New Foundation Farms reaches £1 million in equity funding

Article by Mark Drewell & Marcus Link, Founders & Collaborative CEOs pf New Foundation Farms

New Foundation Farms is buzzing with excitement and gratitude because we have passed the incredible milestone of £1 million in equity funding commitments. This funding means we can go full-steam ahead on what we call our “pathway to soil” and get New Foundation Farms operational.

We are already looking forward to our next announcement in a few weeks’ time when we will be updating people on where in the UK our first field-to-fork hub will be based.

Everyone involved in the regeneration movement knows how hard it is to raise money to transform farming and the food system. Our collective challenge is that, generally, we are not talking about enterprises that excite venture capitalists with the potential to become the next billion dollar tech unicorn. The software development cycle of a technology company often runs in two-week sprints, while land-based ecological systems like farms have much longer seasonal cycles. This means that the world of food and farming needs a more patient approach to funding which can then be rewarded with fair investment returns in the long run. For now, broadly speaking, the pool of capital that actually focuses this way in reality is (still) small.

You might say, “Surely, that is the world of impact investing?” Well, yes, it is in theory. However, much of that world is still hostage to the conventional “categorisation mindset” that looks for substantial investment returns in exchange for funding anything new even if it can, at least on the face of it, be categorised as regenerative. We have seen several potential investors come and go because they essentially struggle to accommodate a “systems perspective” and instead focus on making industrial approaches more sustainable.

Perhaps that isn’t altogether surprising when you think about how the world of managing money is hard-wired to understand some kinds of risk, e.g. “It’s a new concept”, while being unable to properly pay attention to other risks, e.g. “Our entire food system is destroying the natural systems on which we depend for our existence”.

It always takes courageous visionary people to step into an unknown future and we have been delighted to be able to find them in our funders who have stepped forward to become co-stewards. They are extraordinary individuals and family offices who share our vision of transforming the food system with a radical natural approach to farming. Their defining characteristic is the ability to recognise that fundamental change is needed and the strength of their convictions to align their investment decisions with those convictions. We are feeling very privileged to have them on board.

So, as we mark and celebrate this milestone, it’s a good moment to reflect on events this far. Since we set up New Foundation Farms in 2019, it has indeed been quite a journey:

  • We have researched and analysed the potential of transforming the food system, internationally
  • We have built CowHow, the prototype of the kind of design, planning, management and measurement systems which we believe will underlie effectively scaled and fully regenerative transitions (not just tweaks to today’s industrial farming systems)
  • We have refined our models from an original 1,000 acre scale so that they now work on farms a quarter of that size
  • We have self funded for 3 years spending our savings, taking personal loans and living off the generosity of friends and families
  • Then, in 2022, we sought our first external funding in the form of convertible loan notes. We found the offer taken up by so many people that the funding round was oversubscribed
  • We used that funding to build our New Foundation Farms team, gathering together an extraordinary and wonderful group of skilled passionate people
  • The holders of those convertible notes will now become shareholders as the success of this funding round triggers the conversion
  • We have also expanded the work of sharing our vision of a transformation in the food system more widely

But above all else, we have maintained our conviction and determination to play our part in building that new food system: one that is based on high-functioning, abundant nature producing an abundance of high-quality, healthy and affordable food. Food that will mostly be eaten by local people. Everywhere.

Our ambition is to grow, rear, process and home-deliver nutrient-dense, affordable food and do that at scale in a way that has never been done before in the UK. At every harvest, the landscape will be better off than before. Our courageous, inspiring and inspired funders are enabling us to turn that dream into a reality.


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