Soil Wealth: Financing Food, Farms, Forestry, and Fiber

Soil wealth encompasses the constellation of benefits that result when we build healthy soil and community wealth through regenerative and organic agriculture. Centered around financing farms, forestry, food, and fiber, this program provides resources, case studies, and on-the-ground engagement to demonstrate how a total portfolio, multi-asset class approach can be used to achieve soil wealth. 

The Soil Wealth program encourages investors and funders to:

  • Redirect finance from extractive models to regenerative ones;
  • Make finance more accessible to land stewards, agricultural producers, and value-web enterprises; and
  • Foster the magic in the middle by connecting both capital providers and capital seekers to accelerate the flow of capital in regenerative and organic food and agricultural systems.

Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture across Asset Classes

In order to advance the potential that regenerative agriculture presents in mitigating climate change, improving soil health, and building community resilience, significant capital needs to be deployed on farms, as well as across value chains. This report aims to quantify the current investment landscape surrounding regenerative agriculture and cultivate an understanding of how investors can allocate investments across asset classes to further these efforts.

Based on our analyses of cash and cash equivalents, fixed income, real assets, public equity, private equity, and venture capital markets, this report concludes with a series of recommendations for investors working within each asset class and for stakeholders such as foundations, policymakers, asset owners and asset managers, and regenerative agriculture practitioners.

Soil Wealth AReas: Place-based financing for conservation, rural communities, and regenerative agriculture

This report summarizes the results of a major USDA-funded assessment of the feasibility of developing a new place-based financing district in four states across three regions with very different kinds of farming communities, agronomic conditions, and policy environments: North Carolina in the South, Northern California and Oregon on the West Coast, and Wisconsin in the upper Midwest.

Building upon the success of other agricultural districts, such as conservation districts and farmland protection districts, Soil Wealth Areas are special purpose soil wealth improvement districts that can become magnets for investment in regenerative agriculture, enhanced conservation on working farms and forests, and resilient rural economies. By being based in place, Soil Wealth Areas can be more responsive to the needs of local producers and entrepreneurs and help ensure that capital providers interested in investing in conservation and regenerative, organic value chains are aligned with the imperatives of more ecologically resilient and socially inclusive food and agricultural systems.

The report makes specific recommendations for implementing Soil Wealth Areas in each of the regions analyzed and creating a wider Soil Wealth Community for practitioners to share learnings about their experiences with place-based financing.

Investing in Regenerative Fiber Value Chains

Croatan Institute President and Senior Fellow Joshua Humphreys is joined by Institute partners, Molly Hemstreet of The Industrial Commons and Opportunity Threads, Eric Henry of TS Designs, Sarah Kelley of Common Threads Consulting, and Latashia Redhouse of Intertribal Agriculture Council for a conversation on growing needs and opportunities associated with investing in regenerative farm-to-fabric value chains.

Highlighted Projects and Resources

Soil Wealth Areas

Soil Wealth Areas are new special purpose financing districts that help connect farmers and entrepreneurs with technical assistance and mission-aligned capital providers that value the social and environmental benefits associated with conservation, equitable food and farming systems, regenerative agroecology, and resilient rural communities.

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Regenerative Agriculture Infrastructure Finance

This project will identify finance opportunities and pathways that work to build processing, distribution, and market infrastructure for regenerative farms.

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The Regenerative Agriculture and Human Health Nexus: Insights from Field to Body

What does the evidence tell us about the connection between agricultural practices and human health? Senior Fellow David LeZaks and Mandy Ellerton author this paper exploring the evidence connecting agriculture practices to human health outcomes.

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Healthy Food Access Mapping (Healthy FAM)

This project will produce a healthy food access mapping project in the five-county region of North Carolina.

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Soil Wealth

This report aims to quantify the current investment landscape surrounding regenerative agriculture and cultivate an understanding of how investors can allocate investments across asset classes to further these efforts.

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Impact Investing in Sustainable Food and Agriculture across Asset Classes

This paper provides a framework for impact investors as they consider how to invest in issues related to food and agriculture across asset classes.

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