Slow Money Austin Celebrates Earth Day
Connecting the green dreams of slow food champions to financiers
The dueling sides of the entrepreneurial coin catalyze change in the current state of food industry affairs. Both fledgling and veteran businesses alike face difficult-to-navigate red tape when designed to shake up the status quo of large-scale conventional food structures. Agricultural economic policies are particularly cumbersome, with small, sustainable food enterprises facing large foes in fast food and Big Ag. In response, a food industry renaissance blossomed in the late 1980s, with the radical concept of returning to food and business practices our grandparents would recognize – in short, to slow down the fast-paced food world.
Slow Food is a term coined to encompass the principles of the grassroots movement geared toward more sustainable and accessible healthy food systems across the globe. Slow Money organizations originated a few decades later as a partial solution to the related socioeconomic and cultural factors shaping the patterns of global food systems, especially where environment and local communities are concerned. Slow Money bridges the gap between green dreams and financial investors.
Slow Money Austin, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit inspired by the national Slow Money and Slow Food movements, seeks to facilitate the success and growth of sustainable food systems in Central Texas. Every cog in the wheel is important, and individuals whose entrepreneurial spirits coincide with a passion for improving every step of the food system may find assistance in the Slow Money Alliance. Education, outreach, activities, assistance with loans and legalities, and a support system are available to like-minded individuals – that is, anyone interested in receiving financial help pursuing a business model that contributes positively to the improvement of global and local food systems.
In addition to regular meetings and community-building events, Slow Money Austin hosted the 2013 Spring Video Pitchfest and Potluck at Reclaimed Space/Sustain Center in late March. The friendly competition sought short video contributions from local entrepreneurs dedicated to sustainability. Six finalists' submissions were selected, and these businesses will work with professional videographers to develop full-length videos and participate in the Texas Green Network's Earth Day Austin 2013 event on April 20, noon-7pm, at the Browning Hangar at Mueller (4550 Mueller Central Dr.). Austin's Earth Day Festival events include speakers such as Mayor Lee Leffingwell and columnist Jim Hightower, live music and drum circles, a Kid's Zone, local food trucks, and a variety of presentations and exhibitors for a day celebrating Austin's growing commitment to sustainability. See www.earthdayaustin.com for details.
2013 Spring Video Pitchfest Finalists:
East Side Compost Pedallers: a bicycle-powered compost recycling program in East Austin that collects compost scraps and delivers them to urban farms and gardens to aid in growing more local food
South Austin Mushroom: a small-scale urban farm of fungiphiles on South Lamar, growing and selling local culinary mushrooms in support of the biological benefits of fungi
Great Bean Chocolate: a small business handcrafting organic, fair-trade raw chocolate focused on retaining the health benefits and full flavor of unprocessed cacao beans
Ten Acre Organics: an urban farm system with intentions to replicate their 10-acre sustainable model using aquaponic greenhouses, organics, and diversified farming
Bona Dea: a gluten-free bakery dedicated to tasty treats sold in bulk and as retail packaged goods in stores across the city
Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill and Farm: the first certified organic commercial feed mill in Texas providing 100% organic feed and dedicated to organic agriculture; the organic farm produces Jeremiah Cunningham's "World's Best Eggs." Also of note, Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill is nominated to be named Mamma Chia Entrepreneur of the Year at the upcoming Slow Money National Gathering in Boulder, Colorado, at the end of the month. The award includes an investment award of $50,000, winner chosen by jury and popular vote.