Fair World Project Launches Grow Ahead Crowdfunding Platform to Facilitate Direct Lending and More for Small-Scale Farmers

May 2, 2017

Lauren Berlekamp
[email protected]

Fair World Project Launches Grow Ahead Crowdfunding Platform to Facilitate Direct Lending and More for Small-Scale Farmers

Leading Fair Trade Advocacy Group Provides Agroecological Strategies for Climate Resilience and Hunger Relief

PORTLAND, OREGONLeading fair trade advocacy organization, Fair World Project (FWP), has announced the launch of Grow Ahead, a crowdfunding platform to facilitate direct lending, farmer to farmer trainings, and scholarships to support farmer-led agroecology projects throughout the Global South. For the first time, individual consumers can forge an intimate link with frontline farmer organizations, directly fund farmer initiatives, and support the global effort to address climate change on the farm.

“Small-scale farmer organizations in the developing world are historically under-resourced, with limited access to the capital needed to grow their organizations beyond their day-to-day needs. Most development funding for agriculture is focused on industrial and chemical-dependent practices, often through a single company’s supply chain, or as part of an initiative focused on a single technology. Grow Ahead intends to bridge the resource and funding gap, acting as a launch pad for larger, regional agroecological development campaigns that focus on whole farm systems, not solely on individual commodities,” states Fair World Project Executive Director Dana Geffner.

In 2015, Fair World Project (FWP) collaborated with the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Fair Trade Small Producers (CLAC) in a contest soliciting small-scale farmer groups to share their experiences and best practices in confronting climate change in their communities. Farmer submissions demonstrated impressive steps to adjust to the growing challenge of climate change, by diversifying farms, promoting on-farm innovation, and improving soil fertility, among other practices. To read more about this project, http://clac-comerciojusto.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/climate-change-latin-america.pdf

“These agroecological strategies for combating climate change and feeding hungry communities, such as use of cover-crops and compost to sequester carbon and boost soil fertility and organic matter, must be a global priority, scaling up and out in coming years. Small-scale farmer organizations have the potential to quickly and effectively implement cost-effective climate-resilient tactics, while simultaneously generating a multiplier effect, expanding their experience and organizational impact,” states Grow Ahead Director Ryan Zinn.

Despite the serious threat that climate change poses to humanity in general, and to small-scale farmers in particular, proven solutions like small-scale regenerative agriculture that have a long track record of success. However, these regenerative methods proven to mitigate climate change receive little government or market support and safeguards.

Grow Ahead seeks to overcome the lack of funding for these solutions, by allowing consumers and organizations (like churches, non-profits) to lend, or make a direct donation, to support agroecological solutions and farmer-led trainings in the following focus areas.

  • A revolving loan program for farmer-developed resiliency projects, such as agroforestry, soil conservation and yield-boosting compost operations.
  • Regional farmer to farmer trainings that will facilitate farmers’ ability to share successes and resources. These exchanges will include the creation of written and multimedia resources, encapsulating farmer experiences and learnings, to share with other farmers. Farmer to farmer exchanges are the most cost effective and culturally appropriate method for farmer training.
  • A farm leader “multiplier” agroecology scholarship program, that will provide scholarships for farm leaders and trainers to attend farmer-centric agroecology schools.

To learn more, loan funds or make a donation to Grow Ahead, visit: http://www.GrowAhead.org.


Fair World Project (FWP) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the use of the term “fair trade” in the marketplace, expand markets for authentic fair trade, educate consumers about key issues in trade and agriculture, advocate for policies leading to a just economy, and facilitate collaborative relationships to create true system change.  FWP publishes a bi-annual publication entitled For a Better World. For more information, visit: http://www.fairworldproject.org.

Grow Ahead is an online lending and funding program that connects individuals and organizations directly to family farmer organizations. By lending through and contributing through Grow Ahead, consumers and organizations will be able to support the agroecological solutions and farmer-led trainings that have a proven track record of success in farming communities. For more information, visit: http://www.growahead.org