Savory CEO, Daniela Ibarra-Howell, had the pleasure to facilitate a conversation about “soil” during the inspiring SOIL conference hosted by Slow Money in Boulder earlier this week.
Slow Money shares with us the belief that people are waking up to the importance of soil, its fertility, and its vital role in human health, resilient communities, and promising strategies for combating climate change. But Slow Money points out that most people don’t talk about soil and money in the same breath which may need to change if we are going to mobilize resources to scale up and accelerate soil regeneration.
Since 2010, Slow Money has worked with tens of thousands of people in dozens of communities that have begun supporting local food enterprises that are building healthy soil. Through public meetings, large and small, local networks, and lots of peer-to-peer learning, Slow Money, under the leadership of Woody Tasch, steered more than $57 million into 632 soil-building food enterprises.
This gathering was a celebration of such accomplishment, and a call for action to support this journey into the future. The event brought together an incredible group of thought leaders, activists, farmers, food entrepreneurs, and investors who are leading the charge around the country to explore the relationship between the actual soil and the soil of a restorative economy. Everything from soil biology to human health to investing in local food systems was discussed and explored. Among the friends that came together to advance this important work were Winona LaDuke, Daphne Miller, David Montgomery, Fred Kirchenmann, Bill McKibben (via skype), and Woody himself, always so incredibly entertaining. Additional evening treats included amazing food trucks on 14th Street, and a showing of the new documentary on Wendell Berry’s life with commentaries by his daughter Mary.
But for Slow Money, SOIL now has a new layer of meaning: Slow Opportunities for Investing Locally. The second day of the event was all about this new initiative that will aggregate charitable contributions of all sizes and then make 0% loans to small food enterprises. Over time, as loans are repaid, new loans made, and new contributions received, SOIL can grow into a significant resource in support of local food systems in Colorado.
SOIL is also the title of Woody’s new book, associated with this initiative, a great essay in poetry, activism, and “from the field” inspiration (including Daniela’s recount of our journey at Savory and a feature of our Savory Hub leader and friend Will Harris and his family’s White Oak Pastures). Woody shares with his friends that “The past ten years of slow money thinking and doing, conviviality and activism, conscientious investing, and, yes, affection of the Wendell Berry kind, affection of the nurture capital kind, have been a wonderful, daunting, inspiring journey for me. It has given me the privilege of meeting many of you, collaborating in a host of ways, and seeding a public conversation that goes to the heart of what’s broken in food, finance and culture. I’ve pulled together much of what I’ve learned from this journey in these new pages, revolving around a vision of nurture capital and also looking at the lay of the land here in Boulder, where we are moving forward on a new initiative called SOIL: Slow Opportunities for Investing Locally.” Check out the book snippet. It’s ambitiously “lively serious”.
Thanks Woody and Slow Money for a great gathering.