This is the first episode of a new series where we dive deep into New Foundation Farms, unpeeling the different layers of what it means to build a regenerative agri food enterprise!
The series starts with Mark Drewell, Executive Chairman of New Foundation Farms, an enterprise raising 20 million pounds to buy a thousand acres in the UK. Their goal is to build a regenerative AgriFood enterprise, which will produce food and fiber in order to support soils, communities, and health, which they call radical natural farming.
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Together, we discover why they choose to focus on scale, vertical integration and their definition of regenerative enterprise.
Farming Regenerative Agriculture
Mark shares how the New Foundation Farms’ plans to build the regenerative agri-food enterprise. They aim to change the logic of the agri-food system through regenerative agriculture. In this line, he proceeds to discuss that their company views regenerative agriculture based on the growth of affordable high quality nutrient dense food on regenerating soils.
Additionally, Mark shares how the international experience around regenerative approaches has inspired them to bring this into UK’s agriculture and plant the focus on farming.
“It’s about farming regenerative agriculture as well as building regenerative food propositions. It’s taking that food front that ‘s grown in the field, processing it, and then selling it to the end consumer. For us, that’s important because if you want to disrupt the system, you need to tackle the production end.” – Mark Drewell
Choosing the Thousand Acres in The UK
Mark reveals that their primary objective in choosing a thousand acres in the UK is to showcase the enterprise’s capabilities in handling different contexts before expansion. For this purpose, he shares that the average acre that they hope to acquire is a conventional mixed farm in between the locations of London and Birmingham.
He further notes that part of their mission is to fully integrate a regenerative approach which will result in the transformation of rural economies.
“We’re really clear that our role in this transformation is about demonstrating how scaled agriculture can change. We fully honor, acknowledge, and recognize the role of smaller farms and small holders in regenerative approaches. We think our contribution can be to sort of break the log jam of agriculture and offer a visible and genuine alternative in the space.” – Mark Drewell
Understanding the Regenerative Approach
Having delved on the thousand acres, Mark continues by discussing how important it is for the consumer to understand regenerative agriculture and undergo an educational journey into the regenerative space. He notes that this journey within the regenerative approach is quite challenging given that people have little knowledge about it.
Nonetheless, it is for this reason that they aim to open awareness to the consumers and produce outcomes that will have tremendous results in their lives.
“Our goal for the conversation of consumption is all about influencing people when they are looking for their food’s label. This is about a process of seeking and understanding the actual impact of how their food is grown. It is about questioning if the food is genuinely regenerating the soils and providing local livelihoods.” – Mark Drewell
Practicing Holistic Management
Lastly, Mark walks everyone through the practice of holistic management within New Foundation Farms and its partnerships. He explains how this framework is better than conventional business management since this enables the enterprise to make decisions that determine the potential number of outcomes they can produce.
Furthermore, he shares how they integrate this practice with principles involving the ecological health index to produce an outcome based measurement system.
“Holistic management is the best tool we have found that allows us to integrate questions about the land, the use of profitability and social impact. We get to answer these questions in a way that gives us an action plan that we can work with.” – Mark Drewell
Other Important Points Discussed
Koen and Mark discussed these points in this episode
- What Mark would do if he were in charge of a $1 Billion investment portfolio tomorrow morning
- What Mark thinks smart investors should look out for
- What Mark would do if he were given a magic wand that could change one thing overnight in the agriculture and food space
- What Mark believes to be true about regenerative agriculture that others don’t
To know more about Mark Drewell and the New Foundation Farms, download and listen to this episode.
Mark Drewell brings a wealth of expertise and business experience from a career as a change agent and innovator. His agriculture and land management experience includes seven years chairing a 35,000-hectare mixed farming, conservation and tourism enterprise in South Africa as well as co-owning a 700 hectare farm and conference centre where he applied regenerative farming to restore degraded land and improve economic performance. He has also served in the UK as a director of the Biodynamic Land Trust which owns and manages farms for ecological outcome. In a wider conservation context, he has chaired the largest local environmental NGO in Southern Africa which pioneered techniques of working with farmers to improve conservation and social impacts while simultaneously making them more economically productive.
- New Foundation Farms
- Economy for the Common Good
- 3LM UK
- Abe and Cole
- Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative
- Holistic Management
- Berkana Institute of Change Model
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.