One of the most rewarding aspects of BSW’s efforts and leadership in Impact Investing has been developing relationships with other organizations and people who share our vision and values. Slow Money, whose motto is “Investing as if food, farms, and soil fertility mattered,” is one such pioneering organization. Slow Money was inspired by the Slow Food movement, which began in Italy in response to the creeping proliferation of fast food chains and strives to preserve traditional, regional, and locally produced cuisine. Slow Food was a catalyst for “farm to table” restaurants like Chez Panisse and Gather (my favorite) in Berkeley, California, as well as Boulder favorites like The Kitchen, Black Cat, Frasca and Dish.
Slow Money aims to be a similar catalyst for sustainable food systems by changing the way farmers and food interact with the financial world. Why? Because food is a big, big deal. Quite simply, everybody eats. As such, the means by which we produce, transport, and consume our food have dramatic and far reaching impacts on fuel consumption, pesticide/herbicide use, land use, health, etc. In many ways, if you get food “right,” many other things fall into place. As recognition of food’s central role in our lives, society, and economy grows, so too have alternative and sustainable food systems. Organic food production has increased nearly 20 percent per year for the last two decades. Community Support Agriculture (CSA) operations, like the Boulder area’s Abbondanza Farms and BSW-favorite Frog Belly Farms (which was just profiled recently here!), have grown from just 60 in 1990 to 12,549 in 2007. Likewise, Slow Money, launched just three years ago, has quickly expanded to two-dozen local chapters across the United States (including one in Boulder), hosted two national gatherings that attracted more than 1,000 people from 34 states, and facilitated $4.25 million of investment into small food enterprises.
During this time, Slow Money’s founder, Woody Tasch, and Executive Director, Ari Derfel, have fast become friends and trusted colleagues of BSWs. As such, we wanted to make our BSW Blog readers (particularly our San Francisco-area clients) aware of Slow Money’s upcoming, 3rd Annual National Gathering this October 12-14 at the beautiful Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. The national gathering is a wonderful venue to meet other thought leaders and change makers looking to invest in and help create new, better, and smarter local food economies and communities (and the food in San Francisco is pretty darn good to boot). I will be attending — and I look forward to connecting with clients, colleagues, and friends at the event! Hope to see you there!
-David Wolf, Chief Investment Officer