SMIF provides $25,000 to launch campaign for new Grow a Farmer Fund to aid local foods efforts

SMIF provides $25,000 to launch campaign for new Grow a Farmer Fund to aid local foods efforts

Photo: Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, addressing Slow Money Minnesota at May 3 event when SMIF announced Grow a Farmer Fund campaign

OWATONNA, Minn., May 23, 2016 – Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) announced the launch of the Grow a Farmer Fund at May 3’s Slow Money Minnesota meeting in St. Paul. This fund is organized in partnership with Slow Money Minnesota and other collaborators through the FEAST Local Foods Network, including Renewing the Countryside. It is intended to provide lower interest loans to farmers, initially in SMIF’s 20-county region of south central and southeastern Minnesota.

“It’s not that there’s not money out there for small farmers and food enterprises, it’s just that it doesn’t flow as easily as it should,” said Renewing the Countryside Executive Director Jan Joannides. “This fund will enable ordinary people to support southern Minnesota’s local foods economy, thereby increasing both monetary capital and social capital for small-scale sustainable farmers.”

The goal of the Grow a Farmer Fund is to raise $100,000 by September 1. The funds will support a revolving loan fund that makes low-interest loans to small-scale farmers. SMIF provided the initial $25,000 as a matching grant to help launch the fund. An additional $7,000 was raised at the unveiling of the fund on May 3, where investors, food entrepreneurs, and those interested in supporting a stronger local economy in Minnesota gathered to hear from Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money.

“This fund is just one more way we’re helping to support not just local foods in our region, but a broader local economy,” said Pam Bishop, SMIF’s Vice President of Economic Development. “People want a way to invest in the place they live. For 30 years, the Foundation has been focused on empowering people to find their own solutions to ever evolving challenges. The Grow a Farmer Fund is just one more way to do that.”

“We see the Grow a Farmer fund as a natural fit to the Foundation’s mission of promoting regional economic opportunities and collaborations,” said SMIF President & CEO Tim Penny.

The Grow a Farmer fund was inspired by the principles of Slow Money, which originated out of the slow food movement. Slow Money’s mission is to catalyze the flow of capital to local food systems, connect investors to the places where they live and promote new principles of fiduciary responsibility that “bring money back down to earth.”

“We as a society and as an economy need to start optimizing for a large number of small things, not just relying on a small number of large things,” writes Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money Alliance.

Anyone interested in supporting the Grow a Farmer Fund can donate at SMIF’s website: https://smifoundationorg.presencehost.net/philanthropy/community-foundation-giving/grow-a-farmer.html. Learn more about the fund and Slow Money Minnesota. Stay tuned for summer fundraiser events, where delicious local foods will be featured!

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