Ep. 35: Jonathan Lundgren – founder of Ecdysis Foundation & Blue Dasher Farm lab ||

On episode 35 we welcome Dr. Jonathan Lundgren.  After 11 years at the USDA, responsible for his own lab and a good sized staff, the career of this well-regarded scientist and author began to fall apart as he published research that cautioned against the use of specific pesticides approved by the federal agency. Continuously penalized for his actions, Dr. Lundgren was soon forced out of the USDA as retaliation against his scientific findings and for not backing down.  A whistle blower case was filled against the USDA stating the actions of leadership in the agency was to suppress his voice, to suppress his science.

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Dr. Lundgren had done extensive research into the pesticide Neonicotinoid (neonics), and their impact on bees. Lundgren discovered that one kernel of GMO corn has enough neonics to kill 360,000 bees. These potent neurotoxin synthetics are now the most used pesticides in the world. Used on mass and vast scale stateside – his research showed that we were wiping out 150% (after re-queening ) of our hives annually.

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Lundgren stood tall and let the piece fall as they may. “The planet is facing some pretty serious issues right now, and we need people to stand-up and do the right thing for the right reasons.”  Lundgren states in explaining his actions.  So, if not Jonathan, than who was going to step forward, and risk their career for something they’d believed in; for something that is true and just?  As it turned out, Lundgren proved to be a pioneer in his efforts.  The USDA was laster hit with 200 additional cases by whistle blowing scientist who corroborated Lundgren’s claims that the agency tampering or muzzling their findings. The ripple effect of Lundgren’s actions are being witnessed in realtime throughout broader federal agencies where scientists, public servants and concerned systems thinkers are standing tall for what’s right.

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Today, Dr. Jonathan Lundgren is the founder and director of the Ecdysis foundation.  He’s set on changing the minds of farmers around the world backed on the research he does at the Blue Dasher Farm Lab. Through the support of his community and supporters Lundgren crowd-funded his research lab focused on the future of regenerative agriculture.  In our 35 minute conversation we cover subjects including planetary stability, professional science, future food & farming, and much more.  Have a listen you what this truthteller has to say.

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@buglundgren

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Ep. 34: Dr. Daphne Miller – author of farmacology  -ft. co-host: Jennifer Hashley of the New Entry Farm project ||

On Sourcing Matters ep. 34 Jennifer Hashley joins me for an interesting discussion with physician and author Dr. Daphne Miller.  We get under the hood connecting soil, human & planetary health.  Dr. Miller offers these reasons why physicians must become involved in future food and agriculture:

  • The frontline of knowledge – “Doctors can tailor agriculture to be health centered.”
  • Access to resources – “Health care has the deep pockets in this county. If we started to do the math on the true cost of our food system to health – this spending at the end-effect of our care could be better invested earlier on (in food & soil).”
  • Advocacy – “People in health care are excellent advocates in changing things.”  Dr. Miller cites emissions, car safety, Tobacco – all environments where Drs. were agents of change uniting communities and eventually our society behind a precautionary principle. “We need people in health to weigh-in on the food system.”

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Dr. Daphne Miller is a practicing family physician, author and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco. For the past fifteen years, her leadership, advocacy, research and writing have focused on the connections between food production, ecology and health.
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Miller founded WholeFamily MD, San Francisco’s first integrative primary care medical practice, in the Fall of 2001. Her mission was to reclaim the heart of medicine by focusing on her patients rather than on the business and red tape of medical practice.  Over the ensuing years the practice has grown, but Dr. Miller has not strayed from her early vision.
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When she is not seeing patients or teaching, Dr. Miller writes books and articles related to food, farming, the environment, and health. She has authored two best-selling books: The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World, Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You (HarperCollins 2008) and Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up (HarperCollins 2013).
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Miller is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Medical School and completed her family medicine residency and an NIH-funded primary care research fellowship at UCSF. She is also a Bravewell Fellow with the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine. Since 2005, she has consistently been elected by her peers for inclusion in Best Doctors in America.
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@drDaphneMiller



co-host:

Jennifer Hashley

  • Founder of Tufts New Entry Sustainable farming project 
  • Owner of Pete & Jen’s backyard birds
  • Evangelist | Activist| Innovator
  • Eisenhower Fellow 2016

@JHashley

Ep. 33: Ridge Shinn – CEO of Big Picture Beef ||

On episode 33 we welcome Ridge Shinn, CEO of Big Picture Beef – a businessman making us all a little more regenerative through a smarter regional production approach.  In 2010, Time Magazine cast Ridge as the original  Carbon Cowboy.  He lives with that mantra everyday.

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It’s as fundamental as investing in animal well-being for the betterment of our planet’s wellbeing and your health.  As the financial landscape in production continues to evolve, Shinn sees a sustainable business model for future food being of more regional production – an approach that he believes others will soon follow. Founded in 2015 – Based out of Hardwick, MA – Big Picture Beef’s mission is to establish an environmentally sustainable and economically viable model of producing beef through managed grazing—no feedlots and no grain, ever. Shine & Big Picture envision a system that produces healthy animals, healthy food, healthy soils, and fair wages for farmers.

“We work with numerous farms in the region that produce young stock according to our standards. Then we aggregate these cattle for fattening on several large finishing farms, also in the region, that are staffed by skilled graziers. A variety of regenerative farming techniques, notably rotational grazing to foster soil health and fertility, are key to our success. We harvest the finished cattle and sell 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef and beef products to wholesale customers.” – Ridge Shinn

In our 40 minute conversation we discuss topics ranging from bioregions; consumer’s role as change agents; drawdown; and one-health of animal, planet & consumer.   Ridge offers insights into an operating model that seeks to be benefit diverse stakeholders interested in preserving a regional provenance, and commitment to a production approach.  Decades of experience offers Shinn assurance that all of that hard work developing protocols in the fields are now queueing market interest.  It’ll be fascinating for all, but if you live in the Northeast – you should give it a listen.

@RidgeShinn

photo credit: Jason Grow
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Ep. 32: Usman Javaid – CEO & co-founder of Ricult ||

On episode 32 we welcome Usman Javaid – CEO of Ricult. This startup spawned out of MIT sets to change the paradigm in global agriculture by rejiggering how folks who grow our food in all corners of the world can access resources, and sell their resulting crops to benefit themselves and their consumers.  Ricult is unique as they aim to fix the agriculture value chain through simple mobile tools that can be overlaid on modern technology platforms. By improving the value chain, Ricult is enabling farmers to pull themselves out of poverty while tapping a multi-billion dollar market.
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“We are not a charity; we are an empowering community transformation. This is the basis for a brighter future, built on hand-ups, not handouts” describes Javaid, an entrepreneur with 15 years of experience in Telecom, Mobile Banking, Mobile Agriculture in Pakistan/Bangladesh – who is now equipped with an MBA from MIT Sloan.  Usman leveraged his past experience selling petrochemical fertilizers at Exxon, and time spent with Pakistani dairymen while at Nestle to better understand and appreciate the perils of small stakeholder farmers around the world.  While at Sloan school he helped organize a team of global thought-leaders equally interested in changing global agriculture through defining a new paradigm focused on the farmer first.  And, that’s what they’ve done.

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Their Bill and Melinda Gates foundation backed company has now architected and framed a system which alleviates many of the issues within current supply chains for small farmers.  Supply chains for the billion small stakeholder farmers throughout the globe are often controlled by their investors, who maybe be better described as loan-sharks and present limited interest in feeding a shrinking planet nor looking out for the best interests of their debtors.  From Clearinghouse -to- Financier -to- Marketplace preserving production qualities – it’s RIcult that has stepped in to re-introduce potential for small stakeholder farmers to make a fair living through growing our food.

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The solutions they seek set to address vast global problems like food shortage, malnourishment, poverty, and rural unemployment.  Javaid and his leadership team at Ricult have decided this must begin by investing in the smallholder farmer. Their promise is to give these farmers the tools they need to be better informed, and to empower economic actors which will help more farmers work their way out of debt & poverty. As Usman states – “The world is ready for farming to be revolutionized and become more inclusive by liberating the very people who form the backbone of this industry.”
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No matter where you’re from. where live, or what you’ve done – have a listen to our 40 minute conversation. This discussions impacts us all.
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@contact_Ricult

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Ep. 31: Ryland Engelhart, co-founder  & Jesse Smith, Farmland Program Director – Kiss The Ground ||

On episode 31 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Ryland Engelhart and Jesse Smith of Kiss The Ground.  Well known for the critically acclaimed book and forthcoming movie, both sharing the same namesake as their organization, non-profit Kiss The Ground is telling a new story about our ability to regenerate land, reverse climate change and reconnect to nature by building back healthy soil.  Through programs focused on storytelling, education, business, community gardens and the farmland – Kiss The Ground empowers people to restore soil and help accelerate the adoption of regenerative agriculture.
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Seamlessly complementing each other throughout the 45 minute conversation, both guests brought unique insight to our discussion which connected soil, human, and planetary health. Ryland Engelhart currently serves as the Mission Fulfillment Officer and co-owner of Cafe Gratitude and Gracias Madre. Engelhart co-founder of Kiss The Ground, and now works tirelessly to educate and advocate about the movement.  As a storyteller, Ryland co-created the award-winning, transformational documentary film, “May I Be Frank.” Also, he’s an entrepreneur and activist, using his restaurants as a platform to inspire more “gratitude” into our culture.   Running the Kiss The Ground Farmland program, Jesse Smith adds unique acumen from the perspective of a producer and philosopher.  Smith is a farmer, designer and consultant focused on the intersection of regenerative supply and enterprise. His passion for agriculture and food systems is rooted in his love of California’s diverse ecosystems, and influenced by his work and travels through Africa, Europe and the western United States. Jessie’s family, friends and community are what inspire him to develop a network of farmers, restaurants and consumers to benefit our soil, water & air.
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In this episode we go deep into the problems, and potential solutions for a shrinking planet.  Ryland describes the impetus for formulating this unique arena of Kiss The Ground which seems set on democratizing complex subjects that will prove increasingly essential for stabilizing all corners of the world.  Engaging consumers and citizens as the agents of change, it was consensus amongst all of us that it has to be the grass-roots to lead us forward through this tumultuous and concerning time for the future health of our planet.  The people will lead, and the policy will (eventually) follow. Through the collection of their farms, non-profit initiative and restaurants this west coast collaborative is drafting a new recipe for moving us forward.  A mechanism that vertically integrates the value chain which will benefit the consumer of their food, fiber and fuel, and lead to positive externalities of regenerative results.
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@kissthegroundCA

 

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Ep. 30: Wood Turner – Senior Vice President of Agriculture Capital  ||

On episode 30 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Wood Turner, Sr. Vice President of Agriculture Capital.  Focused on integrating and operationalizing the firm’s cross-platform sustainability strategies into the 4 staple permacrops they invest in, Turner brings unique background and expertise to the changing dynamic of food production.
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It’s Agriculture Capitals mission to grow access to healthy, sustainable food.  “We’ve assembled experienced professionals from finance, farming, processing, marketing, and sustainability to bring innovative thinking to managing successful food enterprises.” described the firm’s website.  Turner has over 20 years of experience in corporate sustainability, environmental management, and consumer engagement. Most recently, he was on the executive team at organic yogurt pioneer Stonyfield Farm as the company’s VP Sustainability Innovation. Prior to that, he was founding executive director of Climate Counts, an international NGO focused on measuring and scoring the world’s largest consumer companies on their concrete, enterprise-level responses to climate change. Wood has consulted to brands, elected officials, and public agencies on mobilizing the public around ideas that improve the environment and build community.
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Agricultural economist Renee Vasillos joins as co-host of our 45 minute conversation which covers subjects that range from the current state of citrus, consumer engagement, “softening the edges” of investing in & production models that support pollinator health, and the all important topic of water. Private equity often gets a bad rap for being too focused on the deal instead of the value creation. Wood Turner and his team at Agriculture Capital seek to restructure how capital can deliver multi-dimensional returns beneficial to many stakeholders and the shared environment.

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@doubleUT

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co-host:

Renee Vassilos

  • Agricultural Economist
  • Regenerative & Big Ag intermediary
  • past portfolio manager: Deere China
  • Bilingual Dutch / American citizen 

Full bio: Renée Vassilos is a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist with over fifteen years of agriculture industry experience. Her expertise ranges from strategic market analysis and product development to sales, marketing and distribution strategy. She has lived and worked abroad- three years in Amsterdam and six years in Beijing- contributing to her robust global experience, cultural competence, and network. 

Today, Vassilos is sharing her expertise through her consulting business. She utilizes her global cross-functional experience from working for the USDA and John Deere to support the growth of sustainability-focused agriculture businesses. She has a BS and MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and University of California, Davis, respectively.

Ep. 29: Gina McCarthy – Director, C-Change at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health ||

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On Sourcing Matters episode 29 we welcome Gina McCarthy, Director of C-Change at Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health. McCarthy has a background fighting for, and evolving practice & policy relating to the environment that is second to none!  A change-agent of positivity, Gina McCarthy has been a leading advocate for common sense strategies to protect public health and the environment for more than 30 years. She served under President Barack Obama as the 13th Administrator of the EPA from 2013–2017. Her tenure as EPA Administrator heralded a paradigm shift in national environmental policy, expressly linking it with global public health. Prior, during her career in Massachusetts, McCarthy advised five governors on environmental affairs, worked at the state and local levels on critical environmental issues, and helped coordinate policies on economic growth, energy, transportation, and the environment.
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In our 45 minute conversation we discuss both the need and opportunity to embrace sustainable best practice across the board.  We chat about the current landscape in DC. We discuss Scott Pruitt and his $43K soundproof phone booth, Trump’s perspective on the environment, climate change deniers, future food, agriculture and much more. Regarding her take on the political divide “We need to stop Washington from simply making climate change part of a partisan platform. Frankly, It has nothing to do with being a Republican or Democrat.  Absolutely nothing! If you’re a human being – you need to care about this, and you need to act.”  To do this we need to motivate, inspire and let people come to their own conclusions that this all matters.  “It’s a strategy that we need to stop scaring people, and start creating the pied piper effect. Play great music, and let people follow you.”

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Gina explains that the EPA isn’t a birds & bunnies agency.  But, instead one focused on public health and national security. “People need to realize, climate isn’t about polar bears, it’s about their kids.”   McCarthy gets to the brass tacks of the movement, “The most important thing we can do is to realize the future is in our hands. We need to grab opportunities where they come, and be positive about it.”  She continues “We need to put science to work, and explain it in terms that everyone can understand.”  McCarthy recently completed a few fellowships at Harvard. “I found the students to be incredibly exciting and engaging. They had a sense of social justice and equity that was just palpable. They just didn’t want to tolerate moving forward in a world that doesn’t recognize that science is real, that climate change is happening, that manmade emissions are causing it; and that we have to do something – not least of which is to more women into office!”

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After her work in DC and finalizing the fellowship programs, Harvard’s Chan school of Public Health became the ideal venue to continue her transformative work in materializing the impacts of climate change and environmental pollution on public & personal health. The goal of the new C-Change center is to make sure science is driving actions continuously. She explains “The Dean wanted the science to be done not just well, but to be communicated well. To actually get into the hands of decision makers, and we can actually make a difference based on real facts on the ground.”
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McCarthy details, “The greatest opportunity we have to improve health in this century is embrace climate change as a public health issue. Climate change is opening our eyes to what we need to do to live sustainably. And, a low carbon future is something we should be running towards; investing in; talking about; getting exciting about!  I want people to know that climate change is perhaps the most direct threat they have today for their kid’s tomorrow. Taking action against climate change now is the greatest opportunity we have to chart a future that is sustainable.”

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What we’re learning is: we do have great leaders, from all over, with diverse backgrounds who are ready for their time up at bat.  This has melded with a confluence of a citizen awakening, and what seems to be a zeitgeist of generation next where responsible action can be the permanency to set a proper course moving forward.  Recent defeats from this administration is a gut check; maybe a call to actions for us to gain some small wins, together, for greater good and stability.  So, whether instigating change from our dinner plate, in a lab or research center, via technology & innovation, or from some of the most prestigious institutions in the land – we’ve got this talent.  We need now to mobilize around small victories and milestones from the grass-roots.  It’s our time we get out and make a difference!

@HarvardCChange

 

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photo source: Politico   


 

Ep. 28: Willem Ferwerda – CEO of Commonland Group ||

Today on Sourcing Matters ep. 28 we welcome Willem Ferwerda – CEO of the Commonland Group.  Based out of the Netherlands, Commonland believes that landscape restoration offers tremendous untapped opportunities for sustainable economic development.  To demonstrate this potential, they develop landscape restoration projects that are based on business cases, and proper monitoring of their successes using multi-dimensional returns.  With current projects in Southern Africa, Spain, Western Australia, and the The Netherlands – Commonland engages with multidisciplinary teams or investors, companies, and entrepreneurs in long-term restoration partnerships with farmers and land-users into an approach which has cast new expectation for what returns represent to these different stakeholders.
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The goal of Commonland is to realize large-scale landscape restoration with local farmers, land-users and experts based on sustainable business cases with each impact being assessed through a matrix monitoring diverse returns that connect natural and economic landscape zones through a multi-stakeholder initiative benefiting all parties. Willem founded Commonland with the idea the long-term commitment is important, as it takes approximately 20 years – or one generation – to restore a landscape.  Their holistic restoration approach focuses on the 4 key returns of Inspiration, Social, Natural, Financial.  Those returns combine to define a baseline for their long-horizon mission – which is to contribute to a large-scale landscape restoration industry, aligned with international policies and guidelines throughout a shrinking planet.

 

Maybe Teddy said it best:

“I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behaves as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself. I believe the same thing of a nation.”

– Theodore Roosevelt: The 1910 New Nationalism Speech

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@Commonland

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related links:
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Ep. 27: Tatiana Garcia-Granados – founder & COO of the Common Market joins co-host: Jennifer Hashley of the New Entry Farm project, and Pete & Jen’s backyard birds ||

On episode 27 we welcome founder of The Common Market, Tatiana Garcia-Granados – with co-host Jennifer Hashley of the New Entry Farming Project to a discussion on  ‘Making Regional Work’.  Pioneers in a new system of regional food hubs, Tatiana Garcia Granados and her husband, Haile – founded Common Market in 2008 as an innovative solution to deep problems in the food system by creating a mutually beneficial link between family farmers and urban communities.
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The flagship Common Market Mid-Atlantic is a mission-driven distributor of sustainable, local farm foods. Spawned of their North Philly Neighborhood – they developed a concept that would connect institutions and communities with good food from now over 200 producers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. There’s also a second proof case in the The Common Market Georgia – connecting producers with larger institutions in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee.  And, a newly spawned 3rd program out of Houston, TX, NYC & DC. All hubs set to build local food systems that generate health and wealth of rural and urban communities alike.
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Each day, thousands of pounds of fresh produce, meat and dairy products leave the distribution center of the Common Market destined for school lunches, hospital meals and the shelves of local grocery stores. “We provide specific grower information when you place an order, and it’s printed on every invoice and every case of food so you know exactly how the food is grown and where it’s coming from.” – explains Garcia- Granados.
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Co-host Jennifer Hashley always adds insight to the conversation.  Coming at it from the producer, aggregator, and teacher’s seat – Hashley knows the bottlenecks, and the potential of it all.  Centered out of the Tufts Friedman School of nutrition – The New Entry Sustainable Farming program is one of the first initiatives nationwide to help immigrants and refugees develop commercial farming opportunities.  Jennifer’s goal is to help new farmers excel in the field, and New Entry gives them the tools to do that. It’s a revolutionary program that looks at sustainable and regenerative farming as jobs creation, and economic growth for regions often in need of stimulus.  In partnership with her husband, Jennifer oversees a diversified pasture based livestock operation, including Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds on the the renowned Codman Community Farm in Lincoln MA.  She’s a wonderful advocate for the agricultural region of the Northeast, and the small farmer everywhere..

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Finally, Tatiana and Jennifer share some of their experiences for their Eisenhower Fellowship programs.  Tatiana’s focus on food access and policy throughout her program in Brazil was inspiring, and offered benchmarks for what can be accomplished to support the many family farms & farmers in our country.  Jennifer witnessed a colliding of two agricultural worlds in Ghana & Nigeria.  Titans from conventional seek scale, but are running into infrastructure and resource limitations needed to operate their model.

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Whether it’s a food system in South America, North America, Africa, the EU or the Far East – Regional is everyone’s future.  Tatiana Garcia-Granados & Jennifer Hashley are two of the great folks proving that regional can happen!  We’re lucky they’re both on ourside.

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What’s really going with local farms & regional food economies – have a listen.

@CommonMkt

@HaileJohnston

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co-host:

Jennifer Hashley

  • Founder of Tufts New Entry Sustainable farming project 
  • Owner of Pete & Jen’s backyard birds
  • Evangelist | Activist| Innovator
  • Eisenhower Fellow 2016

@JHashley

Ep. 26: Warren Valdmanis – Managing Director of Bain Capital Double Impact fund ||

If food choice is the panacea to remediate the biggest issues plaguing man and our planet, how we capitalize the production and distribution of that better quality food needs innovation within the confines of modern high finance.  On episode 26 we welcome someone fighting this battle, Warren Valdmanis – Managing Director of the Bain Capital Double Impact fund.  Focused on investing with three themes of impact: (i) Sustainability, (ii) Health & Wellness, (iii) Community Building – Warren and his team seek financial and impact growth for their partner companies solving critical problems through sustainable business models. The Bain Double Impact fund utilizes a value-added approach, experienced team and a broad platform of expertise to provide the resources and capabilities that these companies need to thrive in a modern world.
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In our 35 minute conversation we discuss a variety of topics throughout the value chain of food, and throughout a circular economy. Warren begins episode by shares interesting anecdotes and details on a few of their portfolio companies. He describes the criteria Bain Double Impact uses to assess and invest in these different companies.  Warren also shares how he got into the impact space; how through both personal motivation to improve his wellbeing and to cast a leading light for his family – they’ve defined a tip-of-the-spear approach in private equity which could till new ground for an industry looking to better connect with millennial investors set to inherit $40 trillion in the next decade.
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With a goal of creating value for diverse stakeholders, Warren Valdmanis and his partners at the Bain Double Impact fund set to connect the desires of a modern consumer with the realities of industry in dire need of ingenuity.  This is not philanthropy.  And, that’s a wonderful thing as the only way we’re going to deal with the problems of a shrinking planet pressed by skyrocketing populations, and not enough resources to go around if we stick to a business as usual approach – is to engage the free markets and the capital markets to drive change through multi-dimensional returns with impact on more.

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@BainCapital

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co-host:

Renee Vassilos

  • Agricultural Economist
  • Regenerative & Big Ag intermediary
  • past portfolio manager: Deere China
  • Bilingual Dutch / American citizen 

Full bio: Renée Vassilos is a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist with over fifteen years of agriculture industry experience. Her expertise ranges from strategic market analysis and product development to sales, marketing and distribution strategy. She has lived and worked abroad- three years in Amsterdam and six years in Beijing- contributing to her robust global experience, cultural competence, and network. 

Today, Vassilos is sharing her expertise through her consulting business. She utilizes her global cross-functional experience from working for the USDA and John Deere to support the growth of sustainability-focused agriculture businesses. She has a BS and MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and University of California, Davis, respectively.