Supporting Small Farm and Food Entrepreneurs
in San Luis Obispo County
Slow Money SLO progress after one year
by Jeff Wade, Slow Money Local Leader
With strawberries and wine grapes representing almost half of the total San Luis Obispo County crop revenues in 2012, over $400M out of $861M, there is certainly a need to assist and support the small farmer who struggles to access expensive land and bring product to market with some profit; even with 22 farmer’s markets and 15 CSA offerings in the County. Slow Money SLO has brought together investors and funded six entrepreneurs over the past 12 months to the tune of approximately $200,000. Read on to hear about our first recipient, SLO Natural Foods.
After almost a year of hard work by the staff and Board as well as amazing volunteer work, the 30 year young SLO Natural Foods has completed a major remodel of a vacant building and has moved into this larger, brighter space around the corner from the old store. They can now offer many more items desired by the community and compete with the larger stores. The Grand Opening celebration was July 13th with food samples, prizes and music. It was an especially great opportunity for Slow Money SLO since they also have a mission to support local food suppliers. See the new store in this SLO Natural Foods video.
It was exciting to see three other Slow Money SLO entrepreneurs participating in the Grand Opening. These businesses are sourcing ingredients from SLO Natural Foods or selling product through the store, in some cases, both!
- Benefit Foods has created an incredible vegan, organic, gluten free bar that is wrapped in biodegradable packaging. They are working to create a Lunchbox program to help address child hunger and promote healthy food in SLO County.
- Mama Ganache sources Fair Trade chocolate for their artisan, organic truffles and bars. When Dr. Tom Neuhaus isn’t instructing chocolate production at Cal Poly, running the Fair Trade club, or producing chocolate, he operates the NGO he founded called Project Hope and Fairness, to help West African cocoa farmers become more economically sustainable.
- Vert Foods provided samples of their tasty, nutritionally dense prepared foods, which are available for weekly delivery and soon on a daily basis at SLO Natural Foods.
We are online at www.SlowMoneySLO.org, or send email if you would like to chat about our efforts or discuss local leader topics. We have formed a Steering Team to help guide the progress and growth of our group over the next 12-18 months. Local partnerships, education and on-going support for Slow Money recipients are among the major goals for the coming year.
Mama Ganache – Tom Neuhaus, Lani Bidwell and Eve Neuhaus
Vert Foods – Virginia Marum
Benefit Foods – Michael Bishop and Amanda Gerard
SLO Natural Foods – Alexis de Falla and Zoe Sanchez