Seasonal, local food that is grown and produced by people you know is the tastiest, most nutritious and freshest food available. Here in Central Texas, we have access to an abundant variety of fresh food from local farmers, ranchers and other producers. In fact, farmers' markets, farm stands and opportunities to subscribe to community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are available in nearly every community. Buy Fresh Buy Local Central Texas makes it easier than ever to find local producers and products, while supporting local economies, our environment and the cultures represented by food produced in our area.
"The city where cowboys and hippies have long come together over breakfast tacos is breeding a new kind of food pioneer," writes Beth Goulart Monson in a long-form, beautifully photo'd essay hitting all the high points of the Austin sustainable food movement: urban farming, farm-to-table, farm-to-school, food system design, hunger, climate change, and food sovereignty. And she even name checks AFI! Wow!
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AFI is proud to have joined the new Texas Center for Local Food (TCLF) today, as a Founding Member.
The Texas Center for Local Food is a new non-profit headquartered in Elgin. TCLF provides technical assistance for rural & agricultural economic vitality by creating and retaining quality jobs in processing, production, distribution and marketing of Texas sustainably grown crops.
TCLF is now accepting new memberships - starting as low as $20 - from individuals, organizations, and companies dedicated to strengthening our regional food system. We really encourage you to check out this new organization, support their goals (which align very nicely with ours), and visit their website, at Texas Center for Local Food.
One of the many joys of doing AFI is meeting cool people along the way. Alejandra Rodriguez, founder of La Flaca Urban Gardens, might be one of the coolest.
Alejandra custom grows unique ingredients for chefs, caterers, and food artisans. She does that on land reclaimed from being boring old regular lawn!
Recently she emailed an update including a link to this video, and we asked if we could repost some of it here. She writes:
"In July we shared the news of starting a new farm in southwest Austin. It's been a challenging summer with highlights such as getting a Bobcat stuck in a ditch on a rainy day and shoveling 120 cubic yards of soil amendments under a relentless sun to shape our beds. The idea of farming is quite romantic, the reality never is. Seeing our goal of a big harvest this fall come into fruition makes the blood, sweat, and tears 100% worth it. To the family and friends that have our backs, the chefs that have stood by us, and supporters from all walks of life: Thank. You. Starting a farm requires a strong community, we're deeply grateful for your support throughout this crazy adventure."
Alejandra - you rock! All the best from your friends at AFI!
Jarred & Curt of AFI were honored to attend (and even get to speak) at FARFA's 10th Annual Farm & Food Leadership Conference in Bastrop this past September 25-27. We met many great folks, and heard many great presentations, but the best by far was this rousing keynote from Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO.
Farm Policy at a Crossroads; A Time to Choose
"We are in the midst of an epic battle that ultimately will determine the future of farming and food production in America. Ultimately, it is a battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. Public trust in American agriculture has been seriously eroded by growing numbers of controversies. The agricultural establishment has responded with a barrage of public relations and political strategies designed to defend the corporate, industrial agriculture status quo. It remains to be seen whether public trust will be restored or public concerns will grow into a demand for fundamental change in the American food system. The ultimate outcome of this battle is up to us – the American people."
[Click the Read More link below for the full text of the speech. We promise it is worth it.]
AFI is launching a Facebook page to help connect with Central Texas food based businesses, conscious capital investors, and any other organization or person trying to improve our food system. Please visit us!
Petey Peterson of Austin start-up Local Charcoal diverts organic waste from the landfill to create premium charcoal products. He partners with sawmills, carpenters and landscapers, for supply, cooks it in home-made "retorts" (barrel-like devices for creating charcoal), then sells it as either lump charcoal for grilling and biochar for agricultural uses.
He needs a bigger retort, and is in the midst of a Indiegogo campaign to fund it. We think Petey is cool, and love his products. You can buy the lump charcoal at Thom's Market, in.gredients, and a variety of other places.
FoodTank has assembled a list of 19 films about the food system and food and ag to "inspire, educate, and give viewers some food for thought.
Here's the list, with links to previews and ways to watch the flix.
SKINourishment is a skin care/repair company that offers 100% plant-based, food grade nutrition to heal our bodies from the outside, just as real food heals us from the inside.
After surviving a fire and losing all of her possessions, SKINourishment founder Polly Glasse turned her knowledge of alternative medicines toward developing dozens of formulations that tackle the toughest problems faced by our largest organ---the skin.
In 1996, inspired by the needs of rock climbers, she created the first solid lotion bar in the marketplace, climbOn. It is a top seller today and used by the #1 rock climber in the world, Tommy Caldwell, along with many others.
SKINourishment currently offers 4 product lines for climbers/activists, crossfitters, babies and spas.
All the products are poured by hand in Wimberley, Texas, and packaged with care into 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging. SKINourishment is distributed via retailers in 30 countries and is committed to making real products with 100% food-grade nutrition, that make a real difference for not only the people they touch but the planet as well.
Three investors from the AFI Investor Network funded the $70,500 loan, to be used for growth capital, in early July 2016.
AFI Deal Page for SKINourishment
Austin Foodshed Investors is on track to surpass internal targets for deal flow in 2016, having closed 6 deals in the first have of the year:
In all of 2015, AFI's first full year of operation, five deals were funded.
Since founding, AFI has seen 92 deals; 11 have been funded. All 11 deals are performing on both their financial obligations and impact goals.
Sweet Ritual opened in 2011 with two flavors of soft serve non-dairy ice cream, and has grown to become the go-to spot for Central Austinites looking for delicious dairy free and allergen friendly desserts. They've become a tourist destination for out-of-towners and have over 8,000 Instagram followers from all over the world. The business now includes wholesale pints and ice cream sandwiches sold at small grocers across Austin.
AFI provided $20k in simple debt financing, from several members of the AFI Investor Network, to top-off Sweet Ritual's own investment for moving to and outfitting a larger store. The new store, at 4631 Airport Blvd, is alongside other Austin favorites The Soup Peddler, The Omelettry, Kome, & Mrs. Johnson's.
Owners Amelia and Valerie believe in the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits. They're moving towards a zero-waste model in our new space and they source our ingredients locally when possible.
Sweet Ritual Deal page
Sweet Ritual public website
On Saturday, April 30th a massive thunderstorm devastated the Dewberry Hills sustainable pastured poultry farm. 75 mile an hour winds and torrential rain destroyed the movable chicken tents and flooded the pastures. Lighting strikes prevented farmers Jane & Terry from going out into the field during the storm, and many of their birds drowned.
This is the fourth weather catastrophe to strike Dewberry in less than a year, and they see their resources as exhausted.
They've set up a Go Fund Me campaign, at
to raise money to replace mobile tents with larger and heavier metal mobile coops, to get rain water collection gutters up on all their new buildings to prevent pastures from flooding, to replace the washed away driveway, and to continue pay bills while they wait for the next batch of chickens to grow.
Please help by giving what you can and by spreading the word.
The AFI Team
Starting a food business isn't exactly a piece of cake. Beyond designing the best product offering and crafting a business plan for success, food entrepreneurs who are actually working with food (vs. food app companies, for example...) need the equipment, and the space, to experiment, to learn, to grow, and to produce their products.
The Cook's Nook will fill the void between one's own home kitchen and a shared commercial kitchen for those just starting out, provide space and resources for caterers, and food truck operators, and chefs looking to experiment somewhere away from their primary kitchen.
On May 16 The Cook's Nook and members of AFI's Investor Network signed documents to provide up to $214,000 of debt financing for construction of the Cook's Nook space at 205 Thompson Lane in east Austin. The Cook's Nook is projected to open in Fall, 2016.
The Cook's Nook Deal Page on this website.
The Cook's Nook's Website.
Visitors to any of 8 farmers markets around the Austin area, and diners at premier restaurants like Odd Duck, Jack Allen's, and Lenior are familiar with Jim, Kay, & Mike Richardson, along with Jim's cousin Bobby Fellers, who've provided organic meats, eggs, and vegetables for years. Now, with Jim's brother Tim joining the crew, they'll soon be selling organic milk, cheese, and other dairy products.
6 AFI Investors recently funded $97,000 to Richardson Farms Dairy & Creamery or Rockdale, TX, to purchase pasteurizing and cheesemaking equipment, a rain collection & storage system, and to pay-off local contractors who had helped build the new dairy building.
And, it turns out small scale artisan dairies are a "thing"... see this 4/12/16 New York Times piece "Milk Jumps Onto the Small-Batch Bandwagon".
See the Richardson Farms Dairy & Creamery Deal Page.
An interesting article highlighting issues related to converting to certified organic farms, the age gap of current farmers and lack of clear succession opportunities. A great mention of two groups trying to address these issues; Evelyn Rosas who is a sustainable agriculture specialist and the coordinator of Austin Community College’s Sustainable Agriculture Entrepreneur Program, and Farmshare Austin who provide farm training.
Part of the Austin Community College campus farm. Photo courtesy of Evelyn Rosas and from the Texas Monthly article :The Future of Farming"
Article in the Austin Business Journal profiles AFI portfolio company Cat Spring Tea, AFI, UnLTD, and others in the social investment space here in Austin.
"Investors are clamoring to find startups that can not just do well but give back while they do business"
AFI is proud to support the Capital Area Foodbank, which delivers over 33 million pounds of food a year to over 45,000 hungry Central Texans through over 300 retail distribution partners like food pantries.
“In a nation that’s as prosperous as the United States …there’s just no excuse for allowing our friends and neighbors to go hungry,” said Austin Foodshed Investors Co-Founder and Partner Curt Nelson.
For the full story, click the "Read More" link below, or see it on the CAFB website's News section.
News from AFI; Links to stories on business-for-good, private-company investing, fundraising, & sustainable food.