Proofing Station, a new nonprofit charitable investment fund providing capital access to food and agriculture organizations and businesses in the Midwest—launched with a $25 million dollar impact-first investment fund. The fund demonstrates that flexible capital can be deployed to skilled producers, processors, distributors, and retailers who add value to the region’s food and agriculture system, but struggle to secure appropriate resources for growth. The new organization is governed by a representative Board and will be led by Executive Director Cortney Renton, an experienced food systems professional and nonprofit executive. A variety of stakeholders—including regional food system funders, impact investors, subject matter experts, and front-line organizations—contributed to Proofing Station’s development over the past four years.

“Proofing Station will fill the gap and show that investing in these entities is great for strengthening food systems and the Midwest economy,” said new Executive Director Cortney Renton. “Access to capital and technical assistance is a perennial challenge for those who work on feeding the Midwest locally. Smaller farms and for-profit food businesses are often ignored by traditional capital providers. Nonprofit organizations can access grants, but not always financial products that help them be dynamic and flexible in achieving their missions.”

Proofing Station focuses on four identified market gaps:

  • Engaging Excluded Market Players: Owners and operators from divested groups (Black, Indigenous, and people of color; women; non-conventional farming operations) lack access to capital and support to grow their operations.
  • Increasing Access to Land and Real Assets: Farmers and ranchers need longer-term access to more land and real assets to match the long term nature of sustainable and just operating models.
  • Expanding Regional Infrastructure: Insufficient supply chain infrastructure inhibits the growth of new agricultural products and markets that could impact regional communities and climate.
  • Advancing Sustainable Cultivation: Many operators lack access to investment capital to transition to or expand organic and regenerative farming operations.

Read more about Proofing Station here.