Woody Tasch

Dear Slow Money Friend,

Your response to my “Bombing, Blaming, Droning. . .” letter a few weeks ago was beyond heartening. Scores of you took the time to share thoughtful replies to me. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it has emboldened me to reach out in a similar manner again.

Don’t panic! I won’t inundate you. I am as prone to hit the Unsubscribe button as you.

So, please bear with me, be charitable with a few more minutes of your time, and let’s see where this takes us.

The impulse to write today comes, as it did a few weeks ago, from two news stories. The first is from Bloomberg, which reported yesterday on mistaken stock trading orders to the tune of $617 billion—yes, that’s billion with a “b”, just like it’s trillion with a “t” when we are talking about the cost of wars and hundreds of “t’s” when we are talking about the cloud of derivatives that blankets the financial heavens. The magnitude of the faulty trading orders would be enough of a topic in itself, as we are talking about calculable percentages, even major chunks, of the total valuation of major public companies and total daily trading volume of major exchanges. But what caused me to sit down to write this was the following:

“I don’t think we can find out who did this,” Jefferies’ Yamamoto said. “OTC transactions happen directly between two parties, which makes it difficult to find out who was involved. But considering the scale of the error, I guess it was a big broker.”

I don’t think we can find out who did this. Just what kind of cuckoo’s nest is this? Just what kind of social and environmental and cultural collateral damage are we exposing ourselves to daily as a result of ignorance about massive capital flows? Just when did we cede control of the wealth created by hundreds of years of industrialization to a handful of anonymous fiduciaries who cannot even keep track of the dollar flows in real time, much less think about long-term social and environmental concerns?

OK. That was News Story One.

News Story Two was on NPR’s Morning Edition on Tuesday and was about poultry processing in the U.S. and Europe. And the dollar amount at issue is not hundreds of billions of dollars, but, rather $.20/lb. In order to save $.20/lb., U.S. processors dip chicken carcasses in a chlorine bath to kill salmonella; in Europe, the use of chlorine bath is prohibited and processors instead use vigilant husbandry to keep salmonella out of their flocks. Hmmm: vigilant husbandry vs. cheaper chlorine bath? Which is the path to healthier culture? Just which parts of vigilance and health are we willing to sacrifice for $.20/lb.?

Industrial finance and industrial agriculture are two sides of the same coin. It is time for us to learn to save, spend and invest a new kind of coin.

If you’ve seen the BEETCOIN launch, you know that’s just what we’re trying to do. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. We’re barely out of the gate, and 53 intrepid early adopters have contributed $18,500. We’ve also gotten lots of early affirmation from friends and observers, so thanks for that. BEETCOIN may well have legs for the long-term, but for right now, all eyes are on Louisville.

PLEASE DON’T MISCONSTRUE this letter as little more than a thinly veiled promotion of BEETCOIN. It is sharing from the heart and the asking of a kind of public question: Can we help one another focus less on the crazy institutional dysfunction of the day and more on the seeds of a nonviolent economy that we can plant together?

Sincerely,

—Woody

 

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Woody Tasch

Dear Slow Money Friend:

I was watching the news this morning over my coffee and listening to a brief (VERY brief) mention of Quaker lobbying on Capitol Hill for peace initiatives in the Middle East, to which the commentator immediately offered the following knee-jerk, supposedly un-trumpable retort:

“But what about ISIS? Isn’t military response to ISIS completely justifiable and needed?”

There was also—and stick with me, here, as we move from terrorism in the desert of Iraq (Or is it Syria? Or is it some other geopolitical non-neighborhood that existed before the region was carved up by Western powers after World War I?) to the cornfields of Northern Ohio—a piece on last evening’s PBS News Hour about the toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie.

The PBS story featured a conventional corn farmer talking about the need to increase production to feed the world’s growing population, hence the need for fertilizer. . .but, not to worry. . .he’s using drones to help him apply his fertilizer more efficiently, so there’s hope that this will reduce run-off into Lake Erie.

Not that it would come as any surprise that farmers in northern Ohio are resistant to the possibility of federal regulation of fertilizer application. But, sure, even after all these years, it is still a bit shocking to me that a news organization working more in the public interest than commercial networks would fail even to MENTION longer term, structural fixes to agriculture. . .words like sustainable, organic, local, diversified, or even, heaven forefend, the world “soil”. . . .were as far away from that news story as Iraq is from something that was once called the Fertile Crescent.

So, what am I driving at? I’m driving at you driving, flying, training and otherwise getting yourself to Louisville in November for the upcoming Slow Money gathering. Really? That’s a bit of a stretch, isn’t it? What’s the connection?

Here’s the deal.

In response to the violence and institutional dysfunction and ecological degradation and uncertainty and fear of the day, we have only two choices, if we boil it all down:

  1. We can blame, bomb, drone, attack, argue, vilify, deny, lobby, scare, tax, legislate, regulate, investigate, prosecute and protest; or,
  2. We can invest.

I have written a pamphlet, which you are going to receive soon, that lays out, in a few dozen pages, the general case for conscientious investing as a means to achieve not only health, but also peace.

But in light of the two news stories, mentioned above, I couldn’t wait.

Let’s lift our voices up in Louisville! We’ll have a few of our “popes” on hand to help us (sure, in the name of diversity and healthy non-denominational skepticism and faith, both, our popes, with a small “p”, can be many and varied, even female) and many, many “heroic grunts,” to use the words of one of Wes Jackson’s neighbors, describing farmers, but, to my thinking, also describing small food entrepreneurs more generally, as well as the individuals who invest in them.

Blaming, bombing, droning, attacking, arguing, vilifying, denying, lobbying, scaring, taxing, legislating, regulating, investigating, prosecuting and protesting may be satisfying in the short term. But only investing can deliver the long-term results that have a shot at giving staying power to the “happiness” in “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Happiness that comes from blaming, bombing, droning, attacking, arguing, vilifying, denying, lobbying, scaring, taxing, legislating, regulating, investigating, prosecuting and protesting is short-lived and fragile, a bit too much like the non-satiety that comes from empty calories. You want real nutrition? Health? Lasting happiness? You have to invest.

(And, for the record, please note: I’m not suggesting this is an Either/Or choice. We are, to be sure, and for better or worse, in All Of The Above mode, but the one that is most precious, and in shortest supply, is investing.)

Excuse me for echoing, as many have and many will, those prescient, funny, poignant words from the movie Network: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more!” (By the way, if you’ve never seen it, PLEASE DO check out these two and a half minutes from that movie—arguably the best, most entertaining two and half minutes ever filmed about global finance, the economy and nature.)

Let’s get a little riled up, sure, but then, quickly, appropriately, sustainably, slowly, let’s sit down together, break bread, plant seeds and otherwise conspire about how to spend less of our time blaming, bombing, droning, attacking, arguing, vilifying, denying, lobbying, scaring, taxing, legislating, regulating, investigating, prosecuting and protesting. . .and more time. . .

investing.

Starting with food. Starting with the soil. Starting with investing ourselves in a collective, conscientious, entrepreneurial, neighborly, heartening, peace-loving and vital public conversation.

JOIN US IN LOUISVILLE!

And one last thing.

Clearly this is not a proper invitation to an event. This is personal sharing, heart to heart, in the knowledge that so many of us are hungry for the opposite of sound bites and for real ways to engage.

See this invitation for more information about the Louisville event if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you.

Sincerely,

—Woody

 

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Woody Tasch

Dear Slow Money Friend,

Our summer was eventful and this fall is shaping up to be even more eventful.

Over the past several months, our growth has continued apace. We’ve now got 20 local networks and 13 investment clubs, and we’ve passed $38 million in funding to 350 small food enterprises.

Looking ahead, November’s gathering in Louisville, KY promises to be a threshold for us. We will be hosting our first Master Class for local leaders there. We will be issuing our first State of the Sector Report. The event program features everything from an opening with Wendell Berry to a closing panel with leaders of Slow Food, Slow Money and Slow Church.

Slow Church? you ask. Well, if you’re curious about that, you might also be curious about BEETCOIN.

We’ll be going live with BEETCOIN next week. . .until then, use your imagination.

Looking forward to seeing many of you in Louisville.

—Woody

 

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Slow Money Vermont

Reported by Janice St. Onge

Slow Money Vermont to launch in September.

 

Vermont is a hotbed of local food enterprises, which makes it an ideal place for Slow Money’s newest regional chapter: Slow Money Vermont. On September 16, 2014, Slow Money Founder and Chairman Woody Tasch will join Vermont local food entrepreneur Cheryl DeVos of Kimball Brook Farm to trumpet the start of the first Slow Money Network in Vermont. This comes four years after 600 people from 30 U.S. states and 6 countries came to Vermont’s Shelburne Farms for Slow Money’s 2nd Annual National Gathering.

A task force within the 300-organization Vermont Farm to Plate Network—Vermont’s statewide collaboration to strengthen the food system—incubated the new Slow Money Vermont organization. Slow Money Vermont aligns with the state’s Farm to Plate goals to increase investments and financial partnerships in food system enterprises.

Through initiatives such as the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board and the Vermont Food Funders Network, Vermont has demonstrated the capacity to deploy millions of dollars of public and philanthropic funds to fuel the local food economy. Also, mission-based and conventional lenders have a track record in Vermont of collaborating effectively to get deals done. Building on this financing infrastructure, Slow Money Vermont will share a vision for 21st Century Main Street investing to support a viable and sustainable agricultural economy in Vermont and the region.

—–

Slow Money Vermont is an emerging network that aims to inform, inspire, and connect individuals, businesses, philanthropists, and investors interested in building a sustainable local and regional food system and to catalyze new investment opportunities in the people, businesses, and communities that contribute to a sustainable food economy. Slow Money Vermont is being organized through a task force connected to Vermont Farm to Plate—the statewide initiative to strengthen the food system. Slow Money Vermont aligns with the state’s Farm to Plate goals to increase investments and financial partnerships in food system enterprises. To learn more about Slow Money Vermont, visit www.facebook.com/slowmoneyvermont.

Contact: Caitlin Jenness, co-chair of Slow Money Vermont: ckjenness@gmail.com, 603-620-3713

 

Slow Money San Luis Obispo

Reported by Jeff Wade.

Slow Money SLO has facilitated more than $350,000 in peer-to-peer funding and business-development coaching to more than a dozen companies.

 

In Fall 2012, SLO Natural Foods Co-Op faced a big decision: move from a site it had occupied for nearly 30 years to a new location in San Luis Obispo—allowing for more shelf space, off-street parking and longer hours—or close up shop. Thanks to the first set of loans from the fledgling Slow Money SLO group, the store was able to choose the former; they celebrated a grand reopening at their Victoria Avenue site in Summer 2013.

“A great collection of volunteer help and community support allowed us to make this move and be where we are a year later,” says Aimee Wyatt, president of the Co-Op Board. “The funding through Slow Money SLO made the difference between shutting down and creating this wonderful new space and source of high quality, local food.”

Slow Money SLO and SLO Natural Foods recently banded together—on their two-year and one-year anniversaries, respectively—to celebrate this success. The anniversary event, held at the Co-Op, included music, local food vendors, the SLO Natural Foods annual members meeting, and a sale on local products.

 

In its two years of life, Slow Money SLO has facilitated more than $350,000 in peer-to-peer funding and business-development coaching to more than a dozen companies, thanks to local investors. The result: an increase in locally produced food and employment for small entrepreneurs who otherwise might not have had funding.

Other recent Slow Money SLO success stories include Native Herbs and Honey, Reef Points Cider, and Off The Farm. Native Herbs used Slow Money SLO funds to purchase equipment and hives to expand their honey production and start bringing in revenue from pollination opportunities. They have now moved into a larger facility with a kitchen and space to offer other local products. Reef Points Cider was able to respond to a growing demand for their products with an additional source of juice and multiple harvests to draw from each year. Off The Farm translated Slow Money loans into a new line of superfood cereal, based on common ingredients in their bar product. The cereal sells out at each event Off the Farm attends and enjoys repeat orders at the initial retail locations. And the list goes on: Slow Money SLO is now in business-support discussions with four other local food businesses.

 

Slow Money SLO welcomes those who want to know firsthand where their money is invested and what is possible, even with a small loan. There is no membership fee to participate, and this is not an investment club. All peer-to-peer loans are made between our food and farm friends and the individuals who wish to support them. The group and its leadership simply enable these connections and support to occur.

Go to www.SlowMoneySLO.org for more information and to complete a short form to get involved, as an investor or as a food and farm entrepreneur.

 

Slow Money Kentucky

Reported by Larry Snyder.

Funded 4 entrepreneurs over the past 6 months for an approximate investment total of $20,000.

When you attend the 2014 Slow Money National Gathering in Louisville in November, don’t miss the opportunity to savor some of the fruits of Slow Money KY loans—and to visit some of the group’s favorite hangouts.

Ramsi’s Café on the World in Louisville.

First, check out Ramsi’s Café on the World, which is associated with Slow Money KY loan-recipient Raising Hope Organic Farm. The Slow Money funds helped the farm heat and ventilate its greenhouses so it could extend its growing season and boost production. Ramsi Kamar, owner of the farm and restaurant, was just named one of three 2014 Local Food Heroes by a program sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Louisville nonprofit Seed Capital Kentucky Inc., and Louisville Farm to Table.Also plan to visit Harvest Restaurant, a nationally recognized farm-to-table venue and the site of Slow Money KY’s first two quarterly gatherings, in March and June 2014. Both meetings focused on peer-to-peer lending and drew more than 70 attendees

Nine businesses presented at the two meetings, and so far, Slow Money KY has facilitated a total of $20,000 in loans, donated to four businesses, including that of Ivor Chodkowski, owner of Field Day Family Farm and part-owner of Harvest restaurant. He used the funds to build a hoop house so he could extend his growing season and offer a winter CSA program in addition to his summer CSA and farmers’ market stand.

Ivor Chodkowski looks at tomatoes in a greenhouse at Field Day Family Farm.

Slow Money KY has lined up four businesses to present at its next quarterly gathering on Oct. 26. Our team is also gearing up for November’s National Gathering. We look forward to showing off Louisville’s great local restaurants and sharing our local bourbons with all of our Slow Money friends.

 

Slow Money Northern California

Reported by Frederick Smith.

Slow Money hosting Entrepreneur Showcase during the National Heirloom Expo.

Are you interested in investing in local, sustainable food systems, but don’t know how? Join us to learn from successful, socially responsible entrepreneurs who have benefited from “slow investing” financing, including the Slow Money Northern California’s SOIL investor network. Learn how you can invest in sustainable food systems.

St. Benoit Creamery: Benoit and David de Korsak produce organic milk and yogurt, crafted in the French-style from their pasture-raised jersey cows in Sonoma County. Members of Slow Money Northern California’s SOIL network are in the due diligence process to invest in St. Benoit’s expansion.

Victorian Farmstead Meat Company: Adam and Laura Parks sell pasture raised meat and eggs from Marin & Sonoma counties at farmers markets and at their butcher shop inside Community Market in Sebastopol. Slow Money Northern California facilitated investment in Victorian Farmstead to open its butcher shop.

Peoples Community Market: People’s Community Market aims to solve the plight of West Oakland’s ‘food desert’ by building a community-owned grocery store. Brahm Ahmadi has been successful in raising over $1.1 million through a Direct Public offering (DPO), which is a public offering available to both accredited (the 1%) and non-accredited investors (the rest of us).

Speakers:

Benoît de Korsak, St. Benoit Creamery, Petaluma, CA

 

Adam Parks, Victorian Farmstead Meat Company, Sebastopol, CA

 

Brahm Ahmadi, People’s Community Market, Oakland, CA

 


 

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The Slow Money Letter, June 2014

 

Of Algorithms, People and Knowledge

by Woody Tasch — I arrived at this month’s inaugural Slow Money Canada meeting ready to share an excerpt of Michael Lewis’s new book, Flash Boys. Is there a more stark counterpoint for slow money, a better argument for bringing money back down to earth, than the excesses of high-frequency traders racing to achieve a few-millisecond trading edge?

Read »

Network Updates

As of June 1, 2014, over $35.5 million has been invested into more than 325 small food enterprises via 19 local networks and 10 investment clubs.

Canada Reported by Rory Holland

Slow Money Canada’s inaugural conference; investment club in the works.

Read »
Southern California Reported by Alison Caldwell

Local Investment Networking Club of Orange County launched; Riverside County joined the SoCal network; San Diego delivered another successful event.

Read »
Southern California Pt. 2 Reported by Kiva Zip

Kiva Zip funds first loan in collaboration with LINC-OC.

Read »
Maine Reported by Bonnie Rukin

Slow Money Maine hosted highly successful first regional gathering.

Read »

Slow Money 2014 in Louisville

Early bird closing soon: We just wanted to remind you that our discounted early registration rates end on June 30th. If you haven’t yet seen the speaker lineup and program, we hope you can take a look now.

Entrepreneur Showcase: We are now accepting Entrepreneur Showcase applications for Slow Money 2014. If you are a small food enterprise seeking capital and the opportunity to network, we invite you to fill out our online application.

Slow Money in the Media

Slow Money in Vancouver Vancouver Sun

For the first time, Slow Money gathered north of the border for Canada’s inaugural conference.

Read »
En plein essor, le mouvement slow se décline à toutes les sauces Le Matin Dimanche

Swiss daily newspaper article about the “slow” movement and Slow Money

Read »
Why Purpose, Not Cash, Is King In The Food Industry Forbes

Slow Money receives mention in food industry overview.

Read »

 

 

 

 

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Woody Tasch

By Woody Tasch

I arrived at this month’s inaugural Slow Money Canada meeting ready to share an excerpt of Michael Lewis’s new book, Flash Boys. Is there a more stark counterpoint for slow money, a better argument for bringing money back down to earth, than the excesses of high-frequency traders racing to achieve a few-millisecond trading edge?

Turns out there is.

And it is this: A venture capital fund called Deep Knowledge Ventures has just announced the appointment of a computer algorithm to its board of directors.

No, I’m not making this up. No, this is not an article in The Onion. This is real news. This is financial reality as of June 2014, on this little old ball of whirling, zooming, and life-of-its-own cyber-money called Planet Earth.

Makes me think back to Niall Ferguson’s prescient observation in The Ascent of Money: “Planet Finance is starting to dwarf Planet Earth.”

Here’s the Business Insider piece on the algorithm’s appointment:

A Venture Capital Firm Just Named An Algorithm To Its Board Of Directors

A Hong Kong VC fund has just appointed an algorithm to its board.

Deep Knowledge Ventures, a firm that focuses on age-related disease drugs and regenerative medicine projects, says the program, called VITAL, can make investment recommendations about life sciences firms by poring over large amounts of data.

Just like other members of the board, the algorithm gets to vote on whether the firm makes an investment in a specific company or not. The program will be the sixth member of DKV’s board.

VITAL’s software was developed by UK-based Aging Analytics.

“[The goal] is actually to draw attention developing it as an independent decision maker,” Deep Knowledge Venture’s Charles Groome told BI.

How does the algorithm work?

VITAL makes its decisions by scanning prospective companies’ financing, clinical trials, intellectual property and previous funding rounds.

Groome says it has already helped approved two investment decisions (though has not yet cast its first vote), both of which resemble its own function: In Silico Medicine, which develops computer-assisted methods for drug discovery in aging research; and In Silico’s partner firm Pathway Pharmaceuticals, which employs a platform called OncoFinder to select and rate personalized cancer therapies.

“It’s not what you’d call AI at this stage, but that is the long-term goal,” Groome said.

Let’s leave out the irony of the venture firm’s name: Deep Knowledge. No, let’s not leave it out. I suppose this is the fundamental issue: What is the difference between data and knowledge? Between knowledge and wisdom? What kind of information do we need in order to make what kind of decisions? What kind of knowledge might we call deep?

Slow Money board member Eliot Coleman speaks eloquently about the difference between deep organics and shallow organics. No need to belabor the distinctions here, other than to recite Eliot’s wonderfully insightful maxim: “Feed the soil, not the plant.”

It makes me imagine two cartoons. The first depicts a board table around which five people and one laptop are seated, with everyone saying “Aye.” The second, the same board table, around which five laptops and one person are seated, with the five laptops saying “Aye” and the one person saying “No.”

The “Ayes” have it.

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Slow Money Southern California

Reported by Alison Caldwell.

Local Investment Networking Club of Orange County launched; Riverside County joined the SoCal network; San Diego delivered another successful event.

Slow Money SoCal is growing strong at the center of local food and finance by building relationships between communities, entrepreneurs, and new investment opportunities. Slow Money SoCal represents Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, and the new addition of Riverside County. Slow Money SoCal sees each Southern California region as vital to the other. Every four months the Slow Money SoCal meeting rotates to a different county. The gatherings feature entrepreneurs who showcase their products, keynote speakers, panel discussions, networking, and free raffles donated by our artisans. Slow Money SoCal also recently introduced the Kiva Zip loan model for local entrepreneurs.

 
Hundreds of San Diegans convene for Slow Money SoCal’s San Diego gathering at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens.

San Diego: Slow Money SoCal San Diego is gaining momentum, with average attendance at 2014 gatherings reaching more than 200. The like-minded Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens has generously donated its courtyard venue for the gatherings. The May event discussed the California drought, featuring water experts from the San Diego County Farm Bureau. The upcoming September gathering will focus on seeds and the economy.

 
Frank Golbeck of Golden Coast Mead and Slow Money NoCal leader Marco Vangelisti at the Slow Money SoCal Orange County gathering.

Orange County: Slow Money SoCal Orange County has inspired the launch of the Local Investment Networking Club of Orange County. LINC-OC is a network of individuals who invest directly in Slow Money entrepreneurs and has become a trustee of Kiva Zip. Slow Money SoCal Orange County’s successful gatherings attract entrepreneurs and investors to network and listen to keynote speakers such as Slow Money–minded economist Marco Vangelisti. At our upcoming gathering (June 16 at The Shed in Dana Point), Bridget Reilly of Royal Tea and Treatery will offer attendees the opportunity to directly invest via her LINC-OC-backed Kiva Zip loan campaign.

 
Los Angeles startup Savour This Sauce at the Lexington Social House in Hollywood for the Slow Money SoCal L.A. gathering.

Los Angeles: Slow Money SoCal L.A. is celebrating its first Kiva Zip loan (backed by LINC-OC) of $5,000 to L.A. entrepreneur Jennifer Piette of Out of the Box Collective. Our next gathering will be July 16, 2014, at the Bar Nine Collective. We will discuss Farm to Roasting, with a panel discussion of leading fair-trade and artisan coffee businesses from the L.A. region.

Riverside County: Slow Money SoCal is excited to welcome Riverside County into the chapter. Slow Money SoCal Riverside represents an agricultural corner of the region where 11 percent of the county is designated for agricultural use— unprecedented for a Southern California city of its size. The first official Riverside gathering will take place in August, with a “meet and greet” Slow Money event on June 16 at The Salted Pig.

 

Slow Money Southern California Pt. 2

Reported by Justin Renfro of Kiva Zip.

Local Investment Networking Club of Orange County successfully funded first loan via Kiva Zip.

A local network of Slow Money, the Local Investment Networking Club of Orange County (LINC-OC), has been actively building relationships among farmers, food artisans and producers in Southern California since 2012.

LINC-OC has become a partner of Kiva Zip (KivaZip.org), which allows them to recommend entrepreneurs for 0 interest, 0 fee loans that are funded by a global community of good people. Kiva Zip is the US program of Kiva, which is the world’s first and largest micro-lending website.

Building a strong relationship with the entrepreneur is a critical element in the Kiva Zip underwriting process. Loans are made on the basis of character and the positive social impact of their business. LINC-OC recently endorsed two business owners who are integral members of the Slow Money SoCal family:

 
Jennifer Piette, Out of the Box Collective

Jennifer Piette runs Out of the Box Collective and created something wonderfully unique in this “Farm to Table Home Delivery Service”. She sources the highest quality food from local and sustainable producers, and then “curates” items from every food group into weekly delivery boxes, accompanied by seasonal meal plans and recipes featuring the groceries in each box.

Jennifer successfully raised $5,000 on Kiva Zip from 250 lenders around the world to help her redesign her website and help with her marketing efforts.

 
Bridget Reilly, The Royal Tea and Treatery

Bridget Reilly recently opened The Royal Tea and Treatery, a gluten and dairy free bakery and tea house in Orange County. Her motto is, “If it’s done well, you can’t tell”, and her clients agree that Bridget’s baked goods and luncheon fare are every bit as delicious as any containing these common allergens.

Bridget is currently raising $5,000 to purchase equipment and services, which are essential to her success during these the first few months of operation. You can learn more about it here.

If you or someone you know could benefit from a Kiva Zip loan you can get learn more and get started here.

 

Slow Money Canada

Reported by Rory Holland.

Slow Money Canada’s inaugural conference; investment club in the works.

Woody Tasch (L), Rory Holland (M) and Jean-Martin Fortier (R) at Slow Money Canada’s inaugural conference.

“What a fantastic event Slow Money was. Well done. I loved it and was inspired and encouraged. Thank you!”

Last Friday over 100 folks gathered in a small theatre on Granville Island in Vancouver, BC and found inspiration and enthusiasm for Slow Money. From Woody’s opening Keynote to the Leslie Christian’s closing talk the case was convincingly made that investing in the local food economy just makes sense.

The investment opportunities showcased in the afternoon ranged from Skipper Otto, a community supported fishery seeking money for a new processing plant to Hua Foundation, engaging Chinese fresh food markets in town with new opportunities for organic, local Asian greens. As one audience member said “in 25 years of watching ‘pitch’ sessions, never have I seen nine companies do such a great job”.

Coming out of the conference many new connections were made, and there are already plans are in the works for an Investment Club. It’s clear that the Slow Money infection has moved north of the border.

 

Slow Money Maine

Reported by Bonnie Rukin.

Slow Money Maine hosted a highly successful first regional gathering.

In May, Slow Money Maine held its first regional gathering: “GROW IT! The New Food Economy.” The event celebrated our regional collaborations and explored case studies of food businesses in Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Our gathering kicked off with a walking tour of Portland food businesses and nonprofits, followed by a social hour and Taste of Slow Money Maine, showcasing network food producers. Rain shifted to sunshine by midday, setting the mood for an educational, tasty, and highly enjoyable gathering.

Here are the event highlights:

  • John Naylor of Rosemont Market & Bakery opened Day Two with a history of his community-focused markets in Portland.
  • We examined case studies of two early-stage businesses: Marada Cook’s Northern Girl (vegetable processing) and Ben Slayton’s Farmer’s Gate Market (butcher shop). Alex Linkow of Fair Food Network, John Piotti of Maine Farmland Trust, Gray Harris of CEI, and Paul Skydell, a private investor, also shared glimpses of company triumphs, challenges, and technical assistance.
  • Portland Mayor Michael Brennan provided an inspiring talk about local food initiatives.
  • We discussed case studies of two growth-stage businesses: Greg Georgaklis’s Farmers to You (a Vermont-to-Boston food service) and Jared Auerbach’s Red’s Best (Boston-based fish aggregation & sales). They shared their endeavors, with supporting commentary from Janice St. Onge of VSJF Flexible Capital Fund and Dan Pullman and Lisa Sebesta of Fresh Source Capital.

These exchanges contribute to the success of food-system businesses by emphasizing the relationships surrounding necessary financial transactions.

At the end of our gathering, Slow Money participants from Massachusetts suggested hosting a similar gathering next spring, an idea we strongly encourage!

Many thanks to event planners Linzee, Kari, Gray, and Vicki who brought their amazing talents to this offering that served more than 150 people in highly satisfying ways.

 


 

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Woody Tasch

Food for Thought, For Becoming at Home in Our Place, For Thoughtfulness in Producing Food

By Gary Nabhan

With future generations in mind, may my family and friends never leave the land we steward poorer, nor its water scarcer than conditions were before we acquired responsibility for their care.

May we keep land meant to be farmed from being de-veloped, and re-envelope it with people dedicated to keep its inherent productivity in tact into perpetuity.

May we work as “greenhorns” to offer dignity, reciprocity and respect to the “grayhorns” willing to offer their land to us, and to never betray our covenant with them and the land itself.

May we seek to enrich the soil, diversify its plant cover and deepen its roots both within and beyond its harvested fields, its grazed pastures, or its orchards.

May we be diligent in learning how our practices affect those who live above and below us in our foodshed and watershed— not only the human lives, but all other-than-human lives as well.

May we participate in the regional culture of this land, and whenever possible, engage in the community rites and calendric rhythms that bind us to our place.

May we work to link the consumers of the food, fiber and timber we produce to the land on which it is produced, so that their values and ours are developed in harmony rather than in completion or in conflict.

May we encourage our members, friends and neighboring consumers to vote for what is best for the land at the polling booth where our choices help determine its governance, and at the table where what we choose to eat can benefit rather than harm the community at large.

May we share with our neighbors not only our successes in stewardship, but cautionary words of wisdom gained from our past failures as well, so that the principles that guide us and the practices that work on the ground are spread throughout this landscape.

May we refrain from solely focusing on increasing the saleable products from the land, but also on investing in the underlying natural processes which generate those products.

May we experiment with ways to control pests, diseases and weeds in a manner that does least harm to pollinators like bees and monarchs, predators, and

May we make long-term decisions about the destiny of the land and the choice of its future caretakers by asking a simple question: “What would the land itself want?” just as some Christian land ethicists often ask, “What would Jesus do if he were a farmer, fisher or forager?”

May we stay as humble as this blessed earth itself.


Message sent through Brother Coyote, OEF, aka Grayhorn Gary Paul Nabhan, to celebrate the Agrarian Trust forum in Berkeley CA in April of 2014

 

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April 2014

OPINION: From Bitcoin to Beets

The recent collapse of Mt. Gox and the “inconvenience,” in its CEO’s words, caused by the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars of Bitcoin investors’ money, should make us all think about the history of finance and … organic beets.

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First Slow Money France Investment

Slow Money Francophone members closed a first investment in January 2014, a 100,000 euro equity investment in Organic Seed Company in France. This will help the company to satisfy growing demand from private and professional gardeners, as well as to develop some site diversification on the farm.

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Slow Money 2014 Nov. 10–12, Louisville, KY

Early bird registration for our 2014 gathering is open! This year’s speakers include Vandana Shiva, Joel Salatin, Amy Domini, Patrick Holden, Mary Berry, Gary Nabhan, Eliot Coleman, and Greg Steltenpohl.

Register now »

Food, Money, Soil

Good Food Revolution: In Milwaukee, Will Allen uses a novel approach to create integrated food systems for local communities. He produces multiple food sources, including fish and produce, by ingeniously mixing a variety of farming practices, ranging from vermiculture to aquaponics. Information artwork by Douglas Gayeton for the Lexicon of Sustainability. Douglas will be speaking at our 2014 gathering.

Network Updates

Wisconsin Reported by Beth Gehred.

Funded six entrepreneurs over the past 12 months for an approximate investment total of $600,000.

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Vancouver Reported by Rory Holland.

We are very excited to announce that Vancouver has been chosen for the Spring 2014 West Coast Regional Gathering.

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Iowa Reported by Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Details about the launch of new investment club, Iowa Pollinators LLC.

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Maine

The network has grown to 892 people and a funding total of $8.6mm.

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Slow Money in the Media

Share the Bounty Natural Resources Defense Council

NRDC features an interview with Woody Tasch in the spring issue of their magazine.

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One-Stop Site Paints A Clearer Picture For Impact Investors

Forbes

Sure, the impact investing and social enterprise world is thriving. But it’s also disjointed and often confusing, with a variety of groups, startups, investors, schools, conferences, and even basic terminology.

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The secret ingredient to slow food:
Slow cash Grist

When I spoke with Tim Crosby, director of Slow Money Northwest, he was working on a deal at the Finn River Cidery.

Read more »

 

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Woody Tasch

By Woody Tasch

The recent collapse of Mt. Gox and the “inconvenience,” in its CEO’s words, caused by the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars of Bitcoin investors’ money, should make us all think about the history of finance and … organic beets.

We invented joint stock companies in 1600, came to what appeared to be an inexhaustible continent, took everything, cut it up into pieces and started selling it to strangers, only to find ourselves finally selling Ones and Zeros and Sliced and Diced Who-Knows-What Derivatives to invisible strangers. In milliseconds and in incomprehensibly large quantities.

Then came Bitcoin.

Then came Bitcoin “mining.”

Now, I could rant about the absurdity of roomfulls of servers, funded by venture capitalists, applying the extractive, industrial mentality of mining to the techno-seductiveness of virtual currency, but I’d rather talk about organic beets.

As in, thousands of us starting to invest in local, organic food enterprises—something startlingly common sensical yet seemingly radical in today’s byzantine world of hypersecuritized capital markets.

Under the improbable banner of something called Slow Money—let’s call it the polar opposite of Bitcoin—we are acting on the visceral sense that there is such a thing as money that is too fast, securities that are too abstract and complex, and companies that are too big.  We are fermenting a peaceable little non-technological revolution in investing.

It’s as if we were taking all the macro numbers of economic growth—the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Case Shiller Index, GDP, Consumer Confidence, the value of all the barrels of oil still in the ground—and throwing them into a jar along with some friendly bacteria of the Care of the Commons, Sense of Place, Diversity and Nonviolence Kind.

Over the last few years, the Slow Money network has put over $35 million into over 300 small food enterprises around the country (and a few in Canada, France and Switzerland), supporting small and mid-size organic farms and the many small food businesses that create jobs, revitalize Main Street, build carbon in the soil (where we want carbon, as opposed to in the atmosphere), improve health, and create fertility at the base of a restorative economy.

This is a small part of a larger movement that is asking:  After all the globalization and financial razzmatazz, don’t we need to bring some of our money back down to earth?

A number of NGOs are emerging to rebuild local economies, including the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, the Post-Carbon Institute and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.   Small new investment intermediaries are emerging too, including RSF Social Finance, Mission Markets and Farmland LP.

To fix our economy from the ground up, we need to do more than Buy Green and Buy Local.  We need to do more than regulate the excesses of Too Big Too Fail.  We need to Invest Local.   We need to take a little of our money out of there—the abstract, complex, ultra-fast world of global investing—and put it to work here—near where we live, in things that we understand.

Food is a great place to start.  Slow Money investments are supporting dairy coops, organic grain mills, regional food hubs, seed companies, restaurants that source locally, compost companies, niche organic brands, grassfed beef producers and more.   Investments have ranged in size from a few million dollars to a few thousand dollars.   Investors include experienced angel investors and family foundations, but are mostly just plain regular folks who want to know where their food comes from and where there money goes.

You may ask: Is this investing or is this philanthropy?

The answer is embedded in the experience that more than half a million Americans are having as members of CSAs—farms that sell shares of their production in advance of each season. I’ve asked thousands of CSA members around the country: How many of you ever calculated quantitative metrics supporting your decision to join a CSA—food miles, price, nutrient density, pesticide levels, organic matter in the soil or any other such factors? In many years of asking this question, only a few people have raised a hand and said they had done any such calculating.

This suggests that hundreds of thousands of Americans are using a sense of innate value to pre-pay for food from a local farmer. They are entering into an arrangement that is part investment decision, part consumption decision, part transaction, part relationship, part capitalism, part socialism, both deeply conservative and deeply liberal.

This is where we must head if want a healthy economy. Away from Bitcoin and towards beets. Away from anonymous transactions and towards healthy relationships.  Away from computer screens and towards farms and fertility. Beyond financial diversification and towards diversity—ecological diversity, cultural diversity, economic diversity.

Because, after all, what is more diverse than a gram of fertile soil, with its billions of micro-organisms and thousands of species, most of them not yet named?

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