For the last few years, I have attended the Gratitude Railroad Investor Retreat in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. Best guess is that you have never heard of Gratitude Railroad or may be uncertain about what, exactly, it is and does.
The Gratitude Railroad is a community whose underlying philosophy is evident in their four objectives: 1) build community and educate; 2) make purposeful investments, 3) inspire others and 4) be a force for greater good. In a nutshell, the annual Gratitude Retreat is designed to connect the brightest investors with thought leaders and ecosystem partners to discuss, debate and act on investment opportunities that matter.
Using Capitalism as a Force for Social Good
I find intriguing and inspiring this idea of harnessing the skills, experience and capital of partners in an active endeavor to do good. Gratitude Railroad is guided by the belief that capitalism is a powerful and effective system that can be integrated with core elements such as trust, compassion, collaboration and shared value creation to bring about good while also generating profits. Members cultivate a sense of gratitude for this community and the opportunities we have.
At last year’s retreat, I spoke on a panel about soil health. I encourage you to read my previous blog, "Re-Imagine Soil: How Are You Helping to Shape the Future of Sustainable Agriculture?” In that blog, I explain my connection, as a fifth-generation farmer, with the soil – through concern about nutritious food and farming, sustainability and the global food system. We’re all connected to the soil – to food and farming - in one or more ways. Each of us is responsible for discovering those connections and interacting with others to broaden our understanding and explore what’s possible.
The Triple Bottom Line
This year’s Gratitude Railroad retreat focused on developing relationships with impact-oriented investors and businesses and also emphasized women-led business. As the new CEO of Family Farms, LLC, I was happy to share with other attendees our organization’s commitment to positive economic, social and environmental impact. In many investment circles, this is referred to as a “triple bottom line” – beyond a purely financial bottom line.
We believe family farms are one of the vital threads in the fabric of our nation. The values of hard work and honesty make up part of the legacy handed down from generation to generation in farm families. Unfortunately, living by these core values is not enough to ensure success of their farm business in these times of economic volatility and changing global trade relations.
And this is where capitalism can be harnessed to do good. Investors in agriculture are needed today to help farm families gain the business and technological skills and tools they need to successfully compete and build a valuable legacy to pass on to the next generation. Where better to invest funds intended to make our world a better place to live than with those who have boots on the ground, those whose hands get dirty growing the food to feed the world?
Investment in Family Farms
Think of the opportunities farmers have to make a difference in our economy, our society and our environment. With technological breakthroughs being applied to agriculture in the office and out in the field – irrigation, variable rate applications of fertilizer and pesticide, robots, aerial images, agbots, precision ag, and even ERP systems – opportunities abound for improving food quality and quantity around the globe while also enabling farm families to continue their farming legacy. Talk about potential for changing our world through relationships that will prove to be a win-win. To me, family farms hold a persuasive “triple bottom line” investment opportunity! Pursuing this impact with our farm families and partners is what gets me out of bed each morning – and that’s another reason for gratitude.
FamilyFarms Group is a member-owned group of family farm businesses. We offer a professional staff and ag-specific technology to assist farm owners with many aspects of farm management and operations. Contact us to learn more.