Posts filed under ‘Local Investing’

Eat, drink, fund the foodshed


UPDATE: Supper tickets to this are sold out, but you can still attend, drink some brew and make a $10 donation to support the cause.

Friends, this is a no brainer. I love eating seasonal food raised on local farms. Especially when it’s served in a local eatery. I’ve been  dying for a quench of that new Cackalacky Ginger Pale Ale at FullSteam in Durham. And who wouldn’t want to chip in to support new community-based funds for newbie local farms and food enterprises, through  great local orgs like Slow Money NC, the Abundance Foundation and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association?

Looks like I’ll get to do all of this and more by plunking down $15 at FullSteam Brewery, Jan. 27 at 7 pm.  A little extra for the brew. What a deal, all part of a new dinner series called Funds to Farms.  And you can join in the fun. Here’s how it works.

The first Funds to Farms event will be a buffet style, sit-down meal featuring soup (veggie & meat) donated by Vin Rouge Bistro. Attendees will have the first half hour to get their food and drinks and make it to a table.Bon appetit.

Then, five local beginning farmers and food entrepreneurs will each pitch a project for which they need our funding, i.e. the dough-re-mi we gave at the door, and some of the brew proceeds, too.  After all of the presentations, attendees (that’s us) will vote on which project we would like to fund. The winner gets the proceeds from the evening and promises to attend the next Funds to Farms event to give a progress report.

Tickets are available online and at FullSteam on the day of the event.

January 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm 2 comments

Urban farm/market sprouting in shipping containers

It’s too early to tell if Ben Greene is a genius or a dreamer, or maybe a little of both. We’re betting on him, though, because he’s thinking “inside the box” and that alone is just plain refreshing.  In this case the box is a shipping container with some greenhouse components. The mission is to bring sustainable food production to a convenient location in the city where food can be bought on the spot while it’s still growing. It’s called The Farmery.

Ben’s dream is to launch an urban greenhouse/ farmer’s market inside four 40-foot shipping containers in Raleigh. He says they will grow Shitake mushrooms, micro-greens, strawberries, Tilapia and more inside the contraption, and you’ll be invited in to pick your own. Food will grow in a greenhouse structure on the upper level; he’ll ring you up downstairs. It doesn’t get any fresher than that. The whole thing is about 55′ x 55′, which makes it easy to tuck into an urban space. He’ll supplement what he grows with local goods from local farmers.

Where did he get this  brainstorm? He wrote it up for his master’s thesis in industrial design from N.C. State University, one of the best design schools in the country. So maybe he IS a genius.

Check out the video.

Why the Farmery?

“We’ve recognized how difficult it is for supermarkets to offer locally grown produce, primarily because of the inconsistent supply,” Ben says. “When the grocers do make attempts to sell locally grown produce, they have nothing more than a sign to differentiate the locally grown produce from the conventional, nationally grown produce located next to it.”

The Farmery offers a new way to shop for food where the story of the farmers and their food is experienced throughout the shopping experience itself.

“The entire structure of the Farmery is used to grow food, so customers can be surrounded by the sights, smells, and sounds of their food growing as they are making their purchase decisions,” Ben says. “This helps customers understand and appreciate the added value of small-scale, artisanal farming.”

After testing this container for a year, Ben proved that his concepts worked and he began looking for additional funding sources. In 2011, Tyler Nethers moved to Raleigh to help Ben. Together they built a more refined second prototype in Raleigh. They are now seeking funding on to construct the third prototype. After the third prototype is built, they will begin construction on the initial Farmery.

Their story

Ben, 29, grew up on a farm in Polk County, North Carolina, where his interest in food and nature’s system began. He ended up pursuing Sculpture at Clemson where he developed a thirst for original ideas. His college career was interrupted by a deployment to Iraq where he served as a combat engineer as part of the invasion force in 2003. He resumed college after his deployment and went to North Carolina State University’s industrial design program.

While Ben was at NC State, his grandfather began trying to sell homegrown produce to local restaurants and markets. Ben saw the frustration that his grandfather experienced and decided to look for solutions that would make producing food on a small scale profitable. He got the idea for the Farmery, he says, from reading shipping container architecture books and reading articles about ideas in vertical farming.

Tyler, 29, from Indiana, has always had an interest in natural systems and looks for opportunities to pursue these interests wherever he can. He majored in sustainable development and managed the campus greenhouse at Appalachian State University, graduating in 2005. After a few years designing biological systems for commercial developments, he took a job in Hawaii growing endangered species plants. He learned about the Farmery after a web search and after a couple of visits to Ben’s prototypes, he decided to move to Raleigh and join the team.

Why shipping containers?

Shipping containers dramatically lower the cost and difficulties of construction. “They also make the structure easily scalable and allow us to prototype the entire system and then just place the containers when the system is refined,” Ben says.

If Ben and Tyler can attract enough funding via Kickstarter and other sources, he hopes to begin construction in 2013. “We currently have about a third of what we need,” Ben says. You can help by donating through Kickstarter here:

September 24, 2012 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

Foodshare helps farmers and families

Margaret Gifford and husband John Whitehead at the Carrboro market. photo by

Margaret Gifford thought that low-income families should have access to fresh locally grown food. So she started taking an empty box to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market to collect unsold produce to donate to local charities that feed the needy.

Now there are Farmer Foodshare stations at nine local farmers’ markets throughout the Triangle, where farmers and customers can donate food or cash to local soup kitchens and food pantries.

But that wasn’t enough for Margaret. She wanted to make the arrangement more financially sustainable for the farmers. So she launched Pennies on the Pound (POP) Market, where farmers are paid a 10-25% discount for food donated to local organizations.

That’s making sustainable food more economically sustainable for everyone in the food chain.

Learn more by reading Andrea Weigl’s excellent feature in the News & Observer.

May 22, 2012 at 9:15 pm Leave a comment

Learn how Slow Money supports local food

By Carol Peppe Hewitt

The Abundance Foundation in Pittsboro has launched a Slow Money Project that has already raised $29,500 from local folks and given low-interest loans to two local food enterprises. If you would like to get involved as an investor or borrower, or if you would just like to learn how this works, come to a meeting on Monday July 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Chatham Mills (420 Hillsboro Street) in Pittsboro.

The objective of the Slow Money Project is to match people who wish to invest in improving the resilience of our community by enhancing our local food shed with borrowers who have compelling projects that can accomplish that goal.

Light refreshments will be provided, and you are welcome to BYOB from Chatham Markeplace.

Learn more about the Slow Money Project and the local food enterprises that have already benefited from it:

Please feel free to pass this invitation along to friends, family and anyone else you care about who might benefit from this project; as in anyone who eats food.

Let’s start planting our local money in our local food shed.

July 6, 2010 at 10:52 am 1 comment

Slow money fast

If sending your hard-earned savings to faraway banks, unknowable funds and multinational corporations leaves you cold, maybe it’s time to move some of your dollars from Wall Street to Main Street.  You might not make a quick buck, but you could directly enhance the quality of your community, where you live every day. Check out this report from Lyle Estill in Pittsboro, where people are taking a direct approach to putting their money where their food is:

About thirty people gathered in the back of the General Store Café to continue the “Slow Money” conversation that has come to town.

It’s hard to say where it began, exactly.  It may have been at the sustainability pavilion at Shakori, where Pierre and a handful of folks got to talking about how they wished they could put their money to work locally.

I like to say it began with a loan I made to Diane and wrote about in the “Financing Ourselves” chapter of Small is Possible.

But  the beginning is perhaps less important than where we are now.

Mike and Tony brought Woody Tasch to town, and invited about thirty people to a conversation at the college.  Woody is the author of Slow Money, and the founder of a national movement that is currently under way.  The idea is to get people to invest in local food enterprises in a way that preserves capital and brings about resilience as a return.

His visit catalyzed our efforts and inspired us to get busy.  I’m not sure who it is who said “We need slow money fast,” but the notion stuck.  The Abundance Foundation had already dabbled in some micro-finance, and their board quickly  approved of our project. Within a week of Woody’s visit we had arranged $15K worth of pledges for loans and extended one to Lynette.

She’s the new baker in town.  And she needed two thousand dollars to get some baking equipment so that she could provide bread to Keenan’s Baker+Farmer CSA.

With a solitary loan in hand Tami and I headed off to the national BALLE conference in Charleston.  Woody was there.  He’s simply trying to change capitalism.  And the story of our little loan got some traction.

Carol took the story to the national Slow Money Conference in Vermont last weekend and was well received.  Last night at the General Store another 30 people showed up, and another $12K was pledged.

Which means we now have a potential pot of $25K to lend to area foodshed projects.  Not a bad start.  It appears lots of people are interested in lending money to  growers, and processors, and chefs and to those folks who are engaged in keeping us fed.  What is rapidly emerging looks like a peer-to-peer matching service in which those with extra money are able to loan it to those in need.

I’m sure I am not the only person who came home impressed by the evening.  As the meeting ended, Paul pulled me aside and joked that when the financial collapse comes at least we will be eating well.  And I couldn’t agree with him more.

It’s funny.  In Small is Possible I had chapter titles like “Feeding Ourselves” and “Fueling Ourselves,” and when it came to the notion of “Financing Ourselves,” I gave our community pretty low marks.  It looks like that is scheduled to change.

It appears lots of people are interested in slow money, and that many of us want to see it happen fast.

–Posted on June 16, 2010 at Energy Blog.

Interested? Here’s how you can get involved.

June 17, 2010 at 10:59 am Leave a comment

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