We provide financing to small and mid-size sustainable farmers through online, crowdfunded investments. Unlike traditional funding models, this creates a win-win for both farmers and sustainability-minded investors: farmers get the land and equipment they need and investors earn a return on their money with the added ROI of knowing their funding supports a sustainable and regenerative food system. Ultimately, this network of beneficial relationships translates to healthy profit for investors, farmers, and the land they steward.
Our work allows Steward-backed farmers to focus their energy on the most important part of the process—making sure their actions produce high-quality products while enhancing the health of their farm ecosystem.
As our farm partners grow, their businesses increase in value and profit, allowing farmers to pay back the loan they used to purchase land or equipment, with interest.
We are fully committed to building and supporting profitable businesses. But our end goal is more ambitious than that. We are supporting a world-changing movement. Food has always been part of what defines human culture. What communities grow, and how they grow it, says a lot about who they are and what they value. Our current industrial food system displays a cultural obsession with speed, convenience, and consistency, often obtained at the expense of taste, sustainability, health, community, and connection.
Steward is a response to a global awakening to a better way—a desire to connect more closely to our food that transcends borders and backgrounds.
Of course, changing a global food system is no simple task. The farmers dedicating their lives to what Mark Shepard calls “restoration agriculture” face a host of challenges: climate uncertainty, regulatory restrictions, centuries of soil degradation, and pressure to grow big rather than right. At Steward, we know that even a small investment can change farms and communities. While we can’t eliminate all the challenges facing these farmers, we can alleviate one major concern: funding. By providing the resources needed to secure that extra acre, tractor, or talented set of hands, we are helping secure a future in which the next generation (ideally the next seven generations) will be able to eat healthier, grow more resiliently, and flourish with the lands they call home.
In a sustainable agricultural system, there is no isolation. Interdependence is the name of the game. Healthy soils lead to healthy crops, farmers, communities, and economies. Steward exists to strengthen these relationships by building partnerships that not only benefit ourselves, but also the farmers who pour their hearts into growing exceptional products and restoring their land. When these farms thrive, we all reap the benefits.
The impacts of a disconnect from our food and our earth extend far beyond the dinner table. That disconnect alters the way we interact with each other and our surroundings. As we strive to restore that relationship, we envision stronger communities, a healthier environment, inclusive economic development, and a renewed sense of purpose for all involved.
We understand these are lofty goals, but that’s why we’re not trying to achieve them alone.
The short answer—together.
Committed visionaries grow and manage the farms we partner with. Our Farm Stewards—sustainable agriculture experts—visit each project to evaluate the land, market, practices, and underlying business. Every member of our staff has personal ties to small-scale agriculture that fuels their work each and every day. Our investors have an eye to the future and want their dollars to make a long-lasting impact while earning a healthy return.
At Steward, we want farmers who grow great products in a life-giving manner to flourish. We are committed to providing access to the financial capital that makes that possible, but we're also finding that the farmers we partner with need help with other aspects of their business, such as bookkeeping, website development, regulatory applications, and research. We expect to offer even more services as we grow with our farm partners.
If you believe true security is found where the bull market meets the farmer’s market—in diversity, community, and interdependence, then we want you with us on this journey.
If you want to go far, go together.
Traceability is key in a sustainable food system, and we think it’s essential in agricultural investment too. This is our origin story:
Steward was founded by Dan Miller, whose family has agricultural roots on the Eastern Shore of Maryland that date back to 1884. Unfortunately, like so many other small family farms, their farm was eventually squeezed out by larger producers, and his mom’s generation was the first to make a living removed from the family land.
After growing up in his family real estate business, Dan co-founded Fundrise, the first real estate crowdfunding platform in the United States. Though invigorated by the project’s success, he began searching for something more.
As he spent time in his family’s ancestral homeland on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, he began to connect with young farmers. Dan quickly learned how few had access to the funding they needed to grow and succeed. Many of these agricultural entrepreneurs had established their operations on leased land and built a strong customer base of restaurants and individuals, but lending institutions like banks and government entities weren’t adapting to meet the needs of the next generation of agricultural stewards.
With this realization, everything clicked into place: Dan wanted to help rebuild the small-farm economy that his family participated in until recently. At the crossroads of his passion and experience, Dan saw the potential for crowdfunding to bridge this gap in the sustainable agricultural system. Thus, Steward was born.