Bonnie started off the first meeting of the year with gratitude to everyone for conscious and collaborative engagement in our endeavors as we enter our 4th year as the Slow Money Maine Network!! She described the many threads that we are weaving together to create the fabric that is serving and enhancing a vibrant sustainable food system culture in Maine.
Bonnie shared a chart showing financial activity through SMM to bring us all up to date with just how abundant and full of life our network is, indicating that loans, grants and equity investments combined have brought us to a grand total of over $8.2 million dollars and 181 transactions. Slow M0ney Maine has been busy!!!! Other news items included many upcoming events and reminders to bring simple SMM requests to Kari at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
She also brought in the work of Robert Karp who is head of the Biodynamic Association of North America, and shared inspiration gleaned from an essay, “Towards an Associative Economy.” Elements of this economy include multi-stakeholder ownership, ecological production, associative trade, conscious consumption and social finance. Here’s a quote as an offering of support for our intentional strivings in the coming year: “There is a new human need and capacity to come to a real picture of economic processes at work, in expression of food systems. This need cannot be fulfilled by mere research, idealism and activism. It can only be fulfilled when people actively at work in the economy come together to learn about one another’s needs, harmonize their efforts, and serve the wider community. It is only in this way that the self-interest which naturally attends human life and economic life, in particular, can be transformed into interest in the other, that is, into altruism.”
Here’s the link to Robert’s essay that can be easily downloaded on the internet.
David Levi/ Vinland/ Portland
Vinland is the first restaurant in the world to use 100% local ingredients in every dish, all organic in name or principle or sourced sustainably from the wild. Of course, our principal motivation for this form is to ensure that we make a maximal impact in our support of our friends and neighbors who are working hard to produce delicious and nourishing food while protecting and rebuilding our topsoil, aquifers, biodiversity, communality, resilience, and culture. It is also important to acknowledge the value of form itself as a driver of innovation, a lesson I learned from my mentor, the poet Robert Bly. So we seek forms that are inspiring but not suffocating.
All local food in Maine is inspiring, helping us to create condensed yogurt whey as an alternate acidifier to replace lemon, or parsnip flour as a healthful and gluten-free alternative to wheat flour spiced with nutmeg. All local beverages would be suffocating, and damaging to our business model, so we offer organic, fair trade coffee and tea from small local businesses, locally brewed beer (made from less than 100% local ingredients), foreign wine which is organic and often wild fermented, and spirits from beyond our immediate neighborhood, but limited to the Northeast since that provides us with just the right confluence of challenge and possibility.
Vinland has been a bootstrapped project from the start. We grossed over $45,000 through our Kickstarter campaign and have raised $70,000 to date from friendly investors, each investing between $1,000 and $10,000, all without equity, and with terms ranging from 0% interest to 5% with a two year deferment. All interest bearing investments, to date, have a minimum of a one-year deferment, which is crucial as we work to establish our client base while also using the revenue we generate to pay off our contractors and purveyors who have been kind enough to lend us credit. We currently owe them $40,000, and foresee another $40,000 of capital improvements we need to operate at our full potential, which, along with a prudent reserve of $20,000 for operating capital, brings us to the target of $100,000 we are looking to raise.
Vinland is now open and serving dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays, with brunch on Sunday. Within the next month, we will begin serving lunch Wednesday through Friday, and offer a weekly class in cooking and nutrition on Sunday afternoons. This is the first step toward building what will become Portland’s first dedicated culinary program, and one of the first in the world to focus entirely on local, organic foods, sustainable food production, and the nutritional wisdom of traditional societies.
Our mission is at the core of our work, and we encourage those who wish to better understand our motivation to find it on our website, at vinland.me.
email@example.com or (207) 653-8617.
Taryn Hammer/Sheepscot General/ Whitefield
Sheepscot General Store & Farm is located in the heart of Whitefield. The store began as an honor system farm store in the 1990’s. After going through multiple personnel changes it closed in 2009. In 2011 Ben and Taryn Marcus moved in, reopened the store and started growing organic strawberries and vegetables. With a beginning inventory of $7000 and a series of individual refrigeration units, Ben and Taryn opened for business. Two and a half years later they have over $20,000 in inventory from over 120 suppliers, a new 320 square foot, display-front, walk-in cooler, a commercial kitchen, and four additional staff. They have no debt and have made all the improvements without outside loans. They now find the need to secure some financing to assist in the next stage of growth. In three years of business the growth has been exciting and phenomenal. The store’s gross sales were $66,000 in 2011, $162,000 in 2012, and that figure was $280,000 in 2013. The store and farm is a destination and a food hub for the community and surrounding area.
Sheepscot General at Uncas Farms
Co-coordinator Sheepscot Valley Multi-Farm CSA
98 Townhouse Rd Whitefield, ME 04353
Jonah Fertig/ Cooperative Fermentation/Portland
Cooperative Fermentation’s mission is to democratize our food system through creating cooperatives in food and farming in Maine. We will pursue our mission through incubation of new co-ops, creating a guide to cooperative cafes, popular education and presentations, food production, facilitation and supporting cooperative transition of existing food and farm businesses.
To start this project, we are requesting $40,000 in seed and project funding that will help grow Cooperative Fermentation and the cooperative economy of Maine. We are seeking donations that will go through our fiscal sponsors or low-interest patient loans. We are also assembling a pool of seed funders for new cooperatives to assist them in their initial capital needs.
Cooperative Fermentation is a project founded and coordinated by Jonah Fertig, co-founder and worker-owner of Local Sprouts Cooperative. Jonah is now a Cooperator with the Cooperative Development Institute focusing on creating cooperatives in the food system and a Cooperative Designer and Facilitator with the Resilience Hub. These two organizations will help guide the work of Cooperative Fermentation and will be providing organizational capacity, connections, office space, fiscal sponsorship and resources. Cooperative Fermentation will work in collaboration with people, organizations and businesses to create more cooperatives in Maine.
In 2014 we are starting several endeavors including:
Consulting & Facilitation: ARCafe Transition, Crown of Maine Transition, Neverdun Farm, Diggers Cooperative, Consulting with Cooperative Development Institute, Facilitation with Resilience Hub
Programs: Cooperative Design Lab, Co-op Kickstart Weekend, Cafe, Restaurant, and Community Kitchen Guide, Co-op Workshops and Presentations, DAWN Peer Consultant, Farm Dinners, Community Supported Ferments, Cooperative Farming
Dan Pullman and Lisa Sebesta/Fresh Source Capital/ Boston
Fresh Source Capital is a Cambridge, MA based investment firm focused on sustainable food and agriculture. Our mission is to invest in companies that are rebuilding local, regional food systems. We provide debt and royalty financing options to growth-stage companies with a focus on the Northeast region. We consider all food related businesses, including fisheries and urban agriculture.
Our ideal investment is a business that is helping meet the increased demand for local, sustainably sourced food across individual consumers and institutional buyers. We see great growth opportunity for companies involved in local food aggregation, processing, distribution and logistics, as well as retail and technology.
We evaluate companies based on their business as well as social and environmental sustainability practices. In any investment we make, we consider the company’s impact on local farmers, the community in which the business operates, and the environment.
Gloria Varney/Slaughterhouse facility/ Turner
Gloria and her team are hoping to expand the highly successful Nezinscot Farm to include a Slaughterhouse Facility. Gloria grew up as a butcher’s daughter, with the experience and drive to make this vision a reality. In her own words, the reason for wanting to do this is three fold:
1.) To allow for an easier transition for our animals as they leave this farm.
2.) Become more sustainable.
3.) To serve as a place that others may be educated on the art of butchering and slaughtering; with potential space rental down the road.
Specific needs for the expansion:
Phase 1–$20,000 for the foundation–summer 2014.
Phase 2–$25,000 closing in the building–fall/winter 2014.
Phase 3– $50,000 completing internal area, insulation, waterproofing walls, walk in cooler and layout–winter/spring 2014-2015
Phase 4—necessary equipment to finalize the slaughter and butcher shop. These numbers will come at a later time as I need to research more.
As in the past, I like to raise funds through some form of CSA/Barter.
In this case I would be interested in acquiring funds in exchange for meat. As mentioned in my presentation, in exchange for every $5,000 dollars gifted towards this project I am willing to give a side of prime organic pork. The value of the pork is worth $500. That is 10% on their money.
Paul Dobbins (Ocean Approved) Paul wrote a manual for growing kelp that is available for purchase. He also shared with the group a seed tube that will produce a mature plant in 90 days time. Oceans approved is also selling a new frozen prodcut to wholesale markets, not retailers – Slaw cut Kelp. Thanks for the update Paul.
Elizabeth Sprague (MFT) Elizabeth shared about her role in the Maine Farm Business Development Services. This is confidential one-on-one technical assistance that is important in providing resources to help purchase and preserve land. Contact Elizabeth on the MFT site to learn more.
Valerie Geredien & Mark Sprackland (IRSSC – Independent Retail Shared Services Cooperative) Mark and Valerie will be at our March meeting to offer more details about this project. The project began with the end of Associated Growers and is looking to create new initiatives for cooperatives in Maine.
Gray Harris (CEI) Gray spoke about the collaborations of CEI with other organizations. The over arching mission they are reaching toward is growing more food to feed more people. Contact CEI and Gray to find out about the opportunities abounding!
Marada Cook (Fiddler’s Green) Marada reported that the money was raised to buy Fiddler’s Green and the business has now been moved from Belfast to Vassalboro. This certified organic grain milling business has a mail order focus and reaches outside of the state of Maine, and the goal is not to compete with the Maine grown millers. Marada and Fiddlers Green were happy to report that they successfully completed their first holiday season!
Amber Lambke (Maine Grains) Maine Grains has been open for its 1st full year. They are using strategic purchasing plans and hope to be offering an exciting diversity of grains in the next 5 years. The PickUp, started by Sarah Smith, operates out of the mill and has 10 cooperative members and a 40 farm route that provides food to the community in a myriad of creative ways including grocery delivery, community cafe, bulk buying and CSA shares to name a few. The Skowhegan creative and agricultural economy has been catalyzed by what is happening at Maine Grains. New opportunities are evolving in the art sector, innovative nutritional programs, and year round farmers market…. In the words of Sarah Smith “Community + Farmers = Success!”
Daniel Ungier (Portland Food Co-op) The Portland Food Co-op has found a great location in Congress Plaza in Portland. They have signed a lease and a contract with an architect. All this movement leads to the hope that they will be open by September. The next step is a capital campaign where they are hoping to raise $600,000. You too can become a member!
Sam May (GMO bill): Sam shared the exciting news that the GMO bill was signed into law by our Governor on January 10th with a great celebration in Augusta. The next challenge is passing this law in 5 contiguous states and the current focus is NH where the bill is in this year’s legislative session.
Next SMM gathering: March 19th, 1-4, Viles Arboretum
Hope to see you there! Happy new and exciting year!!!!