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Workshops & Events

As executive director of Finance for Food, Elizabeth Ü served as a keynote speaker, workshop presenter, panel moderator, and designer of interactive, collaborative sessions at dozens of local, regional, and national events around the continent. See a list of her more recent speaking events here.


February 5-8, 2014 in State College, PA
PASA’s Farming for the Future Conference

Elizabeth co-presented a pre-workshop track on financing farm and food businesses, and also delivered a workshop at the main conference, the signature event of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and its main vehicle for community building. Widely regarded as the best of its kind in the East, this event brings together an audience of over 2,000 farmers, processors, consumers, students, environmentalists and business and community leaders annually.

January 23-25, 2014 in Ames, IA
Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Annual Conference: Well Grounded

Elizabeth gave a farm and food-business financing workshop at this conference. The farming journey starts with the soil under our feet, and Iowa is blessed with some of the world’s best. We may be “well grounded,” but the steps we take too often let this solid foundation slip away. Attendees at this event saw how practical people build their farms, families and communities—and plant the deep roots/routes that will allow future generations to thrive.

The 2014 Practical Farmers Annual Conference continued the previous year’s focus on building soils through cover crops and extended rotations. It examined permaculture and grazing systems. It showcased profitable vegetable systems, biodiversity on farms, nonfarmers who are building partnerships with farmers, and much more.


January 13-15, 2014 in Tucson, AZ
Arizona Food & Farm Finance Forum

Elizabeth gave a keynote address at the Arizona Food and Farm Finance Forum, an event designed to change the way our desert state feeds itself. The Forum was structured to help communities to envision fresh, cost-effective means to jumpstart new food micro enterprises, farms, community kitchens and hunger relief efforts to aid in the recovery of local economies by connecting these groups with possible avenues for credit and funding resources.

We are hopeful that through this historic moment we can collectively serve as matchmakers between social entrepreneurs and investors—private and public—to begin to bring Arizona up from its fifth worst ranking among states in poverty and third worst ranking in childhood food insecurity. The goal: to alleviate poverty by creating green jobs with live-able wages in the farming, ranching, food-processing, distribution and serving sectors of our economy with efforts to assist Arizona’s farmers, ranchers, chefs, processors, marketers and eaters!


November 12-14, 2013 in Madison, WI
Food Finance Accelerator

Elizabeth co-presented this workshop to build the capacity of entrepreneurs, investors, and finance professionals to successfully grow sustainable food businesses.

“We wanted to change the world so we started new local and environmentally sustainable food companies.  We personally invested in them.  We created new sources of socially oriented capital to fund them. Now we see that some of these businesses and funding models are working, and many others are not.  What’s the difference? It turns out that food businesses, local and otherwise, make money (and don’t) in predictable ways.  They also use the right kind of financing at the right time as their businesses evolve.  The more entrepreneurs, investors, and financial professionals have a common understanding of what works, the more successes we will have.”


October 24-26, 2013 in San Jose, CA
Net Impact Conference: Change Starts Here

Elizabeth moderated a workshop on innovative financing for sustainable food businesses at this leading forum for students and professionals who want to use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest social and environmental problems. In the conference evaluations, one attendee wrote that this was the “best session of the conference!”

VT Farm Viability Conf

September 25-27, 2013 in Middlebury, VT
Vermont Farm Viability Conference

The Vermont Farm Viability Program hosted a two-day gathering in Middlebury, Vermont for service and capital providers working to improve the viability of farms and food businesses. This conference was geared towards professionals in the fields of farm business planning, farm financial planning, agricultural financing, farmland conservation, agricultural market development, and food hub management. It was an opportunity to network and learn from other professionals in the field, develop new knowledge and skills, and visit farms and value-added processing facilities. Elizabeth co-presented a workshop entitled Trends in Farm and Value-Added Agricultural Finance.


September 25, 2013 in Baltimore, MD

Expo East’s NEXT Accelerator: Product-to-Shelf Workshop

Elizabeth co-presented a workshop on financing at this accelerator at Expo East, billed as “the place to come for the essential solutions that your young and growing brand needs to succeed. Our one-of-a kind conference program is packed with the premium speakers, experienced insights, and wise solutions targeted to natural products entrepreneurs – solutions you can’t get anywhere else. This year, our brand new, full-day program offers four strategic tracks packed with the information your band needs to succeed.”

Heirloom Expo

September 10-12, 2013 in Santa Rosa, CA
National Heirloom Exhibition

The National Heirloom Exposition is a not-for-profit event centered around the pure food movement, heirloom vegetables, and anti-GMO activism. Last year’s event drew more than 14,000 people from around the country and beyond.  The Heirloom Expo has gained incredible interest among home growers, farmers, school groups and the general public.

Point Reyes BooksMarin Organic

August 20, 2013 in Point Reyes Station, CA
Raising Dough: Financing Socially Responsible Businesses

Point Reyes Books joined with Slow Money North Bay, Mount Vision Local investment Opportunities Network (LION), and Marin Organic to present author Elizabeth Ü, author of Raising Dough: The Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business. The evening will explore the concept of Slow Money, outline capital options available for sustainable businesses, hear from entrepreneurs who have successfully raised dough, and offer ways to invest locally.


August 18, 2013 in San Francisco, CA
La Cocina’s Food & Entrepreneurship Conference 

Elizabeth co-presented a panel on financing food businesses during this event, the educational component of La Cocina’s popular Street Food Festival. For more details, click here. You can also check out the details of the 2012 conference.


July 20, 2013 in Oakland, CA
Jams, Sauces & Condiments: a Food Craft Institute Master Class
(Note: this workshop was part of a course that runs from June 8 — August 14)

This course, a spin on the Food Craft Institute’s popular Jams, Marmalades, and Chutneys Master Class, highlights the making of savory jams, sweet and spicy fruit salsas, fermented sauces and Asian condiments. It covers everything you need to know to own and run your own hand-made food business. Led by industry experts and business owner practitioners, Elizabeth presented a financing workshop during the July 20 class.


June 24-28, 2013 in Oakland, CA
Food Craft Institute’s Business Intensive

This 5-day intensive course was geared towards food artisan business owners seeking to grow their business expertise. The Business Intensive curriculum was specifically developed for existing food practitioners and was taught by professional consultants — including Elizabeth — who have developed their expertise working specifically with small to mid-scale food businesses. Students learned the ins and outs of business planning, marketing, raising capital, and much more.


June 21-23, 2013 in Palo Alto, CA
Hack//Meat: Reimagine the Future of Meat

Food+Tech Connect, in partnership with Finance for Food funder GRACE Communications Foundation and Applegate, brought together technologists, entrepreneurs, creatives, policy experts, non-profit leaders and industry executives to develop technologies and tools that help create a better future for meat.

Over the course of the weekend, teams worked with design-thinking facilitators and industry “steakholders” to rapidly prototype innovative solutions to the way meat is produced, processed, distributed, sold and consumed… and their projects continue! Elizabeth served as one of the mentors for the program.


June 22, 2013 in Sunol, CA
Slow Money Northern California’s Farm Fest

Slow Money Northern California celebrated another Farm Fest at Sunol Ag Park in Sunol, East Bay. Elizabeth was there to sign her book and give advice to investors and fundraisers alike. Attendees learned about how to support sustainable food systems, met the Slow Money movers, and had a great time networking with entrepreneurs, investors and our local community.

June 20, 2013 – wherever you are
Raising Dough: Financing for Food 
(a National Good Food Network webinar)

What are the most appropriate financing opportunities for food businesses, and when? Designed for people who work with food entrepreneurs — including nonprofit staff, government officials, lenders, investors, and financiers — this webinar will help you assess an entrepreneur’s business and personal values in order to help them more effectively raise money. (Fundraising entrepreneurs will also get a lot out of the content.) Watch for free here.

BALLE 2013

June 12-14, 2013 in Buffalo, NY
2013 BALLE Conference

The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) annual conference is always a tremendous value in terms of useful content, inspiration, fun, and opportunities to meet other movers-and-shakers who are strengthening local economies through food, finance, independent retail, independent media, community energy, and other building blocks that make up a thriving, local economy.

As part of the Community Capital Advisory Committee, Elizabeth has been helping plan the Community Capital track of the conference for the last two years, and is doing so again this year. She’ll be moderating a panel on creative ways for entrepreneurs to fund their businesses. She’s also excited to be formally launching her book, Raising Dough: the Complete Guide to Financing a Socially Responsible Food Business, at the event this year! Register by April 22 to take advantage of Early Bird special rates.


June 10, 2013 in New York, NY

Food system and agricultural entrepreneurs require more effective, coordinated technical and financial assistance. The goal of this work group meeting was to foster knowledge-sharing leading to stronger collaborations and building channels for future discussion catalyzing strategic deployment of capital. Participants were key representatives working on food system finance, including: impact investors, philanthropic funders, government allies, service providers and seasoned entrepreneurs. Elizabeth gave an introductory address, framing the issues and strategies for food finance. Ultimately, the group will set an agenda for an information-sharing network and schedule for possible future gatherings. Hosted by the Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders and Slow Money NYC.


June 10, 2013 in New York, NY
Finance for Food Workshop

Need dough to knead dough? Food entrepreneurs face persistent challenges accessing appropriate and adequate capital. Elizabeth presented this workshop outlining capital options available for sustainable food businesses — including pros, cons, criteria, and sources. Hosted by Slow Money NYC and The Moderns. For more information about this event, please visit the event website.

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May 18, 2013 in San Francisco, CA
Sow Your Seed Funding

Elizabeth kicked off this event by presenting the range of financing options at this workshop for food enterprises and their supporters. Hosted by Slow Money NorCal.

New Economy Summit

April 4-6, 2013 in Vancouver, BC, Canada
The New Economy Summit
This free event took place at the University of British Columbia; its mission was to build a network of relationships and generate ideas to contribute to the growing citizen movement for a socially just and ecologically responsible economy. Can Canada’s economy prioritize human well-being and a healthy ecosystem while ending economic stagnation? Elizabeth was part of a Big Ideas panel on redefining value, and she also co-presenting a workshop on Financing the Local Food Economy.


March 19, 2013 in Stanford, CA
Local Food Lab Food & Farm Venture Fair

The Local Food Lab‘s Winter Accelerator program culminated in a Venture Fair on March 19th at the Stanford Design School. Each Local Food Lab entrepreneur (plus a few others) showcased their sustainable business. Elizabeth was on hand as a resource and hosted a Finance for Food table at the event.

January 21-25, 2013 in Miami, FL

2013 Financial Permaculture & Local Business Summit

Earth Learning, the South Dade Economic Council, and Miami Dade College hosted community investment/financial experts (including Elizabeth), Permaculture designers, and sustainability entrepreneurs for this dynamic gathering and integrative learning experience to begin building resiliency in the Homestead community of Verde Gardens.

We addressed economic and ecological challenges of the 21st century as we explored creating money cycling, local investments, and forward-looking businesses that optimize the local natural systems and human capacities to implement models of regenerative business and local resiliency! Click here for more information about the event.

December 5-6, 2012 in Weyers Cave, VA
2012 Virginia Farm to Table Conference – Food and Farming at a Profitable and Sustainable Scale

On Thursday, December 6th, Elizabeth gave a plenary presentation on Financing Food Systems. She also co-presented two breakout panel presentations on Funding & Capital Opportunities.

November 11, 2012 in San Francisco, CA
Green Festival 

Elizabeth co-presented a workshop on Putting Money to Work for a Better World. It covered investing for social change and resilience – with plenty of interesting fodder for entrepreneurs seeking financing from like-minded investors, as well.

October 23, 2012 in San Francisco, CA
Fisheries Roundtable – Challenges and Opportunities: Lending & Borrowing in a Below Market Rate Space

Elizabeth laid out the landscape of difficulties that food entrepreneurs encounter while attempting to access capital during this funders-only, practitioner-level discussion focusing on below-market rate investments, and the challenges and opportunities that lenders and borrowers face in receiving and placing these sorts of investments. How can Foundations work together to break down barriers and stimulate greater investment in sustainable food systems? Part of Confluence Philanthropy’s MRI in Sustainable Fisheries and Food Systems Series, we discussed the various cash vehicles for investment, including cash deposits, PRI, and how grants can provide capacity to these organizations.


May 22 – 24, 2012 in Asheville, North Carolina
2012 Food & Community Convening – Assembly Required: Working Better Together Toward a Good Food Future for All

Elizabeth co-presented three 90-minute workshops at this national networking event, convened by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation: two on Good Food Financing, and one on the Business of Urban Farming. This invitation-only gathering convened diverse leaders to “work better together” on creating good food futures for all members of society. Elizabeth also be participated in an author’s expo on the evening of Tuesday the 22nd, promoting both her upcoming book and Michael Shuman’s recent book, Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity.

May 18 – 20, 2012 in Monterey, California
Cooking for Solutions Conference

Marketplace sustainability desk reporter Eve Troeh conducted an interview of Elizabeth during a plenary session entitled “Funding a Sustainable Future” at this event’s Sustainable Foods Institute on Friday, May 18th. The main conference consisted of three days of fun opportunities to enjoy great chefs, fine food and wine, and to discover ways to save the oceans—one meal at a time.

May 15 – 18, 2012 in Grand Rapids, Michigan
10th Annual BALLE Business Co
nference: Real Prosperity Starts Here

Elizabeth was part of the planning committee for the Accelerating Community Capital Intensive on Wednesday, May 16th, and the Accelerating Community Capital track at the main conference. More than 700 of the world’s most innovative community leaders, entrepreneurs, independent business owners, policymakers, economic development professionals, funders and investors gathered for BALLE’s 10 year anniversary in Grand Rapids. More details about the conference agenda can be found here.

February 26, 2012 in Berkeley, CA
Progressive Opportunities Conference

Elizabeth gave a presentation as part of the “Finance for Local (Food) Economies” sessions at this sold-out event, covering a variety of tools that entrepreneurs can use to raise financing from their community  members. Over the course of both sessions, she highlighted opportunities including online crowdfunding platforms, peer-to-peer lending sites, community-based fundraising models, and methods for formalizing friends and family loans.

The East Bay Express, who helped organize the conference, called Elizabeth “one of the most dynamic speakers at the event,” and called out these sessions as “particularly inspiring.” Read the entire review here.

February 9, 2012 in Point Reyes Station (West Marin County), CA
The Inspired Business Plan Series

Elizabeth co-presented a two-hour workshop on “How to Fund Your Business Venture.”  This was the fourth event in the Inspired Business Plan Series.


November 5 – 8, 2011 in Oakland, California.
15th Annual CFSC Conference, Food Justice: Honoring our Roots, Growing the Movement

Elizabeth designed and co-presented a workshop entitled “Money, power and the class dynamics of fundraising,” which took place on Tuesday, November 8th.

The workshop description asked: “Want to develop a deeper understanding of the fundraising process and purpose? Got strong feelings and attitudes about money, power, and class dynamics?” Through art, interactive exercises, and pair sharing, participants in this workshop unpacked money myths and stories while learning community-building fundraising skills in a supportive, confidential space.

October 20, 2011
Funding Food Hubs: Dozens of Ideas
(a National Good Food Network webinar)

Food hubs hold great promise as a key component of a sustainable, regional food system. They do face challenges, however. For one, most food hub models require significant infrastructure, which can make starting or expanding operations difficult or impossible without external capital.

Fortunately, being innovative triple bottom line businesses, qualifying food hubs can have a number of opportunities to access that capital. But where specifically should a hub look? Grants? Loans? PRIs? Investors? What is available, and which are good opportunities? Under what conditions Is it wise for a hub to take out a loan? How should hubs present themselves to have the best chance for success? Does a beginning hub have different opportunities than a more mature hub? Are grants only available to nonprofit hubs or can for profit hubs and co-ops also access grants?

On October 20, the National Food Hub Collaboration assembled a panel of funding experts – including Elizabeth – to illustrate the many conventional and unconventional ways food hubs can secure needed capital. Three hubs from across the country, each quite different from each other, described their operation and their capital needs. Then our expert panel advised each hub in turn on how to best access grants, loans, and other creative financing sources appropriate to that hub (and those similar to that hub).

You can watch the recording, download the slides, and learn more about the presenters here.

October 12-14 in San Francisco, CA
Slow Money 3rd National Gathering

Elizabeth designed and co-presented the “Show Me the Money: Capital Opportunities for Businesses” panel.

Entrepreneurs have more financing options than ever before to raise capital for our businesses. But how can we choose which are a good fit for our businesses if we don’t know that half of them exist, much less how they work? In this session, finance industry experts painted a picture of the ever-evolving capital markets landscape, identifying the many financing options available, from local versions of traditional debt and equity, to newfangled revenue sharing and crowdfunding models, and beyond. This panel was designed for entrepreneurs seeking capital.

June 21-24, 2011 in Minneapolis, MN
Sustainable Ag & Food Systems Funders Forum: Creativity at the River’s Edge, Funding change in food & farming systems

Elizabeth designed the event’s Next Generation Philanthropy workshop.

June 14-17, 2011 in Bellingham, WA:
Living Economies 2011 BALLE Business Conference: Place Matters 
“The New Economy is being shaped at the grassroots level. Connect, share and learn from 700 pioneering business owners and investors, elected officials, philanthropists, economic development professionals and BALLE network leaders as we spotlight the most innovative and entrepreneurial approaches to growing healthy, resilient local economies.”

Elizabeth is part of BALLE’s Community Capital advisory committee. She moderated two consecutive panels on Friday the 17th: the first a presentation of the many financing options available to businesses that support local living economies, and the second an Q&A opportunity for participants to workshop their specific fundraising challenges with the capital markets experts.

Accelerating Community Capital Intensive (part of the BALLE conference)
“This hands-on workshop will use place as the lens to understand how to meet regional needs with regional resources, and identify the kinds of capital needed to get there. The day will feature some fifteen of the most promising pilot projects and innovators developing models for connecting regional investors with regional businesses. Participants will group themselves by region to jointly create plans to catalyze community capital in their areas.”

Elizabeth shared the Master of Ceremonies role for this event with Michael Shuman of BALLE. She also moderated a panel of three community capital innovators who shared their personal experiences using place as their investment lens. Each of these pioneers combines philanthropy, equity, loans, and capacity support to grow thriving, local networks of entrepreneurs, using regional resources to meet regional needs.

April 19-21 in Detroit, MI: 
Making Good Food Work 
“A three-day participatory conference and incubation laboratory designed to develop innovative solutions and document best practices for distributing local and regional food, with a focus on underserved communities.”

Elizabeth co-led a both a workshop (“Access to Capital – Where to find it, how to qualify”) and an issue-based team that collected several resources related to raising capital, including groundbreaking information on using USDA programs to benefit food hubs.

March 29, 2011 in Watsonville, CA:
California Farmlink’s Farm Finance Expo: Resources for Financing Your Farm Business
“One stop shopping for agricultural loans”

Elizabeth gave a presentation focusing on micro- and social network-based lending.

On February 12, 2011, Elizabeth Ü of Finance for Food spoke at TEDxManhattan “Changing the Way We Eat” in New York City.   This one-day TEDx event explored the US food system — from what happened, to where we are, to what we are doing to change to a more sustainable way of eating and farming.  In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.  The Glynwood Institute for Sustainable Food and Farming was the lead sponsor for “Changing the Way We Eat.”

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