The 2016 Summit:
Food & Ag Entrepreneurship
How to Succeed in Business by Slowing Down
The sixth annual Summit focused on entrepreneurship.
On April 29-30, 2016 we gathered for in-depth explorations of key topics in food and agriculture entrepreneurship: business planning, funding sources, refining and pitching ideas, ownership structures, social impact, collaboration, food & ag business case studies.
Food & Ag Entrepreneurship:
How to Succeed in Business by Slowing Down
Yes, you read that correctly, your eyes are not deceiving you. In the age of “accelerators” and “start ups” we want you to know that doing well and good includes taking a moment to slow down.
The 2016 Summit will be focused on explorations of key topics in food and agriculture entrepreneurship, including business planning, funding sources, refining and pitching ideas, ownership structures, social impact, collaboration, food & ag business case studies. While exploring these and many other related topics, the Summit is focused on the concept of Slow Business which means: reflecting upon failure for future success, taking care of yourself as key for business, and deepening community relationships as a part of good business.
Specifically, we invite attendees to:
- Embrace Failure as Your Teacher in Business: In our fast culture, everyone is competing for the top spot to be seen as the most successful. We invite you to think differently about success and its risks in regards to doing well within your food or ag business. Additionally, we want to share with you stories of success gained from failure.
- Connect Slowing Living & Being Present with Good Business: It is very common for entrepreneurs to forget about themselves in the middle of their business planning. While thinking about planning a sustainable food or ag business, we want to help you make the connection between giving back to yourself, your neighbors and your community as a key part of your business model. If you are not going well, how can your business do well?
- Re-think Doing Business as Community & Relationship Building: We are not just talking partnership but good business and doing well requires a community. This is the very essence of Slow Living because there is no business without community.
As always, the Summit takes the Slow approach to entrepreneurship. “Slow Living” embodies cooperation, celebration, respect, purpose, sustainability, gratitude, mindfulness, and resilience.
Who should come: farmers, entrepreneurs, students, funders, educators, consultants, concerned citizens.
Alternative Business Models and Shared Ownership
Workshops will focus on funding options for new businesses, how to identify useful business models, and the needs of the budding food or ag new business. How does one create a business model that supports being socially responsible?
DEAL, NO DEAL, ANTE UP
Financing Outside of the Box
Workshops will focus on various methods for business financing. What are some of the pros and cons of various financing models? What is gained or lost in matching funding goals, business structure, and being a socially responsible food & ag entrepreneur.
FIX, PIVOT, CLOSE OR SELL?
Re-Thinking Your Business Model
If you are a current food or ag entrepreneur, your challenge is trying to stay in the game and make decisions about ways to improve your business.
IS EVERYONE AT THE TABLE?
Diversity within the Food & Ag Business
In addition to starting and maintaining a business, what are some of the challenges to access to the food & ag business sectors.
2015 Summit videos
The Opening Plenary, Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Plenary 2 — Thursday morning, June 4, 2015
Plenary 3 — Thursday afternoon, June 4, 2015
Plenary 4 — Friday morning, June 5, 2015
Plenary 5 — Friday afternoon, June 5, 2015
Come and discover Brattleboro!
The Summit takes place in the non-traditional conference surroundings of Main Street, Brattleboro — a small community in southern Vermont, long renowned for its commitment to healthy, local, sustainable living and technology, for its vibrant communities of visual and performance artists, craftspeople, poets and writers, and for the diversity of its shops, restaurants and galleries. In turn Brattleboro is a gateway to the Green Mountains and Vermont.
Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting
and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.
Imagine if we had a food system that actually produced wholesome food. Imagine if it produced that food in a way that restored the land. Imagine if we could eat every meal knowing these few simple things: What it is we’re eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what it really cost. If that was the reality, then every meal would have the potential to be a perfect meal. We would not need to go hunting for our connection to our food and the web of life that produces it. We would no longer need any reminding that we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and that what we’re eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world…. Imagine it: Every meal would connect us to the joy of living and the wonder of nature. Every meal would be like saying grace.Michael Pollan
Join our Slow mailing list:
Tug on anything at all and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe.John Muir
What is Slow Living?
The concept of Slow Living is built on the metaphor of “Slow,” as used by other visionary organizations like Slow Food and Slow Money.
“Slow” encompasses several layers of meaning that go beyond simply “sustainable.” Slow is the opposite of “fast” — fast food, fast money, fast living — and all of the negative consequences “fast” has had for the environment and for the health of people and societies. “Slow” embodies cooperation, respect, sustainability, gratitude and resilience.
When we Live Slow, we give back, we are mindful, and we connect to our communities and our bioregions.
The Slow Living Vision
The Slow Living Vision is of an Earth where humankind, honoring and celebrating the profound connectedness of all people, places and living beings, gives back by co-creating mutually supportive communities, bioregions and economic systems — and where we combine the wisdom of the past with a vision for the future to ensure a balanced, fulfilling way of life for all generations to come.
The Slow Living Vision is being realized all over the world by an amazing array of people who are working on new pathways. These include not only health, healing and wellness, sustainable agriculture, community building, renewable energy, reforestation, social justice, new economic models and resource conservation, but also deeper explorations into the wisdom of indigenous people, feminine and masculine wisdom, and the roles of the arts, ethics, philosophy, science, spirituality and religion in healing the Earth.
We come from all walks of life. We live in rural areas, small towns, and large cities. We are young and old, wealthy and struggling. We are all seeking a better way, a saner way, and a happier way to live and organize their lives.
We will regather in Brattleboro, Vermont, April 28-30, 2016
Strolling of the Heifers, the organizer of the Summit, is a non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, with the mission of supporting and sustaining family farms and local food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. We do this through a variety of year-round programs. Best known is our annual Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Slow Living Expo, which takes place during “Stroll Weekend” immediately after the Summit. We also organize a Vermont Farm/Food Business Planning Competition, and we publish the annual Locavore Index ranking the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food, and other projects and events.
In a major new initiative to further our mission, in November 2013 we acquired a prominently-located downtown Brattleboro building, the Robert H. Gibson River Garden (where Summit lunches and receptions take place), which has 4500 square foot of open space used since 2001 for public events, performances, lectures and exhibits. Under our stewardship of this community resource, we plan to maintain the public uses of the building, but also to create exhibits and programming that are related to our own focus areas of local food, food systems, and healthy sustainable living — a Farm/Food Education Center.