The FPC 13 was transformative for us in forging the tools, design processes, and infrastructure that will allow us to attract, support, and incubate local food enterprises. The design processes at a meta level, have been developed by Jennifer English and her colleagues at the Financial Permaculture Institute. Our design teams at the FPC 13 created some very useful tools that will be incorporated in future FPC events and on-line trainings, as well as, in our direct work with local entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Earth Learning has begun to invest its grant funds in infrastructure to form a robust equipment lending library, including a refrigerated box truck, a mobile market trailer, a mobile kitchen, farm equipment, and several other much needed assets that will support future local food enterprises.
Earth Learning has whole-heatedly embraced Financial Permaculture as an organizational strategy to engage and develop Local Food Enterprises. We are investing much effort and resources seeking the funds to fully develop this project. In the meantime, we are creating awareness in our community, especially amongst potential entrepreneurs and community stakeholders who might care about a resilient local economy. We are dedicating a day of our Community Food Summit to this effort. And, of course, preparing for the much anticipated 2014 Local Food Enterprise Summit.
The Local Food movement has been leveraged successfully in many cities across North America to promote sustained economic growth from the inside out, with many multiplier effects, including community food security. Many of us often pay less attention to invisible structures like finance and economics, but in order to move our designs beyond the homestead and into our communities, financial permaculture approaches can be essential.
Join us for the 2014 Financial Permaculture Convergence, an amazing learning experience, where you will be involved in designing hands-on an ecology of local food enterprises. Information and registration info at www.financialpermaculture.com.
Here is a snippet from the first day of last year’s Financial Permaculture Convergence:
Earth Learning came about a decade ago with the mission to re-localize our bio-region, The Greater Everglades. A tall order for sure. The first five years were all about creating awareness for and allegiance to this amazingly delicate place in which we live and depend on. The last five years have been about re-localizing every aspect of our food system. For anyone who lives here or has visited may have noticed, there’s lots of work to do in order to accomplish this. A nascent local food movement is under way.
It became increasingly obvious to us in preparation for last year’s 2013 Financial Permaculture & Local Business Summit (FPC 13), that this movement, which has come about mainly because of non-profits, community groups and activists with limited reach and resources needed a serious boost. We began engaging two distinct sets of people in order to keep this movement alive: chefs and entrepreneurs. We began asking the chefs to help us create a new culture of eating our local bounty in season (to create a market for these foods). We began engaging entrepreneurs to invest their energies in local food enterprises.
Please join us at the 2014 Local Food Enterprise Summit, where you will learn to design local food businesses and approaches to support the growth of a vibrant local food economy that regenerates the earth every day by strengthening our connections to what we eat. Visit www.financialpermaculture.com for information on how to register.
In preparation for last year’s 2013 FPC, it became painstakingly clear that we had to recycle Community FoodWorks (CFW), a project that we had created to house our Beginning Farmer training program and the project ventures our Apprentices were using to learn from.
CFW became a for-profit LLC corporation, an incubator and accelerator for an ecology of local food enterprises, with Earth Learning as a managing member, and will continue to acquire equipment into its lending library in support of start-up business ventures.
As additional client enterprises join us, we will set the mechanism into motion so we can raise our own seed capital locally to support these businesses. Community FoodWorks is off and running and awaiting this next phase of Financial Permaculture to bring it fully to fruition.
Please consider participating at the upcoming Local Food Enterprise Summit, where you will learn approaches that create local food infrastructure and businesses needed to sustain this agricultural resurgence in your own community, either here in South Florida, or wherever your ”home” base is located.
Registration information, options and pricing is available at www.financialpermaculture.com.
The Farm at Verde Gardens came with a beautiful market building that had a full commercial style kitchen with its own walk in cooler. We knew from the start that this would be a critical piece of our puzzle. Since our very first time running a farmers’ market stand where we took the risk of aggregating lots of local, sustainably-grown produce, we had come to realize the essential nature of being able to transform unwanted market produce into a product that would last much longer so we could have time to recover our investment in procuring it in the first place.
Our de facto business plan for the Kitchen was to process everything that came our way either as leftovers from market or as excess abundance from the farm. Although some signature items emerged, we were always reacting to the poor farming decisions of planting everything we could grow and not necessarily what would sell. So, we would flood the Market with all kinds of preserved items that were really tasty but not necessarily responsive to what the market could bare. To add further to the complication, we had difficulty getting a handle on what our true costs were, so we had no idea if we were really covering our costs by making these products to begin with.
We had plans and were working towards opening a café in the same location. A Café we knew had to work because the people who worked in the area needed more dining options especially for lunch and it was a great way of using much of the farm and market excess and leftovers. It is vital to mention that we were majorly challenged geographically, in that our farm and market were way off the beaten path and the only residents in of our surrounding neighborhood were very low-income folks, either formerly or currently homeless….
Watch for the next piece in our Foodshed Farming saga!
And be sure to visit www.financialpermaculture.com to register for the #2014FPC Local Food Enterprise Summit: A Financial Permaculture Convergence, May 31 – June 4 in Miami, FL.