Ep. 45: Bill Mook, CEO and Founder of Mook Sea Farm -ft. cohost: Scott Soares, past Mass Ag Commish & shellfish farming leader  ||

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On episode 45 we welcome Bill Mook, founder and CEO of Mook Sea farm. Mook Sea Farm is an oyster farm founded in 1985 on the Damariscotta River in Midcoast Maine. They rear the American oyster from egg to adult size. Currently, the hatchery produces 120 million juvenile oysters (seed) annually for sale to other oyster growers throughout the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, and for our own cultivation of Wiley Point and Pemaquid Point oysters for the half-shell market.

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They’re surely good eating, but oysters represent so much good to their surrounds, the shared environments, and the communities they support. You see, each adult oyster filters 50 gallons of water daily, they restore keystone marine ecosystems, and they build protective reefs around susceptible coastal communities – protecting us from storm surge and severe weather events. In this 45 minute discussion Bill Mook goes into details describing why Oysters are so important to the stability of seas, and to our planet.  As you’ll hear, Mook has implemented bleeding-edge R&D in his hatchery that is second to none. Innovations include development of methods for overwintering seed out of the water; a tidal powered nursery system; a vessel and gear for mechanizing the use of OysterGro™ cages; and a unique, energy efficient, and highly productive system for growing the micro-algae we use for food in the hatchery.  Effectively his approach to “brew” feed for Oysters, or for other animals for that matter, sets to be revolutionary.

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Joining the conversation as a first time co-host is Scott Soares.  Soares is former commissioner of Massachusetts Agriculture, and served as the Director of USDA Rural Development for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the Obama administration.  Scott has 15 years of fishery and aquaculture experience prior to that – including early in his career serving as the 1st Massachusetts coordinator of aquaculture for nearly a decade.

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If you care about the health of the Oceans, the solidarity of working waterfronts & local economies, the sanctity of place, or if you just like to eat great seafood – have a listen to what this agent of change is doing in the clean cold waters of Maine.

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@MookSeaFarm



co-host:

Scott Soares

  • Past Commissioner MA Agriculture 
  • Dir. USDA Rural Dev Northeast for Obama administration
  • 15 years of fishery & Aquaculture experience
  • Served as 1st MA coordinator of aquaculture for a decade

@SjSoares65

 

Ep. 41: Live recorded at Harvard’s Let’s Talk About Food festival – we host a discussion about “Systems Thinking in Food Production” with founder of New Entry Farming Project – Jennifer Hashley, and CEO & Founder of Big Picture Beef – Ridge Shinn ||

Get this.  What if I told you it wasn’t the cow that was the problem, but instead the management shortcuts that are causing concerning environmental impact.  Properly orchestrated food animal management can actually have a net positive impact on the climate! That’s right.  Despite being counterintuitive to everything you’ve heard, it’s actually a straight forward leap to return to natural order.  More broadly, it’s just another example of an awakening to systems thinking on a shrinking planet.  In this 45 minute conversation expert guests will describe a few different systems thinking scenarios that will drastically evolve food production to positively impact future food systems, and our planet.
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Sourcing Matters ep. 41: “Systems Thinking in food production”– live recorded at the “Let’s talk about Food” festival at Harvard University – looks at harmonizing with more natural systems, and evaluates better management practice that could be used to produce our food in the future. Host Aaron Niederhelman will guide the discussion to cover diverse topics.  Not the least of which a process that’s being used to sequester carbon through reengaging the natural system of our living soils – on the hoof.  Additionally, one of the most under valued workforce in food production – pollinators.  And, it’ll be a conversation that clearly detail how what you eat is the most impactful vote you have to positively benefit your health and that of your family, to increase global stability and to mitigate climate change.   So, If you’re an environmentalist, a humanitarian, a patriot, a doctor, or even that you just want to look and feel better – tune-in and learn how your grocery budget can change the world.
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@JHashley || @NewEntry

@RidgeShinn

@Lets Talk About Food

 



Ep. 40: Live recorded at Harvard’s Let’s Talk About Food festival – we host a discussion about “Ocean Farming” with CEO of Ocean Approved Bri Warner, and Perry Raso, founder of Matunuck Oyster farm & bar ||

Our seas are under threat.  Floating plastic islands are but icing on the cake of a much bigger problem – how we manage the oceans.  It’s a complex discussion with a simple solution.  You see, we’ve got 92% of global fisheries already stressed, and large population densities are tied to some of these soon to reach exhaustion. The continued contamination from the waste we spew into these channels of our food, and all the supporting natural systems of the oceans will soon reach a ceiling.  And, it’s going to hurt.  With 3 billion reliant on sea-proteins as their main caloric intake for the day, if we have only dirty or no fish we’re all due for a rude awaking no matter where you call home.  We’ve begun farming fish in all reaches of the planet.  In fact, today 50% of fish consumed is farmed raised.  But, most of that farm raised stuff is nearer feedlot beef as compared to the clean and healthy moniker that open caught seafood had long-since enjoyed.  That it’s all changing is an understatement.
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Sourcing Matters ep. 40: “Regenerative Ocean Farming”- live recorded at the “Let’s talk about Food” festival @ Harvard University – Host Aaron Niederhelman speaks with two dynamic New England leaders in shellfish and seagreen production to learn what it takes to farm our waters.   Similar to a terrestrial grass-fed beef brethren – there’s been increased interest in regenerative ocean farming.  Regenerative effectively means everything is renewed in the process of using it. It’s ecology down to trophic level, and up-throughout the interchange of vast systems which do include food animals, mollusks and ourselves.  For those who do tend to the farmed fresh food from the ocean, alot of the hope for the future is being spawned in our clean cold waters of the Northeast. These local (ocean) farmers have developed models that give back to their natural environment to reap the benefit of a better crop.  It just makes sense.  By (i) addressing sea level rise and storm surge, (ii) alleviating hunger in impoverished areas, (iii) creating local jobs near highly populated areas, (iv) sourcing clean seafood as preventative human health care, (v) stabling natural environments in keystone areas (vi) motivated champions to fight for a cleaner environment – Regenerative Ocean Farming has vast potential for all coastal communities everywhere in the world.

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@OceanApproved

@MatunuckOyster

@Lets Talk About Food

 

 



Ep. 36: Shauna Sadowski – Head of Sustainability, Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills ||

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On episode 36 we welcome Shauna Sadowski – Head of Sustainability, Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills. “The way we manage agricultural lands is driving many environmental and social challenges and I seek to create solutions that account for a more balanced, triple-bottom line (people, planet and profits) outcome. I care deeply about the food that ends up on your plate and work to create a healthy and balanced system for people and the planet” explains Sadowski about our role in properly managing natural resources to feed ourselves moving forward.

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Throughout the 45 minute conversation Shauna shares some interesting anecdotes of situations that have arisen in her time at as VP at Annie’s, and most recently while managing the organic allotment of General Mills’ vast arsenal of products.

“I believe that food companies have an opportunity and a responsibility to play a significant and positive role in creating a more sustainable food system. I work cross-functionally and throughout the industry to create programs that enable transparency to the farm and a deeper understanding of how our agricultural and farming systems connect to the foods we eat.”  

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Earlier this year Annie’s and General Mills launched a wireframe for their regenerative scorecard.  The objective of the scorecard tool is to encourage producer commitment and consumer awareness to soil health.  It seems a shared language would be a big win for food values.  Now, heading up Sustainability and Organic brands for a fortune 500 company with 38,000 employees – Shauna continues to demonstrate her commitment to moving the industry more regenerative through creatives approaches that bridge a production divide.    It’s interesting stuff – have a listen:

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@SJSadowski

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Ep. 33: Ridge Shinn – CEO of Big Picture Beef ||

On episode 33 we welcome Ridge Shinn, CEO of Big Picture Beef – a businessman making us all a little more regenerative through a smarter regional production approach.  In 2010, Time Magazine cast Ridge as the original  Carbon Cowboy.  He lives with that mantra everyday.

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It’s as fundamental as investing in animal well-being for the betterment of our planet’s wellbeing and your health.  As the financial landscape in production continues to evolve, Shinn sees a sustainable business model for future food being of more regional production – an approach that he believes others will soon follow. Founded in 2015 – Based out of Hardwick, MA – Big Picture Beef’s mission is to establish an environmentally sustainable and economically viable model of producing beef through managed grazing—no feedlots and no grain, ever. Shine & Big Picture envision a system that produces healthy animals, healthy food, healthy soils, and fair wages for farmers.

 

“We work with numerous farms in the region that produce young stock according to our standards. Then we aggregate these cattle for fattening on several large finishing farms, also in the region, that are staffed by skilled graziers. A variety of regenerative farming techniques, notably rotational grazing to foster soil health and fertility, are key to our success. We harvest the finished cattle and sell 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef and beef products to wholesale customers.” – Ridge Shinn

 

In our 40 minute conversation we discuss topics ranging from bioregions; consumer’s role as change agents; drawdown; and one-health of animal, planet & consumer.   Ridge offers insights into an operating model that seeks to be benefit diverse stakeholders interested in preserving a regional provenance, and commitment to a production approach.  Decades of experience offers Shinn assurance that all of that hard work developing protocols in the fields are now queueing market interest.  It’ll be fascinating for all, but if you live in the Northeast – you should give it a listen.

@RidgeShinn

photo credit: Jason Grow
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Ep. 31: Ryland Engelhart, co-founder  & Jesse Smith, Farmland Program Director – Kiss The Ground ||

 

On episode 31 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Ryland Engelhart and Jesse Smith of Kiss The Ground.  Well known for the critically acclaimed book and forthcoming movie, both sharing the same namesake as their organization, non-profit Kiss The Ground is telling a new story about our ability to regenerate land, reverse climate change and reconnect to nature by building back healthy soil.  Through programs focused on storytelling, education, business, community gardens and the farmland – Kiss The Ground empowers people to restore soil and help accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture.  Seamlessly complementing each other throughout the 45 minute conversation, both guests brought unique insight to our discussion which connected soil, human, and planetary health.

 

Ryland Engelhart currently serves as the Mission Fulfillment Officer and co-owner of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre. Engelhart co-founder of Kiss The Ground, and now works tirelessly to educate and advocate about the movement.  As a storyteller, Ryland co-created the award-winning, transformational documentary film, “May I Be Frank.” Also, he’s an entrepreneur and activist, using his restaurants as a platform to inspire more “gratitude” into our culture.   Running the Kiss The Ground Farmland program, Jesse Smith adds unique acumen from the perspective of a producer and philosopher.  Smith is a farmer, designer and consultant focused on the intersection of regenerative supply and enterprise. His passion for agriculture and food systems is rooted in his love of California’s diverse ecosystems, and influenced by his work and travels through Africa, Europe and the western United States. Jessie’s family, friends and community are what inspire him to develop a network of farmers, restaurants and consumers to benefit our soil, water & air.
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In this episode we go deep into the problems, and potential solutions for a shrinking planet.  Ryland describes the impetus for formulating this unique arena of Kiss The Ground which seems set on democratizing complex subjects that will prove increasingly essential for stabilizing all corners of the world.  Engaging consumers and citizens as the agents of change, it was consensus amongst all of us that it has to be the grass-roots to lead us forward through this tumultuous and concerning time for the future health of our planet.  The people will lead, and the policy will (eventually) follow.

 

Through the collection of their farms, non-profit initiative and restaurants this west coast collaborative is drafting a new recipe for moving us forward.  A mechanism that vertically integrates the value chain which will benefit the consumer of their food, fiber and fuel, and lead to positive externalities of regenerative results.
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@kissthegroundCA

 

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Ep. 30: Wood Turner – Senior Vice President of Agriculture Capital  ||

On episode 30 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Wood Turner, Sr. Vice President of Agriculture Capital.  Focused on integrating and operationalizing the firm’s cross-platform sustainability strategies into the 4 staple permacrops they invest in, Turner brings unique background and expertise to the changing dynamic of food production.
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It’s Agriculture Capitals mission to grow access to healthy, sustainable food.  “We’ve assembled experienced professionals from finance, farming, processing, marketing, and sustainability to bring innovative thinking to managing successful food enterprises.” described the firm’s website.  Turner has over 20 years of experience in corporate sustainability, environmental management, and consumer engagement. Most recently, he was on the executive team at organic yogurt pioneer Stonyfield Farm as the company’s VP Sustainability Innovation. Prior to that, he was founding executive director of Climate Counts, an international NGO focused on measuring and scoring the world’s largest consumer companies on their concrete, enterprise-level responses to climate change. Wood has consulted to brands, elected officials, and public agencies on mobilizing the public around ideas that improve the environment and build community.
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Agricultural economist Renee Vasillos joins as co-host of our 45 minute conversation which covers subjects that range from the current state of citrus, consumer engagement, “softening the edges” of investing in & production models that support pollinator health, and the all important topic of water. Private equity often gets a bad rap for being too focused on the deal instead of the value creation. Wood Turner and his team at Agriculture Capital seek to restructure how capital can deliver multi-dimensional returns beneficial to many stakeholders and the shared environment.

Agriculture Capital – Impact Report

@doubleUT

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co-host:

Renee Vassilos

  • Agricultural Economist
  • Regenerative & Big Ag intermediary
  • past portfolio manager: Deere China
  • Bilingual Dutch / American citizen 

Full bio: Renée Vassilos is a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist with over fifteen years of agriculture industry experience. Her expertise ranges from strategic market analysis and product development to sales, marketing and distribution strategy. She has lived and worked abroad- three years in Amsterdam and six years in Beijing- contributing to her robust global experience, cultural competence, and network. 

Today, Vassilos is sharing her expertise through her consulting business. She utilizes her global cross-functional experience from working for the USDA and John Deere to support the growth of sustainability-focused agriculture businesses. She has a BS and MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and University of California, Davis, respectively.

Ep. 28: Willem Ferwerda – CEO of Commonland Group ||

 

Today on Sourcing Matters ep. 28 we welcome Willem Ferwerda – CEO of the Commonland Group.  Based out of the Netherlands, Commonland believes that landscape restoration offers tremendous untapped opportunities for sustainable economic development.  To demonstrate this potential, they develop landscape restoration projects that are based on business cases, and proper monitoring of their successes using multi-dimensional returns.  With current projects in Southern Africa, Spain, Western Australia, and the Netherlands – Commonland engages with multidisciplinary teams of investors, companies, and entrepreneurs in long-term restoration partnerships with farmers and land-users. Already, the approach has cast new expectations for what returns represent to each of the different stakeholders.

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The goal of Commonland is to realize large-scale landscape restoration with local farmers, land-users and experts based on sustainable business cases with each impact being assessed through a matrix monitoring diverse returns that connect natural and economic landscape zones through a multi-stakeholder initiative benefiting all parties. Willem founded Commonland with the idea the long-term commitment is important, as it takes approximately 20 years – or one generation – to restore a landscape.  Their holistic restoration approach focuses on the 4 key returns of Inspiration, Social, Natural, Financial.  Those returns combine to define a baseline for their long-horizon mission – which is to contribute to a large-scale landscape restoration industry, aligned with international policies and guidelines throughout a shrinking planet.

 

Maybe Teddy said it best: “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behaves as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.”

– Theodore Roosevelt: The 1910 New Nationalism Speech

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@Commonland

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Ep. 23: Jason Haas – Partner & General Manager at Tablas Creek Winery ||

 

Wine is more than just any libation, it’s an experience steeped in history. It’s part of ritual and beliefs, it ties us with friends, family, cuisine, and for many – with their lineage. From the highest-end vintages that are matured & aged for decades, to the low-end box of wine at the corner store costing a few bucks – this cold fired fermenting extends a full spectrum of offerings that now accounts for a $62B domestic industry.  The success of the industry is tied to its ability to differentiate those offerings throughout that spectrum. From the region it’s from, to an elevated production approach, to the aging process, or its unparalleled cuisine connection that helps develop an ecosystem of aficionados that have become increasingly interested in each of all of these unique factors further connecting the consumer with their drink of choice and its affinities – it matters in wine.

 

Producing Châteauneuf-du-Pape style Rhone wines native to the Southeast Corner of France, today we welcome Partner and General Manager of Tablas Creek Winery Jason Haas to Sourcing Matters.  Situated squarely between San Francisco & Los Angeles, Jason’s family began their California winery in 1989 using elevated practices that focused on Organic and regenerative in effort to benefit their soils, and the flavor of their wines.  Now, producing 360,000 bottles a year of biodynamic and diverse vitas – Tablas Creek has established themselves as a desired brand that engages consumers and progresses the industry through their commitment to producing world-class wine.

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From “Place” & provenance, to cleaner & transparent production, to agritourism which engages & retains,  to preservation of values throughout the supply chain – have a listen – hear how this approach in wine can act as a new baseline for more food categories to follow.  So, when next marrying wine with your cuisine – we hope those expectations for quality and associated values on wine thus ports (carries-over) to the food you’re pairing.
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@TablasCreek

 

 

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photo source: 


 

Ep. 22: Fiona Wilson, Chair of Board  & Dave Herring, Executive Director – Wolfe’s Neck Center on Casco Bay, Maine ||

 

Situated on over 600 acres of preserved coastal landscape in Freeport, Maine – Wolfe’s Neck Center uses its setting to connect people of all ages to the food they eat and where it comes from. As a nonprofit, Wolfe’s Neck Center draws upon a rich history of innovation and experimentation to continue the legacy of this place today. Through regenerative farming, innovative soil health research, and visitor interactions, the land is now used as an educational resource to create a healthier planet for all.
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Joining for episode 22 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Dave Herring: Executive Director at Wolfe’s Neck Center; and Fiona Wilson, Chair of the Board at Wolfe’s Neck, and ED at Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, Asst. Prof. at UNH’s Paul College of Business.
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Our 45 minute discussion ranges from regenerative best practice -to- the current state of milk -to- the business potential of regional production -to- encouraging more connection to nature, and systems, through getting out – and camping.  Fiona and Dave have begun a new epicenter of food, agriculture and environmental research on Casco Bay in Maine. It’s a marquee example of Sustainable Coastal Farming that works to “Transform our relationship with farming & food, to transform the planet.” Hear how these folks are amplifying, educating and curating an ecosystem.

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@wolfesneck 

 

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