The 2016 Summit:
Food & Ag Entrepreneurship
The sixth annual Summit focuses on entrepreneurship.
Join us 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.
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?
- How to find niches within local food systems?
- What do you need to know as a budding food or ag entrepreneur?
- Designing & Pitching Your Business Plan
- Identifying Your Customers: Who, How, and Why?
- Exploring food business models: Employee ownership/B-Corps/Triple Bottom Line/Stock
- Options/Partnerships/Entrepreneurships/CSA Models/non-profits/L3C’s
- Alt food business: Food Stands, Food Trucks, and other innovations in Food Business
- Collaborations and Partnerships — cross sector collaborations and joint ventures
- All things legal—trademarking, patent trolls, intellectual property, etc.
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.
- How to assess your risk as a business owner re: financing?
- Crowd Funding: Kick starter or Griffstarter
- Selling Options: pre-selling, partnerships, private versus institutional investors
- Understanding the stages of funding: Seed, angel, Mezzanine, etc.
- Is the timing right?: Exploring when to make your deals and choosing your opportunities carefully.
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.
- Branding/Marketing, Social Media and food business
- Challenging current business models—will they be sustainable?
- Navigating the business life cycle
- Maintaining as a socially responsible Food & Ag entrepreneur (case studies)
- Go big, Go Join, or go home: going from small to big by choice (or not) and how to navigate it
- How to keep it fresh–your product, ideas and innovation (R &D)
- Creating/maintaining good partnerships
- Food supply or Agri supply chains and managing them
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.
- What does it mean to be inclusive within the Food and Ag businesses?
- Women in Food & Ag Entrepreneurship
- Racial diversity: Where’s the Color in Food?
- Succession planning re: farming; young farmers need to know that they have support.
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 come together in Brattleboro, Vermont, June 3-5, 2015.
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.