With an early “Sold Out” status and unprecedented lengthy waiting list, our 4th Annual SMM daylong event got off to an exciting start and seemed to steadily build from there. The depth and variety of presenters and audience members, along with new offerings, created a highly animated and interactive gathering and the mood was clearly energizing throughout the day. Oran Hesterman brought a connecting link in describing activities of the Fair Food Network, based in Michigan, with focused collaborations in the Northeast. The afternoon provided an experiment of a case study conversation, using the Somerset Grist Mill as a featured enterprise. This presentation offered a preview of SMM’s first regional gathering in May 2014 which will bring together representatives from four NE states to share their food system case studies to enhance our learning as pioneers in these cultural change endeavors.
As promised, we’re including a synopsis and powerpoint of each presentation, along with Bonnie’s opening remarks. If you were unable to attend, we encourage you to register early for this event next year!
Bonnie’s opening remarks:
“I’m most eager today to celebrate all of you who are here —- for your demonstrated readiness to explore and engage as investment pioneers in food systems work. Though Slow Money Maine obviously relates to money, it goes much deeper than that to encourage us to look at relationships – with our values, with each other, with the earth and our food, and with healthy vibrant communities.
Whether you’re here for the first time just sniffing us out or you’ve been a committed participant in our network, your choices of conscious involvement provide the collective elements of a future noted by caring interpersonal connections, and this feels hugely heartening to me.
In my SMM leadership role in the past 3 1/2 years, I’ve been inspired daily by examples of your choices to re-define and embrace risk for your own health & well being along with that of our communities through a food system focus. Here are a few examples of your creative spirit moving in the world.
1. Many of you have professionally or individually been food system lenders, grantors, equity investors or loan guarantors which has made so much possible for farmers, producers and other food system businesses. You’ve also joined investment clubs that have spun off from SMM, like NSP & MOL.
2. Perhaps you are an individual or non-profit environmental group that has chosen to lend money to other Maine non-profits to support agricultural activities that are more aligned with your mission than your investments in the stock market
3. You may be a non-profit serving as a fiscal agent to meet gaps among conventional financial institutions in lending money specifically to farmers
4. Some of you represent Foundations that are exploring impact or mission-related investing and are also making grants to local food system businesses. If you work with an economic development group that is facilitating these transactions, you’ve also become a valued partner in our work.
5. Maybe you’re a savvy Wall St. investor who is learning more about philanthropy and its impact in creating social and economic change while building community organizations and enterprises in the ag & food sector.
6. You may be leaders or entrepreneurs in your community, who have been beneficiaries of funding and technical assistance, expanding your knowledge and skills as farmers and business people; learning about B corps & royalty financing as well as crowd funding approaches like Kickstarter & Indiegogo.
7. Perhaps you’re offering technical assistance to local food enterprises after finishing a corporate career because you have time, skills & a need to contribute by mentoring others.
8. Maybe you’re a student making new food system connections through co-ops or co-operative extension, in schools, hospitals and other community venues to build awareness & community participation.
9. And last, but not least, you may be a money manager whose clients are urging you to learn more about local investments, particularly those related to the food sector.
I could go on but won’t at this point, though I hope that enough of you feel acknowledged for your significant contributions in creating social change through your connections with SMM. Please share your engagement with others and discover how enticing and satisfying it can be.
I’ll end by happily reporting that since we began in 2010, SMM has a vibrant network of over 800 participants and has catalyzed the flow of over $8mm to Maine’s food economy (Eleanor will detail this in her presentation). The momentum that we have felt in SMM has been the combined result of a long history of vision and dedication in many sectors, an amazing group of leaders and collaborators, and greater cultural consciousness of social, economic and environmental concerns that we are choosing to address. Today we will confirm that SMM is not focused simply on growing investment opportunities. We are using investments to build & re-build healthy food systems that will enhance everyone’s lives. We are all stakeholders and our purposeful actions are needed to continue to make a difference as we help to create a paradigm shift in our culture.
Thank you all. I look forward to deepening our connections as we deepen our impact.”
Before we include Eleanor Kinney’s words and slides, as a representative of the SMM Steering Committee, here are summaries of the morning presentations:
Marada Cook/ Northern Girl
Northern Girl is a vegetable processing company located in Northern Aroostook County, Maine. We specialize in fresh-cut and frozen root vegetables and are committed to broadening the supplies grown by, and markets for, mid-scale growers in the County.
Northern Girl is owned by Leah and Marada Cook of Crown O’Maine Organic Cooperative and Chris and Betsy Hallweaver. Chris is the general manager of Northern Girl. The team’s members have worked with many of the state’s successful and transformative food ventures over the last 5 years.
Northern Girl was launched in 2011 with the help of a grant from the Finance Authority of Maine to purchase equipment. We raised $150,000 of working capital from private investors, many linked to the Slow Money Maine network. We used our working capital to establish a pilot kitchen, develop products and branding, and support early stage marketing. Our launch of 20 skus into 65 accounts both retail and foodservice and has helped us to determine our most popular and profitable product lines.
Going forward we are expanding our production facility from 2000 square feet to 4500, with a planned increase in our run rate from 200 pounds per hour to 500. Our grower base is able to grow large volumes of crops but need the tools to diversify their crops beyond potatoes and grain.
Northern Girl is a small processor, but we have a big vision for what can be transformed in our landscape with time and a thoughtful approach to reinvesting in our food processing infrastructure. We are fundraising, market-building, and supply chain developing in concert to ensure Northern Girl’s success.
Bounty From the County – Marada and Leah
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 207.316.5321
Stan Maynard and Troy Haines/Aroostook Meats
Aroostook Meats is a project to establish a central-county multi-species USDA grass-finished meat processing facility. Stan Maynard, a principal in the project, discussed start up requirements and updated SMM participants on consumer demographics, market area, collaborative access to the market, and the outlook for natural and organic meats. Business summary is available upon request.
Stan Maynard and Troy Haines
Contact: Stan: email@example.com 207.498.8541
Troy: firstname.lastname@example.org 207.551 1301
Ellie Libby and Genna Cherichello/ Food Corps
FoodCorps is a national non-profit service organization made up of a nationwide team of leaders that connects kids to real food and helps them grow up healthy. Hosted through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, FoodCorps Maine places motivated leaders in limited-resource communities for a year of public service. Working under the direction of local partner organizations, these service members teach kids about what healthy food is and where it comes from, build and tend school gardens, and bring high-quality local foods into public school cafeterias. This service helps to educate and build the next generation of food system leaders, producers, and consumers.
FoodCorps members participate in statewide events and trainings related to Farm to School and Food Systems programming in order to build capacity and share best practices. FoodCorps Maine is responsible for travel, training and cost share for each member which is about $7,000/member per service year.
Volunteer support for their gardening and cooking programs and mentoring for these new leaders is also needed.
This past summer (2013), thanks to school district and city support, two service sites were able to hire former FoodCorps Members to continue the programming they had established during their year of service. We hope to keep more of these young leaders here in Maine through similar job openings in the future.
Ellie and Genna – Food Corps
Contact: Ellie: email@example.com 207.832.0343 x118
Genna: firstname.lastname@example.org 207. 832.0343
Ben Martens/ MCFA
“The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association (MCFA) is an industry based non-profit which identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine’s historic fishing communities for future generations. Established and run by Maine community-based fishermen, MCFA works to enhance the ecological and financial sustainability of the fishery through balancing the needs of the current generation of fishermen with the long term environmental restoration of the Gulf of Maine. With members living in Maine communities ranging from Kittery to Mount Desert Island, our fishermen represent diverse fishing practices, but they have come together to form a cohesive voice as stewards of the Gulf of Maine to weigh in on important management issues facing the Maine fishermen.
Ben Martens – MCFA
Contact: email@example.com 207.619.1755
Justine Simon/ Salt + Sea
Salt + Sea is a fresh seafood company based out of Portland. Working directly with fishermen, we deliver premium quality fresh, local fish to our Community Supported Fishery members, as well as to a number of Maine schools.
Salt + Sea works with fishermen to find markets for abundant stocks.
We are currently developing a high value organic fertilizer out of dogfish, a species that is overrunning the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Our fertilizer has the potential to offer significant advantages to farmers over other organic fertilizers, and also has the potential to provide millions of dollars of direct revenue to fishermen. This project could also positively transform the entire Gulf of Maine ecosystem, as fishermen would be incentivized to cull the Gulf of Maine’s rampaging dogfish population – a species that currently has no market value.
We have recently been awarded an MTI grant to advance this project, and are currently working on building a second-generation prototype and developing proprietary technology. We are in need of an investment of $30,000 to purchase equipment, undergo a technical consultation and process review, analyze our business model, and hire a graphic designer and videographer for marketing purposes.
Justine Simon – Salt + Sea
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (207) 415-9388
Balfour Farm/ Heather Donahue
Balfour Farm is an organic dairy and farmstead creamery located in Pittsfield. The vacant 100 acre farm was purchased in December 2010 by Doug and Heather Donahue. The milking herd started with 10 Normande, Jersey and Holstein cows and is growing to 22 milkers this spring. All of the milk produced on the farm is either bottled fresh or processed by the creamery into a wide variety of yogurts, butter and cheeses. Products are sold at farmers markets, local stores, Crown of Maine Organic Cooperative, buying clubs, Co-ops, and a small store on the farm. The farm also has a laying flock of hens, some pigs to help with whey management and added a small vegetable operation this year. Farm goals for the coming year are to: become more energy efficient by consolidating their processing and dairy facilities, and adding farm generated energy systems.
Heather Donahue – Balfour Farm
Contact: email@example.com 207.213.3159
Fuzzy Udder Creamery/ Jessie Dowling
Jessie Dowling apprenticed at Appleton Creamery in 2007 and through the great mentorship of Caitlin Hunter, the resources for new farmers at MOFGA, and the support of the Maine Cheese Guild, she was able to start her own creamery in 2012. Fuzzy Udder Creamery makes a variety of fresh and aged cheeses from cow, goat, and sheep milk and sells at farmers markets and numerous wholesale accounts throughout Maine. Fuzzy Udder’s mission is to sell unique, delicious, European style cheeses that come from happy grassfed animals raised with love. Fuzzy Udder is committed to using sustainable, environmentally and socially conscious practices. For the past two years, Fuzzy Udder Creamery was located in Unity and is now in the exciting process of relocating to a larger facility in Whitefield, at the former home of Townhouse Creamery. This move has only been possible through the generous help of Slow Money Maine, and Coastal Enterprises. Fuzzy Udder is currently hoping to raise funds to get up and running at the new location in December. Fuzzy Udder Creamery is one of many examples of up and coming cheesemakers in the state that are on the rise due to the plethora of supportive resources available here in Maine.
Jessie Dowling – Fuzzy Udder Creamery
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 207.465. 5255
Portland Food Co-op/ Daniel Ungier and Rachelle Curran
The Portland Food Co-op has launched its “Let’s Open the Doors” campaign to transform its current buying club operations into a full service retail store, owned by its members and open to the entire community. Over the next year, we will be recruiting 1,000 new member-owners and raising $1.2 million to bring a community-owned market to Maine’s largest city.
PFC has already secured a loan of $330,00 from the Cooperative Fund of New England and is preparing to launch a campaign to recruit an additional $600,000 from its member-ownership. The member-owner loan campaign will be a broad effort, involving over 200 loans of a wide range of sizes to help us meet our goal.
Our feasibility study indicated that the population of our trade area is 210,000 people, and that our sales volume at year 5 will be $3 million. Given our strong emphasis on being the premier supplier of local foods in the Portland area, we expect the co-op to have a significant impact on the agricultural economy throughout the entire state.
Our goal is to open the store in September of 2014. We encourage everyone interested in supporting the co-op to join today at www.portlandfood.coop
Maine Food System Credit Project/ Sam May and Scott Budde
MFSCP – Introduction to the Project
Contact: email@example.com 207.653.2260
And the Keynote Speaker for the morning…
Oran Hesterman/Fair Food Network
A host of books and films in recent years have documented dangers of our current food system – from soaring rates of diet-related illnesses to environmental damage. But too often advice on what to do about it begins and ends at our refrigerators. In his keynote address at the 2013 Slow Money Maine summit, Dr. Oran Hesterman, author of Fair Food (linkhttp://www.fairfoodbook.org) and CEO of national nonprofit Fair Food Network (link:http://www.fairfoodnetwork.org), presented an inspiring and pragmatic vision of how we can redesign a more just and sustainable food system. He also shared examples of existing programs that are creating change on-the-ground, serving as replicable templates, and informing public policy efforts to repair our food system. This included Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks, a nationally recognized healthy food incentive program, and Fair Food Fund, a Northeast-based Fair Food Network program that is fueling entrepreneurship in our food system by providing financing and business assistance to food enterprises that connect small and mid-scale farmers with the growing demand for local food. He underscored the potential of such efforts to increase access to healthy food while also supporting farmer viability and creating economic activity. His keynote ended with a rousing call for attendees to join in being “solutionaries” working toward a more just and sustainable food system for all.
Oran Hesterman – Fair Food Network
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org 734.213.3999
and from Eleanor, as promised:
Good Morning. I’m here to talk about Slow Money Maine and how we build relationships and move capital. I put this slide up because I love Slow Money National’s tag line: Investing as if food, farms and fertility mattered. I also love pigs. These are the first that were raised on my farm and that red wattle in the middle is now a 600 pound sow pregnant with her second litter.
In Slow Money we think a lot about access to capital and how traditional financial mechanisms are not serving small-scale farmers and food producers. So we are deploying a range of financial tools to fill this capital gap. We have the lending clubs (No Small Potatoes and Maine Organic Lenders), we have peer-to-peer loans, and we’re catalyzing investments in the form of equity, loan guarantees and grants. To date, what does this all add up to??
In the last three years, SMM has catalyzed $8 million in investment in a total of 68 farms and food businesses in 175 different transactions. $2.4 million has been in loans, $2.0 million in grants and $3.6 million in equity. This money has flowed to farms, fisheries, and small food businesses, to infrastructure businesses that aggregate, process or distribute food like MOO Milk, Somerset Grist Mill and Northern Girl, and to non-profits like Maine Farmland Trust or Cobscook Bay Resource Center, which is developing a food hub in Eastport. I want to talk more about this infrastructure piece, which has become a particular focus of Slow Money Maine.
WHY INFRASTRUCTURE?? If we are going to grow a local, sustainable food system, we have to be able to process what comes off the farms and out of the ocean in ways that are efficient without being industrial. Hand plucking chickens is NOT efficient and after this experience I went out and bought a chicken plucker and then started raising money for slaughterhouses. Good infrastructure will allow farmers to grow more and expand their markets and Slow Money has been collaborating to support infrastructure projects around the state. This afternoon you’ll hear a panel about our work with Somerset Grist Mill and the Skowhegan food hub, and I’m going to talk more now about Washington County.
As Bonnie mentioned earlier, the way we work is all about relationships. We’ve had various presenters from Washington County at our Slow Money gatherings, and as we thought more about how to support processing facilities in this remote part of our state, we looked around to see who we could partner with. There should actually be more logos up here such as MOFGA’s and Fair Food Network’s, but these are non-profit partners who have all been instrumental in supporting meat, poultry and seafood processing facilities in Washington County through the flow of capital and technical assistance.
There’s Harold Clossey on the right, the Executive Director of Sunrise County Economic Council, with Ron Phillips and Sue Inches of CEI. Sunrise is an economic development non-profit that supports local businesses. When I approached Harold about setting up a fund at Sunrise to receive grants that could be re-granted to food processing businesses, he moved on it right away and set up the Sunrise Food Infrastructure Initiative. That was at the beginning of the year, and since then, Sunrise’s focus on ag financing has grown with a companion micro-loan program, facilitated by MOFGA, and additional grant and loan programs envisioned, all to support food production in Washington County. We’ve raised over $300,000 in grant and loan funds for these initiatives and the money has started to flow to the businesses that need them.
What kind of food processing opportunities are there in Washington County? If you are a regular at our Slow Money meetings, you have seen these entrepreneurs present. Clayton Blake was here in Belfast two years ago and he’s been expanding and upgrading his custom meat processing facility into a state-inspected one. He’s also expanding to include poultry processing so that backyard and small-scale farmers in his region have a place to take their birds. This process has required both capital and technical assistance and while Slow Money Maine has been helping to close the financing gap, Elizabeth Sprague, who’s now MFT’s business counselor, has been helping with the HCCP planning and state certification process.
Tide Mill Farm is a diversified organic farm on Cobscook Bay and as a MOO Milk supplier, near and dear to my heart. Linzee showed this photo of Aaron with a cow and his son Henry last year and I couldn’t resist using it again because it’s so darn cute. Basically any photo with Carly and Aaron’s kids are cute – they are the ninth generation on that family farm. We have been working with them on plans to expand and upgrade their poultry processing into a USDA certified facility constructed on their farm. This will allow them to process more birds, some of which will be supplied by other farmers in the region, and to reach new markets outside of Maine, particularly Boston. They have been progressing with the business planning, design and construction for this so stay tuned.
In Eastport, the Cobscook Bay Resource Center has been focused on sustainable economic development based on Cobscook Bay resources since 1998. Bay scallop fishermen worked together to develop conservation measures to protect the scallop resource, instituting a daily catch limit so that anyone fishing for scallops in Cobscook Bay is limited to 90 lbs of scallops per day. In partnership with the scallop fishermen, the Resource Center made plans to have a marketing co-op and a commercial kitchen for packaging and freezing scallops. Will Hopkins, the Executive Director, who has recently joined the SMM steering committee, raised the money to build the facility but there was a $150,000 gap – money needed to buy and install equipment for the commercial kitchen. I reached out to Will with the idea of fundraising for his facility within the framework of food infrastructure development in Washington County. This approach was successful, and the $150,000 gap has been closed and the facility will be processing scallops this winter. Furthermore, the commercial kitchen will be available to area farmers, making Eastport a developing food hub for products from both land and sea, that will be co-marketed and co-branded.
So it’s a whole new world out there. Really we are taking the best from our past – our farming and fishing heritage – and bringing it into the future with innovative ways of financing and marketing. It’s very exciting!
Many thanks to all of you, who are part of the Slow Money Maine network and contributing in a myriad of ways. And special thanks to Brian Fitzgerald, for letting me use his awesome photo, and to Linzee, for partnering with me on this Washington County work and for tracking all the SMM numbers, and to Bonnie, for her amazing leadership of Slow Money Maine.
Eleanor Kinney – Boots on the Ground and they are Muddy!
Synopsis of case study presentation: This project represents one of our first and full partnership examples of Slow Money Maine in action. Event participants had a chance to observe a conversation among the key players who are creating this vibrant food hub, including voices of funders & funding intermediaries, beneficiaries, & mentors, who have worked together through SMM. Bonnie expressed her hope that everyone present could identify with at least one of the participants & could better understand how personal relationships effect the development of businesses that we are promoting. Those sharing the conversation were Amber Lambke/Maine Grains; Jim Batey/SEDC; John Witherspoon/Skowhegan Savings Bank; Jay Espy/Sewall Foundation; Linzee Weld/SMM SC, NSP & TA Project; Eleanor Kinney/Private investor; Sarah Smith/Grassland Farms/The Pickup, with Bonnie facilitating.
These are substantial, but mere hints of the fullness of the day. Thanks to everyone and we look forward to having you with us next year!