away from an industry controlled by large corporations and toward smaller farms sharing processing infrastructure.

Already, Olson is practicing what he preaches. In the spare room at his company, Renaissance Farms, he has loaned office space to a pair of local brewers and helped incubate the increasingly popular Furthermore Beer.

But what Olson calls "Wisconsin Farming 3.0" has another name nationally. Taking its title from the Slow Food movement, advocates are calling this new investment strategy "Slow Money." The first principle of Slow Money, as listed on slowmoney.org, is that "We must bring money back down to earth." The second principle is, "There is such a thing as money that is too fast, companies that are too big, finance that is too complex."

Since the banking and lending system's collapse in late 2008, the Slow Money movement has been gaining momentum. It now has supporters in Austin, Texas, in Vermont, in the Pacific Northwest and in southern Wisconsin. Its goal is nothing if not ambitious: to radically shift how we invest our money, what food we eat and how we support our communities.

Read the original article.

 


Slow Money’s Gaining Momentum

 

Concord Patch - February 1, 2011

The Slow Money Alliance promotes local food production and community investing and is gaining popularity around the country.

Imagine if you could buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks in your town at a discount with local community money. Think Norman Rockwell.

Berkshares, in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, developed by Susan Witt, allows community members to grow their businesses locally and use their Berkshares at over 400 area businesses and 200 home-based businesses. Norman Rockwell, who hails from those parts, is featured on the bill.

The concept of local dollars isn’t new and was used briefly during the depression to stimulate spending in local communities. Slow Money, founded by Woody Tasch, is modeled on the 20-year old slow food movement and promotes investing in small food enterprises and local food systems.

Read the original article.


Local Farmers Find New Funding Ally

St. Louis Today - January 23, 2011

ST. LOUIS • In the two-plus years since they began transforming their backyard into a mini-farm, Danielle and Justin Leszcz have grown and sold everything from fruit to nuts.

Their output is miniscule by production farming standards. But it's pretty impressive for a modest, though intensively planned, quarter acre in Affton. Last year they grew $2,000 worth of tomatoes alone.

"I go straight to the chefs," Justin Leszcz said. "My thing is to bring stuff to these guys that they've never seen, never smelled, never touched."

The chefs are buying - and the Leszczes are expanding.

The young couple have developed a formal plan to build their farming business on 53 acres of land in Waterloo, where, among other things, they will grow more produce and raise ducks. But like many small-scale farmers, the Leszczes are missing a major ingredient: cash. That's where a new movement, called Slow Money, could enter the equation.

Read the original article.

 


Slow money wins the race

 

Just as slow dining is good for digestion, slow investment returns help stimulate the economic juices

A lot of people blame fast-buck artists for bringing on the 2008 economic crash, but few have yet looked to Slow Money artistry to undo the problem. You want to do something unusually powerful? Help build slowcialism.

It’s a movement that started when the market plunge gave New Mexico social investment promoter Woody Tasch an aha moment. Modelling his efforts on the success of Slow Food, he formed the Slow Money Alliance and wrote Inquiries Into The Nature Of Slow Money: Investing As If Food, Fertility And Farms Mattered, which quickly tweaked the imagination of social investors, community development advocates and even business journalists.

Read the original article.


Five Financing Trends for 2011

Entrepreneur.com - December 28, 2010

When it comes to funding options for startups, new ideas seem to come along every season. Some may be old ideas dressed up in a new way, while a few may be something we really haven't seen before. It isn't certain which ones will become the new black of small business and which will disappear with this year’s hemlines. But here are five financing trends for 2011 that could have an impact on your company.

5. The Slow Money Movement 

Woody Tasch, longtime chairman of Investors' Circle, a hugely successful angel network for socially responsible companies, is spearheading this fledgling movement. Its ambitious aim is “a million Americans investing 1% of their assets in local food systems within a decade."

The idea is to help entrepreneurs who buy, use and sell local food or who engage in sustainable agriculture get seed funding from people they know in their communities. The terms are set on a deal-by-deal basis, which can range from a loan to equity to a credit extension. Backers are encouraged to invest in ventures that won’t just turn quick profits but will benefit their communities over the long term by creating jobs, supporting other local businesses and the fostering local food chain.

It’s ambitious and will likely evolve as it goes. But in its early days so was Investors' Circle, which has facilitated over $134 million in investments in more than 200 companies since 1992. We’re interested to see how Tasch will sustain this movement.

Read the entire article at Entrepreneur.com.

 


 

 

10 Organic Farming Trends that can Make Your Life Better

Rodale.org - December 16, 2010

5. Betting on Slow Money for Climate Stabilization: Slow Money, the idea of investing in local sustainable businesses instead of investing solely in Wall Street, is gaining traction. Not only can this type of investment revitalize communities, but it also keeps toxins out of the food system. Beyond that, investing in more family-scale organic farms helps invest in a more stable planet. Sustainable agriculture generally uses 30 percent less energy inputs than chemically dependent farming systems. Organic agriculture also boosts the ability to heal the soil, allowing beneficial microorganisms to flourish and store more carbon in the soil.

How to tap into the trend: Visit LocalHarvest.org to find sustainable growers in your area, and invest in their efforts by diverting some of your food budget their way. Many can grow nearly year-round without using fossil-fuel energy thanks to more modern hoophouse designs. You not only get fresh, tasty food, you're helping the earth-friendly sustainable agriculture market to grow.

Read the original article here.


Slow Money: Pairing Investors with Food Businesses

NPR - December 14, 2010

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. — Forget Wall Street. One way some well-off Northwesterners avoided steep losses in the stock market in recent years was by making unusual alternative investments: in small farms and food businesses. These “angel investors” are organizing loose networks to match their money with cash-hungry local producers. Think of it as slow-food meets slow money.

Today they’re smiling, popping corks even.

Farmers Crystie and Keith Kisler pour samples of their hard cider and fruit liquors. We’re in the tasting room of the new cidery on their small organic farm, Finnriver Farm .

But rewind to four years ago. The Kislers had hit a rough patch and needed to borrow money. Crystie remembers she didn’t even bother to apply at a bank.

Crystie Kisler: “We didn’t have the income, or the assets or the confidence perhaps even to approach a bank at that time.”

Enter a wealthy “techie” from the software business who they “barely” knew. Steve Moore retired in nearby Port Townsend, Washington.

Listen to the story at NPR.org.

 


 

 

RSF Discusses Slow Money Investment

December 9, 2010

The Slow Money movement has received some great coverage in a mainstream financial industry publication.  A recent InvestmentNews article discusses the growing market for small, local, and deliberate investments intended to keep capital flowing through local economies. In contrast to sending our dollars far and away into a fast-paced global market, this approach to investing slows money down by keeping it local. In the wake of the financial downturn, investors have begun to question large, traditional financial institutions and investment opportunities. As a result, more attention is being drawn to the emerging field of organizations, including RSF Social Finance, developing alternative ways to invest.

In the article, RSF CEO Don Shaffer discusses the increased interest we have seen in our work and the ways in which RSF is preparing to expand product and service offerings to meet this demand.

As a leader in social finance, we are excited and encouraged by the increasing attention brought to this field.

Click here to read the full article and stay tuned to follow RSF’s contributions to the Slow Money movement.

Read the original article here.

 


 

 

Slow Money, local food talk of Olympic Peninsula summit

PT Leader - December 8, 2010

Ari Derfel, the national executive director of Slow Moey, was the keynote speaker Friday at the Olympic Peninsula Food and Finance Summit meeting at Fort Worden State Park. Derfel, who lives in Berkeley, Calif., spoke about the role local investors have in building resilient food economies. He talked about the connection between investment and food as well as a nationwide soil trust campaign to invest in food systems. See story in the Dec. 8 issue of the Leader.

Money. Food. Farmers. Land. Security.

Meaty issues involving the Slow Money movement and food security were on the discussion menu last Friday when more than 160 people attended the Olympic Peninsula Food and Finance Summit at Fort Worden State Park.

The forum brought farmers and bankers, consumers and food sellers, as well as food advocates together to talk about how to invest in local food.

Ari Derfel, executive director of the nonprofit Slow Money movement, quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech delivered a year before he was assassinated in 1968.

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered,” King said.

Although he was touted as a Harvard-educated and University of Wisconsin-educated national speaker, Derfel said he was “just a goofy guy who loves justice and food.”

Derfel said it’s time for a radical revolution of values, that the time is at hand for real wealth to be brought down to earth and rooted in the environment – and food.

Food and agriculture remain the largest economic force locally, nationally and worldwide.

“By changing the way we invest in food we can have structural impact on the rest of the economy as well,” Derfel said in a video interview after the session, which is on
ptleader.com. “If we are able to fix food with money we automatically address issues like climate change, health and wellness issues, environmental degradation, community disillusion. Food is a powerful conduit for change.”

While 40 percent of the wealth created in the United States last year came through financial transactions, food has value because it can be eaten and touched.

Derfel said he used to believe it all starts with the farmers, but that at a dinner the previous night he was told, “It all starts with the people who grow the seeds.”

The Slow Money movement has also started a soil trust in an effort to move millions of people to invest in agriculture, giving as little as $25 or as much as $1 million each to invest in the production of food.

Derfer ended his speech by telling a story an elderly Cherokee woman told her children about two wolves fighting. One wolf represented anger, envy, sorrow, regret and low self-esteem while the other represented hope and love, compassion, cooperation and justice.

Asked which wolf won the fight, the old woman said, “The one you feed.”

“Let’s feed the second wolf,” Derfel urged the audience.

Locally speaking

Katherine Baril, retiring executive director of Washington State University’s Extension service in Port Hadlock, noted that, nationally, local communities produce only one half of 1 percent of what they consume.

In Jefferson County, 4 percent of food consumed is grown locally.

“If we moved that up to 20 percent, that’s $45 million a year that will go into our economy,” Baril said. “We have to change the way we think about food.” She urged the county to look at the best soil for agriculture and said decisions about the Growth Management Act could be made with food production in mind. Baril said she believes it is possible for Jefferson County to get to that 20 percent goal and would like to see that happen by 2020.

The Cascade Harvest Coalition, Team Jefferson Economic Development Council, Fort Worden State Park, Bon Appetit Management Company and Whole Foods Market sponsored the event, along with Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

 

Investing locally

During one panel discussion, Mark Bowman, a banker with Enterprise Cascadia, sat alongside Crystie Kisler, co-owner of Finnriver Farms in Chimacum, who sat next to Steve Moore, an investor with the Local Investment Opportunities Network (LION). Sarita Schaffer of Viva Farms in Skagit County sat next to moderator Derfel.

Moore acknowledged he invested in Finnriver Farms in part because he enjoys eating and also because he likes knowing from where his food is coming.

“I don’t know any way to do that on Wall Street,” Moore said of distant investments. “I know these people. I know what’s going on.”

Still, Moore acknowledged during questioning by Derfel that while investing 100 percent of his money in local farms might be an ideal, that’s not a risk he’s ready to take.

LION is not a bank, but is made up of local citizens who want to invest their money locally. (See l2020.org for more on LION.)

Kisler talked about how, as a farmer, is it difficult to ask for money, but that “Steve has liberated us from that shame.” Finnriver sought investments to build up the carbonated cider and fruit liquor part of its business.

 

Read the original article at PTLeader.com.

 


 

 

Investors are taking the 'slow' approach

Investing locally and small to support local agriculture expected to catch on

November 28, 2010

The slow-food movement has inspired an investment approach known as slow money.

Just as slow-food proponents encourage the development of locally grown food on small-scale farms, slow-money proponents advocate investments in local food systems and small-scale local enterprises that keep investors' money flowing “slowly” within the local economy, instead of speeding through the global financial system.

In the recession- battered farm belt of central Wisconsin, slowing down money by keeping it local could be a matter of survival.

“Clients started mentioning a few years ago that they wanted to invest in rural economic systems and local economies. But very little is available to me through my compliance structure,” said Georgette Frazer, a Marshfield, Wis.-based certified financial planner, accountant and fee-only adviser with the First Affirmative Financial Network LLC.

“The flow of capital is highly concentrated in urban areas, so how do we bring it out to rural econ-omies? The problem now is that the fundamental value of nurturing the soil and rural economies is not yet recognized,” Ms. Frazer said.

But that may be changing.

“Now, with the financial downturn, people have fundamentally lost faith that the large financial institutions have their best interests in mind,” said Don Shaffer, president and chief executive of RSF Social Finance, one of many financial firms developing ways to invest in the slow-money style.

“Until now, most investors hadn't thought about investing more directly into their communities and into sustainable businesses,” he said.

RSF's mission is to support social enterprises; one of its key focus areas is regionally focused sustainable food and agriculture.

“Year over year for the past three years, we've seen 30% annual growth in the numbers of people opening accounts,” Mr. Shaffer said. “People are getting more interested in investing in what they can understand.”

Environmental concerns are also spurring an interest in slow money.

“There is a greater interest in climate change and carbon footprints — the “Al Gore effect” — which led to greater awareness of the impact we're having on our food systems,” said Matt Patsky, chief executive of Trillium Asset Management Corp., which focuses exclusively on sustainable and socially conscious investing.

Trillium is collaborating with like-minded entities across the country to develop regional-investment vehicles.

“We're working on a pooled product to allow non-accredited investors to invest in slow-money targets in their local geographic communities, at market returns,” Mr. Patsky said.

A slow-money private-equity venture already exists in the form of Upstream 21, which was created in 2004 by Portfolio 21 Investments to support local economies through its acquired companies.

“After 10 years of negative returns in the stock market, people are starting to question where their money should be,” said Leslie Christian, the firm's chief investment officer.

A more recent private-equity vehicle, the Farmland LP fund, acquires conventional farmland and converts it to high-value organic farmland. Returns come from renting, risk sharing and directly operating the land.

In response to demand, RSF will expand access to its Social Investment Fund notes, introduced in 1984. The notes, which are socially focused instruments similar in form and yield to short-term bank certificates of deposit, are expected to be available on most retail platforms in mid-2011.

In addition, the company is developing higher-return products for mass-market investors, hopefully to be rolled out sometime next year, according to Mr. Shaffer.

Not-for-profit loan funds, such as those funded by RSF notes, are a potential growth area for slow-money investing because they are subject to fewer securities regulations and can be made available to the general public at relatively low investment minimums, he said.

Community Capital Management Inc. recently put together a separately managed client portfolio that invests in bonds “that support community-based food enterprises, facilities for schools and non-profit organizations working to build stronger local food systems, and better, more sustainable food production,” said Jamie Horwitz, senior vice president of marketing for the firm. It also includes these types of bonds within its CRA Qualified Investment Fund mutual fund portfolios.

But even those developing new products in this area think that there is more to be done before this investment niche can grow.

“What I'm waiting for are bonds that will help fund community-supported farms, restaurants serving regional food, and processing for organic foods,” Ms. Frazer said.

In the meantime, the growth in interest in investing “slowly” reflects a change in investor expectations.

“Against the backdrop of lower return expectations, these [slow-money-type] investment vehicles become competitive. You can have more of these low-volume, low-risk, socially important investments in a balanced portfolio if you're not chasing 10% annual returns,” Mr. Shaffer said.

“I see "slow money' as a logical continuation of the [socially conscious] investment market and an important new frontier ... trying to slow down portfolio turnover, investment time horizons, risk and leverage, and corporate time horizons,” said Robert Zevin, president and portfolio manager of Zevin Asset Management Inc.

“I think our clients are more patient and risk-averse than we are. They worry more about turnover than we do,” Mr. Zevin said.

“Producing patient, long-term performance is very appealing to them,” he said.

Read the original article at Investment News.

 


Slow Money Offers an Alternative Lending Hand

Green Futures - November 26, 2010

As crowdsourcing comes to the financial world, Judith Schwartz reports on a trend that could transform the way we invest for the future.

Imagine your investment portfolio, a decade or two from now. A solid tracker fund, perhaps; a sober pension plan, no doubt. But you might also have substantial shares in a nearby restaurant, along with the farms which supply it; a bondholding in a neighbourhood solar plant; and a clutch of other investments in a wide range of local enterprises. Each of them run by people you know, or who come strongly recommended by a network of friends, colleagues and experts steeped in the area. Each contributing to a thriving, resilient local economy – helping create a sustainable future from the ground up.

Such is the vision painted by a loose alliance of enthusiasts gathering under the banner of 'Slow Money'. The name is a deliberate echo of the Slow Food movement, and shares the conviction that real value lies in the local and the long term, rather than the global and ephemeral...

Read the entire article on ForumForTheFuture.org.


Slow Money trend helping small business grow

Foster's Daily Herald - November 21, 2010

BY RONI REINO

PORTSMOUTH — Despite a still tough economy, local Seacoast businesses are showing their support for entrepreneurs by offering them personal loans and embracing the Slow Money Movement.

The Slow Money concept was created by Woody Tasch in 2008, a former venture capitalist. His idea was to persuade investors to put their money into businesses in their local community. He encouraged investors to not look at the initial profits but rather the investment in sustainable organizations.

It piggybacked on the Slow Foods or "locavore" movement of only eating foods grown within a 100-mile radius.

New England is slowly expanding its green efforts, and small eco-friendly companies like EcoMovement have found support in the Slow Money trend.

Rian Bedard, owner of composting company EcoMovement, said when he began looking for investors last year, he didn't go directly to the bank.

"Being a small business, it can be tough finding funding," Bedard said. "Especially when you have no credit history. That was our challenge."

One of his customers was Ceres Bakery on Penhallow Street.

Owner Penny Brewster offered what Bedard couldn't get on his own, a loan to help him purchase a larger truck to pick up the waste that he then would compost.

"Rian is really good about keeping track of things and knowing how to make them work better," Brewster said. "Personally, though, it was really important that he is an honorable guy. All I really have is his word."

When Brewster got her start, the generosity of local business owners helped her learn the trade.

"People took the time to help me get going," she said. "They were extremely helpful and generous with their time and ideas."

Helping Bedard was her way of giving back to a green business she understood and supported. Although she doesn't consider herself a "local head," as she put it, being sustainable and supporting the growing green community makes sense, she said.

Since it began a year ago, EcoMovement has grown from picking up compost from a handful of restaurants to having 40 clients from Newmarket to Kittery, Maine. It is also expecting to release an iPhone application soon that directs customers to restaurants that compost with the company.

By working with his clients and proving he was trustworthy, Bedard was able to get loans ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 with interest rates ranging from 4 to 8 percent over a four-year term.

"You can work with local businesses to get terms that work for you," he said. "But the biggest thing for me was building their trust. I had to prove I was a hardworking businessman first."

Every agreement is different, Bedard said, and those looking to get loans from local businesses can be creative with terms as long as it works for both parties.

Another customer of his, The Portsmouth Brewery, also has backed EcoMovement. President Peter Egelston said his decision was more of a local issue.

"We're almost 20 years old," he said of the brewery. "I have a lot more appreciation to getting a leg up as a small business now than I did then. Even if you have a great idea, as he does, it's har


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