Slow Money founder Woody Tasch talks about investing in the future and Slow Money’s new offshoot, Gatheround.
A word to keep in mind as we enter an uncertain future: resilient. The planet’s climate is changing, the global economy is struggling, and people are beginning to gather whatever threads they can find with intent to fashion a safety net. The most promising of these threads are community, biodiversity, and thoughtful investment.
As global finance traders buy and sell food derivatives by the millisecond, another international network invests in real food at a pace far less frenzied. That group goes by the name of Slow Money, investing in small farms, local restaurants, and distributors that connect them. In short, “everything in the local food system needed to make the food system healthier, more resilient,” says the organization’s founder and chairman, Woody Tasch.
The idea is to create social, rather than purely economic, dividends. “There’s a lot of embedded arithmetic [in the way we think about investment] that’s hard to wean yourself from. So it feels risky when you first start doing this, that’s for sure,” says Tasch. “But then you have to ask yourself, ‘Risky compared to what?’ Personally I feel like the whole system is so shaky and there’s so much embedded risk, everything from derivatives to excesses—environmental and social excesses. There’s just so many different things that are likely to be dysfunctional at various points in the near future that I don’t think it’s that risky to take a little of our money and spend time putting it to work in things that have tangible and immediate value, like food.”
In the last three years, Slow Money has invested over $30 million in more than 220 small food businesses around the country. That number is expected to grow through Gatheround (formerly dubbed “Soil Trust”), a way for smaller donors to collectively amplify Slow Money’s effect. At the 2013 Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Washington, I spoke with Tasch about Gatheround and why he thinks Slow Money is a radical venture.