Esther Park, CEO of Cienega capital, on impact investing in regen ag and food

Esther Park is the CEO of Cienega Capital, the investment company of Sallie Calhoun who I interviewed last year (where we discussed among other things, the new vineyard they are building, where most of the management is done by sheep).


Advice for impact investors wanting to get started in the space:
– Start with some education, Great place to start: the Soil Health Primer
– Do something, just do 1 thing, make 1 grant, or loan or investment

To find your first investment you need to build a local community, to get to know the people in your community who are interested in ecological farming. Maybe start at your farmers market, who is producing what, who is building soil?

They have been very busy with their #NOREGRETS initiative, to get other funders and investors to think and act around soil

We discussed their Regenerative asset strategy, how they use philanthropy, grants, loans, equity all serving the same impact strategy.

The benefits of focussing on soils

  1. better for farms in the long run
  2. key to nutritional content of food (vegetables we eat now are much less nutrient rich compared to 70 years ago) – More on Soil depletion and nutrition loss
  3. water (healthy soils have less run off) and healthy soils can absorb much more water and filter it
  4. climate benefit, healthy soils love capturing and retaining carbon

Esther would like to focus this year more on getting Farmers of color into the conversation as over 90% of farmers are white. And we need more people not fewer people on the land!

Cienaga has about:
– 20M dollars outstanding in the NoRegrets initiative
– 28 investment outstanding
– of which 2 are not performing

Some more links mentioned:

For feedback, ideas, suggestions please contact us through Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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2 comments on “Esther Park, CEO of Cienega capital, on impact investing in regen ag and food

  1. Robert Pekin says:

    Great interview, very inspiring leadership in the capital space.

    I have a question for the interviewer as I’m curious as to why you use the term ‘high risk’ when asking questions on these types of deep investments in long term solutions ? It’s clear that the current industrial model is high risk in the face of the planetary overshoot conditions and social challenges

  2. Koen says:

    Hi Robert, of course you are right, but we don’t know how long the current system will last, it was predicted many times before to collaps and it seems still going strong. So by investing through the current financial system into these solutions it might be risky, they might run out of cash before the world recognizes their ecosystem services and pay them for it for example.

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