Category: Events

Iroquois Valley presented at the 2021 Regenerative Food Systems Investment Forum

The 2021 Regenerative Food Systems Investment (RFSI) Forum was held September 28-29 in Oakland, CA, and we were honored to have two of our staff members present at the conference. The RFSI Forum catalyzes conversation, advances education, and drives increased investment in regenerative agriculture and food, and attendees include global stakeholders that are committed to transforming our food system. Our key takeaways from the conference include: 

  • Reflecting on questions posed at the start of the conference by Esther Park of Cienega Capital and the #NoRegrets Initiative: How can we change investors’ mindsets and value systems to view investments through an intersectional lens? Investors might want to consider asking: does this investment place priority on beauty, diversity, and complexity? Where does the wealth go, and who benefits from it? Are there ways for wealth to be more equitably distributed? 
  • Asking ourselves how we can measure the emotional and economic health of our farmers?
  • Celebrating one of the farmers in our portfolio, Regi Haslett-Marroquin of Salvatierra Farm, and his contributions to a panel that asked how can we continue to fund justice and equity innovation

Claire Mesesan, Iroquois Valley’s Vice President of Farmer Relations, spoke on a panel entitled “Real Asset Investment Strategies.” Alongside her fellow panelists from SLM Partners and Biome Capital, Claire highlighted Iroquois Valley’s commitment to organic and regenerative farmers and ranchers with our farmer-first model. When asked if investors can make a bigger impact supporting row crop operations or perennial crop operations, she emphasized that annual cropping systems and perennial cropping systems can coexist: both types can sequester carbon and build soil health. Iroquois Valley’s portfolio supports farmers raising annual crops, perennial crops, livestock and dairy on pasture, and much more, often simultaneously in diversified operations. Investors can create impact supporting a wide range of organic and regenerative operations. 

The following day, Donna Holmes, Iroquois Valley’s Vice President of Investor Relations, presented at a panel titled “Bringing Institutional Capital to Regenerative.” Institutional capital is necessary to drive innovation and advance change across our food system, yet there is a significant gap between the demand for institutional capital and the supply. Donna recommended that we collaborate with institutions to design products that fit their needs. Further, she agreed with other panelists that a consistent definition of regenerative agriculture may be needed before more institutions commit capital to this movement. 

We were proud to sponsor the RFSI Forum, and we look forward to more networking, collaboration, and innovation with key players in the regenerative agriculture and food system arena. 

“We’re part of the solution: #fornature”: Celebrating the International Day for Biodiversity

“Biodiversity—the variation of life on Earth—is essential to healthy ecosystems and serves as nature’s own system of checks and balances.”

Rodale Institute

On May 22nd, the U.N.-sponsored International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) was celebrated around the world. Events included visual art shows in the U.S., biodiversity presentations in Portugal, and gardening workshops in South Africa. The IDB reminds us that biodiversity is the solution to several sustainable development challenges, including food security, climate change, and health issues. 

Here at Iroquois Valley, we’re pleased to celebrate the biodiversity that organic farming encourages. Organic farming seeks to mirror nature and cultivates a diverse mix of microorganisms, plants, and animals on the land. This contrasts conventional farming practices, which eliminate biodiversity through the widespread use of toxic chemicals and monoculture cropping systems. Through crop rotations, cover crops, and soil amendments (like compost), organic farmers are transitioning land from degraded soil into a world teeming with a variety of organisms.

Photo Credit: Sharing Our Roots, a Minnesota-based farm in the Iroquois Valley portfolio

2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Iroquois Valley is proud to share its annual gift guide featuring products grown by the farmers we partner with – 2020 has been unlike any other year and we hope it has deepened your connection to what nourishes you. This year’s gift guide is illustrated by Evanston-based artist, Hannah Bess Ross who sells prints, cards, and ceramics here. Scroll through for products available across the country as well as products available in certain locales (WA, MI, MN). Warm wishes for a healthy and joyous holiday season!

NATIONALLY AVAILABLE PRODUCTS

Organic aronia berries: available covered in Rainforest Alliance-certified chocolate or freeze dried to add to smoothies or baked goods. Email info@boonecountyorganics.com to order.
Janie’s Mill organic wheat products include specialty flours, bran, and whole wheat berries. Visit their online store here.
Make sure to check out their recipes and tips for baking with heirloom grains.
Year-round CSA shares, eggs, poultry, meat, & honey raised on organic prairie pastures. Visit their online store here. Products available for home delivery or local pickup. Use the discount code IQVF-HOLIDAY to save.
Charcuterie and roam sticks made from heritage pork raised on organic pastures. Visit their online store here and use the discount code IVFARMS15 to save.
Goat cheese and dairy products, including gift boxes. Visit their online store here. Goats raised in a silvopasture system that incorporates fruit trees and bushes that flavor some of the products. Note: some products only available for pick up at their farmstand.
Organically grown grains, available as flour, rolled, and whole berries, as well as heirloom dry beans. Visit their online store here.
Organic lentils and grains grown by our partners at Vilicus Farms and other organic farmers in the Northern Great Plains. Visit their online store here.
Heritage pork and grass fed beef raised on pasture in the North Woods. Shop their curated boxes and available cuts through their online store. They are even offering soap! Nation-wide shipping and local delivery available throughout Duluth, the Twin Cities, and the North Shore.
Currently sold out! Grass-fed beef available in gift boxes and by the cut raised on organically managed pastures. Check back on their online store for future availability!

LOCALS ONLY PRODUCTS

Grass-fed beef raised on the Olympic Peninsula in a silvopasture system that incorporates grasses, forage, and trees. Visit their online store here. Free delivery to the greater Puget Sound and Western Washington area.
Heritage pork cuts available now: bacon, fat back, smoked ham & hocks, sausage: (breakfast, bratwurst, Italian, German style Kielbasa), leaf fat, loin roast, pork chops, smoked shoulder roast, organs & neck bones, pork steak, shoulder roast, and spare ribs. Lamb available soon and rabbit available in March!

Email thepasturage@gmail.com to order pork or purchase a Square gift card for future orders. Pick up at the Muskegon Farmers Market or at the farm. Local delivery may be available – email to inquire.
Sign up for a summer CSA share! Featherstone Farm is a certified organic produce farm offering customized CSA shares for both summer (18 weeks) and winter shares (9 weeks). Early summer boxes include lettuce, spinach, basil and onions, broccoli and kale. Available throughout the Twin Cities, as well as in Rochester, La Crosse, and Winona – find a full list of CSA pick up locations here and learn more at the Featherstone Farm website.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Iroquois Valley is proud to partner with farmers raising good food across the country. We believe that land security enables land stewardship – our work supports farmers and their businesses. Investing with Iroquois Valley allows us to grow and partner with more farmers raising food in ways that enliven our soils, ecosystems, and communities. Learn more about our investment options here or set up a conversation by emailing invest@iroquoisvalley.com.

A day at Rock Creek Farm

This week, the Rock Creek Farmhouse was designated a historic landmark and the Midwestern contingent of the Iroquois Valley team hosted a socially distant gathering to celebrate. The house is one of 57 historic landmarks in Will County, Illinois.

Last spring, Iroquois Valley planted 10,000 trees at Rock Creek to create a windbreak. The trees planted at this event replaced some that had not made it through the hot and dry spells over the summer.

At the event, the team planted trees and enjoyed a meal cooked by Dan Weiland, a Chicago-based chef. He shares, “As a chef, your meals are only as great as the ingredients you use. I had the privilege of cooking at Rock Creek for some wonderful people who brought some amazing meats, grains, and produce. To know where your food comes from creates a greater connection and respect for the environment and for the hard working people who grow it.”

In the future, we plan to host events at Rock Creek for folks interested in agroforestry and organic agriculture.

Calling all transitioning & organic farmers: Share your experience in two surveys

Survey participation graphic that says "Your input matters! Help make sure future research and program investments are relevant and responsive to the needs of organic producers like you."

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) are collaborating with the Social and Economic Sciences Research Center (SESRC) to identify the research priorities of certified organic producers, as well as producers transitioning land to certified organic production.

We are conducting two national surveys—one for certified organic producers and the other for producers transitioning to organic certification. If you are a certified organic farmer or rancher OR a farmer or rancher who is currently transitioning to certified organic, this is an opportunity to make your voice heard.

Survey results will help us ensure our organizational programs meet the needs of organic producers and that the increased funding for organic research secured in the 2018 Farm Bill addresses the unique needs of organic production. Results will be published in updates of OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report and OSA’s State of Organic Seed (SOS) report to provide a roadmap for future research funding. If you have any questions about the surveys, please contact Lauren Scott at sesrc.nora.survey@wsu.edu

During these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that farmers and ranchers make their voices heard! The surveys opened on February 18, 2020 and the deadline is June 1, 2020

The surveys are voluntary, confidential, and will take approximately 30 minutes to complete. You can skip any questions you prefer not to answer. We welcome you to complete the survey in multiple sittings. The online survey saves your responses as you go along. You can stop at any point, and then resume the survey at any time by following the appropriate link above and entering your survey access code, which will be generated when you first start the survey. The online program will allow you to resume where you left off. Upon completion of the survey, you can enter to win a $100 gift card to REI. If you do not have access to a computer and cannot complete the survey online, please call OFRF at 831-426-6606.

Iroquois Valley is a sponsor of the organic and transitioning surveys. Learn more about this research in our blog post about partnering with OFRF here.

Support Our Farmers by Shopping Online

Coronavirus is growing in the United States and across the world, creating a collective experience of uncertainty and apprehension as well as increased appreciation for our local farmers. As we move through this together, we want to highlight our farmers that offer direct sales through online stores. We hope that during these difficult times you find comfort in good food.

ORGANIC FLOURS, SPECIALTY GRAINS & BEANS

Janie’s Mill – organic flours, grains, and beans grown and milled in Illinois, shipping available nationwide. Janie’s Farm is Iroquois Valley’s first farm investment.

Meadowlark Organics – organic flours, grains, and beans grown and milled in Wisconsin, shipping available nationwide. Pantry Provisions boxes available for those looking to stock up.

Timeless Natural Foods – organic lentils and grains grown in Montana, shipping available nationwide. Our farmer partners at Vilicus Farms produce black beluga lentils for this growers cooperative.

MEAT

Mint Creek Farm – livestock raised on organic prairie pastures in Illinois, shipping available nationwide for frozen beef, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken, goat, and honey. Meat, eggs, and honey available for delivery throughout Chicago.

Singing Pastures Farm – 100% pasture-raised heritage pork from Maine, shipping available nationwide for cured pork products.

Vermont Natural Beef – 100% grass-fed cattle raised on pasture in Vermont, shipping available nationwide.

Main Street Project – chicken raised regeneratively in a canopy system in Minnesota. Delivery of whole frozen chicken available in the Twin Cities area with orders placed by 3/25/20.

Yker Acres – heritage breed pork raised on pasture outside of Duluth, MN. Join their meat club for monthly boxes of pork products. Delivery available to deliver to the Duluth area, Cloquet, Carlton, Twin Cities, and the Northshore.

DAIRY

Creambrook Farm – 100% grass-fed, lab-tested raw milk. Available through herd share program for pick up and delivery throughout parts of Virginia.

We work with dairy farmers who produce for Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery, and Kalona SuperNatural available regionally and nationwide in grocery stores.

Celebrating B Corp Month

March is B Corp Month, a time to celebrate the community of Certified B Corps and our collective impact. 

We became a B Corp in 2012 (and public benefit corporation in 2016) to demonstrate our commitment to triple bottom line impact. Our work is about helping organic and regenerative farmers succeed by providing innovative financial tools like long-term leases, mortgages, and, most recently, operating lines of credit. Our farmers create impact with their land and with their communities. Organic and regenerative farming has been increasingly recognized as a powerful tool to mitigate and even reverse climate change. This work is supported by impact investors, a community that prioritizes more than just financial returns. We’re proud to be a part of the B Corp community and to be working with farmers and investors alike to make business a force for good.

This B Corp month, we’d like to highlight a new B Corp within our financial advisory network. Figure 8 Investment Strategies is an independent registered investment advisor based in Boise, Idaho and was founded by Lisa Cooper in 2016 with the mission to shift the balance of wealth and power. Figure 8 integrates social and environmental impact into every aspect of its business, from its employees and operations, to the investment decisions made across client accounts. Figure 8 proudly earned its B Corp certification in January 2020.

Congrats to Figure 8 – welcome to the B Corp community!

Farm Field Trip

During the last week of May, a handful of Iroquois Valley staff members visited a few of the farms and families that have been a part of our story since the beginning. The field trip was a great opportunity for our newer and more remote staff to have a hands-on orientation and see the transformation happening in the Chicago-area foodshed. North Central Illinois may not be well known for organic and regenerative agriculture, but the movement is growing there quickly. When Iroquois Valley bought its first farm in Iroquois County in 2007, there were less than 500 acres farmed organically there – today, there are over 5,000. We went down to farm country to see that change in action.

The day started with a pit stop at Hewn Bakery in Evanston – Hewn supports local and organic farmers, using their flours to create delicious baked goods. Two of Iroquois Valleys’ farm families (Janie’s Farm & Meadowlark Organics) are among those whose specialty grain flours are used at Hewn. The co-founder of Hewn, Ellen King, wrote a book called Heritage Baking about baking with specialty grains and the growers who raise them.

Staff learning about perennial pasture management at Mint Creek Farm

We visited Mint Creek Farm, a diversified farm raising livestock on pasture. Mint Creek raises entirely grass-fed cattle and sheep along with pasture-raised hogs, goats, and chickens for meat and eggs. Mint Creek Farm takes inspiration from biodynamic principles that view farms as holistic organisms where the soil, the ecosystem, and the farmers work together to thrive. Mint Creek Farm is surrounded by crop operations, making its restoration of native grassland ecosystems where animals graze all the more unique. For those in the Chicago area, you can find Mint Creek at local farmers markets and attend dinners at the farm prepared by a Chicago chef. Learn more about our partnership with Mint Creek Farm by reading their farm profile here and see their farm dinner schedule here.

We continued to The Mill at Janie’s Farm, where we toured the stone ground mill and saw white winter wheat being milled into bread flour. The mill has allowed Janie’s Farm to process the grains they grow and sell a high quality, value-added product.  The Wilkens raise specialty milling grains and mill them into flours that are used in Chicago area bakeries and restaurants. Learn more about our partnership with Janie’s Farm by reading their farm profile here and learn more about Iroquois Valley’s history with the Wilkens here.

Staff, farmers, and friends gathering at Red Barn Farm

We completed our farm tour at Red Barn Farm, one of the Brockman Family Farms. Red Barn Farm is home to milking goats, an orchard, and more. While we don’t work directly with the Brockmans on land access, they are central to Iroquois Valley’s founding. The Brockmans introduced our co-founder, Dave Miller, to our first farmer, Harold Wilken. For more on the history between the Brockman family and Iroquois Valley, see our newsletter on the topic. We wrapped up the day at Dave Miller’s own farmhouse in Danforth, IL where everyone contributed to a home cooked meal of soup, burgers, and cornbread made with local ingredients from some of the farms we visited.

2018 SRI Conference: The 29th Annual Conference for Sustainable, Responsible & Impact Investing

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT is excited to sponsor the 2018 SRI Conference in Colorado Springs! This marks the eighth consecutive year that Iroquois Valley will be attending and the fifth straight year as a sponsor of the event. SRI brings together the largest group of socially responsible investment advisors in the country, and Iroquois Valley Founder and CEO Dave Miller is excited to be reconnecting with many of the financial professionals that helped build the Company into the $50 million REIT it is today!

We will be in attendance November 1-4, 2018, stop by our booth to say hello and learn more about our work. Iroquois Valley Director of Business Development Alex Mackay will also be attending and helping Dave spread the world about our pending Public Offering of REIT Equity Shares with a lower minimum of $10,000. Please visit our invest page to learn more. It will be the first time we get to show off our brand new website, so it should make for a very exciting week in Colorado Springs.

Slow Money Gathering 2013

Iroquois Valley’s Director of Impact, John Steven Bianucci, spoke at the 2013 Slow Money Gathering in Boulder, CO. Watch his presentation:

Events

Iroquois Valley presented at the 2021 Regenerative Food Systems Investment Forum

October 8, 2021
The 2021 Regenerative Food Systems Investment (RFSI) Forum was held September 28-29 in Oakland, CA, and we were honored to have two of our staff members present at the conference. The RFSI Forum catalyzes conversation, advances education, and drives increased investment in regenerative agriculture and food, and attendees include global stakeholders that are committed to transforming our food system.

News

Iroquois Valley recognized as 2021 Best for the World B Corp

August 18, 2021
Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC is proud to announce our recognition as a Best for the World B Corp: Governance for 2021. This award honors Iroquois Valley for our exemplary governance and commitment to long-term stakeholder-minded business practices.

What We're Reading

Iroquois Valley joins Will County, IL farm alliance to improve soil health, water quality and local economies

August 20, 2021
We need a regional agricultural food, nutrition and conservation business plan that incentivizes farmers to continue producing economic, environmental and social benefits for another 100 years.  

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