Proofing Station increases access to capital for small and mid-sized entities in the Midwest regional food and agriculture supply chain.
Proofing Station offers financial products and technical assistance to enterprises engaged throughout the food system.
Proofing Station advances ecological sustainability, social and racial equity, and economic resilience.
Capital is a persistent challenge for many who produce, process, package, distribute, sell, and serve food in the Midwest. Despite there being many capital providers in the Midwest covering food and agriculture, access to the appropriate type or combination of capital continues to be elusive for many high-impact, market-engaged entities.
Proofing Station’s inaugural initiative is an impact-first investment fund focused on investing integrated capital in entities operating across all sectors in the food and agriculture supply chain.
Proofing Station’s investments focus around these identified market gaps:
Engaging Excluded Market Players
Owners and operators from divested groups (Black, Indigenous, and people of color; women; nonconventional farming operations) lack access to capital and support to grow their operations.
Access to Land and Real Assets
Farmers and ranchers need longer-term access to more land and real assets to match the long-term nature of sustainable and just operating models.
Expanding Regional Infrastructure
Insufficient supply chain infrastructure inhibits the growth of new agricultural products and markets that could impact regional communities and a changing climate.
Advancing Sustainable Cultivation
Many operators lack access to investment capital to transition to or expand organic and regenerative farming practices.
The geographic focus of the fund is the Chicago foodshed and states in the Upper Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota).
The fund intends to demonstrate that flexible capital can be effectively deployed to a wide spectrum of entrepreneurs advancing growth and resilience in the regional food system.
Proofing Station seeks to work collaboratively with existing and emergent financiers—from farm credit coops to community development financial institutions, to a new set of commercial sustainable food and agriculture funds—to address unique capital needs in the food system.
Proofing Station is a collaborative venture, a 501(c)(3) enterprise. Torana Group, a private investment firm, manages the investment fund.
The founding funders of Proofing Station are Food:Land:Opportunity, Lumpkin Family Foundation, and Margot L. Pritzker Fund. Proofing Station anticipates that its support will continue to come from public charities and family offices that are focused on supporting the Midwest regional food and agriculture ecosystem.