The Groundswell Center has been participating over the past year in the development of a Slow Money Central New York group. This growing planning group sent me, as the convener of the group, to the Third Annual Slow Money National Gathering in San Francisco last week. Three packed days long, this gathering was the largest meeting yet of people inspired by Woody Tasch’s ideal, set out in his book Slow Money, that local investment in farm and food enterprises at a relatively modest rate of interest—no higher than a natural rate of return based on sustainable agricultural methods—could transform both farming and investing.
Any reader who is interested in more detail about the Slow Money movement should see (and, if you agree, sign!) the Slow Money Principles. They are available on the Slow Money website.
The Slow Money Alliance local and regional groups across the country sent representatives, and it was very interesting to learn about how different groups were organizing their work and beginning to move funds to local farm and food businesses. The models in use in Boulder, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin seemed particularly interesting and good for local emulation to me, resembling as they did the Ithaca area in the make-up of investors, members, and farm and food businesses. Also of note is ACEnet, an Ohio regional economic development organization that predates the Slow Money Movement, but has adopted the Slow Money Principles and is developing related programming.
Since the last annual gathering, more than 9 million dollars in investment has been put to work through the programming of national and regional Slow Money groups. The tremendous energy to do more to bring patient capital and farm and food entrepreneurs together was evident at all the plenary and break-out sessions. People were inspired by the talks given by thought leaders such as Wes Jackson and Winona La Duke. They became eager to do due-diligence on some of the business plans briefly presented in the Entrepreneur Showcase, and make investments. A number of the conference attendees were themselves qualified investors, or represented investment clubs or investment funds.
Slow Money Central NY has a couple of local farm and food businesses currently looking for investors, and some introductions have been made. Some of these connections were facilitated through the National Gathering, and some in collaboration with Slow Money NYC. However, most Slow Money investment is initiated and carried out on the local/regional level. If you are interested in working with the Slow Money Central NY group, please consider joining us at our next meeting, Thursday, November 3, 7-9 pm at the Alternatives Federal Credit Union (corner of Fulton and Seneca Streets in Ithaca). All are welcome, whether you are interested in gaining access to debt or equity capital, or have a small or large amount of money that you want to invest in local sustainable farm and food enterprises, or just want to help move money into a more sustainable economy locally. As was noted frequently at the National Gathering, we are all potential investors in our food system, as we all eat!
Read Krys Cail's "Relocalizing Investment in Our Local Food System," published in TCLocal in June of 2011.
Woody Tasch's "Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered" is available for purchase at Slow Money's website.