Justin and Danielle Leszcz, owners of YellowTree Farm, were growing pesticide-free foods on a cramped 1⁄10 acre of land in suburban St. Louis. In early 2011, the couple presented their expansion plans to potential investors at a local Slow Money gathering. Two investors provided a loan of $6,000 at 2 percent interest—funds that have allowed YellowTree Farm to rent 11/2 acres of farmland, start a CSA program, increase their sales to local restaurants, and rent a booth at a farmers’ market. In the program’s first year, the CSA memberships sold out in 24 hours.
In a project led by Slow Money member Narendra Varma, Community by Design purchased 58 acres near Portland, Oregon, to be used as a small-farm incubator. Varma plans to bring several small organic farming businesses to the property, where they will share infrastructure and resources such as barns, equipment, a greenhouse, a commercial kitchen, and sales and marketing staff.
Each investment in a local food producer is a small step toward fixing our economy from the ground up—an incremental step in the rewarding and hopeful process of bringing money back down to earth. —Woody Tasch
Woody Tasch is the founder and chairman of Slow Money and author of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered (Chelsea Green, 2010).
Illustration by Paul Blow
Photo by Jennifer Silverberg