Financing

Vermont is looked to regionally and nationally for its connectivity among capital providers and its community-based approach to economic development, especially in food systems. The Farm to Plate Financing Crosscutting Team is a forum for capital providers of all stripes to assess financing gaps, identify new funding opportunities, and promote creative funding arrangements that will advance the development of Vermont’s food system enterprises. Convened in September 2012, to-date the group has reviewed diverse cases of live and historical deals, resulting in three case studies that are available for download through this section. Most recently, the Team hosted a panel of food system funders from New England and the Northeast region to share views on trends, opportunities, and collaboration.

In June 2013, the Crosscutting Team began incubating a Slow Money network in Vermont. Launched in September 2014, Slow Money Vermont has established itself as a valuable source of information and relationships designed to enable Main St investors to find their way toward local food enterprise investment opportunities. See the link in this section to the Slow Money Vermont Task Force for highlights from the six well-attended events and other innovative activities that have unfolded since then.

From the beginning, the Financing Crosscutting Team was ably chaired by Janice St. Onge, President of the VSJF Flexible Capital Fund. In September 2015, the Team elected Eric DeLuca as Chair for a one-year term. In addition to Chairing the Slow Money Vermont Task Force in 2015, Eric co-chairs the Enterprise Financing Options Committee of the VT Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB), which has made over $3M of catalytic grants since 2012—driving $4.3M in match. This WLEB Committee is poised to share Blueprints for three Financing Tools designed to address access-to-capital gaps, and make the most of public funds & public/private partnerships.


Activities

Financing Cross-Cutting Team Annual Update

Finance The Financing Cross-Cutting Team is in post-production on a webinar focused on Advisory Boards for the audience of farm and food entrepreneurs. On February 6, 2019, the Cross-Cutting Team hosted a convening focused on Farm Transfers: Financing Sticking Points & Solutions. Follow-up and next steps are underway, including a session at the 2019 Farm to Plate Gathering, entitled It’s Never Too Early: Sowing seeds for a sustainable future via succession planning and expanded access to affordable land. Takeaways from the Farm Transfers Convening address topics like: Assumptions of Farm Seekers & Early Stage Farmers about Land Ownership, Strategies to Identify and Reach Markets, Business Assistance When Navigating Land Access and Transfer Transactions, Where Flexible Capital Could Help Catalyze Farm Transitions, and Payment for Ecosystem Services. Here’s a quote from the Advisory Boards Webinar that was shared by John Hamilton, Vice President of Economic Opportunity at New Hampshire Community Loan Fund: “What I hear often from entrepreneurs that end up proceeding with an Advisory Board is regret that they didn’t do it earlier.”
- Eric DeLuca, Group Chair

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Farm Transfers Financing--Sticking Points & Solutions: 2/6/19 Convening & Beyond

On February 6, 2019, 28 stakeholders convened in Waterbury, VT to address sticking points and solutions for the financing of farm transfers in Vermont. Participants included common senior lenders, alternative lenders such as CDFIs, philanthropic funders, federal and state public sector staff, a legal scholar, as well as leading business assistance providers. To stimulate an innovative dialogue, the conveners shared three cases, two of which reflected nominally successful land transfers of diverse types, with the third case showing how things can potentially go wrong for the incoming farm business over time.

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