We got our start as a straight forward produce distributor dedicated to the acceleration of the world's transition to regenerative agriculture. We worked with regenerative growers to sell their field products to grocery stores. We built a nationwide farming community 1400+ farms strong. We worked with Rodale Institute What we quickly realizied was that there were formidable forces in the grocery business that did not want us to succeed. We would have the same conversation over and over again. Round and round.
With Farmers we talked about sales and income, about taking the whole harvest. With skeptical grocery produce buyers we talked about how people wanted to know where their food was coming from, how they wanted to know their food didn't have harmful chemicals or growing practices, how if they'd give us a chance we'd demonstrate a lift to their department's sales. With Eaters we talked about climate change and soil health, we talked about farming practices, the unsustainability of current practices, the autheniticity of the food and farmers, we tried to justify the higher prices. A time suck. Stalling for time..... time we dont have.
The Pandemic gave us a chance to reflect. We were able to keep the lights on but not much else. We were dying. Produce is a game of scale and we were a small fry, a nobody, we were getting crushed just like all the others before us. Ignored, overlooked, underestimated, starved.
But we won't quit. The stakes are too high. CO2 in the atmosphere is driving severe weather around the globe, small farms are dying, soils are depleted, large farms are on the herbicide treadmill (herbicide expense have doubled over the last 20 years), we have poisons in our food supply, unpaid externalities, the examples of insanity in our food supply are legion.
So we went back to basics, sat down with some coffee and girlscout cookies to think and discuss. There it was right before us. The answer! The Girl Scouts is a wonderful organization dedicated to fostering leadership programs in young girls, how many of us would support their worthy cause directly? Some people sure, but would they be as impactful? They support themselves by raising money selling cookies! In 2019, they sold $800M in cookies.
We could do that in principle, but what could we sell? What big problem could we solve for people? How could we be helpful and useful?
We reflected some more. Covid story after Covid story. Job loss, quarantine, evictions. We continued to do our work, Farmer after Farmer sales, sales, sales. Produce manager after produce manager, sales, income, growth. Eater, the objection: "its too expensive". The answer was right in front of us the whole time.
It did not take long for our team to realize that the most widespread, persistent, and difficult social problem to solve was insufficient income.
Did you ever have a class on "How to make money?" We didn't. Some people figure it out, some people learn it from family or environment. None of us did and some of us went to very good schools.
We absolutely could collect the resources, connect people with the contacts, attract and defend the community, teach the knowledge, support the growth, build the technology to create the environment where good people can grow their income. 1 Income stream into 2. 2 into 3. Grow the first while building the 2nd. Did you know the average millionaire has 7 income streams? We could charge a reasonable rate for our products and services and use those funds to donate compost to our member farms, cutting their costs, improving their most important asset, and help all of us by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere as Mother Nature does. (Only do it much, much faster :) Using technology we could engineer the sequestration of carbon into a reliable, verifiable, real income stream for our Farmers.
Just like regenerative agricuture elevates the importance of the too long ignored soil beneath our feet, we could elevate the too long overlooked good people in our community.
And so thats what we do now. We empower the underestimated. Those who already make good income, we say "good on you". But we talk to those who want a better world, for themselves, their family and our beautiful blue dot.
We speak to the underdog, the helper, the caretaker, the sheepdog, the creative, the foreseer, the protector. We help them live more fully, have financial security, take care of their important people and projects. To have what they need to express themselves, reduce their stress, care for the next generation, to build a better world.
We say "Sawubona!" which means, "I see you".
And so we help good people make more money and use those funds we raise to create a better world.
(and, just so you know, for as long as you are building a better future for yourself and your loved ones, we have local farm fresh in-season healthy fruit, vegetables, grains and meats at a fantastic price available for you to fuel your climb ;)
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
― Buckminster Fuller