Gratitude Railroad and Blackdirt Capital unveil new farmland fund

Investment firm Gratitude Railroad has launched the Gratitude Farmland Fund, which is focused on regenerative agriculture. The target is $40 million. GFF is interested in acquiring farms in the southeastern U.S. GFF is a joint venture between Gratitude Railroad and Blackdirt Capital.


NEW YORK, Aug. 18, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Gratitude Railroad, an investment firm focused on educating, inspiring, convening and catalyzing investors and investments in for-profit, mission-driven businesses, today announced the launch of the Gratitude Farmland Fund (GFF), a real asset fund targeting $40 million in capital commitments and focused on regenerative agriculture. GFF seeks to acquire farmland in regions where land is undervalued relative to production value. The Fund seeks to make its first investments in acquiring farms in the southeastern U.S. GFF furthers Gratitude Railroad’s mission of promoting investment in for profit-businesses that generate top-tier returns while also providing a positive social or environmental impact.

Gratitude Railroad was founded in 2013 by Howard Fischer and Eric Jacobsen on the conviction that investors should be able to invest in for-profit, mission-driven businesses without sacrificing returns. Both founders bring a proven track record as investors and entrepreneurs to the world of impact investing, and believe that their investment knowledge and skill at managing financial businesses and products are the key to helping mission-driven businesses generate top-tier returns while also advancing the cause of conscious capitalism. They are joined in the venture by Managing Partner Thomas Knowles and Board Members Joseph Hammer and Sarah Berner.

Their first investment through Gratitude Railroad, the Builder’s Fund, is a lower middle market private equity fund focused on established growth stage companies across health & wellness, food & agriculture and resource efficiency delivering positive economic and social and environmental impact.

Gratitude Farmland Fund, managed by David Nicola, is a joint venture formed by Gratitude Railroad and Blackdirt Capital, founded by Nicola. The Fund seeks to make its first investments in acquiring farms in the southeastern U.S., where there is a perceived alignment of necessary factors to produce high quality beef and dairy products at competitive prices. Nicola brings 13 years of experience in farmland investing, portfolio management, trading, and private equity investing. Over the past six years he has focused on managing investments and building strategies in the U.S. sustainable agriculture sector with a focus on grass-fed beef, grass-fed and organic dairy, and organic grain.

“Gratitude Farmland Fund represents the culmination of years of study, analysis and exploration across regions and agricultural production types by both David and the Gratitude Railroad team to identify the most compelling financial, social and environmental food production opportunities to invest in,” said Fischer. “With his strong investment background and deep grounding in regenerative agriculture, David embodies the kind of investment professional that we seek to attract and partner with to advance our mission.”

“I am very excited to be part of the Gratitude Railroad team and am proud to help realize their vision of scaling investment in businesses that make our world a better place while generating meaningful returns for investors,” said Nicola. “I believe that sustainable agriculture businesses, particularly in the grass-fed beef and dairy sectors, are uniquely positioned to offer compelling investment opportunities while also advancing important social and ecological impact.”

In addition to its investments, Gratitude Railroad actively cultivates a network of like-minded investment professionals, entrepreneurs and operators, whom we call our Gratitude Railroad Network, all of whom are committed to the mission of conscious capitalism. We believe that through our collective action and passion to inspire others to act, we can find market-based solutions to the world’s pressing economic, social and environmental problems.

“Gratitude Railroad believes that by encouraging the participation of experienced investment professionals, entrepreneurs and operators from the traditional capital markets in the mission of conscious capitalism, we can accelerate the profitable deployment of large sums of capital to grow mission-driven businesses,” said Jacobsen. “Our Gratitude Railroad Network shares a belief in the positive role traditional finance and business can play through investment in businesses that improve the world we live in. Our mission is to prove we can deliver top tier returns while delivering positive impact and when we demonstrate that at scale we will unlock the traditional capital markets to focus on impact.”

Prior to founding Blackdirt Capital, Nicola served as a Portfolio Manager and Trader at BlueMountain Capital Management, a Director of Investments at a CT-based family office focused on food and agriculture, and an Investment Banking Analyst at Citigroup. Nicola holds an M.B.A. from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and a B.S. from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.
Gratitude Railroad Network Convening

Gratitude Railroad is defined as much by its community as by its investments. Every autumn, the Gratitude Railroad Network gathers to identify and discuss potential opportunities and to help grow and expand the Network’s reach and our impact. This year’s convening, the fourth of its kind, will be held from September 25-28 at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. For more information, please visit

About Gratitude Railroad
Gratitude Railroad is an investment firm focused on educating, inspiring, convening and catalyzing investors and investments in for-profit, mission-driven businesses. It was founded in 2013 by Howard Fischer and Eric Jacobsen after attending the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. Howard, a hedge fund CEO, and Eric, a tech entrepreneur and private equity investor, developed Gratitude Railroad to transform traditional capitalism into a force for solving critical environmental and social problems.

Gratitude Railroad develops investment funds across asset classes with leading investment professionals delivering top tier returns and solving social and environmental problems.

Gratitude Railroad can operate from concept through execution by partnering with leading investment professionals, helping define the investment strategy, providing seed capital for the fund, being advisors and co-investment partners. In addition to its fund incubation efforts, Gratitude Railroad makes direct investments in for-profit mission driven operating companies across stage and sector.

Gratitude Railroad also serves as a community and catalyst for investors to learn, discuss and invest across asset classes focused on delivering top tier returns and helping to solve environmental and social challenges.
To learn more, invest with us or join the Gratitude Railroad Network, please visit