Ep. 16 Jack Algiere: Farm Director at Stone Barns Agricultural Center ||

 

On Sourcing Matters episode 16 we welcome Jack Algiere, farm manager at Stone Barns Agricultural Research Center.  An insightful guide who has taken the reins in shepherding the future food system more regenerative, Algiere takes great pride and responsibility in his work.  Through a well endowed 80 acre central farm, and an additional 350 acres of pastural lands – Jack and his team manage a multidimensional farm of diverse outputs that fields 150,000 guests a year at their working hub.

 

The goal of this agricultural research and educational epicenter in West Chester NY is to cast a large shadow on consumers and producers alike through better connecting more to natural order through the food we eat.  There are many challenges of this type of agritourism on a working farm, but Jack takes them all in stride – stating: “We can only look ahead.  If people engage in food; if they ask for, and demand more – we can change the food system together.”  Algiere continues, “Where do we learn this stuff?  On the small, beautiful farms we can all access.”

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Algiere defines regenerative agriculture as land and natural resource conservation beginning from the soil up.  This new, but fundamentally old-school of thought in feeding ourselves on a shrinking planet is vastly different than nearly every conventional agricultural model currently using an extractive and/or input-based approach. This too is changing. Algiere states that he welcomes scientific advancements.  Seeing the broad-reaching potential to have a seat at the table, to embrace these current conventional models based on yesterday’s science as essential but tricky – Algiere is equal parts pragmatic farmer, and systems thinking philosopher set on harmonizing man’s role in these systems.
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Algiere explains – “there are very few things we inherit in this world, and (planet & animal) genetics is one.  We must guard that responsibility.”  His Young farmers program which teaches and spawns tomorrow’s guardians of biodiversity with the skills and access to properly manage these interconnected natural systems essential for future planetary, economic and political stability is something we must more broadly evaluate, and thus replicate.   What’s most incredible for any of us – from getting your hands dirty – to witnessing transformative change – to consuming world class food – the entire immersive experience at Stone Barns Agricultural Center is accessible to all.
So, have a listen to what Jack has to say.  Better yet, go visit, and you’ll forever understand the many values good food can have on us all.

@StoneBarns

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*photo source: Stranded on Land


 

Ep. 15 Brett Brohl: Managing Director of TechStars farm-to-fork accelerator ||

Today on episode 15 we welcome Brett Brohl, Managing Director of TechStars farm-to-fork accelerator.  Brett is an experienced entrepreneur, investor, and mentor who is driven by making a difference in the world through helping entrepreneurs succeed.

 

Spawned by the influence of his wife, Brett’s interest in food and agriculture has percolated into the creation of this TechStars vertical dedicated to the future of food and proper resource management in feeding ourselves on a shrinking planet.  New England’s facilitator of a new Food Economy, Lauren Abda joins the conversation as a first time co-host.

 

.Over the past five years an innovation economy has been amassing in food & ag-tech.  Despite maturity and complexity, food systems and agriculture are one of the last giants to remain analog and antiquated.  From last mile delivery, mobile animal processing, big data accurately tracking global fisheries, or provenance of food, on new metrics & KPIs monitoring food values and production externalities, and even Blockchain on tomatoes – change seems to be enveloping at Moore’s law.  Leveraging their impressive linage in tech start-up success, TechStars received 2500 applications for only10 slots available in their inaugural Minneapolis program beginning in July.  As Abda has been doing throughout the Northeast over the past few years, Brett and his team at TechStars farm-to-fork accelerator are trying to make sense of all the bluesky opportunity around the country, and deliver a valuable initiative becoming increasingly crucial to us all.

 

@techstars

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Ep. 13 Arion Thiboumery: General Manager, Vermont Packinghouse ||

 

 

For the past four years Arion Thiboumery has been progressing the regional food movement of the Northeast. Offering services that range from an advanced kill floor -to- full carcass utilization preserving elevated production standards up & down the value chain -to- value-add sausage, bacon, hams and more – Vermont Packinghouse is a full service provider establishing a new niche in domestic production. Through commitment to unparalleled transparency in their process and products coming through their facility, Arion and his team of 60 are defining new expectations in food provenance through their approach to food animal processing.

 

During a 35 minute chat, host Aaron Niederhelman discusses with Thiboumery a wide variety of subjects including the current state of the industry, bioregions for economic growth, new competition from plant-based cellular meat products and growth plans to scale Vermont Packinghouse’s honed process. Thiboumery  explains that he’s “a recovering academic who decided to get my hands dirty in meat processing”.  A deep thinking student of the game, Arion has a vision for the future of the American food system with a more engaged consumer who eat less meat, but better of it.  Have a listen, and learn why modern processing committed to transparency and provenance is cornerstone to feeding a shrinking and resource challenged world.

 

www.VermontPackinghouse.com

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*photos of Arion Thiboumery by Everett Meissner 


 

Ep. 12 Bill Buckner: President & CEO of Noble Research Institute ||

 

 

On episode 12 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Bill Buckner, President and CEO of Noble Research institute.  As the largest independent private agricultural organization in the US, Noble has recently focused on bridging the worlds of conventional and Organic production through a commitment to land management and soil health that will provide solutions to the vast challenges facing Agriculture, and humanity as a whole.

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Founded in 1945 in response to the dust bowl, the core competencies of land stewardship and proper resource conservation to prevent future disaster is part of Noble’s linage.  Earlier this year they’ve launched a market exchange for natural resources currently not even given a commodity value. It’s the hope of Buckner and his team of 400 at the Noble Research Institute that by adding a new cost basis to soil health, carbon and water – we’ll be able to decommoditized food and promote the differentiated values from elevated production models – while furthering commitment to regenerative natural resources.  Collectively, that’s a competitive advantage for all domestic producers.  Raising this minimum market threshold seems an essential next step in on-ramping more farmers to evolve production models often inherited with succession of a farm.  As more consumers appreciate those values of the food sourced with any and all aspirational standards it’ll continue to become increasingly more mainstream in the marketplace.

 

What I learned in our discussion was that Bill Buckner is a practitioner of change.  Gracefully handling language that is often alienating and ostracizing for different sides of the fence, you must listen to our chat as he explains how it’s the farmers who’ll elevate the conversation and transcend much of the infighting that has put us in such polarized position.  I think there are some lessons to be learned in our discussion by our brethren in DC.  For food and managing our resources – it’s the farmers and the consumers that will meet in the middle to balance a system that must become more harmonious, and just.

 

www.Noble.org



 

Ep. 11 Tim Joseph: Founder and owner of Maple Hill Creamery ||

 

Through the creation of a world-class creamery in upstate New York, Tim Joseph has seen his fair share of learning experiences. Joseph and his growing aggregation of dairy farms have become the tip of the spear in testing and evolving best holistic management practice to maximize the many values of a grassfed production model to benefit animals, land and consumer health.

 

Beginning with the quality of taste of their products, Tim Joseph has become more than just a student of the game in differentiating their products through elevated production standards.  Maple Hill Creamery has become a market leader in advancing consumer awareness in all food animal production. Simplifying the messaging that focuses on the personal benefits of investing in the animals and their living environments has seemed to resonate with more.  Now, leveraging that with extensive research into growing consumer’s interest in their food and the mirroring of the success witnessed in other products categories like beer, wine, coffee, sweets and savories – Joseph and his growing but never compromising dairy believe they’ve just scratched the surface on an increasingly crowded yogurt shelf.

www.MapleHill.com



 

Ep. 10 Allan Savory: Holistic Management Originator & Founder of Savory Institute  ||

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Set on addressing “the greatest problem facing humanity” – Allan Savory has spent a half century teaching us how to better connect with natural order.  Stemming from his early work to remediate desertification in the rangelands of Africa, Savory has developed a model of food animal management that could very well be our savior against climate change, and global instability.

 

It’s the proper management of animals that will be an essential part of the solution to address biodiversity loss and reverse the rapid warming of the planet.  As author J. Schwartz writes in “Cows save the Planet”, the disruptive forces of ruminants are actually the “crucible” of change in using soil to rectify climate change. Conventional methodology and associated reductionist theories to the environment, and our health, fail to evaluate that we’re all part of much bigger system that relies on being a link of the living nutrient recycling program. As Allan continues to prove, there are unlikely heroes in solving the most pressing global problems.  We need a more holistic approach in shepherding regenerative natural resources and managing how we feed ourselves on a shrinking planet, and that begins and ends with how we use our resources.

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A symbiotic relationship between all microbial living things has effectively resulted in a living sponge that surrounds the planet. Often referred to as the earth’s thin skin, this living soil is so more than that.  It’s in fact the entire digestive tract for any and all living matter that has existed over the last billion years since bacteria and fungi started playing nicely together.  A few hundred million years ago, those relationships began incorporating larger flora and fauna into the recipe, and through time a proper balance was struck amongst all shared ecosystems to cycle nutriment needed for every trophic level through the microbes teeming in soil.  Basically, our health and that of our environment is uniquely connected to this living soil.

 

Ecology has become supremely efficient in closing the energy loop.  What remains is only the regenerative living matter designed to recycle energy, and the dander called petroleum. The system that created and stored this energy in the first place is hungry to return itself back to an equilibrium.  As systems thinkers – that is just commonsense!  Although, the described conduit of remediation, large food animals, doesn’t seem that for many with a linear mindset.  In fact, food animals are now defined by conventional wisdom as a fundamental driver in climate change equal to human emissions?!  Well, we have a lot to learn from Allan. Whether it’s the detrimental results of confined management or net positive of holistic – it’s all management practice, and not the animals themselves.


How we got here:

Just in the past few centuries we’ve unknowingly begun to tweak the process again.  And, in the last 50 years – scale of this disruptive approach has begun catching-up with a stable environment and again changing a once thriving ecosystems for the worse. Today, as our growing footprint and modern agricultural practice has effectively lopped off a few key links in the chain throughout the world – the collective is proving incrementally detrimental to diversely connected biomes. Hard to believe that taking ruminants off pasture can disrupt our existence, but with the grand scale we’ve instituted change  in such a short time – the unintended consequences to systems that take millions of years to balance will prove immensely disruptive unless we begin appreciating how to define broader solutions and not remedy of symptoms. Through Allan Savory we’re learning that when properly managed –  the matter that constitutes the sponge of our soil can be reinstated back to an original purpose from which it evolved.  A system of unparalleled storage capacity which provides a fix to a water & carbon issue spiralling out of control.


It’s all about the Management:

It’s based on a concept called nutrient cycling – a process similar but much broader to what happens in our own bodies. In fact, the breakdown of materials by microbial life in soil is not that far removed from what happens in your gut. By removing the waste stream of grazing animals and the results of the actions of their predators (equally an essential part of the puzzle) from once thriving grasslands we’ve systematically changed the nutrient cycling programs of most of the world’s great grasslands.  From sub-saharan Africa, the Great Plains of North America, the Southwest of the US, many Northern parts of the Far east, and a good portion of Australia – we’ve disrupted the essential nutrient cycling and stopped the flow of recycled energy on a significant portion of ground cover around the world. Effectively, taking the animals who harvest, fertilize and aerate the soil has resulted in dormancy, compaction, loss of biodiversity on that land leading to a general lack of resilience especially when dealing with the impact of other natural elements like wind, storm, flood or drought.

 

The organic matter and bugs in healthy topsoil hold 10X the volume of water as conventionally treated agricultural lands, never-mind dormant desert soils lacking thriving biology needed to maintain living plants that were once so important in feeding the pastoral animals. Collectively, and not unrelated – they no longer exist together. Removing animals, and categorical poor agricultural tilling & irrigation practice result in lesser ecological vigor in the once living soils of the global grasslands.  This has resulted in epic topsoil runoff, loss of fresh water storage, excessive carbon release and a lack of sequestering capacity.  A grand scale squeezing of the once massive grasslands sponge creates further dystopian scenarios for any of those animals that remain disconnected as a broken links in the chain. Representing 60% of the earth’s land cover, what we’re realizing is that grasslands are set to change all of our in-connected existence – including that of a stable environment for us all – unless we begin to give them their due.  Furthermore, as slash and burn practices destroy much of the ecologically sensitive tropical forests and forest land, and more folks enter the fossil fuel burning lifestyle – we’re going to need a broader solution with fast acting results.  The exciting part of Allan’s plan is the remediation to an unbalanced system is pretty straight-forward, and the unintended consequence leads to a cleaning a food system and improved human and animal health.


resolution: Engaging global grasslands to save ourselves, and feed a shrinking planet:

All of that considered – the hypothesis of returning the highest trophic levels back to the ecosystem under proper guidance and practice in effort to jumpstart co-evolution and best recalibrate the system to once again thrive as it did before our meddling seems one of the most pragmatic plans we’ve got as it comes in tow with economic drivers correlated to evolving consumer demand for better quality foods.  Simply, focused first on the single largest segment of food – animals – cleaning our food production models through pastoring hoofed ruminants and free-range fowl on grasslands and silvopasture (combined effort of forestry & grazing) we make significant strides in controlling our destiny through focus on Onehealth of animal, human, land & environment.  Allan and his teams around the world are set on changing many misnomers by introducing large scale herds of animals, wild and food alike, back into systems where the collaboration will benefit the wellness of all living matter through a progressive plan of adaptive nutrient cycling from Land to Market – through a focus on OneHealth.

 

The supply chain disruption of plant ready nutrients is driving many of the grasslands around the world to a point of desertification.  Allan, and now many others including myself, believe that integrating animals back into the equation begins a systemic evolution back – reinvigorating the nutrient cycling programs that will again give the living soil the ability to sequester the excessive amounts of carbon we’ve dumped into the environment over the past 100 years.  This is more than just common sense, there’s a great deal of evidence supporting Allan’s immersive Holistic Management biomimicry plan that uses systems-based resource management focused on raising and rearing healthy animals back into natural environments as the crux of change. With thirty years under their belt, and tooled with analysis and empirical evidence from thousands of years of agricultural practice used prior to modern CAFOs (concentrated animal feedlot operations), the Holistic Management Institute, and since 2009 the Savory Institute with its expanding global hubs, have been working diligently to change producer awareness to the broad reaching value of a regenerative agricultural approach.


solution: You & me, and how we decide to feed

Today, as we the consumer have begun asking more questions relating to that of food’s value – more folks have begun speaking with their dollars.  This increasingly makes us more savvy and concerned with compromises incurred with conventional production vs. that of circular agriculture’s focus on an integrated outcome of Onehealth to all living things in the food chain (including us) and the environment we share.  To this, as more awareness and education come to bear – it seems prime opportunity for additional free-market influential companies (strategics) to jump on board in servicing growing consumer sentiment driving food as a pillar of human and planetary healthcare.  


 

www.Savory.global

Allan Savory TEDtalk: How to fight Desertification and reverse Climate Change



 

Bill Niman – Pioneering the business of elevated production standards

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On episode 3 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Bill Niman – founder of Niman Ranch.  As the godfather of producing meat with elevated standards, Bill has transformed consumer expectations of transparency and quality. An advisor to many large brands committed to sourcing better food, Bill’s influence in producing differentiated meat has reshaped domestic markets.


QUICK GUIDE – this episode covers the following subjects:

  • regenerative agriculture is proper on-farm natural resource management
  • healthy animals, healthy consumers, healthy planet
  • properly managed ruminants may be our saviors in climate change
  • food animals are intermediaries to reestablishing healthy soil
  • well managed herds can reduce wildfires, build flood resilience, alleviate draught
  • differentiated meat engages consumers in controlling their own health & care
  • meat is the biggest business in food

Sourcing Matters.show episode 3 recap:

Early in the New Year NOAA announced that 2017 was the costliest year in dealing with US natural disasters ($306 Billion in damage).  Master Rancher Bill Niman begins our 30 minute conversation describing how herbivore food animals when properly raised in their natural environment are a solution to many of these intensifying problems.  Could this be a new kind of insurance with broach reaching net positive results?  Maybe; and probably!  

Specifically, Bill discusses the role that large grazing animals could play in his home state of California.  Niman explains that not only would well managed large hoofed animals assist in rectifying immediate concerns with wildfires, flood, drought and mudslides throughout their geographic diverse region, but how this approach is finally getting credit where credit is due for a role in sequestering carbon.  You see, animals engage the good bugs prevalent in soil into a natural process called “nutrient cycling” where a harmonized ecosystem was developed around the hoof and wastestream of herbivores hundreds of thousands of years before we came into the picture.  When we took animals off the grasslands, which account for 55% of natural land cover in the US, we stalled-out a process that naturally banks carbon.


 

It turns out it’s not the animal that’s the problem for the environment.  It’s actually the shortcuts in the conventional production model which we’ve broadly adopted throughout food that’s the problem.  This has created a bit of a paradox.  Even after decades of extractive agricultural practice, over tilling of prime soils and results tied directly cheap synthetic inputs that mine the land – most consumers still consider large food animals to be the primary enemy of environmental and human health. Well, based on the current industrial way we do it now – those concerns with meat are valid.  That said, you must hear how Bill plans to address this.

As Bill describes it – beef animals may just be our saviors.  We can engage them as intermediaries in this natural & free process of nutrient cycling as an approach for what commonly become known as drawdown. This practice of raising healthy animals in their proper living environment affords a new narrative to food animals as interpreters cornerstone to regenerative natural resource management, and potentially a pillar in the all important evolution into a circular economy where the consumer has a lot more control than we know now based on the choice they make their dollar.

Food animals, now totaling over 9 Billion processed in the US annually, when properly managed in natural living environments can establish many net positive results for diverse stakeholders.  Along with the environmental impact stated above – this systems based approach of investing in animals wellbeing offers cleaner and healthier food; it creates domestic jobs; and it reduces risks brewing global public health from shortcuts common in conventional meat production where we’re overusing medicines essential to human health just to create cheap meat.


 

Knowing where those animals should reside, and the proper husbandry methods to keep them healthy is where Bill Niman has long exceled.  His well described approach to “Locale” vs. “Local” sets course for the American farmer and rancher to become more competitive in future decades by servicing the needs of an evolving domestic consumer looking for more backstory and insurance.  Moreover, marrying Bill’s approach of elevated production standards to that of these evolving consumer interests increasingly looking for better quality meat from healthy animals seems a pillar to a food revolution happening from coast to coast and everywhere in between which seems to be that anchor for circular economies to truly thrive. If we can get there in food first, it’s going to be a long arduous fight that no one wins!

Consumer interests in safer, cleaner, and more nutritious food is returning us to values intrinsic in us all. Deeply-seated societal, cultural, familial and primal values at spurred on by a food revolution – all beginning with differentiated meat from animals raised with elevated standards. As more truths arise about the “true costs” of our current food system on our well being and that of our surroundings and co inhabitants – additional consumer affinities seem ready to be teased and magnified to the many values of Bill Niman’s approach.

 

episode 2:

Fred Kirschenmann – President of Stone Barns Board

On our second episode of Sourcing Matters podcast we welcome a founding father of American Organics, Fred Kirschenmann.  A true legend known for promoting regenerative agriculture and food system reform through commitment to soil health, Fred Kirschenmann is a Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center at Iowa State, and is President of the board at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY.


QUICK GUIDE – this episode covers the following subjects:

  • regenerative agriculture is proper on-farm natural resource management
  • soil health harmonizes with gut health: microflora not too much different than soil
  • investing in soil health results in positive human & public health, planetary stability
  • a review of Organic standards – then and now
  • the future of hydroponics; should USDA Organic include growing in water?
  • urban agriculture has arrived, and is here to stay
  • the future farming workforce wants to grow food for each other, and not commodities

Sourcing Matters.show episode 2 recap:

Closing out 2017 we take a step back to evaluate the current state of Agriculture and regenerative natural resource management with a true expert in the field of future food, Fred Kirschenmann.   Hosts Aaron Niederhelman and Nathan Roman engage Professor Kirschenmann in a conversation of grave importance:  how do we feed ourselves on a shrinking planet?  And, how do we (re)establish food as our baseline for keeping ourselves and our planet in good standings.  ⇓

Throughout the 30 minute chat Fred offers unique insight earned from decades of fighting for a stable future. His most poignant description of Regenerative Agriculture may be the best ever captured.  Citing Sir Albert Howard’s law of return, Kirschenmann concisely describes regenerative as a process where “everything is renewed in the process of using it.”  Kirschenmann goes on to explain that “there are more microbes in a tablespoon of soil than there are humans on the planet!”  We learn that the impact of this has yet to be levered in modern food systems.  In fact, the vast majority of production in the developed world is based on an input-based approach where we’re not properly using this (free) microbial army to cycle nutrients for our benefit.  Instead, for purpose of creating empty cheap energy for more consumers to nosh, we’ve perpetuated an extractive approach in agriculture that is based on cheap petrochemicals, unlimited access to minerals and unlimited water which cannot be sustained.  

 

“As we look at our future, and we don’t have cheap energy to transport and grow food from thousands of miles a way – we’ll see more food grown within bio-regions.”

 

Kirschenmann eloquently describes that for purposes of financial expense, or true cost of externalities, or even capacity to maintain nevermind scale a production model past a ceiling fast approaching – feeding a growing population on a shrinking planet will come only from better understanding and engagement of regenerative natural resources.

To reduce the potential of continuing an industry food fight – Kirschenmann is nothing but pragmatic.  Through a process of diplomacy leaders in DC should evaluate – Fred describes how he empowers even the most staunch conventional producers to see the light of investing in soil vitality.  By justifying his argument with numbers that back increased demand for alternatively produced crops; and on the other side of the ledger – the increased costs and commitment requirements for maintaining status quo of conventional production; and even further, the realization of externalities and true costs associated to modern agriculture on human & environmental health – he makes it clear the only future of food production is regenerative.   


 

Digging deeper – investing in soil health does not only benefits the bottomline, it directly benefits your health and enjoyment of food.  Hear how Kirschenmann describes the diverse benefits of whole food from health soil.  From the cause & effect of changing diets and improving health in inner city communities – to supercharging the plates of the world famous chef Dan Barber – we must come out this half hour enlightened, and asking how revolutionary this could be in stabilizing our shared planet.  Maybe it’s us, the consumer, that can move the needle.  What if this approach was to be exercised through proper channels?  Could well sourced food from healthy soil be the silver bullet diet that a marketplace desperately seeks with billions of dollars every year?   

Hear what Fred has to say about this…

As the man who wrote the original rules on Organics, Fred Kirschenmann shares his thoughts on the recent ruling by the National Organics Standards Board to allow hydroponics to don a USDA Organics Certification. Fred offer a masterful description the benefits of food grown in water, and the vast market opportunities that will arise with further commitment.  But, after hearing the original intent pennded for Organics – it’s obvious there’s only one proper step forward here, and we may have just gone backwards.

 


In this chat Kirschenmann describes some of his recent experiences with the future workforce that’s more interested in “growing food for people, than corn or soy in Iowa”. Through his work at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, NY, and the Leopold Center at the Iowa State University, Kirschenmann is front and center in negotiating our shared future with the realities of planetary boundaries and evolving consumer interests.

The time is now for us to act, to innovate and to listen to what consumers and the future workforce seek from their food. 

 

 

 

 

 

Ep. 1: Lisa Sebesta – Managing Partner, Co-Founder of Fresh Source Capital ||

Founder & Managing Partners at FreshSource Capital, Lisa Sebesta has launched a creative financial vehicle to grow the local food movement into a sustainable regional food system initiative.  Have a listen to how Lisa and partner Dan have found, evaluated and supported a dozen of the quickest growing food & agricultural companies of the Northeast.

 

Q: Who is Lisa and what’s Fresh Source Capital?

Lisa is co-founder and managing partner of Fresh Source Capital, a Cambridge based investment firm focused on sustainable food and agriculture.  Fresh Source Capital launched their first fund in 2015 to make investments in early and growth stage food businesses that are rebuilding regional food systems.

Lisa came to the sustainable food investment movement after spending 15 years as an equity analyst and portfolio manager for various Boston-based investment management firms.  Upon her transition to private company investing, she has served on the leadership team of Slow Money Boston and was a consultant to the Fair Food Fund.  She and her business partner at Fresh Source, Dan Pullman, shared a vision of mobilizing more institutional capital into regional food businesses.

Q: Why invest in Regional Food Systems?

Lisa details the opportunity she saw in forming Fresh Source.  Driven by consumer demand, many small entrepreneurs have started businesses to fill a gap in the market.  A deviation from the past, innovation in food products, services and delivery was no longer coming exclusively from “Big Food”.

In their discourse, Aaron and Lisa discuss the externalities that arise from an industrialized food system, which have become increasingly apparent.  Out of recognition of these as well as concern for their own health, many consumers are switching to locally sourced, more sustainably raised foods.  The notion that industrial food is cheaper is coming under question.

The companies in the Fresh Source portfolio address not only shifting consumer demand but also the necessary infrastructure investments that come with rebuilding a regional food system and making it more efficient.

Q: What can individual consumers do to support the regional food movement?

There are many opportunities to buy great quality locally sourced food year-round.  Two examples from the Fresh Source portfolio are Farmers To You, an on-line farmers market, and Just Add Cooking, a provider of meal kits.  If you eat out regularly, look for locally sourced options at your favorite restaurant or ask questions about where the food came from.

Q: How do we scale this movement? 

Currently only about 10% of the food that New Englanders consume come from local sources.  A study issued by Food Solutions New England describes what’s needed to achieve their vision of 50% food security by 2060.  The study recommends utilizing more land to grow food responsibly (including converting current forest to farmland and pasture, and utilizing small spaces in urban settings).  The study also allows for changes in diet to foods that are more readily grown in the Northeast.

Lisa points out that capital investments also have to happen beyond the farm – in processing, transportation, and storage, for example.  That is potentially a large need for capital.  This can also provide much needed stimulus to rural economies, as discussed in this recent book from the Federal Reserve in partnership with the USDA, Harvesting Opportunity.

“Ultimately, one fund is not enough to scale this movement.  Lisa discusses the types of investments and investors that are needed, and how her firm works to coordinate among various groups.  Co-investment is a great way to collaborate.” explains Sebesta.

 


Finally, Aaron and Lisa share a little about their own holiday plans and traditions, and how to think about waste.  While there’s a lot that individual households can do around sustainable consumption, a much bigger problem lies further up the supply chain.  There are some innovations happening to reduce waste there as well.

 

Portfolio companies mentioned:

  1. Farmers To You: @FarmersToYou
  2. Just Add Cooking: @AddCooking
  3. Imperfect Produce: @ImperfectProduce
  4. Little Leaf Farms: @LittleLeafFarms
  5. Ocean Approved: @OceanApproved
  6. Spoiler Alert: @SpoilerAlert
  7. Food Solutions New England: @_fsne

@freshsourcecap