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Tag: impact investing

Black Wind Farm: An investment in a veteran farmer’s journey to farmland ownership in New York

We are so proud to welcome Justin Butts to our portfolio. Justin is a first-generation, Navy veteran farmer with extensive and varied experience – he’s a farmer, a small business owner, and a chef. Hear Justin tell his story in this Sustainable Dish podcast episode.

Justin was the livestock manager at Soul Fire Farm, “an Afro-Indigenous centered community farm committed to uprooting racism and seeding sovereignty in the food system.” Soul Fire Farm’s wide-ranging and deeply impactful work was featured in Vogue in summer 2020 – read the article here. Justin continues his relationship with Soul Fire through their Braiding Seeds Fellowship, an in-depth mentorship & professional development program for farmers of color in collaboration with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Justin maintained a small animal herd on land leased in partnership with Laughing Earth Farm as he navigated his path toward farmland ownership. In regards to other farms and organizations that helped Justin along the way, he shares that “I would not be the farmer I am today without The Seed Farm,” an organization in Pennsylvania where he learned a lot of his initial skills as a farmer. Wilklow Orchards also helped by leasing Justin land during college and supplying the kitchen and storage space to start his soap business. 

We met Justin by referral from Local Farms Fund, a mission-aligned farmland investing company that owned the property Justin wanted to purchase. The 103 acre property is on a windy bluff in Albany County, New York and will be named Black Wind Farm. Justin has years of experience producing & selling artisanal soaps from his heritage Kune Kune breed hogs’ lard through his value-added business, Butts Bros Handmade Lard Soap. Justin’s expansive vision for the farm includes continuing the soap business as well as direct-to-consumer offerings of diversified livestock products, on-farm educational experiences, and habitat restoration.

He is also considering Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) carbon sequestration programs. Justin plans to plant a windbreak along the farm and restore four acres of wetlands and riparian habitat while maintaining perennial pasture. Justin is using management-intensive grazing techniques to rotate his herds and flocks of heritage breed pigs, sheep, broiler and laying chickens, and whole turkeys, in addition to growing produce. Justin intends to plant an orchard and fruiting shrubs that visitors to the farm can pick in a do-it-yourself program.

Working with Justin inspired Iroquois Valley to pilot an improved risk-assessment during the underwriting process which weighs land stewardship practices and community engagement along with financial metrics. Evolving our risk assessment is an intentional way to further broaden the way we approach partnerships and offers material support to more traditionally underserved borrowers. We look forward to deepening this work and continuously evolving how we share risk and offer support to the farmers in our network.

Eli’s Ridge: Pasture & forest-raised livestock in the heart of North Carolina

Shawn and Jennifer Hatley are fourth-generation farmers in Stanly County who raise sheep, pigs, cows, ducks, and chickens with their sons, Blake and Eli. The Hatleys apply sustainable and regenerative farming principles and work within a perennial pasture and forest-based farming system (also known as silvopasture) in Oakboro, a suburb of Charlotte. We approved financing for the Hatleys to purchase a 108-acre property from Shawn’s father, David Hatley, by the end of August, marking what will be Iroquois Valley’s first investment in North Carolina. This investment allows the younger generation of Hatleys to expand operations and take on ownership of their father’s land.

Although the Hatleys have experience with organic management, they have not pursued certification before, opting instead for Animal Welfare Approved. As a result of our investment, they will certify their land organic this coming year. Land stewardship is a prominent value to the Hatley family having partnered with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to protect a creek and riparian habitat on the property. They look forward to further conservation projects in years to come.

Building Community & Giving Back

Over the last decade, Shawn and Jennifer have created a collection of products and brands to bring value added farm products to market, including The Naked Pig Rendered Leaf Fat, Sun Raised Farms Lamb Salami, EggsbyEli.com, and Blake’s Creek Ranch beef. In July, the Hatleys purchased Rayfield Meat Center, a beloved country store and USDA inspected processing facility in neighboring Anson County, to vertically integrate operations. Rayfield Meat Center has been serving a diverse community for more than 50 years and the Hatleys plan to expand processing capacity through Rayfield Meats to serve more eaters and farmers in the region. The Hatleys also work with a nonprofit organization called My Father’s Cows, sourcing beef from local farmers for distribution through churches to people experiencing food insecurity. Their egg business, EggsbyEli, has a food ministry component, as well as pooling excess double-yolk and turkey eggs from their own and other local farmers in the area, delivering to the local feeding ministries. The Hatleys look forward to serving more with this investment from Iroquois.

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

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

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 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. 

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

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

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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.  

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IA 50 Badge for 2022
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Certified B Corporation

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