Round up on the Arizona Food and Farm Finance Forum

FFFF FB Profile badgeArizona Food and Farm Finance ForumIf you're in the local agriculture and food production industries, you've likely already heard about this upcoming conference. Amidst all the holiday bustle though, we thought it would be useful to consolidate all the information in one place!

--- What is the Food and Farm Finance Forum? The Arizona Food Finance Forum aims to change the way our desert state feeds itself. It will help our communities envision fresh, cost-effective means to jumpstart new food micro enterprises, farms, community kitchens and hunger relief efforts to aid in the recovery of local economies by connecting these groups with possible avenues for credit and funding resources.

We hope to use this historic moment so we can collectively serve as matchmakers between social entrepreneurs and investors—private and public—to begin to bring Arizona up from its ranking among states as the fifth worst in poverty and third worst in childhood food insecurity. Our goal: to alleviate poverty by creating green jobs with live-able wages in the farming, ranching, food-processing, distribution and serving sectors of our economy. Join us in efforts to assist Arizona’s farmers, ranchers, chefs, processors, marketers and eaters!

The retreat-oriented forum is sponsored by the Kellogg Program for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona, in collaboration with Local First Arizona, Good Food Finder, Slow Money Arizona, Edible Baja Arizona, Edible Phoenix, Sustainable Tucson, Slow Food Southern Arizona, Slow Food Phoenix, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Pima County Food Alliance, Mesa Community College Sustainable Food Systems, and Native Seeds/SEARCH.

Pre-registration for the two day conference is $200** through December 31st, 2013. From January 1st, 2014 until tickets are sold out, registration will cost $300**. A limited number of partial scholarships are available if applications are received at [email protected] by December 29, 2013. Registration includes continental breakfast, lunch both days, as well dinner on Tuesday night.

**Overnight stay fees are not included in the registration fee. Hotel room reservations are $89 per room for single or double occupancy at Biosphere 2. We suggest sharing a room to cut costs. Reservations can be made by contacting Kimberly Land: (520)-838-5013; [email protected].


--- Who should attend the forum?  If you are a beginning (or ramping-up) farmer: Come and hear Alex Young of Cornman Farm and the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses talk about doubling their production and planting area each year, and how he finances it.

If you want to jumpstart a local food restaurant, food wagon or cooperative food distribution network to restaurants: Come and hear Derrick Widmark, co-founder of Diablo Burger talk about how he started and runs a hyper-local, successful and socially conscious eatery in two major Arizona cities.

If you are a food bank staffer hoping to create new jobs for the poor: Come and hear Lisa Pino, Executive Director of United Food Bank in Chandler, explain what USDA Strikeforce Programs and philanthropic initiatives can help you create live-able wage jobs in the food growing, processing and distribution sectors.

If you are a community development planner or credit union investment officer, a social impact investor or venture capitalist: Come and hear Slow Money founder Woody Tasch tell how $30 million dollars of investing locally in food and farm businesses is creating viable options to Wall Street.

If you are an eater, a food justice activist, or student: Come and hear Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona offer a vision of living local economies that will help Arizona communities recover their health and well-being.

If you are a potential donor, stakeholder or loan-giver to such initiatives: Learn from Elizabeth U, author of Raising Dough, how to avoid legal pitfalls and financial risks to match your financial resources to match your investing capacity with your values to do the greatest possible good for your family and community.


--- How do I enter the Entreprenurial Showcase?  Do you have an innovative idea that needs funding?

The Entrepreneurial Showcase offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to share a 5-minute presentation about a promising business or cooperative venture with a forum of financial investors, credit unions, and Slow Money representatives; it thus connects food entrepreneurs and innovators with potential investors and financial advisors. To view examples of the kinds of presentations we seek, please visit:

We are no longer accepting proposals. We have received several and are evaluating them now. More updates coming.

The Criteria we are looking at:

1. Facilities Does the concept/business already have land, processing space or retail space purchased or designated?

2. Track Record Has concept/business already pilot- produced or marketed any products that have a track record? Does the business have track record ready to distribute (ie: one page of past sales, production, etc; financial documents, etc)?

3. Type of Investment Sought Does concept/business have a business plan and do they really want equity shareholders or low interest loans, or is the concept/business looking for outright donations?

4. Existing Businesses If they are a business that has existed for more than two years, does their expansion or redirection REQUIRE patient or innovative capital solutions that may otherwise be best reserved for true start-ups?

5. Values and Social Embeddedness Does this concept/business have any of the following embedded in the core of its enterprise: - Food justice (including minority or low-income inclusivity) - Climate change adaptation - Land restoration, native foods revival - Food desert solution - Other (please explain)

6. Secondary and Tertiary Job Growth Will their initial development OR expansion help other food or farm businesses in their area by offering synergies, providing processing or distribution infrastructure that will help other microenterprises, or offer spinoff jobs and management opportunities for others in their own communities or in analogous communities?

7. The Pitch Has the concept/business ever pitched its plan before? Will a powerpoint be presented? If not, are there photos or anything else that will be presented at the time of the talk?

If you have submitted a proposal, remember that you must pre-register for either one or both days of the conference to qualify. See to register. Those selected to participate will be contacted the first week of January with more specific details on preparation.


--- Agenda for the event:

Monday, January 13th | 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm $5.00 entrance fee Sea of Glass Performing Arts Hall - 330 East 7th Street, Tucson, AZ (next to Food of Ascension Café, across from Antigone Books)


Tuesday, January 14th | 8:30 am to 8:30 pm Registered participants only Biosphere 2 Conference Center - 3250 South Biosphere Road, Oracle, AZ

  • 7:30--8:30 am: Registration and continental breakfast, set-up for tabling food micro-enterprises
  • 8:30-8:40 am: Welcomes by Kimber Lanning and Natalie Morris
  • 8:40-9:00 am: Introduction: Gary Nabhan with Paula Schaper, Why We Are Here: Jumpstarting the Arizona Economy through Food and Farm Microenterprises AND An Assessment of Resources in the Room
  • 9:00-9:45 am: Keynote by Elizabeth U, Finance for Food and author, Raising Dough
  • 9:50-10:15 am: Assessing Financial Options for Rural and Urban Food Development: Lisa Pino, President and CEO, United Food Bank of Arizona, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the USDA
  • 10:15-10:30 am: Break
  • 10:30-11:45 am: Two breakout sessions:


Wednesday January 15th | 8:30 am to 12: 30 pm Registered participants only Biosphere 2 Conference Center - 3250 South Biosphere Road, Oracle, AZ


  • 7:30-8:30 am: Breakfast
  • 8:30-9:00 am: Options: Reflections on first day and next steps by Woody Tasch AND Michael Dimock
  • 9:30-10:45 am: Action groups:



    • Coordinating private, governmental and philanthropic funding for the Southwest’s food future Lisa Pino & Margaree Bigler, co-facilitators
    • Co-locating and bundling urban food microenterprises for the greatest synergies Tres English & Robert Ojeda, co-facilitators
    • Co-locating food processing and distribution hubs Natalie Morris & Jeff Zimmerman, co-facilitators
    • Assisting young farmers with land access Vanessa Bechtol & Dennis Moroney , co-faciltators
    • Coordinating green waste stream salvage to assist producers Chet Phillips and James Martin, co-facilitators
  • 11:00-12:00 pm: Reports back from facilitators
  • 12:00-1:00 pm: Lunch with wrap-up by Robert Ojeda, Community Food Bank and Doug Taren, Associate Dean of Public Health, University of Arizona


--- Where do I buy tickets? 


Food and Farm Finance Forum