Slow money claims to bring funds “back to earth” by encouraging small-scale investments in local farms and food producers.This is an exciting trend for small scale businesses in the agriculture sector as it has the potential to remove some significant financing barriers.
Local and sustainable farm owners are facing increasing demand for products, but many report facing financial barriers when they try to expand. Banks see agriculture as a risky investment and farmers may not have the collateral to secure a loan. Brokers tend to trade in the larger scale investments. In the past, farmers have often relied on government support through grants or loans, however slow money may be a viable alternative.
Tasch shares his ideas in detail in Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing As If Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered. The gist is simply investing smaller amounts of money without the expectation of a swift or huge return. Investors receive interest either in the form of a cheque or goods (such as eggs or produce). Investors are brought together with entrepreneurs through the Slow Money national gatherings, regional events or individual chapters. Although British Columbia does not currently have a chapter, there are regional chapters located in Alberta and Washington. The Slow Money Alliance is also beginning to take on international investments. Another recent development is the Soil Trust. Launched in October, the Soil Trust allows individuals to contribute to financing sustainable agricultural enterprises through a donation model. Donations can be as small as $25.00.
Although slow money has yet to take off in British Columbia, individuals can still invest in local businesses. Check out SocialFinance.ca to find out more about social finance options in Canada. Another model is Community Shared Agriculture (CSA), where buyers get a share of a farms produce for an upfront set price. In this manner small investors can contribute to improvements and farm productivity, but also share in the farmer's risk. You can find CSA programs on the Farm Folk City Folk website.
Find more information on Slow Money:
- 2013 Slow Money National Gathering (Boulder, Co) April 2013
- Slow Money Alliance
- Soil Trust
- Slow Money Alberta
- Slow Money Northwest
Other social finance options:
Community Supported Agriculture:
- Farm Folk City Folk (Lower Mainland)
- Kootenay Grain (Community Supported Agriculture)
- Little Church Organics (Kelowna)
- Pilgrims Produce (Armstrong)
Gutnick, D. (2009, September 29). Putting your investments where your dinner is. CBC.
Kimmet, C. (2011, December 29). Idea # 9: Slow down your money. The Tyee.
Kwan, A. (2012, November 26) Canadian rooftop farms seek to feed Canadian cities' growing demand for local food. Financial Post.
Winham, N. (2011, February). Slow Money Part 3: Food now food later. Green Space.