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Beetcoin & Slow Money: Donor Groups Distributing 0% Interest Loans to Qualified Farmers

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation & perfection of human beings.”  ~ Masanobu Fukuoka


Farming

2004 marked a major milestone for me; I gave birth to my son in San Francisco, welcoming him into a beautiful life. The world began shifting, and high-tech was moving at a crazy pace. I knew it was time to slow it down and seek out the blessings. Slowing it down meant creating a deeper community and focusing on a movement that suited me: having a family.  Living in Sonoma County, I did just what I set out to do: join a community of food movers and passionate culinarians. Supporting farmers and having the opportunity to raise my own food in Petaluma through lent space. A team of food collaborators who set out to build a local food system of curators, raising and sharing with their communities.  Bringing back how we used to garden, cook, bake, and share in our food programs. 


Petaluma California

Peer To Peer Lending Groups With A Purpose 

If you are old enough to remember anything about Peer to Peer (P2P) lending, the genesis of it all began in 2005 in San Francisco’s Financial District. Names like Prosper, Lending Club, & Zopa were all founded on the idea of creating online communities, connecting people who had money to loan with those who needed short-term notes, maybe to get a boost during a start-up situation or buy a car with a lower interest rate. Coming from FinTech myself, I was a big supporter of Prosper Marketplace and still believe in the model. Today, P2P lending is a cornerstone in FinTech, and microlending serves over 75M+ borrowers globally, lending over $25B, fostering a sense of community and shared prosperity, and cutting out the middle.


SF Fin Dist

Beetcoin & Slow Money 0% Loans Are Intentional

By 2009, Woody Tasch published Slow Money in Boulder, Colorado. Woody, a food mover and seed money capitalist, is also the founder of Slow Money Institute and Beetcoin. These two entities are not your typical financial institutions. They are carving out a unique space for farmers, offering interest-free loans for tangible projects like food sheds & hubs, soil health, and organic farming. The name Beetcoin is a clever play on words, and as Woody Tasch recently said, “We’re headed for the greatest, noblest, messiest, most meaningful AHA! of all time. To get there, we need to navigate anew our relationship with money, financial markets and the limits of economic growth.”  To that end, Beetcoin was established as a lender, and Slow Money Institute is the aggregator and clearinghouse for funding larger-picture farm programs. 


Beetcoin!

Slow Money’s objective is to connect investors and donors with the food movers living in and around their communities, putting their money to work in the places they live. They are not only a source of funding but also a team that brings together producers in a format that works for them and their philosophies. Slow Money uses a diversity of ways to pitch and apply for project funding. Some employ investor pitches, allowing a path forward with Angel Investor monies, much like a Keiretsu Forum.  Others offer public meetings, set aside resources with certain criteria, and lend the money at zero interest. Those are just a couple of examples when exploring opportunities in farm investments. To date, Slow Money has provided $100M to 1,000 small food systems, all invested or donated by 5,000 funders. 


Recirculating Funds For The Greater Good

As capitalism and our money systems change, donors are funding programs with alternative means, such as plain old cash. Regardless, Slow Money will aggregate funds for Beetcoin, loaning money out of a series of funds with a mission in mind. Think of these funds like investor tranches or donor monies with a goal in mind.  For instance, The Food Shed Capital, based in Virginia, is focused on borrowers who have faced barriers to entry into the market. The 2 Forks Club supports community farmers and local food entrepreneurs. Lending money at zero interest, where loan funds recirculate back into the lending system, and once a loan is paid back in full, the monies become available to a new borrower. 


Urban Farming


If you are familiar with Durango, a group of food movers runs the Four Corners Slow Money Fund. They have awarded over $110,000 since just before COVID-19, and each year, they run a Pitchfest throughout their region, which includes Southwest Colorado and Northwest New Mexico. As a donor member, you have an opportunity to become a voting member.  In 2023, Four Corners Slow Money lent $35,700 to five farms, each to advance their organizations with well-planned project monies lent by people locally advocating for growth of food-based organizations.   


Beetcoin!


Donating To Beetcoin! 

If putting a fraction of your disposable income to work piques your interest, or if you are an investor seeking ways to place capital into projects in your local community, Slow Money and Beetcoin create loan and investor tranches for family farmers where the barrier to entry can be large, especially since some current lending rates are between 6% and 7%. To ‘Give A Buck’ to Beetcoin, click the link in the upper right-hand corner of their website.  The website will then prompt you to “Give Now,” click it, and then select a fixed dollar amount, or you will have the option of repeating your donation on a schedule. If you looking for larger tranche investments or to build a series of funds relevant to your investment and community objectives, then reach out to Slow Money for the next steps on the finding front.  


For more information on identifying grant and lending resources or effective planning strategies, click the link to ForagingandFarming below! 


Farm Sunset


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