Carol Peppe Hewitt calls herself a matchmaker. But rather than guide lovelorn singles toward committed relationships, she explains, “I connect people who want to support small, local growers and producers with small, local growers and producers who need help.”
The small-business owner, food activist and author accomplishes this goal through Slow Money NC, which she founded in 2010 after attending a talk by Slow Money movement founder Woody Tasch. “I was interested in the idea that we all need to support local farming — I thought the answer was to buy local, but when I heard Woody speak about the movement, I realized buying local will not meet the challenge of supporting small farmers and small business,” Hewitt recalls. “We have to dig into our portfolios and invest in direct ways.”
Since 2010, when Hewitt made the first loan to a friend who needed help expanding her small Greek restaurant, Slow Money NC has catalyzed over 300 loans totaling about $4 million to 125 small farmers and local food businesses. In Western North Carolina, those beneficiaries include Cove Creek Nursery Farm, Smoke Signals Bakery, Smiling Hara, Carolina Ground Flour, Walnut Hill Schoolhouse and All Souls Pizza.
“These investments are so much more meaningful than a stock portfolio,” Hewitt says. “The concept appeals to anyone who understands the critical importance of sustainability. We need small farmers and small businesses not to just survive but to thrive.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.