Mateusz Ciasnocha and Maria Virginia Solis Wahnish – From EU Soil Mission to Pope Francis, how to change local and state agriculture and food policies

A conversation with Maria Virginia Solis Wahnish and Mateusz Ciasnocha, both involved with the Farm of Francesco. Maria Virginia is founder of Drink Matera, while Mateusz is CEO of the European Carbon Farmers, and member of the EU Soil Mission board. We discuss why it is so important to connect with policymakers and how to actually do that, the importance of farmers’ education and a very detailed answer to the 1 billion euro question to enable many more people to get involved in farming. And what has Pope Francis to do with all of this?


This podcast is part of the AI 4 Soil Health project which aims to help farmers and policy makers by providing new tools powered by AI to monitor and predict soil health across Europe. For more information visit

A packed conversation with two farmers and entrepreneurs who are not only very involved in the regenerative transition, but especially connected outside their bubbles.


Farmer education is fundamental yet inaccessible for most people. María Virginia asked farmers directly for their insights on the topic.

”… Playing the role of a journalist, so it was basically asking, okay, describe your day. Tell me, what do you do? Why do you do that? What do you see? Why are you doing what you’re doing? And most of them were saying, Because I don’t know how to do something different. But at the same time, I see that last year, my production was better than this year, and actually, if I start remembering, every year is getting worse because my soil is getting worse and there is no rain…[…] So, all of that, little by little, led us to see the same answers, which was impressive, in all the countries. It didn’t matter if the farmer was doing vegetables or fruits; all the answers were the same.” – Maria Virginia Solis Wahnish


Maria advises investors to prioritise food production and build relationships with farmers, rather than solely focusing on monetization.

”I am thinking of the reality of Argentina, that a lot of the investment that is done in Argentina is done by the profitability of the business itself, because we don’t have a lot of public support or resources that are coming on the way to the farmer. So, it really depends on the personnel investment or the private investment. And it’s really needed to have someone that is coming either from the agriculture’s sector of investments to believe in a farmer, to believe in someone, and to make that business grow.” – Maria Virginia Solis Wahnish

”I’m also thinking about the technology part, because a lot of the farmers and a lot of the things that are done are done with a lot of effort, with the current structures that the businesses have, and if the structures were better, there could be much better results.” 

– Maria Virginia Solis Wahnish

”I would say, drop your desire to measure and monetize everything, but just focus on producing food and make money in that business. As an investor, what you are supporting primarily, in my view, should be food production. And that in itself should be a productive and profitable business. That then brings to your society a lot of other associated services that can be valued and potentially monetized. But I would caution all those who want to enter the space because of this potential monetization, talking especially about carbon credits, which are a hot topic […] So, fundamentally, support great farmers growing great food.” –

Mateusz Ciasnocha


Mateusz emphasises the importance of farmers sharing their stories and concerns with policymakers and encourages them to be specific and not generalise their issues.

”If you are a farmer, tell your story and go out there, wherever that is; it might be literally your neighbour, or your local priest, or your local imam, or even your uncle. Just getting the habit of telling your story. And, especially, if I can make a specific request to the farmers, that is to connect with your politicians” – Mateusz Ciasnocha

”If you, as a farmer, do not know your member of the Parliament and your member of the European Parliament, and you have not shared your story, and your concerns are a concern […] I would argue you didn’t do your homework. And I might be hated by the community of farmers that are protesting, but this is my point.” – Mateusz Ciasnocha

”So, if there is something that I would like someone to remember, it is that there are a lot of people and a lot of effort behind the work that is being done on a farm. And if there is some action that I would like this politician or visitor to take, it is to invite this person to come to the table and share the experience next time. I want to do something that will impact this person because it’s very easy to do policies from your office, which is quite far away from the farm, and imagine what the reality is for the farmer. But actually, for me, and I really like to describe myself as a bridge builder, I think there is a lot of value in that, in the politician coming to a farmer and the farmer coming to the table and sitting down and being able to share this experience.” – Maria Virginia Solis Wahnish

Koen, Maria Virginia and Mateusz also talked about

  • Soil health and regeneration in Argentina and North America
  • Transforming agriculture through education and farmer empowerment
  • Improving farming practices with limited resources
  • Investing in sustainable agriculture and diversifying decision-making




Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or European Research Executive Agency. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

This work has received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) under the UK government’s Horizon Europe funding guarantee [grant numbers 10053484, 1005216, 1006329].

This work has received funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).


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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.

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