BAR HARBOR — For Eleanor Kinney, supporting Maine agriculture and fishermen means more than a weekly trip to the farmers’ market.
Kinney, a board member of Slow Money Maine, says that investing in small farmers and local, sustainable food systems is the best way to help expand local agriculture. And, she says, the practice also helps build the local economy, while addressing some of the grittier problems facing the world today.
“Climate change, fossil fuels, hunger, rural business development, conservation…If your investing in the local food system, you are addressing all those issues in a way that builds community, and builds Maine’s sense of identity and self sufficiency,” Kinney says. “That’s why I support direct investment into Maine food businesses.”
Kinney will bring her investment philosophy and those of Slow Money Maine and the investors’ club she co-founded, No Small Potatoes, to College of the Atlantic as part of the school’s ongoing Coffee and Conversation Series. She will join COA trustee and University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator Ron Beard for an hour-long talk about investing in local and sustainable farms and fisheries.
The discussion is set for the Deering Common Community Center, on COA’s Eden Street Campus, from 9 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11. As with all Coffee and Conversation events, it is free and open to the public.
Farming is one of the few sectors of the Maine economy that is actually drawing young people to the state, Kinney says. But because banks consider food production very high risk, it’s difficult for these farmers, and those looking to process their products, to get the funds they need to grow. And that is holding people back, Kinney says.
“I think local agriculture is a real bright spot in Maine’s future. But, we basically have a big capital gap when it comes to local food production,” Kinney says. “For me, it’s about aligning my investment with my values – we talk about buying local, we talk about eating local. Well, I’m a believer that we also need to invest locally.”
Slow Money Maine is a networking organization that connects sustainable food producers with people like Kinney, who are interested in supporting that sector of the Maine economy. The Maine chapter of Slow Money, in fact, leads the country in terms of local food systems investments, she says.
Kinney sits on the board of the Maine Farmland Trust and is involved with Maine Community Foundation. She lives on an organic farm in Bremen, near Damariscotta, with her family.