What does slow money have to do with food? And what is slow money, anyway?
I first heard about the "slow food" movement several years ago; the grassroots movement of sustainable, community-grown food and farm-to-table eating has exploded in popularity, especially in places like Austin. Local organizations such as the Sustainable Food Center and Greenling help support slow food in Austin, and I wrote about my own challenge to eat local right here at CultureMap.
The slow money movement is similar—it's an entrepreneurial path for bringing money back down to earth, seeding a restorative economy that serves people and places more than corporations and industry sectors. It was started about three years ago by Woody Tasch, author of the best-selling book, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing As If Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered. With the Occupy Movement gaining ground and tons of media coverage, slow money could not be more timely. Entrepreneur.com stated that "the slow money movement is one of the top five trends in finance for 2011."
Which brings me back to the question—how do slow money and slow food combine? Slow Money is bringing people together around a new conversation about money that is too fast, about finance that is disconnected from people and place and about how we can begin fixing our economy from the ground up...starting with food. Locally produced, sustainably grown food.
There is a Slow Money Austin chapter, which works to to increase capital opportunities for food entrepreneurs, producers struggling to meet demand, innovators and local organizations leading the way toward sustainable, financially beneficial growth in Central Texas. Inspired by the national Slow Money and Slow Food movements, a group of committed individuals formed this organization to promote sustainable food systems in Austin and the surrounding region.
"Slow Money Austin was created to be the missing link between local food entrepreneurs and sources of capital," says Sophie Eckrich, Operations Director. "The benefits of strengthening our local, healthy, sustainable food system have multiplying effects, improving everything from the soil quality to the health of the community and economy. Austin's vibrant local food scene has even more room to grow, but the entrepreneurs face challenges when seeking capital to expand their businesses. Slow Money helps connect these businesses with investors so they can continue to grow their business and play an important part in our healthy local food system."
To that end, Slow Money Austin is hosting a fantastic feast this Friday night, December 2, at the gorgeous Barr Mansion. Guests will taste the food of Central Texas with the farmers and producers who make it happen, as well as learn more about growing the local food economy. The menu will consist of beef, fish, lots of vegetables and salad mostly prepared by the Barr Mansion chefs, along with locally made desserts. There will be live music from Trimmed and Burning, as well as donated beer from Real Ale in Blanco and sustainable wines from Greenling. Tickets are $25 per person, though additional donations for the cause are greatly appreciated.
Greenling founder Mason Arnold is one of the original founders, and learned about Slow Money when a group of friends invited him on a road trip to Santa Fe for its first National Gathering. "On the 15-hour drive back from this inspiring event we hatched the plan to bring Slow Money to Austin and to Texas," he says. "All we did was announce that we wanted to bring the movement to town and support sprouted up all around us. Just a few months later we formed Slow Money Austin to educate central Texas on the importance of investing on our Local Food System." By the 2011 Slow Money National Gathering (the third annual), Arnold was speaking at the event.
Arnold, whose company sources from dozens of local farmers and food producers, says that these farmers and artisans are often unable to grow because they are not attractive to banks. They have fewer assets and not enough history, and the lack of financing and growth options is more pronounced. "Slow Money aims to help fill this gap and help local food organizations that are providing more than just financial returns find the financing they need."
For more information about Friday night's Slow Money feast, and to purchase tickets, please visit www.slowmoneytexas.eventbrite.org.