Carol Peppe Hewitt is a matchmaker of sorts. As cofounder of the North Carolina chapter of the international nonprofit organization Slow Money and author of Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food With Slow Money, Hewitt’s goal is to help sustainability-minded food entrepreneurs and community members interested in supporting their work meet and — quite possibly — fall in love.
On Sunday, Aug. 24, Slow Money NC will partner with the crowd-funding platform Community Sourced Capital and the Asheville-based business-building organization Accelerating Appalachia to host the Financing Our Foodshed Gathering at Rosetta’s Buchi Bar. According to Hewitt, the event will provide an opportunity for farmers, food entrepreneurs and members of the community to network and “learn about local financing and how we can use our resources to support local businesses we care about.”
Slow Money is an international movement that seeks to support farmers and local food businesses that promote healthy soil and sustainability. The organization sets up small events in local communities to provide farms and businesses a platform for discussing their goals. Interested community members who attend the events then have the opportunity to support their projects through direct, peer-to-peer loans that are worked out directly between the lender and the borrower.
“Slow Money doesn’t have any money,” says Hewitt, who is based in Pittsboro, N.C. “What we do have is generous people who want to support community farms and local food businesses. Our goal is to find ways to help these people meet each other and build relationships and get money moving.”
Since Hewitt started the North Carolina chapter of Slow Money four years ago, about 100 people have invested in 58 sustainable farmers and local food entrepreneurs in the state and moved nearly $2 million in community financing. A few Asheville-area businesses that have benefitted include Carolina Ground Flour, Smiling Hara Tempeh, All Souls Pizza and Leading Green Distributing.
At Sunday’s meeting, local entrepreneurs Jessica Thistlegrove of Riddle Farm and Jack Fischer of Jack’s Nut Butters will talk about their enterprises and specific goals they are trying to achieve. Thistlegrove is planning to add a bed-and-breakfast to her permaculture farm in Marshall. Fischer hopes to establish a reliable supply of biodynamic almonds for his sprouted almond-butter products, build a new website and do trademark research, among other plans.
“[Jack’s Nut Butters] is a very mission-based business, which is why Slow Money really makes sense for me,” says Fischer. A beekeeper as well as a businessman, he strives to educate the public in a friendly way about good nutrition, soil health, biodynamic farming and gardening practices and the important link between the almond industry and the health of honeybee populations. (According to Fischer, the almond pollination in California is one of the largest industrial pollinations on the planet.)
Hewitt says she is passionate about offering those with financial assets a chance to contribute to the success of businesses like Fischer’s. “So many of us are disillusioned with having our life savings in far away places supporting corporations that have no relevance to the wellbeing of our local communities,” she says. “In trying to find alternatives to that, I’m constantly seeking ways that we can use the power of our dollars to make our communities into places we want to live in.”
The Financing Our Foodshed Gathering will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, at Rosetta’s Buchi Bar, 116 N. Lexington Ave. Attendance is free. RSVP is required. Rosetta’s Kitchen will provide free snacks, and there will be a cash bar. Donations are appreciated for the food. For details about Slow Money NC, visit slowmoneync.org. To RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org