Wow! Another crazy 12 months have flown by. We ended the 2020 overview with these words:
We hope 2021 will be a ‘boring’ (as in uneventful) year where we start to focus on growth of the regenerative agriculture sector and start to build the key pieces for the rest of this decade to capture this momentum.
And boy, we were wrong and right. It was definitely not boring and, at the same time, lots of things started moving towards building the foundational blocks!
The thing that gives us hope in these crazy time: you!
The wave of talent, with a ton of experience in other sectors is interesting the food and agriculture space. Building farms, funds, vehicles, technology all to regenerate soils at (more) scale.
Is it enough? Does it go deep enough, are we asking all the hard questions about our relationship with and in nature (see this great article of the Counter)? For sure not! Can we afford not to try? Absolutely not.
Now let’s get a cup of tea and dive in:
- A lab?
Where would you put your money? Nature/soil or a lab, chef Dan Barber was very clear:
“Great flavour, health benefits and healthy ecosystems can only come from healthy soils not a lab”. Do you agree?
- Energy and love for nature
Satish Kumar, if we had 25% of the energy of Satish when we are 85 years old we would sign for it now! Wow, what a hero and what a great person!
And Laura Ortiz, who asked a very similar question, how do we make investors fall in love with nature?
- Diving deeper
We really enjoyed the chance to dive deeper into New Foundation Farms, a super ambitious farm to fork/table project in the UK, trying to raise 20m to buy a 1000a farm. Unpacking the finance and governance (with Paul Pizzala), storytelling (with Kirsty Saddler), tech (with Wayne Gibbins), overall goal and mission (with Mark Drewell) and what a Regenerative business actually is (with Marcus Link) was such a joy!
More of these series are coming in 2022!!
- Landscape Tech Series
Eric Smith of the Grantham Foundation joined us to talk about neglected climate opportunities and one of the big ones is scaling regen ag to a landscape scale!
We were lucky enough to get support from the Grantham Environmental Trust to run a series on that topic! We are not done yet, but it has been great so far: from satellites with Anastasia Volkova, to applying key line on 10.000h with Jason Hayward-Jones, from how to calculate returns on a landscape scale with Jasper Bertels to collecting and selling data with Nathalie Whitaker and Mike Taitoko.
- Scale and ambition
How can we deliver on the great promise of regeneration to stabilise climates, bring back rivers, clean up oceans etc. (please let us dream for a moment here:))? Walter Jehne and Maddie Akkermans challenged us to truly think at scale.
- Money money money
We met some new money managers this year! Trailhead capital who is hunting for unicorns in regen ag and food and Dan Fritzgerald who is applying regen ag principles to technology.
We met Clément Chenost for the first time, who invested over 80M into vertically integrated agroforestry companies in LATAM and Subsaharan Africa.
We checked in with Paul McMahon of SLM Partners after interviewing him 5 years ago and had a lot of fun looking back and unpacking their new 250M Silva European agroforestry fund. Things have changed a lot, mostly on the investors side.
Looking forward to meeting many more conscious money managers in 2022!
- Beyond the farm gate
We spent a lot of time talking about farmers changing practises to build soil and more.
But what happens beyond the farm gate? How do we get all these products, ingredients etc. to our kitchen tables and more money back to the farmer/land steward? How do we communicate the potential, challenges and endless mysteries of soil?
Shout out to Paul Lightfoot and his great Negative foods newsletter!
We unpacked some aspects of this, buying a full rotation of a farmer with Tobias Joos, creating the market for regen meat via hybrid meats. (Surprise surprise:-)) that simply being a vegan cheese company isn’t good enough. Thank you Brad Vanstone for your openness!
A surprisingly (for such a large corporate) open conversation with Benjamin about Nestlé and its role and challenges in this regenerative transition. Supported by the Earthworm Foundation.
Thekla Teunis and Gijs Boers came back to the podcast to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of regen ag (spoiler, it is freaking hard) and to talk about their marketplace. Which sells ingredients with great regenerative stories and funnels more money back to the farmers and the land.
We also got to visit and interview one of the leading farms in Europe, more than 2000 hectares in Tuscany Italy alone, farmed bio-dynamically. Wine grapes, olives, cheese, grain, nuts etc. all sold directly to the end consumer, without any middle man for very honest prices. Proof that you can build a vertically integrated agri food business without becoming elitist.
Where would we be without farmers? Luckily also this year we managed to have a few farmers (still not nearly enough) on the podcast! We hosted a great conversation with Dimitri and Matteo, and John Arbuckle on the role of pigs in regeneration.
We learned from one of the leading farmers in the Netherlands Mellany Klompe, why she is going all in in nutrient density.
We checked in with some friends we interviewed before, Brandon Welch and Phil Taylor from The Perennial Fund/Mad Ag, eAgronom on their soil carbon work, Judith D Schwartz on her latest book and Dan Kittredge on the latest around nutrient density.
- 5 years
We are approaching the end of 2021 with over 165.000 streams and 40 interviews only this year.
We started cooperating with the scribing artist Irena Atkovska to bring the interviews to life! The results have been amazing. Short visual stories which capture the essence of the interviews!
As we are writing this, exactly 5 years ago, we uploaded the first few episodes of the podcast. We could have never imagined what the podcast would have turned into. This were only the first 5 years, imagine what the next 5 will bring!
Thank you all for being part of this journey, thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy days to come online and answer my (sometimes silly) questions and thank you all for listening, commenting, getting in touch and making this podcast much more than an interview show.
Let’s get to work to really make a difference over the next 5 years!
Koen and Antonella
P.S. To help you learn how to Invest in Regenerative Agriculture and Food we launched a video course in August 2020 and updated it on November 2021. Participants can pay what they think it is worth to them!
Many paid. If you are one of them, thank you! You make this work possible!
If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can learn how to become rich quickly by investing in regen food and ag here (just kidding, investing in regen ag and food isn’t easy so don’t expect any “get rich quick schemes”! :-))
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
Join the Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food newsletter on www.eepurl.com/cxU33P
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.