‘Financing our Foodshed’ meeting draws a crowd

Carol Peppe Hewitt (second from left), cofounder of Slow Money NC, poses with several Asheville food entrepreneurs who gathered at Rosetta's Sunday night to discuss past and upcoming crowdsourcing projects. Photo by Kat McReynolds
Carol Peppe Hewitt (second from left), cofounder of Slow Money NC, poses with several Asheville food entrepreneurs who gathered at Rosetta's Sunday night to discuss past and upcoming crowdsourcing projects. Photo by Kat McReynolds

Nearly 50 individuals gathered at Rosetta’s Buchi Bar for a Slow Money NC: Financing our Foodshed meeting on Sunday, Aug. 24. Attendees enjoyed a casual family-style dinner, networking breaks, and a series of short presentations (less than five minutes each) by several local food entrepreneurs.

Carol Peppe Hewitt, cofounder of the NC chapter of Slow Money, travels the country promoting sustainable food venture investments at the local level, and she was impressed with her reception in Asheville.

“I thought tonight was very successful,” remarked a glowing Hewitt. “We had an excellent turnout and tremendous enthusiasm for the idea of community financing in the greater Asheville community.”

Hewitt hosted the evening by introducing guest speakers from the likes of Fifth Sun Specialties, Riverbend Malthouse, Smiling Hara Tempeh, Jack’s Nut Butters and Riddle Farm Bed and Grocery. A representative from each organization briefly updated the group on past or upcoming crowdsourced projects, and according to Hewitt, several members of the audience also approached her to share project information after the speaker series.

Co-hosting the event was Accelerating Appalachia, another power house in community financing for sustainable food businesses. The Asheville-based organization catalyzed six loans its first year of operation, bringing  investments of $505,000 to WNC businesses. Sara Day Evans, CEO and founder of Accelerating Appalachia, attracted dozens of local investors and entrepreneurs to attend the event, which contributed to a palpable sense of engagement among the crowd.

“Asheville really stands out in the area of entrepreneurship,” says Hewitt, who cited both the quantity of entrepreneurs in the area and the community’s general support for entrepreneurship as major contributors to Asheville’s food industry excellence. “I have no doubt that when these community sourced capital campaigns launch, that they will get funded, because this community cares about its small businesses.”

Slow Money NC has already paired 90 lenders (providing 125 loans) with 58 farmers and food businesses in NC, bringing Slow Money NC’s loan total over the $1.2 million mark — but Hewitt says there is much work to be done in the form of more outreach. The crowdsourcing specialist remains hopeful that the Asheville community will continue to advocate for local-level food investing through word of mouth networking – the tool she claims is the best way to spread Slow Money’s mission. “The power of word of mouth is huge. Because this is a close-knit community, that will work.”

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8 thoughts on “‘Financing our Foodshed’ meeting draws a crowd

  1. Carol Peppe Hewitt

    Thanks Kat for your coverage, and that great photo of last night’s event. Slow Money NC has helped catalyze over 125 peer-to-peer loans in NC, and this new crowd-funding platform that is now available in North Carolina is called Community Sourced Capital (CSC). “5th Sun” will be launching their campaign on Tuesday, September 2nd – the first one in NC. I can post the link to their campaign once it’s up on the CSC website.
    These are exciting times in the world of community finance!

    • Kat McReynolds

      I really enjoyed the event and all of the friendly (and photogenic) faces in attendance! And I’m particularly excited to see how the Community Sourced Capital platform catches on, as it’s a great idea for people who want to support a project with a smaller investment. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the 5th Sun Specialties campaign!

  2. Rachel Maxwell

    This looks like so much fun! I wish I could have been there. I’m excited to see Community Sourced Capital in Asheville right alongside Slow Money NC. Asheville seems like the perfect place for local finance in all it’s forms!

    • Kat McReynolds

      Rachel — I think we’re all hoping that this won’t be Carol’s last trip to Asheville on behalf of Slow Money. Join us next time!

  3. Sara Day Evans

    Accelerating Appalachia was excited to co-host this gathering, bringing in over 30 of our regional pool of local investors in nature-based businesses and the entrepreneurs they love to support. Our program supports innovative, scaling businesses in food and farming, as well as sustainable forest products, textiles, botanicals, clean energy, outdoor businesses – the makings of a post-extractive economy for Asheville, Appalachia and beyond. In our first year, we accelerated 10 WNC businesses, facilitated those businesses creation of 26 new jobs, retention of 52 jobs (over half from distressed regions, women, indigenous or veteran-owned), added 106 acres of farmland and 12 new farmers to the supply chain of these 10 businesses, and 6 of the 10 businesses received investment, for a total investment of $505,000. In one year. Wow, Mountain X, not one. single. mention.

    • Kat McReynolds

      Sara — Not only do I appreciate the work you do for WNC small businesses with Accelerating Appalachia, but I also thank you for bringing this omission to my attention. This is exactly the type of dialogue Xpress aims to engage. I was happy to update the article to include a paragraph about your contribution to the event and the general success of Accelerating Appalachia.

      • Sara Day Evans

        Thanks so much for updating the article, Kat. We’ll be following up with the exciting results of 2013 and our announcements about 2014/15!

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