Ep. 93: Congressman Jim McGovern, US Rep. Massachusetts 2nd  -ft. cohost: Scott Soares, former Mass Ag Commish & shellfish leader  ||

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For episode 93 we welcome US Congressman from the Massachusetts 2nd district, Jim McGovern.  Representative McGovern’s district ranges from Worcester to the Pioneer Valley, and includes a good portion of the Connecticut River – the lifeblood for much of the state’s remaining dairy & orchard infrastructure. McGovern’s district also includes the Quabbin Reservoir – the largest inland body of water in the State – which also happens to supply Boston and much of the metro area with crystal clear, world class drinking water.
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On the Hill, Congressman McGovern is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, and House Committee on Agriculture.   Rep. McGovern is also a member of the national dairy and cranberry caucuses.  Jim is an evangelist for food access and nutrition. He’s a leading voice for farmland, and natural land preservation – and not just for the Commonwealth, but through large federal programs that impact the entire country.
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Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) is also a co-sponsor of ‘The Green New Deal’ with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).  Through-out the conversation we hear about Representative McGovern’s view on the future of federal policies to support a stable country and planet.  Could sequestering carbon into farmland be our saving grace?  Could the USDA and the US Government lead the way?

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In our 45 minute discussion we look at the future of food and its production through a federal lens, as well as for the 1800 farms in his home district in Massachusetts.  We discuss both the positive steps forward in the latest version of the farm bill, as well as some of the intrinsic problems of this huge and glacial policy bucket. We look at the discrepancies in supporting big vs. small farms.  It was recently announced that US Farm income hit $88 Billion – the highest since 2014.  But, nearly 40% of that 2019 farm income income will come from federal aid.  Much of that has been tied to disaster assistance, and aid for the current trade war.  But, Chapter 12 farm bankruptcies are up 24% over the last year, at their highest levels since 2011.  That’s the crux of the issue – big farms are getting paid, and small farms are going out of business. Hear how this can change!


Joining in as cohost is Scott Soares.  Soares is former commissioner of Agriculture in Massachusetts, and served as the Director of USDA Rural Development for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the Obama administration.  Scott has 15 years of fishery and aquaculture experience prior to that – including early in his career serving as the 1st Massachusetts coordinator of aquaculture for nearly a decade. Soares has recently returned to these roots by taking on the role of the Mass Shellfish Initiative coordinator.

It become evident quickly that Soares and Congressman McGovern are good friends. We keep the conversation lively and upbeat, while still evaluating important subject matter.

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So, if you want to hear how systems thinking connects food, health and stability.  Or, if you want to know more about how farm raised fish in land based RAS systems could regulated and propagated by the USDA. Or, if you want to learn more about the perils of New England dairy, and what can be done about it. Or, how hemp is an agricultural product for medication, fiber and material sciences to replace plastics – tune-in to learn more about what’s going on in Massachusetts’s 2nd, and on the Hill.

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@RepMcGovern



co-host:

Scott Soares

  • Former Commissioner MA Agriculture 
  • Dir. USDA Rural Dev Northeast for Obama administration
  • 15 years of fishery & Aquaculture experience
  • Served as 1st MA coordinator of aquaculture for a decade

@SjSoares65

 

Ep. 92: Bill Taylor – President & CEO of the Atlantic Salmon Federation ||

We welcome Bill Taylor – President & CEO of the world renowned conservation organization – Atlantic Salmon Federation.  
Est. in 1948 – the Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well being and survival depend.
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In 2011, the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) commissioned a report to calculate the economic impact for Atlantic Salmon in eastern Canada.  The results presented $255 million annually – and supported 4000 jobs. Relating to the success of project one article explained “in our political climate, money talks, and government tends to invest in industries that provide economic benefits and jobs to communities.”

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Just last year Bill and his international team brokered a very important deal to preserve the sanctity of salmon in the wild. A landmark, 12-year agreement with Greenland Fisherman to suspend the commercial harvest of Salmon, and limit the quota to 20 ton subsistence quota.  This deal saves thousands of virile adult salmon every year.
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In our 45 minute discussion we cover many areas of interest for fishermen, eaters and environmentalists.   You’ll hear how ASF is a world-leading science and advocacy organization that has long-since been dedicated to conserving and restoring wild Atlantic salmon. You’ll learn how the ASF seeks to expand upon current programs, and explore improving farming practices of salmon to benefit diverse stakeholders

– including open run fish.


Co-hosting the episode is Aaron’s father, Byron Niederhelman. With an undergrad in biology, and a Masters from Northeastern University – Byron taught Biology and Earth Science for 19 years. For 13 year more he was the Principal of ConVal High School in Peterborough, NH.  Byron is an avid sportsman who for the past 25 years has been a busy traveler in search of the world’s best fishing spots.


  1. Are salmon truly the canary-in-the-coalmine?
  2. Is their demise an accurate reflection of the health of our waterways and marine environments?
  3. If we want to preserve the natural migratory paths of animals – why not start with this iconic keystone species?
  4. Could cleaning up farming practices of salmon establish cash-flow to invest back into the natural environment for their natural cousins?

 

We answer these questions and more – on episode 92 of Sourcing Matters.

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@AtlanticSalmonFed

 

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co-host:

Byron Niederhelman

  • Background in Biology
  • Former Educator & Principal
  • Avid Traveler & Fisherman

Full bio: 

With an undergrad in Biology, a Masters from Northeastern University, Byron Niederhelman taught Biology and Earth Science for 19 years, and was for 13 years the Principal of the ConVal High School in Peterborough, NH. Byron is an avid sportsman who for the last 25 yrs. has been a busy traveler in search of the world’s best fishing spots.

Ep. 91: Benedikt Bösel – Managing Director & Proprietor of Schlossgut Alt Madlitz – Germany ||

For episode 91 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Benedikt Bösel, the Managing Director and Proprietor of Schlossgut Alt Madlitz in Brandenburg, Germany.
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Through regenerative food production and forestry management; through hunting excursions and land stewardship initiatives; through a royal bed & breakfast and restaurant – Bösel offers patrons a unique experience dedicated to capturing and sharing the vitality found in nature’s systems.  Since Benedikt has taken the reins of this 7500 acre estate located 1 hour east of Berlin – it’s become an Agtech innovation hot-bed, and an epicenter for testing / implementing Regenerative Natural Resource Management at scale.
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What we learn in this 45 minute discussion is that Benedikt Bösel is diversifying and innovating on his family’s iconic German estate through investing in the future.  A regenerative future which marries and harmonizes with natural systems for maximum benefit to us, to the planet and to all of its co-inhabitants.
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Joining in on the conversation is good friend of the show Renée Vassilos, a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist who has spent over fifteen years in the production agriculture space.  Her work experience includes time spent with the USDA, she has started her own consultancy to help investors and Agtech companies, she spent  nearly a decade with John Deere; much of that time in Beijing.   Renée has recently joined The Nature Conservancy as their Agriculture Innovation Director.  She’ll manage TNC’s investments in early stage agtech companies that will support regenerative agriculture production – at scale.
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TuneIn to hear more about what regenerative really looks like. Both the opportunities and the challenges. Hear how when empowered to be better stewards of the land, we can tackle many of the biggest problems facing us in generations to come. Benedikt and Renée are our future, TuneIn to hear their positive POV on what’s in store.

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@AltMadlitz

 

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co-host:

Renée Vassilos

  • Agricultural Economist
  • The Nature Conservancy  Ag Innovation Director
  • past portfolio manager: Deere China
  • Bilingual Dutch / American citizen 

Full bio: 

Renée Vassilos is a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist who has spent over fifteen years in the production agriculture space.  Her work experience includes time spent with the USDA, she has started her own consultancy to help investors and Agtech companies, she spent  nearly a decade with John Deere; much of that in Beijing.  

Renée has recently joined The Nature Conservancy as their Agriculture Innovation Director.  She will manage TNC’s investments in early stage agtech companies that will support regenerative agriculture production – at scale.

Ep. 90: Daisy Freund, Senior Director of Farm Animal Welfare @ ASPCA ||

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76% of consumers are concerned about the welfare of animals raised for food. For episode 90 we welcome Daisy Freund – Sr. Director of Food Animal Welfare at ASPCA – to discuss her work set on improving the health, treatment and living conditions of farm animals.

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Earlier this year the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal) launched the ‘Shop with your Heart‘ platform – a service designed for consumers to created a more humane world for farm animals.  Just recently, Daisy and her team delivered another tech tool that will continue to empower consumer choice as a change agent in food and ethical behavior.  The ASPCA ‘ShopKind Helpline‘ is a text-based service to ask questions about farm animal welfare and food labels.   You actually get a text response with answers from an expert re: what to buy and where: www.ASPCA.org/ShopWithYourHeart

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As you’ll hear, Daisy is on a mission to harmonize the interests of consumers, advocates and business through her programs.  In our 40 minute conversation we learn more about how these new consumer facing platforms can be used in your day-to-day.  We discover what drove the ASPCA to include farm animals in their focus – along with companion animals.  We hear about Daisy’s background and influences which has lead her to tackle these big problems facing our society today.  We also learn how we can take these concerns mainstream – and with what partners. And, we hear how this effort to drive change through empowerment may just be our best path forward in finding shared solutions for diverse stakeholders in food.
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If you’re an eater; if you’re a lover of animals; if you’re a concerned citizen or community member – TuneIn to hear about some exciting advancements in the world of food production.

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follow: 

@DaisyFreund

@ASPCA

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Ep. 89: Kevin Murphy, former CEO & President to Driscoll’s fresh berries Enterprises ||

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On episode 89 we welcome Kevin Murphy, former CEO of California-based fresh berry company – Driscoll’s.  Murphy has 30 years of business and agriculture experience. Kevin joined Driscoll’s, the world leader in fresh berries with operations in over 20 countries, in 2007 and rose to President and CEO. Prior to Driscoll’s he was at Capurro Farms where he served for three years as President. For roughly 15 years, Kevin was with Fresh Express from its early inception to its acquisition. During that period he held various jobs that included heading up strategic planning, marketing and operations for the company.
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Most recently, Murphy has become an advocate for the farmers he spent three decades working arm in arm.  Since stepping down at Driscoll’s – Kevin has decided to take on the issue of undocumented workers in agriculture head on.  In a recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Murphy explained that American farmers desperately need immigration reform.  The editorial teased the readers with a subtitle – “will migrant workers produce our food here or somewhere else?”  What’s great about it – in this WSJ piece Murphy doesn’t lament over the problems.  Instead, he lays out a three step plan to reform immigration in this country beginning from our ground zero – the fields that produce what sustains us and our families everyday.

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In our 50 minute conversation we go deep into Murphy’s three-step plan for immigration reform.  We discuss how that will impact the American farmer and consumer.  We learn how this approach in agriculture could very well be the proving grounds for a much grander solution for immigration reform for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country now, and the volumes more set to arrive in generations to come.  We learn how Kevin’s background as an immigrant to the US has offered him unique insight into the issues, and the solutions.  And, we hear how his formidable years dealing with apartheid in South Africa with his work throughout California agriculture has matriculated into him becoming a champion for the underrepresented and the marginalized.
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Want to know what’s really going on with immigration in this country – then turn to your food.  Start to peel back the layers and get some of the backstory of where your sustenance is actually coming from and whose hands are getting dirty in the process.  Need a crash course on how to reassess this? Where to begin being part of a solution for the future – then TuneIn to our conversation with food system reformer Kevin Murphy.
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Ep. 88: Erin Baumgartner, CEO & co-founder of Family Dinner ||

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On show #88 we welcome the CEO & co-founder of Family Dinner – Erin Baumgartner.  Family Dinner is a farmer’s market delivery service that uses data to improve the food supply chain.  It’s an innovative approach to the standard CSA model working directly with a network of farms to broaden their markets through software applications. Baumgartner is the former Assistant Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, a lab that used data to understand complex systems.


Tune in to our 45 minute discussion to hear how Erin’s background in data science is now impacting regional food sourcing, and production.  In codifying a smarter supply chain and being more in-tune with the interests of a modern consumer – Family Dinner is developing scalable tech which would allow anyone to take advantage of regional assets – for anywhere.  But, as we learn from Erin – you can’t fake the hard stuff.  You need to get your hands dirty and develop the relationships with producers and buyers who are interested in maintaining integrity in their approaches.
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From the home office in Somerville, MA – Erin and her menu curation team act as bespoke master chefs for your household.  By knowing a good amount about each of their consumer’s interests and avoidances – Family Dinner sculpts a pretty amazing week of meals which will celebrate and amplify what’s in season and prime to eat.   Culinary plans like paleo, vegetarian and allergy sensitive programs fit nicely into their data driven model for weekly regional offerings.
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Every week they’ll deliver you and your family chef’s quality food from within shouting distance of harvest and home. That’s a pretty good service!
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Ep. 87: Sara Eckhouse – Executive Director, FoodShot Global ||

On episode 87 of Sourcing Matters we welcome the Executive Director of FoodShot Global – Sara Eckhouse. Launched in Fall of 2018, FoodShot Global is an investment platform aimed at accelerating food system transformation through an annual challenge – a call for “Moonshots for Better Food” that will create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable food system worldwide. FoodShot is a global consortium of world-class partners, including mission-aligned venture funds, banks, corporations, universities, and foundations. Together FoodShot will award up to $10 million in equity and up to $20 million in debt funding to innovative businesses.
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As Senior Advisor to Secretary Tom Vilsack at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Sara Eckhouse focused on local and regional food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access. Sara launched and managed programs to support sustainable agriculture, and she has firsthand knowledge of the opportunities and challenges of combining sustainability with profitability in food value chains.
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During our 45 minute discussion we review the goals and objectives of this innovative financing forum. We learn of some of the recipients of funding, and of the Foodshot Groundbreaker award – a prize-pool of $500,000 in philanthropic capital awarded to researchers, social entrepreneurs and advocates in the regenerative food space. We hear why Sara decided to take on this role at Foodshot Global after being an Obama Administration political appointee who for five years influenced US product differentiation.
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Joining as cohost is Jay Vilar – founder, and a practitioner at ‘Nourish’ – a bespoke consulting company with a mission to educate, teach, and train people on the benefits of using food to heal your body and optimize your health.  Located in Boston and Washington, DC – Jay has always been on the forefront of using optimal health techniques, and bio-hacking his nutrition to achieve remarkable results in his career.
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Tunein to hear what it takes to make food and its production the next moonshot to save the planet.

 

 



co-host:

Jay Vilar

  • Founder of Nourish
  • A focus on Nutritional Therapy
  • Rodale Institute Fellow
  • Host of  ‘listen to your mother’ show

@twitter


Ep. 86: Kathleen Kennedy, Executive Director of MIT Center for Collective Intelligence ||

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On episode 86 we welcome Kathleen Kennedy, Executive Director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.  Kennedy is a frequent speaker at technology and entrepreneurship events around the world. She serves as a judge for many competitions including the MacArthur Foundation, the Inclusive Innovation Competition, and the Lemelson-MIT prizes.  In addition, she is a venture partner at Good Growth Capital and she serves on the board of Hubweek.
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Prior to her current work, Kathleen served as a lead organizer of The Engine, an MIT initiative created to advance innovation.  This venture fund and accelerator program was created to provide comprehensive support to transformative ideas from the formative stage to their most effective implementation.  Kennedy was also awarded the Folio: 40, which recognizes the most innovative and influential people in the media industry, and named by the Harvard Club as one of Boston’s Most Influential Women of 2017.
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During our 45 minute discussion we evaluate how technology and automation will impact the future of food and its production.  More generally, we discuss the future of work and how advancements / innovation doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll have less jobs in the future.  We learn about how one of the first projects the MIT Center of Collective Intelligence initiated – called the ‘Climate CoLab’ – is using the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a proving grounds where computers and humans can work together in a more cohesive way to take on big problems at vast scale.
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Joining as cohost is Chris Sherman, President of Island Creek Oysters. Focused on promoting the many values that shellfish bring to humans, the Oceans and the planet – Chris and his team have built a brand known for global excellence.  As pioneers in regenerative ocean farming – Island Creek Oysters have established a sustainable model of sustenance, and jobs for their community in Massachusetts. Levering his ocean smarts to do greater good, Chris also curates the Island Creek Oyster Foundation, a non-profit which has codified a replicable model of aquaculture for the developing world.  Additionally, Chris is a 2018 Eisenhower fellow. As part of his program to Spain & Columbia – Chris assessed capacity building and innovative financing models for the future of biomimetic aquaculture.
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TuneIn to hear how a Collective Intelligence in many forms allows people and machines to work together in defining proper logic structure and smarter implementation that can help address the biggest problems facing humanity and our shrinking planet.

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co-host:

Chris Sherman

  • President of Island Creek Oysters
  • Eisenhower Fellow 2018
  • Regenerative Ocean Farming Pioneer
  • Curator of ICO Foundation

@IslandCreek

 

Ep. 85: Greg Horner, Greg Horner Consulting – Profiles in Land and Management Series ||

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As we contemplate a future where land management is an important part of addressing climate change (as the IPCC Report suggests), we can’t overlook the vast acres of US public lands.  These acres need to be resilient to the stresses of climate change, and we also have an opportunity to manage them in ways that increase their ability to store carbon.  By shifting our management of these lands to prioritize soil health, we can achieve multiple benefits for the climate, the water cycle, and biodiversity.
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Using adaptive grazing is one important strategy to increase the soil health of our public grasslands and rangelands. For episode 85 of Sourcing Matters, consultant Greg Horner discusses his recent work interviewing innovative public land managers across the US about their use of adaptive grazing as a tool to improve soil health, restore ecosystem function, and increase biodiversity.  While these agency staff are increasing soil health, they are also increasing soil carbon and making the land they manage more resilient to climate change.
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But wait, cows are bad for the climate, right?  And grazing is damaging to public lands? 

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The current state of scientific knowledge suggests a more complex reality: while cattle in feedlots (where most beef comes from) have a high carbon footprint, well-managed cattle on pasture can be carbon-negative, sequestering more carbon in the soil than they produce in methane (White Oak Pastures Life Cycle Assessment – PDF). By accelerating soil health and soil-building efforts, adaptive grazing can be an important strategy for improving ecological outcomes on public and private lands.
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While grazing can absolutely damage public lands, it is not the cattle that are responsible but the human managers.  Like a hammer, grazing is a tool that can be used to tear things down or build them up.  With careful management, adaptive grazing can provide the disturbance that a landscape needs to function properly, recreating the historical impact of herds of wild grazers, stimulating grass growth, and providing a landscape that promotes a diversity of plants and animals.
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In partnership with TomKat Ranch, the McKnight Foundation and others, Greg created a series of profiles of public land managers who are redefining the value of grazing on public lands.  Instead of using continuous grazing, most of these managers are moving cattle frequently, providing intense impact in small areas and then moving on to new areas and letting the grass recover without being re-grazed.  These managers report multiple benefits, from better forage quality and quantity to an extended growing season, from increased bird or tiger salamander populations to reduced erosion and increased water infiltration.  These managers are building soil carbon for a variety of reasons, and their stories are an inspiration.

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TuneIn to our 40 minute discussion for a better understanding of our role in proper management of public lands for the future.
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@GregoryHorner

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Summary prepared by Greg Horner

 

 



Ep. 84: CEO – Cheryl Cronin and Director of Community Engagement – Carrie DeWitt of Boston Public Market Association.   -ft. cohost: Lisa Sebesta, founder of Sitari Capital and co-founder of Fresh Source Capital ||

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On episode 84 we’re live recording on-site from The Boston Public Market on Hanover St. in downtown Boston, Massachusetts.  The Boston Public Market is an innovative four season model set to evolve how we source and consume local food.  Today we’re welcomed by the CEO of The Boston Public Market Association Cheryl Cronin, and the Director of Community Engagement – Carrie Dewitt.
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The Boston Public Market launched in 2015 as a year-round indoor market with the mission of bringing seasonal and local food to Boston’s downtown crowd. Everything sold at the market initially comes from somewhere in New England. This includes everything from seafood to ice cream and fresh produce. It is operated by the Boston Public Market Association, a nonprofit organization born from the collaboration between the city of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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Cheryl Cronin is CEO of the Boston Public Market Association since January, 2016. Prior to her current work, she was an attorney for over 30 years. She served as the General Counsel for the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, and currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Boston Public Library and on the Board of Sail Boston. Additionally,  Cheryl received the Eleanor Roosevelt award from the Massachusetts Democratic Party and the Abigail Adams award from the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. She has been on Boston Magazine’s list of the 50 most powerful women.
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Carrie DeWitt is the Director of Community Engagement at the Boston Public Market Association. Carrie plans and implements a calendar of public and private programming and events that support the Market’s public impact and reach. Prior to her work at the Boston Public Market, Carrie worked as the Assistant Director of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, a 100 year-old outdoor Market featuring over 140 growers and producers. Carrie is a graduate of the Agriculture, Food and the Environment masters program at the Friedman School at Tufts University.
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Joining as co-host of our 40 minute conversation is Lisa Sebesta, founder of Sitari Capital.  Sebesta works with investors to evaluate and manage impactful, direct investments in private companies that align with their values.   She is also a Managing Partner at Fresh Source Capital – a General Partner investment fund focused on the sustainable food and agriculture sector.  Previously, Lisa served as a consultant to the Fair Food Fund, and spent 15 years as an equity analyst and portfolio manager for investment firms Batterymarch Financial Management & Boston Advisors.

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Want to know what’s going on with the local food movement in the northeast – TuneIn.

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@BosPublicMarket

 



co-host:

Lisa Sebesta

  • Founder of Satari Capital
  • Managing Partner @ Fresh Source Capital
  • 15 years as an equity analyst and portfolio manager
  • Participates on numerous boards throughout New England Food

@LisaSebesta