Don’t Miss the AZ Food & Finance Forum

BLOG / January 6, 2014

If you read the last issue of Edible Baja Arizona cover to cover, you might already know about the upcoming Arizona Food & Finance Forum—a Slow Money-inspired conference that aims to change the way our desert state feeds itself.

Next Monday through Wednesday, January 13-15, a group of farmers, ranchers, chefs, processors, marketers, and eaters will come together to 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.

Although the majority of the forum will take place at the Biosphere 2 conference center near Oracle, the opening event will take place in downtown Tucson on Monday night, at the Sea of Glass Performing Arts Hall (next to Food for Ascension Café)—and it’s open to the public! Don’t miss your chance to see a free screening of two locally produced documentaries: Tasting History and Rise of the Grains, and to hear two nationally renowned keynote speakers: Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, and Michael Dimock, founder of Roots of Change.

“The Slow Money Principles present a down to earth yet radical response to many of our current societal and environmental problems,” says Woody Tasch. “Investing in small food enterprises is easily understood as a tangible constructive act that supports our communities.” Slow Money has catalyzed over $32 million of investments in 252 small food and farming enterprises over the last four years, and more than 34,000 people have signed on to the slow food principles in the last five years.

Michael Dimock, who founded Sunflower Strategies in 1996 and has led the Roots of Change food re-localization initiative in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2006, says this: “Public health issues can tip the balance of power to ensure that the good food movement will prevail in the struggle over the future of our food system. The anti-hunger, food justice, environmental justice, buy-local and labor communities are responding to historically bad fiscal, economic and social policy that has allowed poverty to persist.”

Registration for the full three-day forum is still open (although it’s filling up fast! Register here). Registered participants will spend Tuesday and Wednesday at the Biosphere 2 conference center. Speakers include Gary Nabhan, an internationally celebrated food writer; Elizabeth U, food financing strategist author of Raising Dough; Kimber Lanning, founder of Local First Arizona; Lisa Pino of United Food Bank and the former deputy undersecretary of the USDA; and Doug Biggers, publisher of Edible Baja Arizona—among many others! On Tuesday afternoon, beginning farmers and food micro-enterprise planners will present eight-minute “pitches” to a group of potential investors in a special Social Entrepreneurs Showcase.

The goal of the forum is to 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. Additionally, the forum seeks to find ways to alleviate poverty by creating green jobs with live-able wages in the farming, ranching, food-processing, distribution and serving sectors of our economy.

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.

Schedule for Monday, January 13th—event open to the public!

Where: Sea of Glass Performing Arts Hall – 330 East 7th Street 
(next to Food of Ascension Café, across from Antigone Books), 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm
. $6.00 entrance fee

4:15-4:20 pm: Tabling by non-profits and introduction to Tasting History

4:20 -5:00 pm: Viewing of Tasting History, a film featuring Jesus Garcia and his inspirational journey across the Mexico-U.S. border in the Sonoran Desert region and how compassionate strategies and supportive environments are the most enriching. Following the film, there will be a brief Q&A.

5:00-5:30 pm: Preview of Rise of the Grains, a film by JD McLelland; OR light dinner at Food for Ascencion Café next door, 10% off for those paying cover charge until 6:30,

5:30-6:30 pm: Reception – dips and chips/flatbreads for free, non-alcoholic drinks for cost, tabling by non-profits, book sales by Antigone Books, and release of new Edible Baja Arizona issue

6:30-6:50 pm: Launch of Arizona Food and Farm Finance Forum with welcomes by Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona and Gary Nabhan of University of Arizona Southwest Center, with introductions of all keynote speakers

6:50-7:30 pm: Keynote by Woody Tasch, founder of Slow Money, author of An Inquiry into the Nature of Slow Money

7:30-7:40 pm: Break

7:40-8:10 pm: Keynote by Michael Dimock of Roots of Change, former board chair of Slow Food USA

8:15 pm: Vans leave for Biosphere 2, 3250 South Biosphere Road, Oracle AZ (40 minutes north)

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