Now you can use your retirement funds to invest in your favorite good cause. Here’s how

In a grain field on a sunny morning, Erin Axelrod filled a pan with orange peels from her kitchen and spent wheat from a nearby brewery. Maisie, a mother goat, calmly munched her food while Axelrod squeezed Maisie’s udder until a stream of milk flowed into a metal pail.

Milking the goats located at the Wild & Radish eco-village in El Sobrante, five minutes from her home, is a weekly ritual for Axelrod, who uses the milk to make her own yogurt and cheese.

It’s also a way for her to stay on top — in as direct a sense as possible — with her retirement investments.

She invested in Wild & Radish through a 401(k), an innovative twist on the traditional retirement fund that was created by Lift Economy, a San Francisco consultancy where she is a partner.

Most 401(k) plans offer only a limited menu of mutual funds and bonds as investment options. But the one Lift created gives its five partners and employees “control of the checkbook” to invest their money in enterprises that resonate with them, while respecting regulations that allow tax-deferred money.

“I wanted my retirement savings to support local communities, food security and housing security,” Axelrod said. “I didn’t want my money anywhere near the stock market.”

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