You may have heard of the Slow Food movement, started in Europe as an answer to fast food and focused on encouraging people to slow down and think about where their food comes from. Slow Money was born of the Slow Food movement by founder Woody Tasch (pictured above), who felt he needed to take things one step further: investing his money as though food, farms, and the fertility of the soil mattered.
Recently, the fourth-annual Slow Money National Gathering took place in Boulder, CO, connecting local economies and food businesses with funding, and Organic Authority was there.
In just four years, Slow Money has emerged as a major new funder of local food systems, moving $23 million into small food businesses around the country, including farms, creameries, grain mills, niche organic brands, local processing, distribution and seed companies, and restaurants.
“We have to find ways to steer meaningful quantities of investment capital to build local food systems,” says Woody Tasch, founder and chairman of Slow Money. “We have to prioritize places over markets.”
Slow Money is at the nexus of sustainable food and local investing, and the Slow Money National Gathering is a key event that catalyzes the flow of capital into the full range of small businesses vital to healthy local economies and a more resilient food system.
At the gathering, presenters addressed topics ranging from soil fertility and farmer education to finance and the trend of female investors. Luminaries of food, finance and green living spoke, including Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food; Mary Berry, Wendell Berry's daughter, who is leading the charge for the newly established Berry Center; Wes Jackson, a MacArthur Fellow and founder of the Land Institute; Winona LaDuke, renowned activist and executive director of Honor the Earth; Jeff Clements,author of “Corporations Are Not People”; and Gary Nabhan, a MacArthur Fellow often called ”the father of the local food movement.”
Then, companies vying for the first Mama Chia Entrepreneur of the Year Prize—and also hoping to woo potential investors in the audience—had an opportunity to describe their visions for a small food renaissance. Organic beverage maker Mamma Chia donated a cash prize of $25,000, which was matched by the Soil Trust, creating a total prize of $50,000, to be given to the presenting entrepreneur who demonstrated outstanding leadership in the rebuilding of local food systems and who exemplified the Slow Money Principles in action. The award is especially impressive because Mamma Chia itself was a featured enterprise on the Slow Money stage just two years ago.
Revision International, a food cooperative that helps low-income families in south Denver grow, market and distribute fresh food, was the ecstatic recipient of the $50,000 award.
You can watch more of the Slow Money National Gathering presentations at the Slow Money blog.
Photo courtesy Slow Money blog