What does it take for a local community to fully support local farmers? That’s a topic under discussion with Brian Coppom Director of the Boulder County Farmers Markets, Wyatt Barnes of Red Wagon Organic Farm in Boulder and Woody Tasch of Slow Money, which is a network of individuals which collaborates to direct investment money toward local agriculture.
“Mostly what it means is low interest loans made in a very collaborative fashion between handfuls of local individuals and everything from small farms to processing, distribution, restaurants, anything that is helping rebuild local food systems and promote organic food production. ” Slow Money investment groups have directed more than $57 million into more than 632 small food enterprises in local communities through local networks, public meetings, and peer-to-peer learning.
Outside of investments and loans, another source of revenue for farms is Community Supported Agriculture. Red Wagon Farm offers CSA shares, where individuals and families subscribe to purchase a share of the farm’s crop on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This gives the farm sustainable income and allows risk to be shared with the CSA members. Barnes says this is an invaluable source of revenue for the farm.
“For us our best financing is always our CSA, it acts as our operating loan where they pay in the Spring and then we use that to get everything going, pay our labor…around July we start to run out of that CSA money and then usually the other sales pick up enough that we can continue through the rest of the year, but it’s extremely important.”
Brian Coppom of Boulder Farmers Markets says one of the biggest issues is that consumers don’t value food and agriculture. “When we start doing that and pay the true cost of growing food, we can pay people to grow it and they will make a fair wage and that will increase the labor force. We can get farmers who actually make a living and that will increase the number of people who want to farm, and ideally we’ll get a public that supports it.”
Woody Tasch and Brian Coppom will be co-moderating an event on Slow Money and Slow Food on Saturday July 15th at 3pm as part of Slow Food Nation Denver.