Down to Earth

Amanda Zakharov is Director of Investments and Martín Lemos is Director of Impact and Agriculture at Dirt Capital Partners, a firm dedicated to investing in farmers doing regenerative agriculture. By helping them to gain secure land access, to improve and grow their businesses, and to contribute to the environment and their communities, Dirt Capital is looking to not only transform how agriculture is done in the US, but how investing itself is done, by focusing on the real impact of investment, and the good––or harm––that it does to ecosystems and communities.

3’06 how Dirt Capital Partners started
3’50 what “regenerative” means in this context–a holistic approach that includes ecological and community resilience
5’19 “impact investors” want to invest in regenerative ag and also to get their money back
6’25 Dirt’s role is to be a bridge to land ownership, eventually with a traditional lender
7’11 learning the language of finance for farmers
9’55 evaluating whether a farmer is a good investment
11’04 different ways of working with farmers–leasing, mortgage, joint venture, etc.
12’25 the use of conservation easements and how they work for farmers
14’24 how they find the farmers
15’33 Martín’s background at the National Young Farmers Coalition and as a farmer
18’23 farmers and interest rates
19’11 the term “private equity” comes with baggage. But they’re about impact before big profits
20’36 working at the speed of nature–“slow money”
21’36 how they find the impact investors
24’03 size of the farms
27’03 what kinds of returns are the investors getting
28’23 low risk, none of their farmers have failed
29’21 working with renewable energy companies
32’45 succession planning
35’47 building the field of investing in regenerative agriculture
37’10 the openness in the investment community parallels the openness in regenerative ag
38’56 disrupting not only the food but the whole finance system
40’01 the challenges and rewards of this work