Ask Me Anything Webinar – April 8th, 2020

As promised, here it is the recording of the Ask Me Anything webinar hosted by Koen van Seijen with many more links and topics covered during the discussion.

We managed to cover a lot of ground like:
– Regen ag seems to good to be true or is it?
– Organic vs regenerative
– The need for certification (or not)
– The speed of regen transitions
– Ways to invest right now in Europe
– Is there a role for hydroponics in regen ag?
– What are the opportunities in restoring the oceans?

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For anyone new to Regen Ag and Food, to learn more, a great place to start is:
Growing a Revolution, by David Montgomery
I interviewed David Montgomery here

Kiss the Ground the project
Kiss the Ground the book

My friend Ethan Soloviev wrote a great piece on the regenerative agriculture continuum, showing the context of all the different approaches, organic, permaculture, etc.!

French crowd investing platform for regenerative agriculture (very small projects so far but the founder hinted to a more scaled approach)

I have done one interview with Dirk Aleven covering greenhouse technologies and soil less growing.
Listen here or on your favorite podcast player!

In the interviews focussed on Landscape size restoration we have been asking the question: can technology help make farmers decisions to figure out what to plant where and why?
I hope to record more interviews on this topic!

Aqua Spark, a Dutch fund on sustainable aqua culture: (full disclosure, I used to work there!)

John Kempf and Advancing Eco Agriculture, a very experienced consultancy company, work a lot with growers in California

Soil Capital, very experienced regen ag operators:
I interviewed the co-founder Chuck de Liedekerke.
Listen here or on your favorite podcast player!

Group of farmers in the Netherlands on their regen journey:

Spun out of Commonland, I interviewed Michiel de Man on Commonland’s project in Spain.
Listen here or on your favorite podcast player!

On Ocean restoration, our interview on ocean permaculture with Brian von Herzen.
Listen here or on your favorite podcast player!

On the point of scalability of buying farmland and regenerating it versus investing in current farmers to help them transition: 

The Perennial Fund wrote an interest observation in their White Paper:
The Perennial Fund is the most capital efficient and grassroots model of farm investment. The average acre of cropland in the US is worth $4,130. Most farmland investment models are based on purchasing the land and converting it to sustainable production. We are not in the business of turning farmers and landowners into managers. With the PF, a $300/acre loan over 3 years can enable the same areal change as a $4,130 purchase and conversion. This generates 13.8x more conservation per dollar, creating greater return on conservation investment and increases the on-the-ground impact of USDA programs.

My hunch is: we are going to see a lot of these investment vehicles, funds investing in farmland over the next years. We need to have a discussion about land ownership and concentration. But there is a natural limit (only so much farm land for sale and so much capital available). So we will see, I think, a huge wave of experiments, funds, crowd debt vehicles etc. to help current farmers/landowners transition towards regenerative. 

Mazi Farm, a regenerative farm in Greece

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree
Highly highly recommended reading this book, it changed my life and thinking about nature!
One example: we always thought nightingales are forest birds (experts tell us this). But they actually turn out to love the open oak landscapes, so why do we consider them forest birds? Because with the changed land-use (mostly agriculture), we pushed them to the last possible place they could (sort of) survive. This book is full of those discoveries, many things we thought about nature, forests, natural landscapes are completely up side down.
Integrating rewilding in regenerative farms and rotations will be something to watch! 
I had the great pleasure to interview Isabella the past summer.
Listen here or on your favorite podcast player!
You can go on safari just south of London:
The Guardian article

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