Brightmoor's Artesian Farms and the power of impact investing

In just 36 square feet of growing space, Detroit's Artesian Farms can grow as much produce as a 3700-square-foot conventional farm or garden. 

The indoor farm's motto is "Grown in Detroit for goodness sake." Their commitment to "goodness" includes employing residents from the neighborhood who might face hurdles in finding gainful employment and managing blight by re-using vacant space.
"Artesian farms wouldn't have happened without impact investing," says Jeff Adams, managing partner of Artesian Farms. 

Impacting investing, or "mission investing," is not grantmaking — it's when a foundation or other mission-based organization makes an investment to further its philanthropic goals. (You can learn more about mission investing here.)

"Impact investing is a tool foundations use to support organizations beyond just grants," says Meredith Freeman, Senior Program Officer at the Max and Marjorie Fisher Foundation. That support could come in the form of program-related investments or equity investments in social enterprises.

In 2014, the Fisher Foundation made a low-interest loan to Artesian Farms in Brightmoor, a neighborhood that the foundation has supported for over 10 years. Artesian Farms is paying the loan off over five years. The loan has helped the farm repurpose a warehouse building that had been vacant since 1998. 

Recently, the Fisher Foundation approved the conversion of the loan to an equity investment, which has been one of Artesian Farm's business goals. In addition to attracting more equity investors, Artesian Farms plans to grow its workforce from two people to 12 people. 

Learn more in this video, produced by Issue Media Group in partnership with the Council of Michigan Foundations, and visit to learn more about CMF's support for impact investing across the state of Michigan. 
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.