"How to succeed in business by slowing down."
BRATTLEBORO >>Strolling of the Heifers announces the sixth annual Slow Living Summit conference, an exploration of entrepreneurship in the food and agriculture sector, taking place April 28 to 30.
The Summit will feature a roster of well-known speakers and presenters including Will Raap, founder of Gardeners Supply, Cairn Cross of FreshTracks Capital, Bob Wellington, VP of Agri-mark Dairy Cooperative, Barbi and Paul Schulick, founders of New Chapter, Tanya Fields, founder of the BLK Projek, and Fred "Chico" Lager, former CEO of Ben & Jerry's.
These and many other session leaders will explore key topics in food and agriculture entrepreneurship including business planning, funding sources, refining and pitching ideas, ownership structures, social impact, collaboration, and food and agriculture business case studies.
The organizers invite participation by farmers, entrepreneurs, students, funders, educators, consultants, and concerned citizens.
The Summit's subtitle is "How to succeed in business by slowing down."
"Yes, you read that right," said Shanta Evans-Crowley, the coordinator of the conference. "In the age of accelerators and start-ups, we want you to know that doing well and doing good includes taking a moment to slow down."
Concurrent with the Summit, Strolling of the Heifers is launching Windham Grows, a food and agriculture "business hatchery." Led by a pair of seasoned "entrepreneurs-in-residence," Windham Grows will seek out, evaluate and nurture the best farm and food startup and scale-up stage businesses in the region by providing them with custom-tailored packages of mentorship, consulting, services, resources and access to financing.
Key Summit sessions will include: "Nourishing Slow while growing Fast: The New Chapter founders' story," with the keynote plenary presentation by Barbi and Paul Schulick, founders of New Chapter.
Other sessions include "Get a scoop of the action," how Ben and Jerry defied conventional wisdom, and how the lessons learned are applicable to entrepreneurs fundraising today, presented by Fred "Chico" Lager, the ice-cream company's former CEO; "From small to big by choice: how to navigate growth," presented by Cairn Cross of FreshTracks Capital and Alan Newman of Alchemy & Science; "The road well-traveled but sparsely funded" — a discussion by Tanya Field of the BLK Projek about the problems faced by minority professional who delve into the world of urban agriculture and food enterprises; "Slow Medicine for the Entrepreneur How do creative, passionate, and committed people need to take care of themselves in order to reach their goals?" presented by Dr. Michael Finkelstein, the "Slow Medicine Doctor"; "Fix, pivot, close, or sell: Re-thinking the food and ag business model," presented by Bob Wellington of Agri-mark, and Gabriel Cole, founder of Fare Resources; "Cooperatives: Beyond Profit and Non-profit" —presented by Don Kreis of the Vermont Law School, Erbin Crowell of the Neighboring Food Coops Association, and Matthew Cropp of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center; "Impossible is a dare: How your food business can become a force for social transformation and planetary healing" — led by Shel Horowitz, author of the book "Guerilla Marketing Goes Green"; and "Summing up and moving forward" — the closing plenary presented by Matt Dunne, VP for Community Affairs, Google; and Clark Wolf, President and Founder of the Clark Wolf Company.
Since 2011, the annual Slow Living Summit has explored topics of sustainable living and resilient communities, always taking the "Slow" approach to entrepreneurship — the organizers say that "Slow Living" embodies cooperation, celebration, respect, purpose, sustainability, gratitude, mindfulness, and resilience.
Evans-Crowley announced that support from sponsors and foundations again makes it possible for the Summit to offer reduced rates for people not able to afford the full registration rates.
"We encourage everyone to visit the website and explore the program, and if you want to come but can't afford the full fee, please check out the stipended registration option, which is open to Summiteers with lower incomes. It essentially lets you choose your own registration fee level."
There is also a discounted student rate. Rather than serving a buffet lunch, Summit organizers this year encourage attendees to lunch at downtown eateries, many of which serve locally-sourced foods.
The full Summit schedule, biographies of speakers and artists, and registration information can be found at the Summit website, www.slowlivingsummit.org.
Based in Brattleboro, Strolling of the Heifers has been best known for its annual celebration of farmers and local food, the Strolling of the Heifers Parade and Expo attracting tens of thousands of people on the first weekend of June.
But that weekend event, says Orly Munzing, the Stroll's founder and executive director, simply helps to raise funds for "the Stroll's real work" — the organization's year-round programs, including not only the Slow Living Summit but also the Farm-to-Plate Apprenticeship Program (which trains underemployed people for culinary jobs and places them into permanent employment), the Locavore Index (which ranks the 50 states in terms of their commitment to healthy local food) and Windham Grows, a new program designed to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the food and agriculture sector.