Slow Money Boston, a network of investors and entrepreneurs seeking to grow the local food economy, is facilitating effective funding of food projects through collaborative knowledge and mutually reinforcing relationships. The group held a regional gathering May 20-21, 2015 in Boston to discuss best strategies, showcase entrepreneurs’ food businesses, and explore how investment in New England fits into the greater Slow Money movement.
As a national movement, Slow Money ensures that everyone can participate in investing in sustainable local food systems, not just wealthy investors. Overall, Slow Money has invested more than US$40 million in local food enterprises and organic farms since 2010, recognizing that crowdfunding for sustainable farming can create resilient local food economies. According to Mike Pieciak of Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulations, states are changing the rules to make crowdfunding easier and “open up investment to a larger group of people at a smaller dollar figure than was available before.”
And there are organizations all over the U.S. that are building equity into the food system by supporting small farmers and local food infrastructure. Here are 15 ways to contribute directly to the land stewardship, supply chain sustainability, and waste prevention that provide the backbone for resilient local food systems. These grassroots organizations have shown incredible results on the ground, despite being underfunded and understaffed.
- The Citizens Trade Campaign is working to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive trade deal that could benefit global corporations at the expense of local food systems. Donate US$15 to support labor rights and family farms both in the U.S. and abroad.
- Donate directly to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) to protect farmworkers from labor abuses in Florida and nationwide. The CIW has worked to prevent slavery conditions in farm labor and to create a Fair Food Program that promotes social justice.
- Support Native American communities in California by donating to the Cultural Conservancy, an organization that works to preserve biodiversity, land rights, and cultural self-determination.
- Consider contributing to the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, an organization working on the ground in Detroit, Michigan to ensure that the local urban agriculture movement is racially and socially inclusive.
- Support Everett Community Growers (ECG), an urban agriculture organization in Everett, Massachusetts, in fighting food injustices through urban gardening. ECG is currently crowdfunding to build organizational capacity to better serve the needs of an extremely diverse and under-resourced community.
- By giving to Food Not Bombs, you can contribute to a national volunteer network that recovers perishing food and cooks vegan meals for the poor and homeless. Food Not Bombs is a grassroots organization that prevents food waste and food insecurity through its diverse meal programs.
- Support beginning farmers near the Chesapeake Bay in their endeavors to build sustainable businesses and protect farmland and freshwater resources. Donate US$15 to Future Harvest, an organization that works in the Mid-Atlantic region to enlist chefs in partnerships with small farmers and support training programs.
- Donate to the Hmong American Farmers Association to support Hmong immigrant farmers in Minnesota through capacity building and advocacy.
- Consider donating to the Milk With Dignity campaign, spearheaded by Migrant Justice. The organizers are magnifying the voices of farmworkers in the dairy industry to achieve economic justice and human rights.
- Support the Northeast Atlantic Marine Alliance’s campaign for community-supported fisheries on the coast, called Who Fishes Matters. The Who Fishes Matters campaign raises awareness of a broken seafood industry that is undermining coastal communities, local economies, the marine environment, and our food system.
- Give to the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) to protect public health. PANNA works to replace pesticides with more environmentally friendly and socially just alternatives.
- Donate US$15 to Real Food Challenge. Real Food Challenge is an organization of student leaders seeking to shift college and university dining budgets towards local, fair, humane, and ecologically sound foods by 2020. Student leaders have secured purchasing commitments of over US$70 million and are raising money for strategy retreats to garner momentum for further campaign wins.
- The Victory Garden Initiative in Milwaukee, Wisconsin needs your help to provide underserved youth with seeds for the 2015 farm stand and trees for new orchards in the city. Donate here.
- Stand with Warehouse Workers for Justice by donating to their workers’ efforts to protect labor rights in the middle of food supply chains.
- And finally, donating directly to Slow Money ensures that for every dollar you give, US$11 flows directly to a small food enterprise in the national Slow Money network.