REIT Shares are available again; Sow an investment in the future of our planet. Learn More

Category: News & Media

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC Announces Bill Stoddart as CEO and Christopher Zuehlsdorff as COO

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT
Press Release
EVANSTON, IL, July 28, 2022.

Iroquois Valley is proud to announce the hiring of William “Bill” Stoddart as CEO, effective July 11th, 2022, and Christopher Zuehlsdorff as COO, effective July 25th, 2022. The Board of Directors undertook a six-month nationwide search to identify these new senior management team members. Dr. Stephen Rivard, the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, expressed enthusiasm recognizing that “the addition of Bill and Chris to the team is one of the most important accomplishments of our Company. Bill is well-known in the organic and regenerative agriculture industry and will be instrumental in maintaining Iroquois Valley’s position as an industry leader. Chris’ investment management experience will add a critical piece of infrastructure to the team. “

Speaking about his new role, Mr. Stoddart shared, “I am both energized by the work and excited to explore how Iroquois Valley can continue to inspire positive changes in our food systems to improve human health and the health of our ecosystems.” Mr. Zuehlsdorff added, “I am excited to join Iroquois Valley and work with a talented team of people who are committed to transforming the food system.”

We look forward to continuing to connect independent organic and transitioning farmers and mission-aligned investors under the leadership of Bill and Chris. We want to thank Andy Ambriole, our Interim CEO, for his stellar guidance over the past seven months. Andy stepped down effective July 11th, 2022 but will continue to serve on the Company’s Board of Directors and will remain a senior advisor to the Company. He will continue to play an active role on the management team, particularly supporting Bill and Chris during the transition period.

Please reach out to Donna Holmes, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations with comments and questions at dholmes@iroquoisvalleyfarms.com.

About Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC
Iroquois Valley is a regenerative finance company that provides land security and financial products to organic farmers by raising capital from mission-driven investors. Iroquois Valley offers long-term leases, mortgage lending, and operating lines of credit to organic and transitioning farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. The company has equity and debt investment options and works with a large network of financial advisors

Dr. George Washington Carver: More than a peanut man

George Washington Carver holding a piece of soil in a field, 1906. Library of Congress.

Celebrating Dr. George Washington Carver’s Impact on Sustainable Agriculture

Dr. Carver had a profound impact on sustainable farming practices in the South

Iroquois Valley was one of the first finance companies to support organic farmers, dating back to 2007. However, many years before us, Dr. George Washington Carver was applying organic practices to improve soil health. In honor of Juneteenth, we are celebrating the legacy of Dr. George Washington Carver, a Black farmer who was among the first to formally recognize the importance of cover crops (particularly the peanut) and diverse crop rotations.

While Dr. Carver is often cited in textbooks as the “Father of the Peanut Industry”, he has accomplished much more than his discoveries of over three hundred peanut products. His influence on sustainable agriculture and economic and social justice for Black farmers in the South is not widely known but is incredibly important to acknowledge. 

George Washington Carver at the Tuskegee Institute, 1906. Library of Congress.

Prior to becoming a world-class researcher and botanist, Dr. Carver was born into slavery in 1864. As a child, Dr. Carver wasn’t allowed to get an education at a public school but attended a school for Black children while working on a farm in southwest Missouri. Eventually, Dr. Carver studied agriculture and botany at Iowa State University and was the school’s first Black student. Following his graduation from ISU, he was invited to lead the Agriculture Department at Tuskegee University where he remained for 47 years. In his tenure at Tuskegee, Dr. Carver was particularly interested in sustainable agriculture as a practical solution for improving the lives of poor Black farmers in the South. 

At the time, many farmers in the South grew exclusively tobacco or cotton, and Dr. Carver quickly noticed the negative effects that monoculture farming had on the health of the soil. Cotton in particular has shallow roots and that combined with monocropping meant that soil eroded more quickly from a piece of land than if the soil was left bare. All across the South, soil was depleted of nutrients. Extensive nitrogen fertilizers seemed to be the only solution to restore the soil. 

In an effort to improve soil health and conserve the land, Dr. Carver encouraged farmers to diversify their crop rotations. He recognized that by producing multiple crops and rotating them every other year, rather than growing solely cotton or tobacco, farmers could restore soil health. Dr. Carter also determined that sweet potatoes and legumes had a positive impact on soil health. He was particularly fascinated by the peanut with its deep roots and its ability to add nitrogen back into the soil, thereby reducing the need for fertilizers. 

George Washington Carver in a laboratory at Tuskegee University in 1938. U.S. Department of Agriculture

Back at Tuskegee, Dr. Carver founded a research lab where he worked tirelessly to develop new applications for peanuts, sweet potatoes, and pecans. By the end of his career, he discovered more than 300 new uses for peanuts (including food products, cosmetics, and glues). In 1917, he published the prominent bulletin “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption.” 

His work with peanuts contributed to the economic improvement of the South and development of Georgia’s peanut industry. Nevertheless, peanuts were a hobby to Dr. Carver, and his main focus was on teaching poor southern farmers how to farm more sustainably. Many years after his research on peanuts was published, Dr. Carver’s guide to diversifying crop rotations “remains the standard for sustainable agriculture in the South and continues to lead to new developments for improving sustainability.” 

Following Dr. Carver’s death in 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, “the world of science has lost one of its most eminent figures.” We couldn’t agree more, and we are grateful to Dr. Carver and his team for all of their important work in advancing social justice and sustainable agriculture! 

Sources: 

Kaufman, Rachel. (2019, February 21). In Search of George Washington Carver’s True Legacy. Smithsonian Magazine. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/search-george-washington-carvers-true-legacy-180971538/.

Missouri Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). George Washington Carver: History of an Educator, Innovator, Leader. https://agriculture.mo.gov/gwc.php.

National Peanut Board. (n.d.). What You Didn’t Learn in School: George Washington Carver Wrote the Book on Sustainability. https://www.nationalpeanutboard.org/news/what-you-didnt-learn-in-school-george-washington-carver-wrote-book-on-sustainability.

Sandborn, Dixie. (2019, February 13). George Washington Carver’s contributions to agriculture in the U.S. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/george-washington-carvers-contributions-to-agriculture.

Earth Day 2022: Investing in Our Planet

Fresh basil from one of the newest farms in our portfolio, Sumac Creek Farm in Kankakee County, IL

Earth Day is here, and we are grateful that there is a day devoted to raising awareness about environmental issues and celebrating our planet. The official theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in Our Planet”, and it highlights the importance of holding businesses, governments, and citizens accountable for the future of our planet. 

Some recommended resources about Earth Day can be found below. In celebrating Earth Day, we must acknowledge that it is important to prioritize the Earth every day, not only on April 22nd, and we must remember the Indigenous Peoples that have been stewarding our planet and resources for generations. 

Earth Day Resources

Organic Farming Research Foundation publishes the 2022 National Organic Research Agenda

Iroquois Valley is proud to have partnered with the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) to support their work in publishing the 2022 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA). This report details organic research needs with the goal of informing future investments to support the success of organic farmers and ranchers and those transitioning to organic production. We are pleased to report that a number of farmers in the Iroquois Valley portfolio contributed to this research by participating in focus groups and surveys. In total, 1,100 certified organic and 71 transitioning-to-organic farmers and ranchers were surveyed or attended listening sessions. The goal of engaging farmers was to better understand their challenges, needs, and perspectives. An adapted version of OFRF’s press release with more information about the NORA can be found below. 

This is the seventh national survey of organic producers that OFRF has conducted and the third NORA to be officially released. Findings from the 2022 NORA will be instrumental in guiding upcoming policy advocacy (including the 2023 Farm Bill) and informing organizations, researchers, USDA agencies, and Congress about the ways in which support for organic farmers can be improved and strengthened. 

Highlights from the National Organic Research Agenda

“Organic farming has been historically under-invested in, in terms of research, education and extension,” says OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “The 2022 National Organic Research Agenda presents incredible feedback directly from organic farmers and provides a compelling roadmap for how to best support the growth of this important sector of agriculture.” 

Survey respondents provided input and perspectives on their current organic production systems, including the use of regenerative soil health management practices, water conservation, organic inputs, and organic seed. Findings confirm that organic producers lead the nation in adoption of soil health management and climate-friendly practices. The 2022 NORA also examines current farmer concerns in organic agriculture, farmers’ preferred sources and modes for information-sharing, and summarizes the impacts of COVID on organic producers.

Respondents also shared their production and non-production challenges, which OFRF then analyzed by region, farming experience, and race/ethnicity. This particular NORA compares the experiences of both Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and White farmers, and reveals BIPOC producers are experiencing many organic production challenges and at a higher rate than their White counterparts.

In addition to identifying gaps in current organic and transitioning-to-organic production challenges, NORA highlights farmer-identified solutions and strategies shared during its focus group discussions. NORA also provides comprehensive recommendations to guide OFRF’s research and policy initiatives. Proposed investments and focus areas include, but are not limited to, technical assistance, organic research, and racial equity programming.

About Organic Farming Research Foundation 

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.

Iroquois Valley named to the IA 50 for the tenth consecutive year

Iroquois Valley was named an Emeritus Manager by ImpactAssets in its annual ImpactAssets 50™ (IA 50). This year, ImpactAssets celebrates its eleventh year curating its widely recognized list of impact investment fund managers.

According to ImpactAssets, the IA 50 is the first publicly available database that provides a gateway into the world of impact investing for investors and their financial advisors, offering an easy way to identify experienced impact investment firms and explore the landscape of potential investment options. In order to be considered for the IA 50 2022, fund managers needed to have at least $25 million in assets under management, more than three years of experience as a firm with impact investing, documented social and/or environmental impact, and be available for US investment.

“As impact investing continues its inexorable rise, it is critical to provide investors with a curated, objective evaluation of impact fund managers. The IA 50 is built to filter out the noise that is growing louder in impact investing and help investors focus on deep, meaningful impact.”

Jennifer Kenning, CEO and Co-Founder of Align Impact and IA 50 Senior Investment Advisor

The IA 50 Emeritus Impact Manager list illuminates impact fund managers who have achieved consistent recognition on the IA 50. Iroquois Valley is proud to be named an Emeritus Manager as a company selected for the IA 50 every year since 2012. This distinction reflects our ongoing commitment to creating and reporting on the positive impacts we make through our investments.

Learn more about the IA 50 here and view the other companies named to the IA 50 here.

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC Welcomes Andy Ambriole as Interim CEO

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT

Press Release

The Company and Tera Johnson, our former CEO, parted ways effective December 3, 2021. Ms. Johnson’s departure was amicable – she moved on to pursue other opportunities. Dr. Stephen Rivard, the Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, expressed appreciation for “all of Tera’s hard work during her tenure. We wish her the best of luck in her next endeavor.”

Long-time Iroquois Valley Board member, Investment Committee member, and tenant farmer, Andy Ambriole, has agreed to serve as interim CEO, effective November 22, 2021. Dr. Rivard said that “Andy’s knowledge of Iroquois Valley and of organic farming make him an ideal person to steward the organization during our transition.” 

Speaking about his new role, Mr. Ambriole shared, “Iroquois Valley is a farmer-first company, and I am proud to serve in an organization with that belief. I look forward to working with the team to grow our farmer base and in turn helping to convert more farmland to organic and regenerative.”

Finding a permanent CEO is a priority for the coming months, and the Board of Directors has begun a search. We expect to have an ample pool of qualified candidates.

Please reach out to Donna Holmes, Vice President, Investor Relations with comments and questions at dholmes@iroquoisvalleyfarms.com.

About Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC

Iroquois Valley is a regenerative finance company that provides land security and financial products to organic farmers by raising capital from mission-driven investors. Iroquois Valley offers long-term leases, mortgage lending, and operating lines of credit to organic and transitioning farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. The company has equity and debt investment options and works with a large network of financial advisors. 

Iroquois Valley recognized as 2021 Best for the World B Corp

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. Through the adoption of legal practices that underscore our commitment to more than shareholders, we are ensuring that Iroquois Valley will fulfill our triple-bottom-line mission. 

“Best for the World is a special program for the B Corp community, and we’re thrilled to resume it after pausing the program in 2020 due to COVID-19,” says Juan Pablo Larenas, Executive Director of B Lab Global. “This year’s Best for the World companies are operating at the very top of their class, excelling in creating positive impact for their stakeholders, including their works, communities, customers, and environment. We’re proud of the community of stakeholder-driven businesses we’ve cultivated over the last 15 years; together we’re marching toward our collective vision of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all people and the planet.” 

Best for the World B Corps score in the top 5% of all B Corps on the B Impact Assessment in their corresponding size group. This year, 767 B Corps from over 50 countries were named to the 2021 Best for the World lists, including companies such as Patagonia, TOMS, and Natura. 

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC Names Tera Johnson CEO

EVANSTON, IL – Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC announced today that Tera Johnson will succeed co-founder, David Miller, as Chief Executive Officer effective September 1, 2021. 

David Miller, co-founder. Photo first appeared in Eating Well magazine.

Johnson is the founder of the Food Finance Institute (FFI), a nonprofit organization that provides financial technical assistance to food, beverage, and value-added agriculture enterprises. Miller plans to remain on the Iroquois Valley board and will support Johnson as she assumes responsibilities, in addition to managing special projects. He looks forward to the opportunity to step back from day-to-day operations.

“As I look back on the last fifteen years, I believe we were successful in establishing a deeply rooted organic foothold in a region I characterize as a dead soil monoculture,” Miller shares. “I see Tera building on that organic foundation and going beyond. Under her guidance, we will accelerate our commitment to conservation and diversity–in our investments and in our products and programs.”

Miller, founded Iroquois Valley with his friend and former college roommate, Dr. Stephen Rivard in 2007. Miller has served as CEO since inception. Iroquois Valley is one of the first companies in North America to offer investors direct exposure to a diversified organic farmland portfolio. With independent farmers and ranchers at the heart of its investment strategy, Miller led the company as it grew from one relationship with a farming family on a single property in Iroquois County, Illinois to a $75 million portfolio representing 50 farmer relationships in 15 states.

Iroquois Valley is supported by over 500 investors in 47 states, 25% of whom are non-accredited, retail investors who committed capital after the company’s Regulation A+ offering launched in 2019. Over Miller’s fifteen years as CEO, Iroquois Valley incorporated as a real estate investment trust and public benefit corporation, received recognition as a “Best for the World” certified B Corp, and was consistently named to ImpactAssets’ IA50.

“In a time when the mission of Iroquois Valley is more important than ever,” Johnson says, “I’m humbled and inspired to build on the strong foundation that Dave and his team have built and to lead the team into the next phase of Iroquois Valley.”

Johnson built her career around her mission to create the next generation of environmentally and economically regenerative food and farming businesses. Her work at the helm of FFI saw over 600 people from over 400 organizations throughout the U.S. trained in financial management and business consulting. FFI has provided technical assistance to 230 food, farm, and food system businesses since establishment. FFI is part of the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship. Johnson also launched Edible-Alpha®, a digital resource hub providing actionable insights, training, resources and tools. Her podcast interviews with entrepreneurs, bankers, and investors have been downloaded over 45,000 times, with listeners in all 50 states and eight countries. Johnson is the founder of Simply Tera’s and is the 2017 Extension Chancellor’s Wisconsin Idea Award winner. Johnson is a frequent speaker, teacher and financial consultant to sustainable food and farming businesses, social venture funds and investors.

About Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC

Iroquois Valley is a regenerative finance company that provides land security and financial products to organic farmers by raising capital from mission-driven investors. Iroquois Valley offers long-term leases, mortgage lending, and operating lines of credit to organic and transitioning farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. The company has equity and debt investment options and works with a large network of financial advisors. www.iroquoisvalley.com

Contact: Claire Mesesan, acting communications director

(847) 859-6645 ext. 702 | cmesesan@iroquoisvalleyfarms.com

Restoring the Agricultural Richness of Pembroke

Located one hour south of Chicago, the Pembroke Township in Illinois was once home to the largest Black farming community north of the Mason-Dixon line. Today, less than 50% of this land is owned by descendants of the farming families. Iroquois Valley, in partnership with Black Oaks Center, Savanna Institute, Conservation Fund, Food Finance Institute, and Fresh Taste, was awarded a Conservation Collaboration Grant in 2020 to support this farming community with the financial and technical resources necessary to expand and diversify the region’s agroforestry production. 

As part of this grant, Black Oaks Center recently hosted an Open House for all Pembroke landowners to attend and learn more about federal funding opportunities. Present at the event were Conservation Fund, Savanna Institute, Iroquois Valley, and Renewable Pembroke. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) was also available to sign up landowners for FSA programs – their first step in accessing National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) services. John Steven Bianucci, Iroquois Valley’s Director of Conservation, reported that over 25 landowners registered with the FSA. 

Overall, the event was a big success, increasing the momentum for Pembroke farming.

A Conversation with Chicory Wealth

Chicory Wealth, one of the registered investment advisors in our financial advisor network, recently hosted Alex Mackay, our VP, Investor Relations, for a conversation about investment opportunities at Iroquois Valley. We would highly recommend the webinar to anyone interested in a comprehensive overview of what we do. Alex walks through our Pitch Deck and shares stories about three of the farms in our portfolio

Events

2021 Holiday Gift Guide

December 3, 2021
Iroquois Valley is excited to share our annual gift guide featuring products grown by the farmers we partner with. Scroll below for products available across the country as well as products available in certain regions.

News

Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC Announces Bill Stoddart as CEO and Christopher Zuehlsdorff as COO

July 28, 2022
Iroquois Valley is proud to announce the hiring of William “Bill” Stoddart as CEO, effective July 11th, 2022, and Christopher Zuehlsdorff as COO, effective July 25th, 2022.

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.  

eNewsletter Sign Up

IA 50 Badge for 2022
B Corp "Best for the World" 2019
Certified B Corporation

(c) 2022 Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, Public Benefit Corporation 
Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Accessibility