This month we were excited to hear from Slow Money Central VA. This chapter of Slow Money was formed in 2018 by Michael Reilly and Hunter Hopcroft with a mission to support the financial needs of small farms and other food entrepreneurs in the region surrounding the cities of Richmond and Charlottesville. Slow money works to gather the financial resources of citizens who want to make an impact on their local food system and turns those resources into loans for farmers who need capital. Farms are small businesses, and small businesses need capital to grow and thrive. Co-founder Michael Reilly provided such great insight into the challenges small farms face and the importance of supporting them. We also enjoyed delicious vegan/gluten free strawberry cupcakes from PastryBase, and coffee from the Cafe @ St. Stephens.
Michael set the scene by describing our current industrial agriculture system, and reminding us what small farmers are up against in a system that supports “Big Agriculture.” Michael discussed the effects of climate change, and how climate change is and will continue to force us to rethink our global food system.
Michael says, “More and more people are disturbed by the future health of our planet and its inhabitants. More and more people are recognizing the importance of knowing where their food comes from and how it’s produced. More and more people are realizing that it must be sustainable, regenerative, and build soil fertility and in most cases, it must be small and local. Food that’s produced here should stay here and not be fed into the industrial monolith.”
As many farmers struggle to access funds through the traditional routes, Slow Money will provide a program that fills the financial gaps for farmers and connects investors to the places where they live. The basics are:
- Slow Money Central Virginia pools charitable contributions from citizens who want to make an impact on their local food system. It could be $50 or it could be $5,000, whatever one can give.
- Slow Money then makes 0% microloans to community farmers and local food entrepreneurs.
- Loan funds circulate. So when a loan is paid back, it goes back into the same fund for future loans!
- All loans are voted upon by donors who make a minimum contribution
Slow Money Central Virginia is connected to The Slow Money Institute, a national non-profit launched in 2009 in Boulder, Colorado and inspired by the Slow Food movement. Slow Money is dedicated to catalyzing the flow of capital to local food systems, connecting investors to the places where they live, and promoting new principles of fiduciary responsibility that “bring money back down to earth.”
Hunter and Michael were also interviewed at the end of the meeting by Mallory Noe-Payne of Richmond 92.5 FM Public Radio. We look forward to hearing more from this great organization in the coming months!