Fueling Entrepreneurship across the Food System

This is a special time of year for us. Five years ago, we launched Fair Food Network with an entrepreneurial spirit and a dogged commitment to our mission: increasing access to healthy food for all in ways that support farmers and stimulate economic activity. As we celebrate our anniversary, we’re thrilled to bring a greater focus to supporting entrepreneurship in the food system.

Over the past few months, we’ve been hard at work growing the Fair Food Fund, a new program that is fueling entrepreneurship in our food system by providing financing and business assistance to good food enterprises that connect farmers with the growing demand for local food.

Read on for more information on the Fair Food Fund’s work in the Northeast, along with projects in Michigan that support food entrepreneurs.

How the Fair Food Fund works. This impact capital fund offers financing and business assistance to help enterprises refine and grow their ventures. Our goal? To support the long-term financial viability of small and mid-scale farms and spur economic activity while increasing access to healthy, locally grown food.

Calling all funders! Fair Food Fund also provides a powerful vehicle for funders to create change in our food system. From making a grant or charitable contribution to lending to Fair Food Fund or co-investing with us, there are many ways to get involved.

Here are some highlights from our work.

Fair Food Fund just made its first loan! This fall, we closed our first loan to Maine’s Own Organic (MOO) Milk to help grow its partner farms’ herd sizes–a win for MOO, rural Maine dairy farmers, and New England families. Learn more about MOO in our new blog post.

Our First Business Boot Camp was a resounding success. Held in December, the event brought together selected entrepreneurs for three days of intensive mentoring. It wrapped up with the entrepreneurs presenting to a panel of investors with the winner to receive up to $10,000 in consulting services. The Pickup, a Maine-based multi-farm CSA and café, won us over.

Check out a Q&A with The Pickup founder Sarah Smith for her top tips for emerging entrepreneurs.

Fair Food Consulting Corps providing 1-on-1 support. Working with local partners and a network of consultants, we’re helping early-stage enterprises grow. Learn more about the range of support we’ve provided to companies such as City Fresh Foods, Northern Girl, and Tide Mill Organic Farm, among others.

Beyond the Northeast, we’re working with partners such as FoodLab Detroit to support entrepreneurs in the Motor City and helping launch Michigan Good Food Fund, a first-of-its-kind initiative for the entire state, with partners including NCB Capital Impact, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Michigan Food Policy Council, and others.

Stay tuned for more updates on this work, including video profiles of entrepreneurs in the Motor City. Until then, dig deeper to learn more about the Fair Food Fund.