Wow! What a year it has been. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier we find ourselves in a war in Europe, crazy energy and food prices and extreme high inflation rates in general.
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:
In an ideal world farms applying regenerative practises are more resilient, but as we saw with the story of Josh Heyneke, founder of Parc Carreg, farms can get into trouble very quickly when input prices spike (in this case organic grain from Ukraine to feed the ducks). It seems like Josh and his partner Abigail will make it through the winter and are building hard on their more resilient future, which will include climate neutral eggs!
The most important story
Healthy soil equals healthy food equals healthy people is arguably the most important story we shared in 2022. We kicked off this new Nutrient Density in Food series unpacking this crucial piece of the puzzle (supported by the A Team Foundation who is looking to make investments and donations in the space).
We interviewed Anne Biklé and David R Montgomery who not only co authored the study “Soil health and nutrient density: preliminary comparison of regenerative and conventional farming”, but also wrote the book What your food ate. if you haven’t read it please do it asap and give it to anyone interested in health!
Interviews with Fred Provenza and Zuzanna Zielińska really showed how strong this connection is. We look forward to continue this series in 2023.
REQUEST: If you have people we should interview that are building companies in the food- from healthy soils- as medicine space, please let us know!
Farmers’ Philosophy Series and Video!
There is so much more we can learn from the key decision makers of our time, farmers than soil health and this deserves time and space. Following the legends in the podcasting world, we couldn’t stay behind 🙂 and in November we recorded our first video interview.
Together with regenerative farmer and pioneer Jeroen Klompe we sat down and took time to go deep. We covered a lot of ground while really enjoying the process. Let us know in the comments what you think!
[Thank you Caspar Diederik of Storytravelers for experimenting with us!]
Hopefully more video deep dives in this series will follow in 2023. A video series is wonderful, but has much more complexity and costs than simply audio interviews, so we are currently looking for funding to do more of them, contact us if you have ideas, thank you.
The video episode wasn’t the only place where we went deeper. Non other than Charles Eisenstein joined us for a deep conversation! With Thomas Hogenhaven of Planetary Impact Ventures, we discussed regenerative investing, while with Kiss the Ground co founder Lauren Tucker regenerative businesses!
Sometimes it seems like regen ag practises are new, but if you dig a bit deeper you quickly find out we stand on the shoulders of absolute (and mostly indigenous) giants. Liz Carlisle shared her findings from her latest book, an absolute amazing read and great gift!
Recently Wouter Veer joined the show to talk about the root cause of all our issues, private land ownership.
Maybe a thought for the holidays: when you had a lucky career, your company took off and you had a liquidity event (fancy talk for a good financial exit), what is enough and what do you do with the rest?
Friends of the show
Many people came back on the podcast to check in and share updates about their work, in Southern Africa (Gijs Boers), on researching 1000 farms (Jonathan Lundgren), on how rock dust can save us all (Jim Mann). Benedikt Boesel updated us on how the transition on 3000h one hour from Berlin is going, while Dan Miller of Steward highlighted the role of the crowd in financing (meat) processing infrastructure. Bert Glover discussed how Impact Ag Partners invested over $600M into regenerative farms in the US and Australia and sold soil carbon credits to Microsoft, as well as Sara Scherr of EcoAgriculture Partners shared their work on landscape scale regeneration on 1000 landscapes for 1 billion people.
Absolute legends joining the show!
Side note of course every person we interview is a legend 😉
Abby Rose, friend of the show, revealed her new project with Nicole Masters where they want every farmer to start observing their land much better and take better decisions.
Felipe Pasini of Life in Syntropy took us on a deep dive into the world of syntropic agroforestry, why trees lead to more rain and why when in doubt you should always plant more trees!
“I’m too lazy to farm against nature”. Matt Chatfield of the Cornwall Project and Koen just had a blast ping ponging about life, sheep, building markets and margins and doing what his neighbours don’t consider work, but it definitely is: observing sheep for a few hours a day.
We learned so much about the magical underground world from Toby Kiers of SPUN. She explained why mycelium really runs the show 🙂
It seems (finally) to be a growing theme as the interviews of Cameron Frayling of Pivotal and Cath Tayleur of NatureMetrics showed!
Magic, enabling technologies
Which technologies can really enable many more farmers to start a regenerative transition?
Virtual fencing seems one: listen to Knut Bentzen of NoFence!
Ichsani Wheeler and Tom Hengl joined and schooled us on what is possible with remote sensing. Wow! Almost like magic…
Also companies like Ruumi and Agreed use the power of remote sensing!
How do we make the regenerative agriculture sector bankable and investable for institutional investors? In our conversations with Boris Spassky we looked how to make regen farming projects bankable, while with Eric Archambeau we explored how to get large institutional investors (writing 100/200/500M tickets) active in regeneration.
Redesign products and CPG
Emma Chow and Eliot Beeby explained why for a large corporate simply purchasing one cash crop ‘regeneratively’ (what ever that means) isn’t good enough. The real magic and impact happens when you redesign recipes and buy full rotations and landscapes as well as give food a true price (listen to Pietro Galgani of the Impact Institute)!
Not only food! With Johannes Quodt of Koio we entered the world of fashion to understand how you can design and sell a regenerative shoe.
Anthony Corsaro made a very strong case for regen consumer companies just as indoor farming expert turned regen enthusiast Paul Lightfoot (now running Patagonia Provisions). Rafaela Gontijo Lenz of Nuu Alimentos Brazil joined us to talk about her Brazilian snack brand which is working towards regen sourcing and Eurof Uppington of Amfora talked about the most fraudulent crop in the Mediterranean and how to sell olive oil like wine in Switzerland and bring much more money to the olive farmers.
Many women are working in the space: from Connie Bowen focusing on designing agtech to help the farmers doing the back breaking work in the field to Jaclyn Schnau of Pumpkin Organics building a baby food company after seeing the shocking reality behind the (organic) baby food industry. Regenerative agriculture became key for the model and global activist Arizona Muse as well as for the former CEO of Patagonia Rose Marcario and Nicolette Hahn Niman who became a rancher after starting as a lawyer working with Robert F Kennedy jr.
Big ideas, huge ambition and large questions:
- Can we IPO natural assets asks Douglas Eger? And if yes how?
- Neal Spackman, a legend in the permaculture world (if you don’t know him google his work in Saudi Arabia) is now working on turning worthless and mostly desert coastlines thriving again.
- Hervé Dupied wants to drastically change the CAP, the €387 billion a year European farm subsidy program.
- Mariko Thorbecke highlighted the wonderful world of LCAs (life cycle assessments) and, at the same time, how most of them are deeply flawed or misused at best.
As always, thank you so much to all the people who took time to come on the show and answer sometimes silly questions! Thank you so much for listening, sharing and reaching out with ideas, questions or simply to say hello!
And… our 200th episode is coming up! Tune in on Jan 3rd for a very special one!
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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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.