The USDA recently posted a valuable tool - a Business Operations Guides for those running a "Food Hub" (which is defined as “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.” Click here to view the PDF.
Tomorrow is Food Day! Every October 24th, Food Day inspires Americans to change their diets and our food policies. With thousands of events all around the country, Food Day brings Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies. In 2015, Food Day has the theme "Toward a Greener Diet." The closest event to Austin is at Texas State in San Marcos. Let's try to make an Austin Food Day event happen next year! Click here for events near you, and for more information.
Forbes recently ran a piece by Alicia Robb, who is a senior fellow with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. She was moved to address the issue of female representation in angel investing, a topic that was prevalent at the Angel Capital Association's (which gets photo credit here) annual summit. Women have long been under-represented in the field of angel investment, and it appears to impact the amount of investments in women-owned business. The numbers are improving, but there's still much room for improvement:
"Females have historically made up less than 15% of the angel investors in the United States. The University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research estimated that women angels represented 19.4% of the angel market in 2014, which was a significant increase from the 12.2% number from just two years prior. Women-owned ventures accounted for 23% of the entrepreneurs that were seeking angel capital and 19% of those entrepreneurs that received angel investment in 2013."
Click here to read more.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition reported on the US Department of Agriculture's 2014 Organic Production Survey, the first such survey since 2008. And there was good news - there was a 72% increase in organic sales over the last five years. The bad news - it also states that the overall number of organic farms and total acreage of farm and ranchland under organic production have decreased over the same time period. Click here to read more.
Calling all developers, designers, and food lovers! Startup Weekend Food is happening November 13-15.
Have you ever had an idea that would change the way we eat? An idea that would impact our global food system? Here's your opportunity to transform your thoughts into action. Find folks with the right skills, passion and dedication to help make your startup idea a reality. Test your idea with real potential customers, receive coaching from experienced entrepreneurs and industry professionals, and win prizes that will help you take your startup idea to the next level!
"Cities and Agriculture: Developing Resilient Urban Food Systems", Edited by Hen de Zeeuw of the RUAF Foundation, provides urban planners, local policy makers and urban development practitioners with an overview of crucial aspects of urban food systems based on an up to date review of research results and practical experiences in both developed and developing countries.
Last month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Stan Meiburg announced the United States' first-ever national food waste reduction goal, calling for a 50-percent reduction by 2030. As part of the effort, the federal government will lead a new partnership with charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, the private sector and local, state and tribal governments to reduce food loss and waste in order to improve overall food security and conserve our nation's natural resources. Click here to read more.
Good news on the education front - more universities are offering food-related courses and degree programs, such as the Master of Science in Food Systems and Society program at Marylhurst College in Portland, OR. More than 7 community colleges, four-year-colleges and universities now have specific degree programs for sustainable agriculture or food systems. Click here to read more.
We'd like to take a moment to introduce AFI's new partner and CFO, Eric de Valpine. Eric started volunteering with AFI last Spring. He has just come aboard formally, and now leads AFI’s operations including financial and fund management, investor relations, compliance, and staffing. He also manages AFI’s CFO Network of financial professionals assisting AFI client companies.
Eric is an angel investor in Austin food-based businesses, driven by social responsibility and the opportunity to make things better.
As former CFO of an Intel-funded start-up that developed a real-time 3D visualization technology designed to create interactive broadcast content for customers such as ESPN/Disney and the Renault Formula 1 team, he played a key role in raising equity and debt financing and was responsible for all day-to-day finance operations and human resource functions.
Eric was also CFO at an IT services firm, and a software development company. He was the managing member of an LLC with an investment strategy that outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 25% during the fund’s existence. Eric has more than 15 years of experience as a financial and strategy consultant to small and mid-sized companies across a range of industry segments, including engineering, music, hospitality, renewable energy, higher education, and digital media.
Eric initially moved to Austin to attend UT, where he earned a BA in Philosophy. He later earned an MBA from the University of California, Irvine, where he co-founded the Social Responsibility Initiative and served as the Associate Director of the Centers for Leadership Development and for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Along with his wife Cari, he co-founded the Progressive Dinner Party, which raised more than $100,000 for small charities in Long Beach, CA through a series of dinner parties over the course of five years.
Eric has lived in Austin cumulatively over 17 years. He resides in Travis Heights with Cari and their young daughter.
Brianna Marshall of FoodTank interviews BrightFarms CEO Paul Lightfoot about their large-scale greenhouses in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Iowa, & Illinois. Interesting twist: BrightFarms isn't the typical "family farm" story, but rather institutional capital backing healthy local food on a commercial scale. Hmmm, wouldn't that be something in Austin...
Civil Eats reports on a new study showing US crop diversity is significantly lower today than it was 30 years ago.
Crop diversity is essential to soil resilience, food security, and nutrition, while "mono-cropping" it tied to soil degradation, pesticide-resistance, and fertilizer run-off.
The USDA/Kansas State/North Dakota State study compared crop species domination between 1978 and 2012, and is summarized in the graphic above.
AFI's Jarred & Curt attended last year's Slow Money National Gathering in Louisville, where Bauman's Cedar Valley Farms won a $60,000 0% loan to develop a non-GMO feed hub at their place in Garnett, KS.
Here is Rosanna Bauman's heartwarming update letter on the project's progress.
Huff Post has a terrific article about "Agrihoods," which just may be the future of sustainable living. Agrihoods are planned housing developments with a twist - they're built around real, functional farms that the residents help maintain. This development in Mission Viejo, CA is basically retrofitting itself into an Agrihood, installing a one-acre resident organic farms in addition to backyard gardens and community gardens. Brilliant.
Are you a school garden teacher, parent, or supporter? Do you want to connect with a larger community of fellow school garden enthusiasts? On Thursday, October 8 the New Farm Institute at Green Gate Farms is hosting a Garden Teachers' Forum where educators, parents, and supporters can share ideas for curriculum and tips for organizing successful school garden programs. Green Gate farmers will be on hand to guide the conversation and answer any questions about growing tips, irrigation, plant choices, and other resources. Click here for more information.
News from AFI; Links to stories on business-for-good, private-company investing, fundraising, & sustainable food.