09 Nov Foodshed Capital Loan Fund
Foodshed Capital Loan Fund
Interview with Michael Reilly; Co-Founder and Executive Director
Jen: How was Foodshed Capital Loan Fund Created?
Michael: Michael Reilly founded the fund to help human-scale farmers access fair, patient and affordable capital
Jen: How are your investment funds catalytic in a way that is different from other funds?
Michael: We work entirely with the unbanked. Most of our lending (75% in 2022 and 2023) supports BIPOC farmers with 0% unsecured loans. We don’t ask for credit scores and we don’t require any hidden fees or any other hoops. Our reparations initiative is an innovative program to genuinely transfer wealth without the “safety” of investments that white people expect to be returned to them at some point… which will never truly address Black and Brown land loss. We’d love to share more of this with you.
Jen: How do you describe the kind of non-financial returns the fund offers?
Michael: Our work is really about human flourishing and creating a regenerative food system that is truly equitable and inclusive of Black and Brown farmers who continue to be victims of performative programs from most investment and lending funds. Our work is focused on changing systems. The current system of impact capital makes white investors feel good about what they’re doing but let’s face it, it’s ultimately about capital preservation, which always accrues to white wealth and changes nothing.
Jen: Can you describe how you use integrated capital to do your work?
Michael: Foodshed Capital’s work is unique in the form of non-extractive capital we provide to farmers and food entrepreneurs and in the way we forge partnerships with other frontline organizations supporting underserved farmers.
Jen: How do you address racial justice, income inequality, and/or gender justice through your products and services?
Michael: We advance climate justice by supporting small-scale farmers with non-extractive capital, sharing the risk with them as they employ regenerative farming practices to improve soil health, biodiversity and animal welfare. We advance racial justice through our lending practices to BIPOC farmers, and in particular a new land reparations program we are launching.
Jen: Can you share with us an example of an investment?
Michael: See attached Impact report that describes a project we did with Vera Brown Farm in 1Q 2022.
Jen: What do you tell people who think your fund is risky?
Michael: To those who think our work is too risky, I ask, “What are you waiting for?” Climate emergency demands of us all to take risk now or will be forced to make decisions down the road we don’t want to make. For too long, farmers have had to bear the risk of producing food all on their own. Funders always put them “on the hook” with collateral to protect their interest (ie. White wealth). Foodshed Capital is sharing risk with farmers in an effort to transform our food system before it’s too late and climate emergency takes over.
Investment Thesis/What is your rationale for your approach to investing? Our fund supports our mission To build a more equitable and regenerative local food economy through mission-driven lending and customized business support, prioritizing BIPOC-led businesses.
Geography: East Coast of the US
Year Founded: 2018
# of Investments: 115
# of Investors: 182 (donors, funders, supporters, investors)
Funds Raised: $5,245,000 since inception
What’s on Michael’s Mind?
Book: I have a habit of reading about 4-5 books at once. One that I’ve read recently that’s relevant to our work is “Think Indigenous” by Doug Good Feather.
Song: Pretty much anything by Bruce Springsteen
Podcast: I really enjoy Crazy Town from the guys at Post Carbon Institute. I also listen to a ton of health podcasts and am a big fan of Dr. Mark Hyman and Andrew Huberman