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Slow Money for Ohio? Financing the Local Food System

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 33rd annual conference, Sowing the Seeds of Our Food Sovereignty—from Feb. 18 - 19 in Granville, Ohio—will feature an all day pre-conference workshop on Feb. 17, and a keynote address and workshop on Feb. 18 on topics including, how people and institutions can help finance the local food system, how farmers and local food business can access capital and what local financing models are out there.

The events will feature Slow Money Alliance founder and chairman Woody Tasch who will provide a primer on Slow Money, a national effort to encourage sustainable financial investments that support local, community-based food and farm businesses.

“Slow Money is a movement and an investment strategy,” said Renee Hunt, OEFFA’s program director and the organizer of the event. “Slow Money is about finding meaningful places for people to put their money to work, right in their own communities.”

A former venture capitalist and entrepreneur, Tasch inspired the Slow Money movement by writing Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered. He is the former chairman of Investors’ Circle, which has invested $133 million in 200 early stage sustainability businesses since 1992 and served as treasurer of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation.

“We’ve got to take some of our money out of all this stuff that we no longer understand or can manage effectively and put it to work near where we live, starting with food,” Tasch said in a December interview with the Ohio News Service.

In a 2011 interview with Edible Columbus, Tasch went on to say, “If we are going to build a new food system and a new restorative economy, we are going to need billions upon billions of dollars. Where is this money going to come from? Wall Street? Washington? Foundations? Whatever they can do, it won’t be enough, it won’t be direct enough and there won’t be enough of it. The only place it can come from is from all of us, who have a direct, vested interest in the places where we live.”

To date, $4.5 million has been invested in 16 small food enterprises through Slow Money’s national gatherings. In the last year, $5 million more has been invested through Slow Money chapters.

The full day pre-conference event, Slow Money for Ohio? Financing the Local Food System, is Feb. 17 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. and features panels of experts and practitioners who will discuss the challenges of capitalizing the local food economy and strategies to nurture long-term impact and prosperity. Additionally, the event will showcase Slow Money-type models in Ohio and elsewhere and provide attendees with an opportunity to network with individuals and representatives from businesses, organizations and government interested in investing in their local food system.

In addition to Woody Tasch, pre-conference presenters will include:
• John Mitterholzer, The Gund Foundation (invited)
• Mark Barbash, MB Economic Development Consulting
• Joe Cimperman, Cleveland City Council
• Todd Deiterrle, New Harvest Ventures
• Jessica Eickleberry, Local Roots Market and Café (recently featured in the Washington Post)
• Leslie Schaller, ACEnet
• Becky Rondy, Green Edge Gardens
• Representatives from The Economic and Community Development Institute of Columbus, Kemba Bank, Insight Bank, and Farm Credit Services of Mid-America

Tasch’s conference keynote address, Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Matter, is on Feb. 18 from 4 - 5:15 p.m. Earlier in the day, Tasch will be leading a workshop, Slow Money 101: Where is it Coming From, Where is it Going? from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

OEFFA's annual conference is the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, drawing more than 1,000 attendees from across Ohio and the Midwest. In addition to Tasch, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Andrew Kimbrell, more than 70 informative and hands-on workshops, two featured pre-conference events, a trade show, a fun and educational kids’ conference and child care area, locally-sourced and organic homemade meals, and Saturday evening entertainment.

All events are at Granville Middle and High Schools at 248 New Burg St. in Granville, Ohio. Pre-registration is required. Cost for the pre-conference is $45 for members and $55 for non-members, and includes lunch. Cost for the conference is $115 for members and $175 for non-members, and meals must be purchased separately. Prices vary for late registrations, students and one-day only registrations.

For more information or to register online, click here and receive $5 off the registration fee.

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The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a state-wide, grassroots, non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters working together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system. For more information, go to www.oeffa.org.

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