Iroquois Valley was featured in the Spring 2019 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review – read the piece here. “Restoring the Heartland” looks broadly at trends in agriculture and positions our work providing secure land tenure to transitioning and organic farmers as part of a larger shift toward regenerative economic and agricultural systems.
Key quote: “In our view, we are regenerating an asset we’re lending against,” says Miller. “Our investors understand that our business model is enhancing the value of the underlying assets. This is not traditional finance.”
SSIR’s Spring Issue is available to the public until mid-May.
In 2016, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emerged as a strategic framework that companies, organizations, and policymakers can apply to solve the world’s most pressing issues. Ranging from eliminating poverty to protecting the planet, the 17 sustainable development goals are a 15-year agenda for progress. These goals include natural resource management, climate responsibility and global health.
Investing in Global Change
Moving trillions of dollars toward sustainable initiatives will be necessary to achieve these worldwide goals and impact investing plays an important role in doing so.According to the Annual Impact Investor Survey, released by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) in 2018, over half of impact investors are measuring their investments’ progress against the SDGs.
How does Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT measure up within the SDG framework? Because financing organic farmland covers so much ecological and social ground, our portfolio addresses multiple Sustainable Development Goals, including goals 3, 6, 12, 13, and 15. We’re highlighting three of these goals to give you a closer look at some of our impact areas:
We work to expand acreage farmed organically in the US. With a significant number of our farms located in the Midwest, we are significantly impacting the Mississippi watershed by scaling organic agriculture in this region. This corresponds to Goal 6.6: “By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes”.
Runoff from pesticides applied to conventional farmland is a major polluter of waterways, which impacts the human and ecological health of the watershed. Runoff from the Midwest through the Mississippi River contributes to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, measured at 5,780 square miles (the size of Connecticut) in 2018. Organic farms tend to have much higher soil organic matter and less nutrient loss than conventional farms, meaning that organic fertilizers applied are retained in the soil and do not contribute to runoff. Moreover, organic fertilizers are biodegradable and break down without harming water.
Although this goal primarily relates to curbing emissions, organic and regenerative agriculture has an important role to play in mitigating and even reversing climate change by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere in the soil. With that perspective in mind, our work increasing organic acreage in the US applies to the goals of “strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards” and “improving human capacity on climate change mitigation, adaption, and impact reduction”.
This goal focuses on protecting and increasing biodiversity, as well as restoring soil and land degraded by droughts and floods. Organic agriculture prioritizes biodiversity, conservation, and soil restoration to build climate resiliency. In a world increasingly affected by climate change and its related extreme weather, our organic farmers are facing more severe flooding and drought. This makes building soil organic matter all the more important so it can retain moisture, even excess moisture, from storms through drought.
Dryland farming is a crop management system prevalent in the arid West that does not use irrigation and grows crops only by relying on rainfall during the growing season. Our farmers at Vilicus Farms in Montana use the dryland farming technique and have 30% of their farm in bio-diverse conservation habitat. Across the country, we work with farmers who are building soil, planting for pollinators, and growing nutritious food.
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.
“As farmers we don’t produce anything. Nature does. We simply manage the process, a non-linear process, by which inedible energy is transformed into edible energy — from soil to carrots, from grain to eggs and chickens.”
On how their model works –
“Our 1.5 to 3-acre production units incorporate a canopy of vertical native perennial species like hazelnuts as well as a lower layer of understory crops. This protects and shades the chickens, who move freely throughout this “Tree-Range™” system, continually eating bugs, working the soil, and fertilizing.”
Iroquois Valley provided mortgage financing to Main Street Project in the purchase of their 100-acre demonstration farm in Northfield, MN.
As a fairness disclosure to the native peoples that inhabited these lands before us, we did not take the name of “Iroquois” with a particular historical or cultural viewpoint. The name of our company was instead singularly derived from the name of the county where we started business. However, we have learned to carry this name with pride and respect for the sustainable values and practices that are embodied in Iroquoian culture. It is with sincere admiration that we provide this information on the history of the Iroquois, perhaps the longest standing example of sustainable culture in North America.
The Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the Iroquois League, was governed by the Iroquois Great Council. Each Iroquois nation sent between eight and fourteen leaders to the Great Council, where they agreed on political decisions through discussion and voting. Although these politicians were called “chiefs,” they were actually elected officials, chosen by the clan mothers (or matriarchs) of each tribe. Each individual nation also had its own tribal council to make local decisions. This is similar to how American states each have their own government, but all are subject to the greater US government. In fact, the Iroquois Confederacy was one of the examples of representative democracy used as a model by America’s founding fathers.
According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations. The roots of this tradition can be seen today in the diverse crop rotations used by our organic tenant farmers.
Hiawatha is a legendary Native American leader and founder of the Iroquois confederacy. Depending on the version of the narrative, Hiawatha lived in the 16th century and was a leader of the Onondaga or the Mohawk.
Hiawatha was a follower of The Great Peacemaker, a prophet and spiritual leader, who proposed the unification of the Iroquois peoples, who shared similar languages. Hiawatha, a skilled and charismatic orator, was instrumental in persuading native tribes to accept the Great Peacemaker’s vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy. Later, the Tuscarora nation joined the Confederacy to become the Sixth Nation.
The belt symbolizes these Five Nations from west to east in their respective territories across New York state: Seneca (keepers of the western door), Cayuga (People of the Swamp), Onondaga (Keepers of the Fire), Oneida (People of the Standing Stone) and Mohawk (keeper of the eastern door)—by open ‘squares’ of white beads with the central figure signifying a tree or heart.
The tree figure signifies the Onondaga Nation, capital of the League and home to the central council fire. It was on the shores of Onondaga Lake where the message of peace was “planted” and the hatchets were buried. From this tree, four white roots sprouted, carrying the message of unity and peace to the four directions.
The Hiawatha Belt forms the basis of the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, created in the 1980s. Historical information supplied by Wikipedia.
The Constitution of the Iroquois Nation The Great Binding Law
The Iroquois nation was bound by a written law and process. They established a governance structure that was designed to impact future generations. Because they were able to unify under this Constitution, they conquered foes greater than themselves. This is the philosophical basis for our Board of Managers, we are merely following the vision of the Iroquois:
1. I am Dekanawidah and with the Five Nations’ Confederate Lords I plant the Tree of Great Peace. I plant it in your territory, Adodarhoh, and the Onondaga Nation, in the territory of you who are Firekeepers.
I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves. Under the shade of this Tree of the Great Peace we spread the soft white feathery down of the globe thistle as seats for you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords.
We place you upon those seats, spread soft with the feathery down of the globe thistle, there beneath the shade of the spreading branches of the Tree of Peace. There shall you sit and watch the Council Fire of the Confederacy of the Five Nations, and all the affairs of the Five Nations shall be transacted at this place before you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords, by the Confederate Lords of the Five Nations.
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.
Iroquois Valley is proud to release its first public benefit report. We incorporated our company as a public benefit corporation in 2016 to build into our structure our intent to create public benefit. We intend to create public benefit by enabling healthy food production, restoring soil, and improving water quality through the establishment of secure […]
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been highly visible in the food system. Amy Halloran writes on the grain economy in her latest for Civil Eats, highlighting the role of small and regional mills in supplying flour during this crisis.