February 2013: Chapter Updates

Slow Money Maine

Reported by Linzee Weld.

In 2012, $1.6 million in loans, grants and equity investments catalyzed; $4.1 million invested overall in 53 enterprises.

 Somerset Grist Mill
Owners and staff of the Somerset Grist Mill step outside the former county jail in downtown Skowhegan, Maine.

Two Maine businesses that presented at the 2011 Slow Money conference in San Francisco are up and running. The Somerset Grist Mill, a flour milling business located in the former county jail in downtown Skowhegan, began milling flour last September. The mill produces wheat, rye and spelt flours from Maine-grown grains, as well as rolled Maine oats. The mill building houses two other local food businesses: The Pickup, a multifarm CSA that sources from 40 farms and food businesses and sells to local households, businesses and institutions; and the Skowhegan Farmers Market. The Farmers Market partners with the Wholesome Wave Foundation and is able to double the dollars spent by low-income households.

With the help of Slow Money Maine, the Somerset Grist Mill raised its startup financing from a variety of sources, including a Kickstarter campaign, loans from two Maine-based foundations, and patient loans that defer principal and interest for four years before being repaid over the following two years. The Grist Mill hopes to raise its final $50,000 in startup capital in the next several months.

 Northern Girl
In the commissary kitchen with Northern Girl on the Loring Air Force Base in Caribou, Maine.

Northern Girl sells Maine-grown fresh and frozen cut and peeled vegetables for institutional customers and the retail market. Northern Girl is now in its second year of production, and packages of Veggie Fries, Aroostook Roots Medley and Salad Bar Beets have hit grocery-store shelves in Maine to popular acclaim. Northern Girl has been operating out of the former commissary kitchen on the Loring Air Force Base in Caribou, Maine, and is in the process of building its own facility in Van Buren, which will allow it to increase volume and lower production costs.

Slow Money North Carolina

Reported by Carol Peppe Hewitt.

Launch of Funds to Farms: A Celebration of Local Food, a new microfinancing project for farmers and food entrepreneurs.

Slow Money North Carolina kicked off 2013 with an exciting new program called Funds to Farms: A Celebration of Local Food. Together with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Slow Money NC recruited 33 applications from area farmers looking for capital. Five farmers were selected to pitch their ideas to a sellout crowd of some 120 people at a fund-raising dinner on January 27. Thanks to generous food and drink donations, the event at a local brewery raised $2,900, which was shared among the winning presenters. In the end, all the farmers took home cash — $1,000 for 1st place, $600 for 2nd place and $200 for the three runner-ups.

 North Carolina Chapter
More than 120 people enjoyed fresh local food at Slow Money North Carolina’s first-ever Funds to Farms event.

The concept is based on the Soup Movement, which has taken hold in art enclaves in New York City, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Louisville, Philadelphia and Detroit. Using a unique, community-based microfinance model, groups like FEAST and posSOUPbility are bringing people together over a bowl of soup as a way to raise money for community-minded projects.

Funds to Farms takes this microfunding process and applies it to beginning farmers and food entrepreneurs in the Carolinas. Plans are already under way for another Funds to Farms dinner in April or May!

Slow Money Northwest

Reported by Tim Crosby.

Beginning Farmer and Rancher IDA program launched; over $5 million in investments catalyzed; support to more than 40 businesses.

Slow Money Northwest held three investor meetings in 2012, two of those in Portland, and expects to hold four in 2013. The last meeting generated investment discussion of nearly $2 million, with about $600,000 flowing to presenting businesses. To date, we have assisted more than 40 businesses with technical and business development, and are aware of over $5 million in financing resulting from investors attending Slow Money events.

Between January 1 and February 8, Slow Money Northwest launched a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account (IDA) program, secured grant funds to outline a market analysis and investment strategy for a portion of the regional farm-to-institution market, extended our paid contract employee from half to full time, and hired a business research intern. We also are pursuing a communications intern, and have secured office space alongside other social enterprises and impact investor groups in Seattle’s Pioneer Square area.

Needless to say, we expect 2013 to be a year of growth and are taking necessary steps so we can succeed in increasing access to capital and nurturing successful and responsible food and farm businesses.


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