I am not a native to the world of finance but I am to the world of farming. It was fascinating to see the two worlds collide in such an exciting and seamless way.
Sustainability is becoming mainstream, customers are demanding it and it is becoming clear that it can make good economic sense as well—investors are now listening. I was struck by was the excitement and innovation that is happening in the sustainable farming movement. I really believe that it is through creating new systems, ones that are efficient, sustainable and most importantly, economically viable that we will see real change. Granted we need profound structural change in our food system and government subsidies need to revisited but in the mean time it is fantastic that we have capitalists and entrepreneurs willing to invest in solutions now.
Some standouts for me from the conference (in order of appearance not importance!) :
Tod Murphy from Vermont’s Farmer’s Diner. He talked about working with farmers and creating a business that was successful and practical. Love that his diner serves the farmers he buys products from.
Carol Kramer LeBlanc, from US Department of Agriculture where she serves as the director of Sustainable Development. Her talk was interesting because she outlined all the new programs available to farmers. Cannot wait to see the impact of these new programs in our rural communities!
Diana Endicott from Good Natured Farms a cooperative of 18 family farms in Kansas and Missouri. Very inspiring woman and organization. Great model for farmers getting together to save rural communities.
Craig Wichner who founded Vital Farmland, LP which invests in farmland and turns it into organic/sustainable farms. Would love to talk to him about all the farmland we have in upstate New York!
Pam Marrone, from Marrone Biopesticides an organic pesticide alternative manufacturer. Very impressed with her presentation, frankly a lot of the talk went over my head but from what I gathered she is a one-woman scientific powerhouse that has been creating patented biopesticides. Seems like there is a lot of exciting stuff that is and will be coming out of her company. Very cool.
Melina Shannon-DiPietro from Yale Sustainable Food Projects who spoke about the energy and commitment of today’s college student. Very inspiring and true, young people want to change the world with their minds and bodies. Cannot wait to see the energy these young people bring to farming and food in America!