quick snacks with our co-hosts:

I’m lucky to have some amazing co-hosts on Sourcing Matters. This deep line-up of leaders with diverse expertise throughout food systems, agriculture and finance enhance each conversation. What a fantastic legion we have here in the Northeast.    about us:



 

 

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.

Agriculture Capital – Impact Report

@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. 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.

episode 4:

Henk Ovink – Special Envoy International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands

On Sourcing Matters episode 4 we welcome World Water Czar, Henk Ovink.  Appointed by President Obama to become the special envoy to Water for the United States, Ovink was responsible for launching the HUD and Rockefeller funded program “Rebuild by Design” – a crowdsourcing initiative which pooled top ideas of the best designers & planners throughout the World to rebuild New York City after Super Storm Sandy.


QUICK GUIDE – this episode covers the following subjects:

  • water is the essence of life – let’s learn from it
  • to sustain a stable future we must “embrace” and not fight water
  • contamination and scarcity of drinking water are problems of today
  • how to keep freshwater in, and saltwater out
  • proven solutions for climate change, sea level rise, floods, drought, famine
  • creation of design competitions pooling the best minds in building resilience
  • lessons from Super Storm Sandy clean-up are now changing the world
  • water is leverage to change mind-sets

Sourcing Matters.show episode 4 recap:

90% of natural disasters in the world are water related. Currently, 2 Billion people around the globe drink contaminated water regularly, and there are 5,000 deaths a day related to poor water quality happening in Africa alone.  As you’ll learn in this podcast discussion – we’ve pushed off the inevitable long enough. The longterm war may be about climate change, but as we speak there are thousands of concurrent battles focused on water.

In our 35 minute conversation with World Water Czar Henk Ovink we learn about the many intensifying issues that need to be addressed with fresh and sea water.  More importantly, we learn not just of the problems but of the solutions found today that will scale to build resilience and stability by “embracing” our realities of water.  From Climate and water refugees in the developing world, and Social & Political unrest in the developed – our actions have forced this staple of life to wage war on a new world order that will inevitably disrupt a shrinking world of 7 Billion.  

 

“Climate change is like a magnifying glass.  The extremes become more extreme, while becoming a new normal.  Flood, drought, raising temperatures, severe weather events,  and sea level rise are the ways of the future.”

 

As Ovink has come to realize over decades of his work – water is leverage.  And, to properly enact change with this leverage point we need to promote the solutions to these problems first.  Ovink explains “Mankind needs disasters to Learn”.  With 80% of the globes population expected to migrate to city densities, most often coastal cities, as more severe weather events and rising waters over the next few decades impact more – we must embrace these realities with a proactive approach.   If not, what will be the impact on global economies?  On human & Public health?  On environmental stability?  Henk shares how his initiatives to invest in system resilience have spurred change into action. 

As Henk concisely describes it – resiliency is the ability to bounce-back.  With the future being a little more grim than the present we must now embrace these intensifying natural disasters to adopt change in practice and mind-sets.  It’s too expensive to wait.  By engaging diverse stakeholders, Ovink has developed an arsenal of solutions that will those who use them to withstand the next storm, the next disaster, and most importantly, withstand fear and uncertainty.


 

Our chat begins with discussion of “Day Zero” quickly approaching in Cape Town, South Africa.  A city of 3.8 million is down to 10% of water reserves.  Even with rationing water – they’re set to run out by April 12th.  As Ovink explains – this is not unique to much of the world.  But, in a vibrant metropolitan city full of culture and innovation – it’s a bit shocking we’ve ended up here.  What’s really interesting is the reason why this is so shocking. Henk explains that we saw this coming.  With Cape Town’s high consumption and no broad reaching policy nor plan to restrict or reuse water the supply is running dry – leaving leadership and constituents to pray for rain.  From Bangkok – to – New Delhi – to – Los Angeles, this is a situation to to learn from.


 

4000 years of being forced innovators has uniquely suited the Dutch to educate the world on keeping freshwater in and seawater out.  In the podcast discussion Henk Ovink explains “Water is culture in the Netherlands”.  You see, the country is a delta, with 90% of GDP earned in flood prone areas.  Since the 12th century the Dutch have been orchestrating community efforts with shared common interests and goals focused on water.  Taxes taken to safeguard a democracy via the conduit of water is actually a 900 year old Dutch innovation.  Ovink goes on, “water has always been about connections for the Dutch people”.  Now, 21 regional authorities constructed around their river basins and shared natural resources have arisen to shepherd the Netherlands into the future.  Furthermore, this practice of collaboration around common interest has built intellectual property and scalable technologies that cast a large shadow for this small country of 17 million on a global stage. The Dutch are once again becoming superpowers in a World where business-as-usual that exercises water resources based on linear perspective fraught with waste and overuse just won’t cut it anymore.

 

As a member of the International Advisory Board for the City of Rotterdam, the Curator for the Rotterdam 2012 ‘Making a City’, and he initiated the research program Design and Politics – Ovink has long since been interested in innovating when it comes to water. Smart design practices that utilized basketball courts and sports fields at schools like French-drains to protect infrastructure and physical assets is in his blood, and is so very Dutch.  Canals, dikes, windmills and levees all used to protect prime agricultural lands around the reclaimed deltas have unpinned Henk’s focus on “embracing” water.


 

When it comes to Water usage in food and agriculture – there is a great deal of opportunity for innovation.  Currently, 70% of accessible freshwater throughout the global is used for agricultural irrigation.  Henk explains that 71% of the planet is covered in water.  But, 4% is sweet water, and only ½ % of that is available for our consumption.  Fresh water is scarce, and since we don’t value water as we should – our process for growing food with agriculture is concerning in a world running up against planetary boundaries.

 

Henk works throughout the world developing capacity for farmers through deeper education and better technologies.  From smarter planning, better mapping tech, and robust data analysis to reduce usage and present smarter planting criteria – his work with freshwater usage in raising our food is equally as important as his work in preventing  the catastrophes associated to sea level rise, storm surge and severe weather events.  In our chat Henk describes the practices he uses to reduce leakage in infrastructure, in promoting better practice that will reduce chemical run-off where water becomes the conduit of contamination and extensive unintended consequences of externalities.  As you’ll hear, he also works to advance more efficient practices in irrigation – like their “drop per crop” approach which promotes drip irrigation vs. traditional center-pivot.


 

In 2012 Henk Ovink was appointed by President Obama and the Secretary of HUD, Shaun Donovan, to become the special envoy of Water to the US.  He was directly responsible for launching the HUD & Rockefeller funded program Rebuild by Design – a global crowdsourcing initiative of top designers and planners to pool the best ideas which would rebuild NYC using federal resources after Super Storm Sandy.  The program was such a success it reformulated the approach the US government used for federal payouts on Natural disasters – and thus required a new cornerstone of “resilience” built into infrastructure re-builds.

 

As Ovink describes it, Rebuild by Design at its core was to establish capacity through a coalition of public and private stakeholders via an initiatives focused on solutions with common goals.  This is part of an inspirational future that Henk Ovink weaves for us all. Now, a new competition has launched in the Bay Area of California: Resilient by Design.  What’s different with this latest rev as compared to cleaning up after Super Storm Sandy, this new competition is working proactively; to strategically look at a shared future with common goals before a natural disaster hits.  That is a fundamental “change” disruptive to mankind.   As Ovink states – it’s innovation that is now the new normal.  And, as Ovink would tell you, that is fundamentally Dutch.

 

Currently, Henk Ovink travels the Globe armed with a tool chest of hope and potential.  He’s unique.   He comes in tow with a track record and clout to deliver on his promises.  His most recent project hits us all where it counts – now using water as leverage to change culture, society, politics and economies through both reactionary and proactive methods:  WaterasLeveage.org

We must listen to what this man has to say.