There’s a lot of hubbub these days about developing healthy, thriving local food systems, but who is actually financing this lofty endeavor? Just this past week, one group called Transition Colorado put their money where their mouth is by launching Localization Partners LLC, a $1.5 million fund established to expand local farming and food businesses. Boulder-based LP is a for-profit initiative of Transition Colorado, a non-profit whose mission is to achieve relocalization at the community level by engaging people to become more self-sufficient and resilient to the impacts of climate change and peak oil.
The enterprises which the fund will support include local food distribution systems, food producers who utilize local ingredients and sustainable farms. Via this Slow Money approach, the Boulder County foodshed will be used as a model for other communities and regions to imitate when scaling up and advancing their own local food economies.
Their first planned investment will help build a local food distribution hub by backing LFS Enterprises, a joint venture with recycOil, a waste cooking oil recycling company which collects oil from over 1,700 local restaurants, retailers and food services to turn into biofuel. The distribution center will act a networking and gathering place of sorts for all the players in the local food economy, to include a warehouse and refrigerated delivery trucks. An online connecting point will exist as well, with a transaction platform created using recycOil’s IT logistics management system, in order to join restaurants, retailers and food service buyers with local food producers.
Another joint venture of LP’s is Foodtree out of Vancouver, which offers online processes and tools for instigating local food sourcing in communities across North America. Their first online tool currently being beta tested with the Boulder County Farmers Market is a ten percent Local Food Shift Pledge system.
The USDA says Colorado residents currently pay $12 billion in food costs, with only three percent of that food coming from within the state itself. Co-founder of Transition Colorado and LP Michael Brownlee explains, "In Boulder County, food expenditures total $947 million per year, yet we estimate that less than 2% of food consumed here is produced within the county. As we strive to achieve 25% food localization by 2020, we believe local food systems represent enormous investment and economic development opportunities."
So even while the town of Boulder is proud to hold titles lik “Foodiest Town in America” due to their street cred of being focused on local food and agriculture, there is also the need for more work to be done on a larger scale with timely objectives and scalable proposals like that of LP.
Lesley Lammers is a freelance sustainability consultant and journalist, focused on the intersection between the environment, food, social impact, human rights, health and entrepreneurship.