Last night I dropped in at Greater Boston Slow Money's sixth Entrepreneur Showcase. As the organizers say,
We will be bringing together investors, sustainable food entrepreneurs and leaders working together to rebuild our local food system. Learn about investment opportunities and how you can participate in rebuilding local economies based on the principles of soil fertility, sense of place, care of the commons and economic, cultural and biological diversity.
And deliver on that they did. Six businesses in various states of startupness presented, each allotted five minutes and five slides to present, and five more minutes for audience Q&A.
OK, not the sexiest name, but this contraption, described as a "...pedal powered tractor for cultivation and seeding, built from lawn tractor, ATV, and bicycle parts" apparently does the job cheaper and not all that much slower than a diesel tractor does, and it's better for the health of the operator and the environment, too.
Mei Mei Street Kitchen
I've kvelled about the Mei Mei food truck here before, but at the showcase they unveiled their plan for an immobile restaurant, and also showed how they could use this restaurant as a base of operations for the food truck business and increase its efficiency in the bargain.
Full Sun Company
Did you know that they grow sunflower seeds in Vermont? I had no idea. I also had no idea that most of the oil seed grown in this country is exported for processing and then we re-import the stuff as oil and meal and other finished products. Full Sun aims to process seeds locally and sell the oil and meal locally, reducing costs and greening the process along the way.
I briefly met the Fresh Truckers at Mass Innovation Nights Foodie Edition. They are setting up a retrofitted school bus as a mobile farmers market to try and green some of the fresh food deserts of the Boston area.
Fresh Food Generation
Starting with some sobering information about obesity and diabetes in Boston's neighborhoods and following up with a map of the food options nearest a community pool (three fast food chain outlets and a liquor store), FFG's pitch for a "farm-to-plate food truck enterprise that serves healthy cooked foods in low income communities" had real impact.
CERO (Cooperative Energy, Recycling & Organics)
This team of employee owners, multicultural and multilingual, is trying to bring the trash hauling and recycling business in Boston out of its "wild west" state by shifting the economics from favoring tonnage to landfills to favoring source separation for recycling and re-use in the community.
These capsules just scratch the surface. You can read a bit more at the event's hashtag #SMESbos and of course from each firm's site. What's even more inspiring to me than each individual business plan is that these entrepreneurs are so supportive of one another and are already sharing information, mentoring one another, even working together at this early stage.
If you care about the food system in Boston and New England, these are people and companies well worth getting to know.