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).

LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:

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:

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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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