Tag: Food & Farming

2021 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 List of Sustainability Leaders

2021 GreenBiz 30 Under 30 List of Sustainability Leaders

Their dreams are bright: Walkable, equitable cities. Clean energy for Native American communities. Planet-healing fast food. Circular outdoor gear. Decarbonized buildings. Electrified mobility. That’s only a sampling of the ambitions of the sixth class of the GreenBiz 30 Under 30.

Our honorees for 2021 are intrepid startup founders, tenacious corporate innovators and determined public servants. The corporations among them include Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Foodstuffs, Gensler, Google, Ignitis Group, National Grid, Starbucks, Unilever and UPS. Other professionals in this group work at values-driven brands, such as Amy’s Kitchen, East West Tea Company, REI and Timberland. Still others are driving sustainability at nonprofit organizations and consultancies.

All combined, this year’s cohort reports to offices in 12 nations across six continents, including Brazil, Canada, China, India, Lithuania, New Zealand and Rwanda. In the United States, they hail from 15 cities, from Albuquerque, New Mexico to New York City — and several emigrated to the U.S. in childhood.

In addition, most of the honorees find the time to exercise global citizenship beyond their day jobs, mentoring youth, hosting a podcast and launching peer networking groups. Some have helped with disaster relief. Others have lost their own homes to natural disasters.

The GreenBiz 30 Under 30 candidates for 2021 were nominated by GreenBiz readers and community members around the world and selected by the GreenBiz editorial team. We’d like to express our appreciation to the World Business Council for Sustainable Business and Net Impact for helping to cast a global net for this year’s nominees.

Our 30 Under 30 Honorees list follows (in alphabetical order) Read about each of these innovators here.

 

Zack Angelini, 29, Senior Environmental Stewardship Manager, Timberland; Malden, Massachusetts

Vartan Badalian, 28, EV100 Program Manager for North America, The Climate Group; New York City

Mayane Barudin, 27, Regional Director and Tribal Liaison, Vote Solar; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Brock Battochio, 28, Co-Founder & Lead Engineer, Planetary Hydrogen; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Stacia Betley, 29, Sustainability Integration Manager, Amy’s Kitchen; Petaluma, California

Briana Buckles, 29, Sustainability Manager, East West Tea Company; Eugene, Oregon

Maria Eduarda Camargo, 24, Founder, Pantys; São Paulo, Brazil 

Haseena Charania, 29, ESG Communications Strategy Supervisor, UPS; Atlanta

Morgan Collins, 28, Head of Sustainable Finance, Starbucks; Seattle

Chris Dowd, 26, Strategic Partnerships, Social Impact, Google; San Francisco

Francesca Goodman-Smith, 27, Transform Program Leader, Fight Food Waste Co-op Research Center; Brisbane, Australia

Ghislain Irakoze, 21, CEO and Founder, Wastezon; Kigali, Rwanda

Adrienne Johnson, 29, Associate Engineer, Point Energy Innovations, San Francisco

Jamario Jackson, 29, Senior Community Planner, TransForm; Oakland, California

Lina Khan, 29, Senior Sustainability Specialist and Global Design Resilience Practice Area Leader — Government + Defense, Gensler; San Francisco

Erik Landry, 29, Climate Change Specialist, GRESB; Amsterdam, Netherlands

Bonia Leung, 28, Sustainability Consultant, Environmental Resources Management (ERM); London

Laurence Lloyd Lumagbas, 29, Sustainability and Strategic Risk Advisory Services Manager, Deloitte Southeast Asia; Taguig City, Manila, Philippines

Akshay Makar, 27, Founder and CEO, Climatenza Solar; Delhi, India

Marta Misiulaityt, 29, Sustainability Manager, Ignitis Group; Vilnius, Lithuania

Alex Mitoma, 28, Environmental Specialist Associate, Port of Long Beach; Long Beach, California

Sripriya Navalpakam, 27, Sustainability Manager for North America, Unilever; New York City

Taylor Price, 29, Manager of Global Sustainability, AptarGroup; Charlotte, North Carolina

Yangshengjing “UB” Qiu, 27, Partnership Development Executive, Green Monday; Shanghai

Brittany Regner, 28, Assistant Vice President, Environmental and Social Risk, Credit Suisse; New York City 

Elisabeth Anna Resch, 28, Advisor, Global Impact Initiatives, United Nations Global Compact; Santiago, Chile

Harold Rickenbacker, 29, Manager, Clean Air and Innovation, EDF; Washington, D.C.

Yashi Shrestha, 28, Director, Science and Research, Novi; Los Angeles

Dawnielle Tellez, 29, Senior Sustainability Analyst, REI, Seattle

Cassandra Vickers, 27, Clean Transportation Product Developer, National Grid; Boston

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Organic Valley Launches Clean Energy Fund for its Farmers-GreenMoney-June 2021

Organic Valley Launches Clean Energy Fund for its Farmers

New Cooperative fund offers nation’s most farmer-friendly renewable energy loan program.

Organic Valley logo(above) A Wisconsin Organic Valley member farm with Solar panels installed. Courtesy of Organic Valley

Advancing its commitment to regenerative farming systems, Organic Valley is partnering with Clean Energy Credit Union (“Clean Energy CU”) to launch the Powering the Good Loan Fund to provide the best loan terms for farmers seeking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels with renewable energy and efficiencies. The program is first of its kind for both cooperatives, pioneering a unique clean energy loan fund for over 1,700 farmers across the country.

To accelerate energy improvements, Organic Valley and Clean Energy CU will roll out a $1 million fund with plans to expand. As the nation’s largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley pulls carbon out of the air through regenerative practices like rotational grazing, while also working to reduce carbon emitted wherever possible.

“Organic Valley leads on renewable energy. We have been 100% renewable powered in our owned facilities since 2019, and now we are going a step further,” said Bob Kirchoff, Organic Valley CEO. “We are focused on a whole systems approach to renewable energy, and I’m excited to debut this energy loan fund. From the farm to the shelf, I see renewable energy playing a bigger role in organic food. We are providing farmers a means to reduce their energy costs and become more self-sufficient and sustainable. Farmers who participate in this loan fund contribute to a healthy, regenerative future for the next generation.”

Kirchoff recently spoke about renewable energy as a guest speaker at the Agri-Pulse Ag and Food Policy Summit.

Loans supplied to Organic Valley farmers through Clean Energy CU will be used for:

  • Solar electric systems to offset farm energy consumption
  • Farm energy efficiency improvements such as plate coolers, VFDs, LED lighting, insulation, ventilation and more
  • Geothermal systems and ground-source heat pumps for farm heating and cooling.

This is a great example of cooperation among cooperatives to pursue our aligned missions,” said Blake Jones, Volunteer Board chair of Clean Energy CU. “Organic Valley is already helping to protect the environment through regenerative and organic farming practices, and now they’re going one step further by supporting the installation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for their farmer-members. In addition to the environmental benefits, we’re also excited about helping family farmers throughout the USA to lower their energy costs and improve the bottom line of their independently owned farms.”

The two cooperatives are experienced with advancing renewable energy and are now combining forces to accelerate renewable energy installations on farms across rural America.

 

About Organic Valley

Organic Valley is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation’s leading organic brands. Founded in 1988, the cooperative represents nearly 1,800 farmers in 34 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom and achieved $1.1 billion in 2019 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a wide range of organic dairy, egg and produce products. As a leader in pasture-based, regenerative organic farming, Organic Valley works with nature, not against it. For more information visit – https://www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also @OrganicValley on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Clean Energy Credit Union

Clean Energy Credit Union is a not-for-profit, financial services cooperative that focuses exclusively on providing loans for clean energy and energy-saving projects such as electric vehicles, e-bikes, solar electric systems, geothermal heat pump systems, and other green home improvements. Clean Energy Credit Union is an online/digital-only and federally chartered credit union that serves its members throughout the USA. For more information visit – https://www.cleanenergycu.org

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Can We Pay Farmers to Store Carbon Emissions - by Marcello Rossi-CCM

Can We Pay Farmers to Store Carbon Emissions in Their Fields?

By Marcello Rossi, Climate & Capital Media

CCM Featured news for GreenMoney readersModern agriculture releases carbon into the air. But a new generation of startups is paying farmers to put it back into the ground.

Simply cutting CO2 emissions is not enough, says the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. To slow global warming, we need to actually remove carbon from the sky. But how?

But as companies turn to the latest carbon-capture technologies, one low-tech solution has been gaining ground: Carbon farming, or regenerative agriculture, an approach rooted in millennia-old techniques that can pull carbon from the air and put it back into the soil. A new generation of startups is connecting carbon-emitting companies with farmers willing to use regenerative techniques to offset it.

Paying Back the Carbon Debt

Plants are natural carbon sponges, absorbing CO2 during photosynthesis. But plowing and tilling oxidizes the soil, in turn releasing more CO2 than crops can naturally consume, causing what scientists call this imbalance “soil carbon debt.” A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that 12,000 years of agriculture has stripped away 8% of the earth’s carbon. Scientists estimate that adds up to a soil carbon debt of 133 billion tons.

Carbon farming relies on methods that allow crops to absorb more CO2 than is being released. These include no-till cultivation, in which the residue of previous harvests is left behind rather than being tilled away; cover cropping, in which a carpet of vegetation protects the soil; and rotational grazing, in which livestock only graze in one section of pasture at a time, allowing the rest of the field to regenerate.

These techniques have been around for thousands of years, but using them to fight global climate change is a relatively new phenomenon, and governments and nonprofits are beginning to incentivize farmers to adopt them. Montana-based nonprofit Western Sustainability Exchange runs a carbon payment program for ranchers in the state, and this year the state of California will award more than $22 million in grants to aspiring carbon farmers.

As in so many other areas of the environment, innovation has yielded a promising strategy. Creative investors are creating a new industry that connects carbon-emitting companies with farmers willing to capture it.

Creative investors are creating a new industry that connects carbon-emitting companies with farmers willing to capture it.

One standout is the Boston-based Indigo Ag, which has developed a marketplace in which companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint can purchase offsets from farmers. At launch, farmers will earn $15 per ton sequestered. Indigo Ag’s Terraton Initiative aims to fund enough regenerative agriculture to soak up one trillion tons of atmospheric carbon—roughly the same amount humans have emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

Indigo Ag vice president Ed Smith says the Terraton Initiative already involves thousands of growers working more than 18 million acres of farmland. “Using farmlands to capture and store atmospheric carbon dioxide is the only solution I know of that already exists, is affordable, and can be rolled out on a global scale,” he says.

Seattle-based social enterprise Nori is another startup investing in agriculture-based carbon offsets. Christophe Jospe, the company’s chief development officer, says it plans to use a blockchain-backed platform where carbon-emitters seeking to reduce emissions can pay farmers directly for the carbon they sequester. Nori won’t charge listing fees; farmers will get 100% of the value of the carbon removal, about $15 per ton. Initial outcomes are promising. During a pre-sale earlier this year, a Maryland farmer earned $115,000 for offsetting roughly 8,000 tons of carbon. More than 150 farmers working 500,000 acres are involved in the program, and Nori is planning another sale for later this year.

Another market backed by a consortium of food and agriculture giants that includes General Mills, McDonald’s, and Cargill, is currently running a pilot program that is scheduled to expand across the United States in 2022. Beyond the U.S., AustraliaCanada, the U.K, and France have existing or planned markets for agricultural-based carbon offsets.

Unknowns and challenges

Yet as millions of dollars flow into regenerative agriculture markets and initiatives, there remain doubts about whether the approach will actually deliver meaningful emissions reductions and slow climate change.

Global farmlands have the capacity to absorb and store billions of tons of carbon in the soil annually.

According to a report published last by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, global farmlands do have the capacity to absorb and store billions of tons of carbon in the soil annually. But getting there is a complicated process that depends on what happens on hundreds of millions of farms working with varying types of soilclimatic conditions, and a range of other variables, not all of which are clearly understood by scientists.

Gauging soil carbon variations is another issue. Recent technological advancements have helped bolster the credibility of soil carbon measurement, yet existing methods cannot accurately establish whether one particular farm is actually decreasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

These uncertainties compound the well-documented challenges in establishing reliable carbon offset programs. Studies have shown that such schemes, like cap-and-trade programs adopted by the E.U. and California, can vastly overestimate reductions, paying participants vast sums for carbon cuts that may never occur. Critics also argue these programs can provide large polluters with a massive loophole for emitters, allowing them to claim declining emissions while refraining from taking serious action to transition away from fossil fuels.

Environmental groups, investors and scientists are enthusiastic about innovative carbon capture processes in agriculture.

Environmental groups, investors, and scientists are enthusiastic about innovative carbon capture processes in agriculture, and the best way to sustain these new programs, says Gilles Dufrasne, a policy officer at Brussels-based Carbon Markets Watch, is to involve and connect local and national policymakers in a global effort that includes rigorous regulation, communication and transparency. “We need our policymakers and legislators to resist wishful thinking and establish rigorous rules and processes that deliver actual greenhouse gas reductions rather than shifting pollution around,” she argues. “But it takes cooperation and political will to do so, and I see very little of both today.”

The sad question: When will governments and political leaders embrace the imperative of cooperation in cooling the planet?

 

Article by Marcello Rossi, a science and environmental freelance journalist covering climate change and the human impact on the environment. His works appeared in National Geographic, The Economist, The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, Nature Climate Change, Smithsonian, Outside, Quartz among other publications.

Article reprinted with permission. GreenMoney Journal and Climate & Capital Media have a strategic partnership. 

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Speed of Trust-A Native American Investment of Restorative Ag and Economics by Theo Ferguson

Speed of Trust: A Native American Investment Example of Restorative Agriculture and Economics

By Theo Ferguson, Healing Living Systems

Theo Ferguson of Healthy Living Systems

(above) Kevin Pourier’s Buffalo Horn Art: Connoting the achievement of bringing the Buffalo back. “wasna” carrying container by a hunter or warrior for nutrient dense “fast food”.

 

As White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy espouses, we need to think in systemic terms when tackling our collective challenges — COVID, economic downturn, seeking social justice to heal racism, and climate change — these are all challenges that must be approached together. Our best guides — environmentally, socially, in governance practices and economically — are still our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

Eighty percent of the earth’s biodiversity is stewarded by 5 percent of the indigenous people living on 25 percent of the world’s land surfaces. Indigenous people, as a culture, have been very successful in living in balance with the environment.1 One could attest that their multi-dimensional, multi-generational ways of living and their spiritual connection with the lands and all species is the fundamental chord in the harmony and vitality they achieve.

Eighty percent of the earth’s biodiversity is stewarded by 5 percent of the indigenous people living on 25 percent of the world’s land surfaces. Indigenous people, as a culture, have been very successful in living in balance with the environment.

I attended the ASBC/SVC Spring Conference2 in April 2021. This session in particular impacted me — fundamentally. “Restorative Investing for Racial Justice: Learning More about the Tanka Bar Investment.” Participants included Aner Ben-Ami (Candide Group), Dawn Sherman (Native American Natural Foods (NANF)/Tanka Bar), Jeff Cyr (Raven Capital Partners), and Laina Greene (Angels of Impact). Some of the text of this article is drawn from that session.

In 2006 Native American Natural Foods (NANF), an Oglala Lakota enterprise mounted on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, launched the Tanka Bar, the first commercial bison meat-and-fruit energy bar, based on a traditional Lakota recipe called ‘wasna.’ The intent of the enterprise was to bring the Buffalo back, as the Oglala Lakota people experience themselves and the Buffalo as Sister Nations. With lean buffalo meat reintroduced into their diet, the Oglala Lakota curtailed obesity and diabetes; simultaneously reintroducing the Buffalo led to regenerated soil and community health. With a goal of equitable wealth creation within its robust supply chain, NANF aimed to create livelihoods for their community members and Native ranchers (unemployment on the reservation is around 70 percent!), and bring bison back to the prairie, with profound climate and cultural implications.

Buffalo Returns – Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was on the brink of economic ruin and tribal elders Mark and Karlene felt they could find a solution. See how their company, Tanka, used cultural tradition to help create a sustainable economy for the Lakota people. Film produced with help from American Express

After its founding in 2006 by Karlene Hunter and Mark Tilsen, NANF experienced two good years, followed by 2008’s global economic dive and being pushed out of the market by well-funded “copy-cat” competition seeking to reap the rewards of buffalo meat products. Since “giving up” was not an option, NANF CEO Dawn Sherman and team “hung on” in the isolation of Pine Ridge for 3 years. NANF kept the company alive through the strength of their creation story with Buffalo, their core indigenous values, their leadership nation-wide and their on-line marketing. NANF negotiated a strategic partnership with Niman Ranch, which covered sales and supply chain management; brought in their primary bison supplier as a strategic partner; and built up their Advisors and Board. They found in the Candide Group, an equity investor partner, ready to provide regenerative funding for their food enterprise that upholds indigenous values using traditional recipes.

Aner Ben-Ami of the Candide Group3 is involved in redefining investing within the firm. Ben-Ami working with the Candide Group partner base, developed a model of investing that is based on food justice. The Group seeks through its investments to promote social justice and equity; they aim to help re-define who wins and who loses in our economy. The Group casts a wide net, knowing many issues are deeply intersectional and no issue is more intersectional than food. Our food industry can be redesigned to create wealth for the historically disadvantaged—often people of color (POC) workers/suppliers—as well as to serve healthy and nutritious food to lower income (often POC) communities. As investors, as we move capital away from an extraction economy to one based on shared ownership, it is critical to evaluate each enterprise’s fundamental principles.

Jeff Cyr is Managing Partner of Raven Capital Partners’ Raven Indigenous Impact Fund (RIIF)4, Canada’s first Indigenous financial intermediary. The Fund is working at the Canada-US Border practicing Restorative Economics. The group’s fundamental perspective is relationality in place-based capital, using money as medicine5 in service of Restorative Economics. Given Raven Capital’s focus, it was a natural alliance for Jeff to work with Candide Group’s Ben-Ami on an Indigenous investment.

The Candide Group saw the Tanka Bar enterprise’s equitable wealth creation, soil health, Indigenous values, investment structures, and focus on long-term Native ownership. Dawn Sherman’s team, with her elders’ approval, worked with Aner and Jeff to move the profit-seeking—not profit-maximizing—relationship forward at the “speed of trust.”6

The investment with decolonizing outcomes has created an innovative, reasonable 8-9 percent “all boats rise” solution built as a values-relations protocol, as well as a restorative, entrepreneur-friendly deal structure.

NANF has been opposed to the idea of building the business to sell it. NANF’s goal is to create wealth for Native owners, workers and ranchers through systemic, regenerative agriculture cultivating a keystone species while building soil health and human health. NANF believes that the goals proposed can only be fulfilled if NANF stays in Native hands under 100 percent native leadership over the long term.

Ben-Ami states: This is an equity investment with meaningful departures from convention:

  • “Native override”: Any financial distribution must include more than 51% of proceeds going to Native owners. These terms differ from conventional terms in one key way. Typically, preferred equity investors are the FIRST to get repaid. If a business must be sold because it cannot generate a return for all shareholders, preferred shareholders get all proceeds until they at least get their money back. This isn’t the case here – non-indigenous equity investors would recover at most 49% of proceeds.
  • Redemption right: Investors don’t expect NANF to pursue a sale of the business, instead investors have a redemption right. Investors ask the company to buy our shares back. If that isn’t possible—i.e. the company doesn’t have the resources—investors are collectively committed to prioritizing a third-party Native buyer. This scenario would result in an INCREASE in Native ownership; additionally, non-Native shareholders’ returns would be capped at a maximum of 2x initial investment. This is very different from a typical equity investment, where investors expect the company to be sold to the highest bidder.
  • For investors working with a severely under-resourced Native-owned company, there are certain additional considerations: Costs to holistic exit could be a pro bono attorney—term sheets lead investors’ attorney. Investors took on significant percentage of legal costs given atypical terms. Investors helped fund an outsourced CFO to support the process on the company side, so that NANF’s CEO was not solely responsible for financial analyses and projections.

Ben-Ami stated: “We’re honored to be a partner to NANF’s work, and encourage others to follow their journey in using decolonized wisdom for regenerative growth.”

  • Jeff Cyr: Indigenous investors take a lot of time. With good relationships the cost could be low. Sometimes the parties share the same attorney.

 Jeff Cyr observed: “Indigenous people are on a journey together. Money is love. Money is medicine. These enterprises are cultural capital. We want to undertake these entrepreneurial deals as native American activities overseen by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This regenerative agricultural enterprise is taking back the Buffalo, our relatives, the bringing the people back their health.”

Dawn Sherman elevated again the critical need to work with all our relations: “Mitakuye Oyasin—We are all related.” “We need to work as partners and face the storm together.”

Jeff Cyr enjoined the audience to work on restorative enterprises. “We need an economics that works for the world, not for economic exclusion.  All my relations, create an economics for the world.”

 

Article by Theo Ferguson, CEO and founder of Healing Living Systems, Inc., a CA Social Purpose Corporation. Theo has been Focused on Food, Farming and Finance Infrastructure and Social Justice, and Advocacy since 2004.

Footnotes: Find all the footnotes details here as well as some additional useful information.

 

Note to Readers – Read Dawn Sherman’s full article on “Regenerating the Land and Native Communities with Bison” she wrote for GreenMoney in 2020.

Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Betterment Harvest-Ag-Tech in Appalachia

Betterment Harvest: Ag-Tech in Appalachia

By Mark LaVerghetta, Land Betterment Corporation

Mark LaVerghetta-of Land Betterment CorpWe are at the forefront of a transformational shift throughout the Appalachian region and parts of the Midwest. As the United States incrementally and increasingly migrates away from fossil fuels as an energy source, the region has been left with a tremendous void in terms of lost economic opportunity.

The coal industry was once both the prominent source of energy in the U.S. and a major economic driver for this region. Today, thermal coal accounts for approximately 20 percent of the country’s generated electricity; down from approximately 40 percent in 2014. Due to specific mining conditions and cost structures, thermal coal mined from most of the Appalachian region has fallen below the economic margin, and much of the industry in the region has been forced into bankruptcies and out of business.

The downturn in the thermal coal industry has not only left the region with a void of economic opportunity and a declining tax base, but the associated coal mining bankruptcies have left a mounting number of abandoned and unfunded and under-funded environmental liabilities.

Land Betterment Corporation, a pending B-Corp, focuses on environmental solutions and a commitment to positive social and environmental impact by upcycling former coal mining and industrial sites to create sustainable community development and job creation. The company is taking a fresh yet practical approach in bringing real solutions to address these problems. Land Betterment’s two main divisions, Environmental Solutions and Sustainable Development, take a customized and holistic approach to remediate lands left behind by the legacy of the coal mining industry and other industrial activity, and repurpose certain parcels of land to bring business and jobs that fit a more modern-day economy. These new business lines focus on rebuilding or introducing an economic ecosystem in the region that is more sustainable and create jobs that are desired and fit the skillset of the local, yet displaced work force. The Company currently has Sustainable Business lines that include industries such as recycling, container-based housing, craft spirits, bee farming and Ag-Tech.

As a small example of Land Betterment’s work, its Ag-Tech division, Betterment Harvest, is currently building on the regional momentum to bring a scalable and community-based approach to sustainable agriculture which utilizes state-of-the-art, science-based practices that maximize productivity and profit while minimizing environmental damage. These technologies include a range of applications, such as indoor hydroponic systems installed in renovated and repurposed existing industrial buildings selectively positioned throughout eastern Kentucky. This sustainable development exemplifies how Land Betterment repurposes prior industrial sites left by a declining industry into new technologies that the community can embrace.

As another example, Land Betterment recently successfully bid to acquire control of a shutdown elementary school in Perry County, Kentucky. Land Betterment plans to renovate the Willard Elementary School, which was closed in 2018, and repurpose the school and surrounding property into an ag-tech center to focus on vertical and greenhouse farming. The closed school has approximately 4 acres of developable land which Land Betterment plans to upcycle into a local agriculture tech center and utilize the interior of the school for sophisticated vertical and greenhouse farming to grow various produce and plant propagation.

On this particular acquisition, Mark Jensen, Land Betterment’s Executive Chairmen commented that “We are really excited about the development of our Betterment Harvest division and the local adoption we are seeing. The Willard School is a great example of how we are approaching the Ag-Tech industry. The local community was happy to see the shutdown school repurposed for economic and community development. The region has a ton of old infrastructure and mining lands in need of environmental repair. We see the potential that these lands have in other industries, such as agriculture, and the region is in need of an economic shot in the arm. Additionally, the Appalachian region makes for an ideal Ag-Tech hub as its location places it within a one day drive of the majority of the U.S. population. The highly skilled, local workforce is excited about new opportunities, and we are excited to bring a scalable and solution-based approach to support the regional momentum in the Ag-Tech industry. The Appalachian region and the U.S, as a whole needs better access to healthy foods. With the U.S. increasingly relying on food imports, an efficient and sustainable agriculture hub in Appalachia address a lot of problems. For one, it reduces the transportation and diesel use of imported produce. It also helps in rejuvenating a region with a real and positive impact. We’re not just providing fresh produce and jobs to the communities; we’re also teaching future generations about agriculture and health”

To help advance Land Betterment’s business model in this region of the United States, the Company currently has access to over 13,000 acres of land to help foster new industry. Land Betterment is also working with the local technical college to support the activity of its Ag-Tech operations as well as to promote the education and relevant technical skill development. Mr. Jensen added, “We are excited to be at the forefront of the tremendous potential for the region to develop sustainable business practices to address some of the regional and national problems.”

Click here to learn more about Land Betterment and its impact investment opportunities.

 

Article by Mark LaVerghetta  After spending 20 plus years on sales side securities advisory, Mark has been dedicated to delivering shareholder and stakeholder value. As for the Vice President of Corporate Finance and Communication for American Resources Corp (Nasdaq: AREC) he drives retail and institutional investor communication and strategy. As a Co-Founder and Chief Governance Officer of Land Betterment (Private pending B-Corp) he ensures proper operational and corporate governance while growing sustainable businesses. Mark is a graduate of University of Virginia with a B.A. in economics while playing varsity Lacrosse.

Energy & Climate, Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Investing in Local Sustainable Ag and Food by Dorothy Suput-the Carrot Project

The Carrot Project: Investing in Local Sustainable Ag and Food

By Dorothy Suput, The Carrot Project

The Carrot Project logo

(above) Dorothy Suput, The Carrot Project’s Executive Director (left), with farmer Tyler Sage of Sage Farm (Bernardston, MA) and his pasture-raised heritage pigs. Photo by Genevieve Goldleaf.

During the pandemic, farmers and food producers selling locally showed their strength, as the weaknesses of our global food supply chain were exposed. Farmers relying on wholesale distribution systems, such as dairies, were dumping product because of a breakdown in supply chains. Meat processing plants slowed operations, negatively impacting supply. Meanwhile, local producers ramped up production, updated their online systems, or pivoted from institutional buyers to grocery stores and direct-to-consumer sales. Thriving local farms not only came through with good food, but continued to steward the land and give back to their communities. Our local food ecosystem’s resilience results from the incredible work ethic of farmers, buoyed by collaboration with business development programs and the help of state and federal governments, philanthropy and the growing role of private investors.

Heart Beets Farm, Steve Murray’s diversified vegetable farm in southeastern Massachusetts, shows how farmers serving local markets reacted to the pandemic. When demand for safe and local food exploded in spring 2020, Steve was able to make a rapid, confident pivot. To protect themselves and their customers, he made the risky decision to drop their farmers’ market, and close their farm stand. Instead, Heart Beets almost doubled the number of farm shares offered from 120 to 210 — and sold out.

Steve Murray of Heart Beets Farm from The Carrot Project
Steve Murray of Heart Beets Farm (Berkley, MA) dropped his farmer’s market for a CSA-only model during the pandemic – a tough decision that paid off. Photo by Alex Fitzsimmons.

This huge decision was possible because Steve tracks his numbers carefully; thanks to business support from The Carrot Project, he knew exactly which parts of his farm were most profitable. He was able to analyze his enterprises and assess a path toward profitability and stability in this tumultuous year. Shifting to online-only CSA sales worked so well he plans to retain it for the foreseeable future. Steve’s farm grew to its current state with the help of a Carrot loan to invest in equipment, backed by social impact investors and matched by a state program for beginning farms.

Investing in local and sustainable farms and food businesses strengthens communities, especially in the wake of this pandemic. “We’re all going to have some collective trauma to work through,” said Janet Steward, co-owner of Greenfield Highland Beef in Greensboro Bend, VT, and an early Carrot loan recipient. “As farmers, we have a special role in healing and care. Farmers have the gift of being able to care for their communities with food.”

The Carrot Project-Investing in Local Sustainable Ag and Food by Dorothy Suput-The Carrot Project
Janet Steward and Ray Shatney of Greenfield Highland Beef (Greensboro Bend, VT) admire one of their prizewinning Highland cows.

Opportunities to invest in local food are expanding. For example, after developing their business skills with The Carrot Project, farmers can now move on and seek other types of investments from capital providers that work with private investors, such as the PVGrows Investment Fund and Dirt Capital Partners. Three former Carrot clients have secured farmland with Dirt Capital Partners.

How did we arrive at this growing ecosystem of capital providers for local, sustainable agriculture? It didn’t happen overnight. Before banks consolidated, a trend that escalated in the 1990s, small farms could usually access capital easily. When The Carrot Project started in 2006, there was little recognition that the banking sector no longer met the needs of the small, but growing, local agricultural movement. Capital providers tended to assume that when a farmer was unable to secure capital, it was the farmer’s fault, thinking the farmer had a poor business or wouldn’t do the work to meet the needs of the lender.

This vacuum of capital for farmers led to funds working with private investors. Over the last fifteen years, the availability of capital has transformed. In addition to the funds mentioned above, private investors started Slow Money and investments took off through state, regional, and local chapters. Most New England states’ community loan funds or CDFIs, who already work with private investors, added programs to support local sustainable food and agriculture. New too are social impact funds that include food and agriculture among a broader array of opportunities, such as Vermont’s Flexible Capital Fund. In the Northeast, the newest entries include The Maine Harvest Federal Credit Union, launched in 2020, and the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Center, which recently became a CDFI and anticipates working with private investors.

Farmer Cian Dalzell is a graduate of The Carrot Project business advisors training program-photo by Michelle Davidson-Schapiro
Cian Dalzell, a farmer in Western MA and a graduate of The Carrot Project’s training program, is now one of The Carrot Project’s business advisors. Photo by Michelle Davidson-Schapiro.

Another major shift is an increasing awareness of the critical role of business development services, which mitigate risk and support long-term viability. After The Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program and The Carrot Project documented the critical impact of business technical assistance, and capital became more widely available than when we started, The Carrot Project’s focus shifted from providing loans to offering business technical assistance, particularly helping farmers manage their finances. Recognizing the importance of business development services also led to starting the Agricultural Viability Alliance. The Alliance’s goal is to increase the number and economic viability of farm and food businesses, by bringing together business assistant providers and organizations from across New England and New York’s Hudson Valley to address shared challenges, facilitate more uniform high-quality coverage, and share and expand limited resources.

As the landscape changes, so do the opportunities for social impact investors. Some local farm and food businesses are looking for ways to grow or scale; others are looking to build stronger community connections; and still others want to keep their businesses small and financially sustainable. The average farmers’ age in the US is 57; opportunities to invest in farmland succession, transfer, and access will continue to be important to support the massive transition of land anticipated by 2040. New funds, such as the Black Farmers Fund, and new investment opportunities to help with mitigation and adaptation to climate change are on the horizon. Others are starting to research and organize asset classes and figure out what it will take to make investing in local sustainable agriculture and food systems more readily available. These developing opportunities, combined with those that have emerged over the last 15 years, provide investors with options to join this crucial and hopeful sector that is growing good food, stewarding the land, and giving back to communities.

 

Article by Dorothy Suput, founder and executive director of The Carrot Project. Dorothy’s commitment to a sustainable food system grew out of the incredible contrasts between Midwestern agriculture, with which she grew up, and the locally focused food and farming system in Switzerland, where she lived after graduating with a BS from Purdue University. Dorothy formalized her commitment when she returned to the U.S. to complete her Masters degree, from Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program, by focusing on sustainable agriculture and non-profit management. Following graduate school, she worked as the first regional organizer on the 1995 Farm Bill for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group under the auspices of the Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, and subsequently, as a consultant for the Hartford Food System, Red Tomato, and The Food Project. Dorothy serves on the Board of Managers for the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Flexible Capital Fund and the Advisory Committee for the PVGrows Investment Fund.

Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

Reaping the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture by Craig Wichner - Farmland LP

Reaping the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture

By Craig Wichner, Farmland LP

Craig Wichner founder of Farmland LP(above) Baby lambs and their moms are an essential part of managing pasture rotations on cropland. Rather than grow corn and soy and ship it to a feedlot somewhere (ideally far away where no one can smell it), we keep the sheep directly on the farmland. The grasses and clovers convert the sun’s energy into sugar in the sweet leaves, and the sheep and cattle directly convert it to weight gain, without a corn harvester nor a transportation truck. It’s just as efficient for weight gain and results in a much higher quality product (omega 3 oils vs inflammatory omega 6 oils in corn kernels). Oregon farm (A2R farm).

 

I spent my summers growing up on a farm, and it grounded me well for the career I pursued in science, technology and real estate investing. But in 2008, with the birth of my daughter, I realized we’re not leaving the planet in great shape for her generation. I began to look at farmland again, with fresh eyes.

I dug into the data on farmland, and what I found shocked me. We may intuitively know that organic is better than conventional agriculture, but the hard-core numbers show that our agriculture system is broken. More than half of U.S. crop acreage grows only two commodity crops—corn and soy. More than 90 percent of that corn and soy is genetically modified and reliant on, even designed for increasing the use of toxic pesticides. Only 0.6 percent of American-grown corn is consumed by humans, while over 130 times that amount (80 percent) goes into ethanol or animal feed. Meanwhile, maxing out farmland on one crop—”monocropping”—is extremely harmful to the environment, contributing to topsoil erosion, water pollution, and other negative outcomes.

That’s how Farmland LP began. We saw how we could combine regenerative agriculture with savvy real estate management practices commonly found in the property sector. And today we’re the largest organic farmland manager in the country, with the highest sustainability rating among all global firms in HIP Investor’s worldwide universe of 10,000 corporations.

Rotational Grazing-Farmland LP
Cattle in rotation-intensive grazing are put in a small area to encourage rapid and full feeding on the grasses, stimulating new root and leaf production – with the roots acting to pump carbon into the soil (roots are made from sugars and carbohydrates created by photosynthesis, so the mere act of growing roots into the soil is “pumping carbon into the soil”). The cattle rotate back onto fields every 30 days or so, just in time to prevent the grasses from going to seed, and thus keeping them in their rapid-grass-and-root-growing stage. Oh and the cattle gain weight quickly resulting in premium quality grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Oregon farm.

 

Regenerative farming involves nurturing the land through healthy soil biology, crop rotations, pollinator habitat, and other science-based practices focused on making that land more vital and productive to the roots. For us, this means we look at each 20 to 40 acre field on each farm and identify its ideal crops and develop a 10-year crop rotation plan to increase soil health, plant happiness and the best economics.

Blueberries with pollinator habitat wildflowers every seven rows
The Burns Farm in California plants pollinator habitat every seven rows in our organic blueberry fields. Having native pollinators is shown to increase blueberry yields by 15% (so it’s not just to look pretty).

 

For example, for 50+ years one 4,200-acre farm we purchased had grown simple commodity crops in rotation: alfalfa, industrial corn and processing tomatoes for tomato paste. We assessed each field and identified a wide array of crops that could be grown. One of the worst patches of ground was salty and had poor soil quality, but we determined that olive trees would be happy there and found an olive oil farmer to tenant the land, increasing our potential income from a few hundred an acre to a thousand an acre once the trees matured. Next to those fields was ground that had more acidic soil that was perfect for organic blueberries – so we established a relationship with the leading organic blueberry company and grew them ourselves, increasing revenues and profits 10 to 30-fold. The olives and blueberries grow adjacent to organic vegetables in rotation to keep the farmland constantly regenerating, alternating with pasture and livestock rotations. Drip irrigation, rather than the traditional flood irrigation, not only saves water, but also helps the plants with fertilization and minimizes weeds between rows.

Olive tree farm, very drought tolerant at Burns Farm-courtesy of Farmland LP
Olive trees originated near the border of Turkey and Syria, preferring poor quality soils over rich soils (where they produce poorer oil and are more prone to disease), and being highly drought tolerant. They can produce for a long time, with some tees dated to 3,500 years old. These trees are growing well on 200 acres of our lowest-quality soil…hopefully poor enough to get the highest quality olive oil for our farmer-partner and us. Burns Farm in California.

 

Our mission at Farmland LP is to demonstrate that regenerative agriculture is more profitable than commodity agriculture and maximizes returns for investors. In doing so, we propel the regenerative movement forward, attracting more and larger investors – especially institutional investors – and the impact widens. The U.S. has $2.7 trillion worth of farmland, the same economic value as all of the apartment buildings in the country, or all of the office buildings, and yet less than two percent of that farmland is institutionally owned.

Even the most environmentally conscious and impact-driven investor seeks financial returns. Decade after decade, farmland as an asset class has provided top-decile returns with low volatility. Over the past 85 years, farmland has delivered 11 percent annualized returns unlevered, with half of those returns coming from cash flow and half from appreciation. As an asset class, it has outperformed the stock market, private equity and venture capital, with low volatility and minimal leverage. It is expected to continue on this trend in the future.

The environmental benefits are equally impressive. In a USDA study, Farmland LP’s first fund—yes, the same one with the seemingly simple olives, blueberries, and rotating organic vegetables—demonstrated $21.4 million in net ecosystem service value benefits using regenerative farm management practices at scale. We also tallied a double bottom line return of 7.3 percent annual ecosystem gain on top of 9.9 percent annualized net economic gain for investors.

But the supply of this essential asset class is shrinking. While urban land has nearly tripled since 1949, U.S. cropland has declined by 18 percent to 392 million acres. The decline is happening as the population that cropland needs to feed has more than doubled to 330 million people. It takes roughly one acre to feed one person, and while historically the U.S. has been a food-exporting nation, we are approaching a deficit. We will have to use our farmland smarter to grow healthy food in ways that that are more profitable and more productive, while improving the health of the soil, water, and ecosystem we live in and rely on.

Meanwhile, the demand for organic continues to grow—and alongside it, the profit that’s possible from regenerative farmland. In our farm’s inaugural harvest, the blueberries yielded roughly 300,000 pounds of fresh fruit and $900,000 in revenue. Certified Organic, regenerative agriculture is the reason that our rents went from just $300 per acre for conventional farmland, to renting for $700 per acre for organic farmland while being fully leased.

What’s clear from our experience is that regenerative agriculture yields organic food people want, healthy soils our kids will need, and sequestered carbon too keep our climate recognizable…all while delivering strong, market leading financial returns too. That’s a formula for a strong future.

 

Article by Craig Wichner, Founder and Managing Partner of Farmland LP, one of the largest farmland managers and the largest organic farmland manager in the U.S. Founded 12 years ago, Farmland manages 15,000 acres of high-quality farmland in Northern California, Oregon and Washington valued at over $175 million.

Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Impact Investing, Sustainable Business

IA 50 2021 free database logo

ImpactAssets’ IA 50 Impact Investment Fund Managers List

Industry’s first publicly available, searchable resource of impact investing fund managers sees record number of applicants and assets, reflecting the innovation and exponential growth that the IA 50 has helped to spotlight over the past decade.

 

ImpactAssets logo

ImpactAssets recently released the ImpactAssets 50 2021 (IA 50), a free online database for impact investors, family offices, financial advisors and institutional investors that features a diversified listing of private capital fund managers delivering social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.

This year marks the tenth edition of the IA 50, and despite a tumultuous year, total assets under management (AUM) among selected fund managers jumped to a record $228 billion in 2020, up from $181 billion in 2019. Thirteen managers selected in this year’s showcase reported assets exceeding $1 billion. By comparison, in the IA 50’s inaugural year, assets totaled just $6.8 billion.

The IA 50’s Emerging Impact Manager list, which debuted in 2020 and spotlights newer fund managers that demonstrate potential to create meaningful impact, also saw significant growth. The number of emerging fund managers across a variety of themes and geographies included in this year’s list grew to 41, up from 16 managers in 2020. Total AUM increased to $917 million, up from $397 million last year.

“When we launched the IA 50, we knew there was tremendous potential for impact investing, but realized many interested investors weren’t aware of the incredible range of impact fund managers available to them. As the field has evolved, we have also become aware of the large number of innovative fund managers not identified via our traditional networks,” said Jed Emerson, ImpactAssets Senior Fellow and IA 50 Review Committee Chair. “More recently we have expanded the lens of our process to capture more breadth and diversity of impact fund managers and in doing so have also chronicled the progress made by impact investors as well as the work that still needs to be done.”

This year’s list revealed several investing trends:

CDFIs Take Center Stage –  Seven Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) were selected in this year’s IA 50, reflecting the critical role CDFIs have played during the COVID-19 pandemic — from distributing PPP loans to supporting small businesses within rural, indigenous and low-income communities, and communities of color. These organizations represent both national and locally-focused community funders and manage a combined $18.7 billion in assets which are catalyzed for creating jobs, building affordable housing and financing community services in underserved low-income communities.

New Category –  In another reflection of the growth of impact investing, the IA 50 added a new Emeritus category this year highlighting 27 managers with a combined AUM of $8.8B. These fund managers have been on the IA 50 for at least five years; 10 managers have been on the list for all 10 years of the IA 50. The Emeritus list enables the IA 50 to continue to recognize the important contributions of these established managers, while making room for deserving new managers.

Investment Targets –  In 2020, the global pandemic and subsequent economic downturn affected communities worldwide, and IA 50 fund managers focused on some of those hardest hit.? A total of 63% of managers targeted investment in rural communities, while 54% specifically benefitted people of color and 48% were focused on advancing women-led businesses. Two-thirds (67%) of managers said their firm focused on underdeveloped markets where the market is relatively new, emerging or subject to systemic challenges. 

Diversity and Inclusion –  ?While fund management remains overwhelmingly non-diverse, IA 50 fund managers are leading with diversity. This is especially true of the IA 50 Emerging Impact Managers, where 51% reported more than half of their investment professionals were women and 54% said more than half of their investment professionals were people of color.

Impact and Financial Return   ?Impact fund managers remained focused on delivering both positive impact and investment performance. A total of 87% of IA 50 fund managers targeted market rate or above rates of return and 92% delivered either in line or above their target returns. Emerging Impact Managers reported similar results, with 63% targeting market rates of return or above, and 98% delivering either in line or above their initial target returns.

“The growth we’ve seen in the IA 50 over the past decade is reflective of the growth, maturity and increased diversity of the impact investing industry as a whole,” added Sandra Osborne Kartt, CFA, Director, Investments, ImpactAssets. “Along with the Emeritus and Emerging Impact Manager lists, this year’s IA 50 represents the vast array of impact themes and strategies available to impact investors today.”

In addition to Emerson and Osborne Kartt, the IA 50 Review Committee is comprised of an expanded group of impact investment experts and leaders, including Lauren Booker Allen, Senior Vice President, Impact Advisory, Jordan Park Group; Mark Berryman, Managing Director of Impact Investing, The CAPROCK Group; Ronald A. Homer, Chief Strategist, Impact Investing, RBC Global Asset Management (US) Inc.; Karl “Charly” Kleissner, Ph.D., Co-Founder of Toniic and KL Felicitas Foundation; Malaika Maphalala, CPWA® Private Wealth Advisor, Natural Investments, LLC; Cynthia Muller, Director of Mission Investment, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Rehana Nathoo, Founder & CEO, Spectrum Impact; Stephanie Cohn Rupp, CEO and Partner, Veris Wealth Partners; Fran Seegull, Executive Director, U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Ford Foundation; Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative; Julia Sze, CFA, Impact Investor, Julia W. Sze Consulting and Margret Trilli, President and CIO, ImpactAssets.

Osborne Kartt and Jennifer Kenning, CEO and Co-Founder of Align Impact and IA 50 Senior Investment Advisor, led the ImpactAssets and Align Impact Investment teams in the application scoring and analysis process.

 

About the ImpactAssets 50
The IA 50 is the first publicly available database that provides a gateway into the world of impact investing for investors and their financial advisors, offering an easy way to identify experienced impact investment firms and explore the landscape of potential investment options. The IA 50 is intended to illustrate the breadth of impact investment fund managers operating today, though it is not a comprehensive list, Firms have been selected to demonstrate a wide range of impact investing activities across geographies, sectors and asset classes.
 

The IA 50 is not an index or investable platform and does not constitute an offering or recommend specific products. It is not a replacement for due diligence. In order to be considered for the IA 50 2021, fund managers needed to have at least $25 million in assets under management, more than three years of experience as a firm with impact investing, documented social and/or environmental impact and be available for US investment. Additional details on the selection process are available here.

 The IA 50 Emerging Impact Manager list is intended to spotlight newer fund managers that may demonstrate future potential to create meaningful impact. Criteria such as minimum track record or minimum assets under management may not be applicable.

 The IA 50 Emeritus Impact Manager list illuminates impact fund managers who have achieved consistent recognition on the IA 50. 

About ImpactAssets

ImpactAssets is the leading impact investing partner for individuals, families and philanthropists tackling the world’s greatest challenges by investing in the world’s brightest ideas. We make it easy for our clients to “discover, connect and invest” in game-changing entrepreneurs and funds. Founded in 2010, ImpactAssets increases flows of money to impact investing with our 100% impact investment platform and field-building initiatives, including the IA 50 database of private debt and equity impact fund managers.  

The ImpactAssets Donor Advised Fund is an innovative vehicle that empowers donors to increase the impact of their giving by combining it with strategic, sustainable and responsible investing to build a sophisticated philanthropic endowment. The Fund currently has more than $1.4 billion in assets in 1,400 donor advised funds, working with 350 wealth advisors across 60 financial services firms.

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Claire Smith-Beyond Investing platform

Beyond Investing–World’s First Vegan Investment Platform

Summary

Beyond Investing logoClaire Smith (pictured above), the founder of the Beyond Investing platform, is a financial markets veteran of 35 years, whose career takes in JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Albourne Partners as well as running her own consulting business for 5 years. The Beyond investment management companies, formed in 2017, comprise Beyond Advisors, parent of Beyond Investing LLC, the advisor to the world’s first cruelty-free and environmentally friendly ETF and Beyond Impact Advisors, a specialist in investing in plant-based and cruelty-free start-ups and animal-replacing foodtech and biotech. In addition, Claire has co-founded Beyond Animal, a tech platform with the aim of accelerating the growth of the vegan economy, through the provision of a funding portal for vegan businesses which benefits from a FINMA No Action letter and FCA regulatory cover.

Background

Claire took a Masters in Chemical Engineering and Business Management at Imperial College London but moved into finance in 1985, since working in chemicals and oil refining, the primary jobs available to chemical engineers at the time, were unappealing given her concern for animals and the environment. Initially trained as a credit analyst at Chase Manhattan Bank, Claire switched into options dealing in London’s embryonic options markets, developed warrants trading and issuance, and ultimately ran the London convertible sales desk in 1995, structuring multiple bespoke derivatives transactions before leaving UBS in 1998.

After a period of time as a freelance journalist, during which she published over 125 articles in the financial press, and consultant on fund research to London funds of funds, Claire joined Albourne Partners in 2004, assuming responsibility of quantitative equity strategies, taking in systematic quantitative equity, convertible arbitrage and volatility and hedging strategies. She was admitted to the partner program in 2007 and became a shareholder of Albourne in 2010.

In her philanthropic work, Claire founded 100 Women in Finance in Geneva in 2007 and oversaw its growth in Switzerland through till 2014, as a member of the London Board, organizing over 100 events, including seven Galas which raised well over $1 million for charity. Claire served on the Board of AVVEC, a Geneva-based charity that provides support to victims of domestic violence. She is the President of Beyond Cruelty Foundation, formed in 2018 to campaign for zero animal exploitation and to fund safe havens for animals. She co-founded a group to campaign against testing of GMO canola seeds in the English countryside in 1999.

Mission

Claire is motivated to use her skills in the financial arena to invest for a kinder, cleaner, healthier world. Being vegetarian/vegan since the age of 15, her primary area of focus is the avoidance of animal exploitation, with associated benefits for human health and the environment, in particular climate change and preservation of biodiversity, a global problem. The investment thesis of the platform is to deprive companies that cause harm to animals and the environment of investment and to deploy capital towards those companies who are engaged in plant-based or animal-replacing products and services.

Change in society comes from an alignment of three levers, Consumers, Citizens and Capital. Consumers have a role to play in choosing sustainable and cruelty-free products, provided these are made available on the market. Citizens can campaign for laws, regulations, subsidies and fiscal policies to be amended in favor of protecting animals and the environment. Capital is a vital piece of the puzzle, since what gets financed gets done, and conversely, the withdrawal of financing constrains damaging companies. Claire aims to direct global Capital flows in such a way that support the efforts of Consumers and Citizens and enable the growth of companies providing solutions and the decline of companies whose practices harm animals and destroy biodiversity.

Around the world there is a clear trend for Capital to become more conscious and multiple investing structures need to be set up. Vegans have till now had nowhere to put their money given the near absence of fund products that address their concerns. Equally, vegan founders have been starved of capital to fund and grow their businesses. It is these needs that Claire seeks to address through her Beyond initiatives.

The Platform

As opposed to focusing in one narrow area of financial markets, the Beyond Investing platform seeks to provoke capital flows across the spectrum of capital markets and funding.

Within the large cap space, Beyond Investing designs cruelty-free and climate-friendly investing programs in public equity markets and is the architect of the US Vegan Climate Index, a stock index which screens out all animal exploitation and fossil fuel and other causes of harm to humans and the environment, from a US market benchmark. The first instrument on this Index was listed on the NYSE as the US Vegan Climate ETF (ticker: VEGN) in September 2019. With around 280 stocks, and largely market cap-weighted, this product provides a solution for retail and institutional investors who wish to embed cruelty-fee and environmentally friendly principles in their core US large cap allocation.

The US Vegan Climate Index is the first of a range of stock and bond indexes that enshrine the same set of policies, in Europe, Asia, emerging markets, and globally.

Whereas in current stock markets, there are few purely vegan and cruelty-free companies, there are several impending IPOs in the space, due to their rapid growth. To exploit this growing market sector, Beyond Investing has created a small to midcap growth strategy, called the Vegan World strategy, by sifting through global listed equity markets for companies whose products already adhere to vegan principles and could benefit from increasing demand for cruelty-free products. This portfolio of 30-60 stocks provides a thematic play on the vegan theme, spread across the entire food and materials supply chain.

At the bottom end of the scale, Beyond Impact’s vegan venture capital offering is proactively seeking out high potential start-ups and early stage growth companies whose products are superior, scalable and sustainable and thus have the potential to save many animals lives, as well as targeting exceptional investment returns. Since 2017, the portfolio has made investments in 23 companies segmented across themes of cultivated and plant-based replacements to products derived from animals, healthy vegan convenience foods, animal testing alternatives and cruelty-free lifestyle products.

Lastly, Beyond Animal seeks to provide funding solutions through drawing in a wider audience of investors. Beyond Animal will leverage the commitment of the vegan community, as well as the broader support of sustainable and impact investors globally, to provide access to funding to companies across all sectors and geographies, provided that their products accelerate the transition to a kinder, cleaner, healthier world.

Important Information Regarding VEGN

It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Shares of any ETF are bought and sold at market price (not NAV), may trade at a discount or premium to NAV and are not individually redeemed from the Fund. Brokerage commissions will reduce returns. Investments in mid-cap securities involve additional risk such as limited liquidity and greater volatility. The index methodology may cause the Fund to underperform the broader equity market or other funds which do not utilize such criteria. The Fund’s return may not match or achieve a high degree of correlation with the return of the underlying Index. To the extent the Fund utilizes a representative sampling approach, it may experience tracking error to a greater extent than if the Fund had sought to replicate the Index. The fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses must be considered carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other important information about the investment company, and it may be obtained by calling 1-800-617-0004 or visiting www.veganetf.com . Read it carefully before investing. Beyond Investing LLC is the adviser to the US Vegan Climate ETF. VEGN is distributed by Quasar Distributors, LLC.

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Green Century Funds celebrates 30th Anniversary-GreenMoney

Green Century Funds Celebrates their 30th Anniversary

Green Century is pleased to commemorate its 30th anniversary in 2021.

“When Green Century was launched in 1991, aligning your investments with your values was no easy feat. Thankfully, a group of nonprofit leaders in The Public Interest Network recognized the need and desire for environmentally-responsible investing,” said Jim Starr, chair of the Board of Trustees of the Green Century Funds. “Thirty years later, Green Century’s unique and authentic approach to sustainable investing is more popular than ever.”

The assets under management (AUM) of the Green Century Funds have grown more than 60% in just two years.

Green Century has celebrated a number of milestones in its three decades of operation:

  • In 1991, Green Century launched its Equity Fund, one of the earliest environmentally-screened environmental, social, and governance (ESG) mutual funds in the U.S.
  • In 1992, with the launch of the Balanced Fund, Green Century became the first family of environmentally-screened ESG mutual funds in the U.S.
  • In 2009, the Green Century Balanced Fund became the first mutual fund in the U.S. to calculate its carbon footprint.
  • In 2014, having long previously divested from coal and large oil and gas corporations, Green Century jettisoned the last remnants of any fossil fuel holdings and became the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the U.S.
  • In 2016, Green Century launched its MSCI International Index Fund, the first fossil fuel free, diversified, and responsible international index fund available to investors in the U.S.
  • In 2018, Green Century was the first financial institution in the U.S. to be recognized by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, as a Hall of Fame financial institution.

“Green Century owes its success to the vision and foresight of the nonprofit leaders who launched Green Century, especially Mindy Lubber, who served as Green Century’s first president and Doug Phelps, who was Green Century’s primary architect and remains an invaluable member of our board of trustees,” said Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich. “We also are grateful to all of the other members of the Board of Trustees who have volunteered their time over the years and all of Green Century’s employees, past and present, whose tireless work helped make this milestone a reality. Now, onto the next 30 years of environmental impact.”

 

About Green Century Capital Management

Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are the first family of fossil fuel free, responsible, and diversified mutual funds in the United States. Green Century Capital Management hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.

You should carefully consider the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses before investing. To obtain a Prospectus that contains this and other information about the Funds please click here, email info@greencentury.com , or call 1-800-934-7336. Please read the Prospectus carefully before investing.

Stocks will fluctuate in response to factors that may affect a single company, industry, sector, country, region or the market as a whole and may perform worse than the market. Foreign securities are subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, regional economic and political conditions, differences in accounting methods, and other unique risks compared to investing in securities of U.S. issuers. Bonds are subject to a variety of risks including interest rate, credit, and inflation risk. A sustainable investment strategy which incorporates environmental, social and governance criteria may result in lower or higher returns than an investment strategy that does not include such criteria.

This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable. The views expressed are as the date of this writing and are those of the Advisor to the Funds.

The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. 3/21

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