Ep. 18: Jill Isenbarger – CEO of Stone Barns & Wendy Millet – Director at TomKat ||


Today I’m joined by two knowledgeable thought leaders pioneering a better food movement sprawling from coast to coast, and everywhere in-between.  On episode 18 of Sourcing Matters Wendy Millet – Director of Tomkat Ranch research center, and Jill Isenbarger – CEO of Stone Barns Center discuss all important topics ranging from circular economies, holistic management, food & Agtech, and more which have begun casting a long shadow over a quickly changing domestic food landscape. .


Over the last decade, TomKat Ranch and the Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture have materialized into the tip of the spear of domestic regenerative agricultural reform.  Through convening gatherings of industry expertise and consumers alike these unique epicenters of future food have gained a finger on the pulse of what it’ll take to return values back to food, and how to engage tomorrow’s workforce into the diverse rewards and opportunities of reconnecting with the land. .

Supremely humble and approachable, Millet & Isenbarger are great friends who’ve accepted their leadership roles in this evolution of domestic expansion inevitably more holistic.  A 21st century revision that systematically works to clean-up the wake of failed experiments which range from Manifest Destiny to Earl Butz – a new script for agriculture is now being penned by leaders with focus on living within the rules of natural order and harmonizing interests for greater good on a shared and shrinking planet.  The ingenuity teeming from these bookends of regenerative reform are a significant part of this new playbook for future agricultural models which enhance instead of deplete regenerative natural resources.

Now, leveraging an innovation economy which spawns creatively and engagement into future food as an agent of change to crack the nut of more complex systems like human & public health, environmental impact, community engagement and sustainable jobs – the anchor industry of agriculture is establishing a new cost basis for future economies becoming ultimately more circular.   Have a listen to what these folks have to say.  Ultimately, they’re defining a succession plan for us all.


@StoneBarns  ||  @tomkat_ranch



Ep. 17 Monica Jain: Fish2.o founder & Executive Director ||

Today on Sourcing Matters we explore the oceans with an expert and innovator redefining how we’ll manage this essential regenerative natural resource.  Architected out of an online business competition, Monica Jain founded and is Executive Director of Fish2.0, an ecosystem “where seafood businesses & investors meet”.  


Perpetually coaching and facilitating founders amongst her wide net, Jain evaluates a diverse spectrum of concepts ranging from supply chain transparency & traceability – to- next gen gear tech – to- smart and biomimetic fish meal for aquaculture – to – big data efficiencies reducing waste and deadloss.  Now, traveling the globe to instigate innovation throughout future fisheries, Jain uses regional think-tanks and gatherings of industry experts with entrepreneurs to foster growth in a stagnant and often detrimental industry. Culminating with an annual onsite business competition at Stanford – Fish2.0 has quickly become the hub of innovation economies for the best-of-the-best in global fisheries, ocean farming and aquaculture.


With three billion people around the world reliant on sea protein for their main caloric intake, and over 90% global fisheries currently stressed or overstressed – Monica Jain works diligently to draft a new model for transformative change in arena teeming with catastrophic problems set to plague humanity and the planet.  It’s estimated that by 2025 China will be consuming nearly 40% of all seafood. In that same time horizon the South China Sea is expected to be fished out, and exhausted of much of its biodiversity. During our discussion Jain shares a multi-pronged approach which will use free-markets, policy, NGOs, and ingenuity to reevaluate this problem through deeper understanding of natural systems and health to manage this essential food supply.  Through a nimble team Jain has established a framework to positively impact the stability of a shrinking  planet.


You must have a listen to what this change agent has to say.




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.”

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.
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.


*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.





Ep. 14 Ayr Muir: CEO & founder at Clover Food Lab ||

Spawned from a food truck in Kendall Sq, Ayr Muir has been advancing food systems for the last decade. Now, with 12 restaurants and zero food trucks around Boston & Cambridge – Muir has his sights set on refining a process that can continue to scale without sacrificing commitment to quality. In our chat we cover supply chain integrity and transparency, Clover’s open kitchen concept where food deliveries come through the front door, the diverse values of the whole wheat berry, the experience of finding good coffee, and more innovations Clover has unearthed throughout the years.

18 months ago Ayr Muir made a commitment to his employees. National minimum wage is $7.25, and MA today is $11 pr/hr. Ayr commitment to a fair living wage of at least $15 per, and now has upped the challenge again – explaining “if it’s right for the employees, it’s worth fighting for.”  Muir has monitored similar key metrics of success from day one.  Now, with many lessons under his belt – these sound business decisions seem to be second nature as Ayr’s commitment to quality & flavorful ingredients, to good people and to the planet push forward each informed strategy.
Throughout the conversation Ayr offers insights to the many values of well source food from responsible and progressive agriculture.  With regards to plant-based meats – and how progressive we become “is still something we’re all trying to figure out” according to Muir.  You can’t fake quality with their approach.  Have a listen:


*photo source: BostonGPS


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.


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.




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.



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



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.


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.  



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


Chris Sherman: Island Creek Oysters President ||



On episode 7 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Chris Sherman, President of Island Creek Oysters (ICO) , and 2018 Eisenhower Fellow.  For the past 25 years Island Creek Oysters has been building a brand now known for global excellence.  Focused on promoting the many values of shellfish to humans, the Oceans and the planet – Chris and his team at ICO continue to push the envelop in regenerative farming of the sea.


Through the vertical integration of their thriving Oyster farms, a successful distribution company and world-renowned retail outlets – these “New American Farmers” have developed a sustainable model of sustenance and jobs for their community in Massachusetts, and the North Atlantic.  Levering these ocean smarts to do greater good, Chris also curates the Island Creek Oyster Foundation, a non-profit which has codified a replicable model of aquaculture for the developing world.


Building off their many successes in advancing ocean farming, Chris was recently awarded an opportunity to do more. Later this year Sherman is headed to Spain and Columbia as part of an Eisenhower Fellowship program focused on evolving the process of stitching biomimetic farming of fish & shellfish into responsible fisheries throughout coastal communities on a shrinking planet.

The ICO Foundation


 John Della Volpe

  • Founder at SocialSphere
  • Eisenhower Fellow
  • Director of Polling at Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics  


Full bio: John Della Volpe is the Director of Polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, where he has led the institute’s polling initiatives on understanding American youth since 2000.  The Washington Post referred to John as one of the world’s leading authorities on global sentiment, opinion and influence especially among Millennials and in the age of digital and social media.  In 2008, he received an Eisenhower Fellowship for which he traveled extensively throughout China, Hong Kong, and Korea (including a supervised day in North Korea) studying Millennials; in 2011, he was appointed to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission on Media.  John is also founder of SocialSphere, a Cambridge based public opinion and analytics company.  He serves on the Board of Trustees of iCatholic Media, the Ad Club of Boston and is a member of the Global Alumni Council for Eisenhower Fellowships.  John appears regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and his insights on the Millennial generation are found in national media outlets in the U.S. and abroad, including the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Dr. David Nabarro: World Health Organization ||



Dr. David Nabarro has spent 40 years progressing public, human and planetary health through diverse and far reaching initiatives.  Along with leading efforts to mitigate such epidemics as malaria, bird flu, ebola and cholera throughout the world, in his 20 years at WHO Dr. Nabarro has concentrated much of his powers on global food system reform.

Scaling programs for nutrient security in the developing world and responsible production in the advanced, Dr. Nabarro most recently helped lead the launch and implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now impacting 1.5 billion around the globe.