PORTLAND, Ore. -- Steward, the world's first crowdfarming platform, announced it is now open to individual investors. Founded by CEO Dan Miller, Steward enables people to invest directly in sustainable farms.
Unlike traditional funding methods, Steward's crowdfarming model creates a win-win for both farmers and investors. Farms are able to purchase the land and equipment they need, and individuals earn a return while supporting regenerative agriculture.
"Access to capital is a critical problem that limits farmers, but for every farm in need of funding, there are many supporters ready to invest," Miller said. "We created Steward as a platform for individuals to invest directly in sustainable farms, knowing their dollars will earn a return while making a positive impact."
Steward offers a variety of investment options, including in a diversified portfolio of farm loans, individual farm loans, or Steward itself. The company vets each farm, and develops a customized plan with the farmer for the funds they need to grow and operate their business.
Steward has invested more than $2.2 million in 16 farms to date. Farmers that are benefitting from these investments include Fisheye Farms, an urban farm in Detroit; Beiler's Heritage Acres, a certified organic grain and dairy farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; and Iverstine Family Farms, a sustainable pastured livestock farm in Kentwood, Louisiana.
Fisheye Farms utilizes natural and sustainable practices to grow produce, herbs and flowers for area restaurants, farmers markets and neighbors. With the loan received from Steward, the owners were able to purchase land and significantly increase the farm's size, as well as establish a hoophouse, packhouse and needed utilities. As a result, they have rapidly increased their sales and are working with many new restaurants in the area.
Beiler's Heritage Acres is run by Amish farmer Omar Beiler. The co-op that purchased his milk went out of business, so he had no outlet for his dairy. Steward funded the purchase of new equipment so Omar could make butter, yogurt, cream and other dairy products, which he is now selling directly to markets and restaurants including James Beard award-winning chef Spike Gjerde's Woodberry Kitchen.
Iverstine Family Farms was able to use its loan from Steward to purchase new cattle and pigs to help scale up the farm's business, and significantly improve its cash flow.
"The Steward model gives the power back to the people while revitalizing farm economies, restoring native ecosystems, and making fresh food more accessible to everyone," Miller said.
Miller combines his background in investment crowdfunding, real estate, and technology with a passion for agriculture stemming from his maternal family, which has been farming on the Eastern Shore of Maryland since the 1880s. He was previously co-founder, president and director of Fundrise, the largest US real estate crowdfunding platform, which has raised more than $500 million to date.