The Fair Finance Fund (“Fund”) is a non-profit social finance fund dedicated to providing loans and mentorship services to local food and farm enterprises that value strong local food systems, local economies, and a healthy planet. The Fair Finance Fund builds on seed capital to implement an ongoing investment opportunity for community-minded investors, that is, individuals who want to invest their capital to build local food systems in Ontario to support food that is grown, raised and processed in their own backyards.
By fulfilling the mission, the Fund:
Strengthens and expands regional local food systems across Ontario
Creates equitable access to capital for social enterprises in Ontario’s food system
Supports food and farm enterprises offering social, environmental and community benefits
Improves rural economies through job creation and circulating money in local communities
Provides a vehicle for people to invest in their beliefs
The Fair Finance Fund began in 2018 as a collaborative project between the Local Food and Farm Co-ops and the Rural Agri-Innovation Network at the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. Since then, it was incorporated as a non-profit with a focus on support and education for social enterprises in the local food and farm sector with social and environmental values and goals. The revolving loan program provides affordable loans between $20,000 and $100,000, as well as support through the training resources of the partners and the new mentorship program.
Social Finance Specialist
Sally Miller (MA/ PhD; MES), is the Project Manager for the Local Food and Farm Co-ops. She has worked in sustainable food and agriculture and co-ops for over twenty-five years. She has been on various Boards, and currently sits on the board of the Ontario Co-operative Association.
David Thompson (BA/ MBA), the RAIN General Manager, has 10 years of experience developing and growing regional agri-food systems within Algoma and northern Ontario. He currently leads the successful Sustainable New Agri-Food Products & Productivity (SNAPP) Program, a micro-grant program delivered across northern Ontario to expand the agri-food sector with northern partners and FedNor.
Chelsie Hunt is the social finance specialist for Local Food and Farm Co-ops. Her background is within the financial sector, working first as a quant then transitioning into environmental finance. She has worked with experts researching the financialization of the agricultural sector, at Mennonite Economic Development Associates on blended finance projects in countries around the world, and many consultancies in the impact investing sector.
Maureen Strickland is passionate about building a new economy that is fair, place-based and regenerative. This underlies her work in social enterprise, co-operative development, community economic development and alternative lending. For the past ten years Maureen has done this work in Northern Ontario for organizations such as Community Futures, Ontario Co-operative Association, and NORDIK Institute. Maureen holds a BSc in Biology and Masters of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University. Maureen is from Manitoulin Island where she currently has a hobby farm.
Susanna Redekop is the Communications Coordinator at Local Food and Farm Co-ops. She has spent 9 years working in the food security sector in Toronto, and 8 years involved with a variety of co-operative organizations, including holding the position of Communications Coordinator and Floor Coordinator at the West End Food Co-op until its closure in 2018.
Glenn Valliere (MMCCU) is a long-time co-op practitioner with a deep interest in local food issues and creating healthy values-based businesses. Glenn held senior management positions at the Big Carrot, Karma Co-op and Ontario Natural Food Co-op before joining the team at Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables as their General Manager and Operations Manager. Glenn has held numerous board positions and currently sits on the board for the Canada Organic Trade Association.
Sarah Bakker is General Manager of the National Farmers Union-Ontario. She brings her 18 years of experience in marketing and fundraising multi-million dollar projects in the non-profit sector to the Board of the Local Food and Farm Co-op’s Fair Finance Fund. She previously served on the Board of the West End Food Co-op as Treasurer and the Organic Council of Ontario as Vice Chair. She also co-owns Field Sparrow Farms with her partner Henry where they raise pastured livestock on 100 acres in Bobcaygeon.
Anahita Belanger blends decades of sales and marketing experience at Fortune 500 companies with the energy and curiosity of an organic farmer. She is committed to building solutions for new farmers to find land, funds, mentorship, and the markets to grow their businesses. Anahita teaches Entrepreneurship Studies and is radically transforming how female founders are funded and supported globally as a SheEO Super Activator.
The Fair Finance Fund is grateful for the support of the Greenbelt Fund, and its partners the Local Food and Farm Co-ops and the Rural Agri-Innovation Network, as well as the Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario and VanCity.
Our Fair Finance Fund Forums were hosted in 4 locations all across Ontario in October 2018 in partnership with Farms at Work, By the Bushel Co-op, and the Thunder Bay Food Strategy.