CFFP moves to Philanthropy Northwest

Slow Money Northwest has been successful in developing innovative approaches to financing regional food and farm businesses. Our latest innovation, the Cascadia Foodshed Funding Project (CFFP), has brought different types of investors together, particularly foundations and individual impact investors, to focus on using market-based strategies to grow the regional food economy. Our innovation and action-based strategies has garnered the interest of Philanthropy Northwest to help facilitate growth of project.

Slow Money Northwest is excited to hand the project over to Philanthropy Northwest to expand the success of what is now called the Cascadia Foodshed Financing Project. From their announcementWe are excited to introduce Cascadia Foodshed Financing Project, the latest project to join Philanthropy Northwest’s incubation platform and regional impact investing network. So what is it, and why does it matter? In his first of many blog post for our readers, Tim Crosby, CFFP’s founder, explains how this project has come together with support from a range of Northwest funders, and what they aim to achieve.

CFFP has become the main focus of Slow Money Northwest’s tight resources. The core SMNW players will continue to connect sustainable food and farming business to sources of business development and financing assistance. If you would like to help advance these efforts and help steer SMNW forward please contact Tim Crosby via email: tim*at*

Thank you for helping move the nexus of food/farm/financing/philanthropy forward!

SVP Cascadia Foodshed Field Trip

Dan Hulse demonstrates the workings of a 100 year old seed drill
Dan Hulse demonstrates the workings of a 100 year old seed drill

The phrase  “farm to plate” is on the lips of many in the region, but how does it actually happen?  Social Venture Partners and members of the Cascadia Foodshed Funding Project hopped on a bus with Slow Money NW and PCC Farmland Trust to trace the journey through the local food system from Tahoma Farms to one of the Northwest’s premier food hubs, Charlie’s Produce.

Pierce County’s Puyallup Valley boasts some of the region’s most fertile and productive farmland, but development pressures have threatened it with conversion to other uses.  Because of the rich soils and agricultural history, this area is a top priority for conservation for the PCC Farmland Trust. Over the last five years, the Trust has worked with stakeholders, State and local governments, as well as private donors and foundations to conserve hundreds of acres in the Valley. One of those properties is now home to Tahoma Farms. By purchasing a conservation easement on the property, PCC Farmland Trust was able to lower the cost of the farm by 50%, enabling Kim and Dan Hulse to pursue their dreams of owning their own farm.

The HAACP certified packing line for Terra Organics
The custom built packing line for Terra Organics

Tahoma Farms is a 40 acre multi-crop vegetable farm that sells primarily through its home delivery service, Terra Organics.  Dan, Kim and their two children live on the farm and operate the home delivery service, manage production, as well as a nascent agri-tourism business, hosting events at their outdoor banquet hall, a converted dairy barn.  Because of the direct-to-consumer sales, Tahoma/Terra Organics has an onsite washing and cooling line, which enables them to clean and pack their produce for delivery to customers around the region, including restaurants, distributors, and CSA customers.

Given the seasonality of Washington State farming, Dan and Kim need to supplement the farm production with outside fruits and vegetables, and need to sell their surplus to a distributor, which is where Charlie’s Produce comes in. Charlie’s Produce is a local, employee-owned aggregator and distributor that has grown into the largest independently owned produce company in the Pacific Northwest. Charlie’s trucks zigzag across the Pacific Northwest, balancing the supply and demand for high quality fresh produce every day. Thousands of pounds of fruit and vegetables pass through their facility in Seattle’s SoDo industrial area each day, including sunchokes and carrots from Tahoma Farms.  They supplement local supply with national and global products to meet their customer demand. Charlie’s also offers some minimally processed foods, such as cut and washed romaine lettuce, for restaurant and institutional buyers.

Inside one of the Charlie's refrigerated warehouses
Inside one of the Charlie’s refrigerated warehouses

While the buyers at Charlie’s don’t have control over which products a farmer chooses to grow, they can offer advice about which products they have in local abundance and which they have to buy from outside the region.  While the freshness and quality of local produce has a strong appeal, it’s often cheaper to source from California or Mexico, but right now, the customers are demanding local produce and are willing to pay a premium for it. Charlie’s is always open to new sources for great local food.

If we’d had more time, Dan would have let us pick, wash, pack and deliver the week’s shipment to Charlie’s, but . . . maybe next trip, we’ll actually get our hands dirty.


Funding Available for Northwest Food and Farming Businesses

We are pleased to announce the opening of the application period for the  Cascadia Foodshed Funding Project.  This project brings together a unique group of foundations and investors who are seeking to create a positive impact through a combination of grants, equity, loans and assistance to food and farming businesses in Oregon and Washington.  Up to five separate investments of between $25,000 and $250,000 are expected in 2014.Candidates for investment should be:
  • located in or provide substantial benefit to Whatcom, King, or Pierce counties; Eastern Washington; or Multnomah County in Oregon;
  • improve measures of health, social equity, family wage employment, and rural community resilience;
  • seeking funding of $25,000 to $250,000.
We will accept applications until February 28, 2014, and deploy funds on a rolling basis throughout the year. All applications will be received through Slow Money Northwest’s Gust portal at (select food/drink as your industry). Your application should include at a minimum:
  1. Your business plan in enough detail to show how this investment will help you succeed;
  2. Financials, past and projected, that match your business plan and funding need;
  3. Your funding need, and how it will help accomplish your business goals; and
  4. A statement of benefit (500 words maximum) describing how your enterprise can help improve one or more of the following impact areas: Health, Social Equity, Family Wage Job Creation and Preservation, Rural Community Resilience, and Ability to Influence Policy.  For more detail on the impact areas,click here.
We will review applications and reply within 30 days with our initial response. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about the project or application process.
Phone: Japhet Koteen at 206-326-9828.