slow money 1The Slow Money National Gathering, now in its fifth year, brings together people who care about farming and finance with thought leaders in the field. The first four National Gatherings — in Santa Fe, N.M., Shelburne, Vt., San Francisco, and Boulder, Colo., — showed steady growth in all categories. Last year’s event in Boulder was sold out, attracting 650 attendees from 37 states and five countries, with support from 29 sponsors.

Wendall Berry, who Bill McKibbon (founder of 350.org) called “a prophet of responsibility,” will be participating. His daughter Mary is one of the organizers.

The goal of the movement is to have 1 million Americans investing 1 percent of their money in small food enterprises. Already, through Slow Money’s activities both regionally and nationwide, more than $38 million has been invested in over 350 small food enterprises around the United States. Twenty local networks and 13 investment clubs have formed.

Slow Money is an NGO formed in 2009 by Woody Tasch, author of the book “Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered.”

In conjunction with the event, Slow Money is introducing the BEETCOIN program. During the Slow Money Gathering, there will be a pitch competition where a number of agri-entrepreneurs will go head to head to win over the expert judges. The BEETCOIN program is funding a loan to give to the top two prize winners. When the zero-percent interest loan is paid back to Slow Money, it will be redeployed to entrepreneurs at future events.

Slow Money is hoping to raise $100,000 for the BEETCOIN program. Currently, they’ve raised about a third of that. Eighty percent of the money will be loaned to the first place winner and 20 percent to the second place winner.

The Gathering begins at 3 p.m. on Monday, Nov 10, and is kicked off with keynotes and a reception starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday is full of Town Hall Meetings — panels of experts — with keynotes in the evening. Wednesday is the Entrepreneurial Showcase, at the end of which the BEETCOIN loans will be awarded. The event concludes with a Quaker-Style Meeting and a Farm-to-Fork dinner (the latter of which costs extra).

Notable attendees besides Berry include:

  • Environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, whom Forbes Magazine once called one of the top seven most Powerful Women on the Globe
  • Author Gary Nabhan, MacArthur Fellow, “Father of the local food movement”
  • Local chefs Ivor Chodkowski and Kathy Cary
  • Amy Domini, founder of Domini Social Investments, named to Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World

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For more information on the National Gathering, visit their website. The event will be held at the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

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