Tag: Food & Farming

2018 Green Transition Scoreboard Finds $9.3 Trillion in Green Sectors Worldwide

Ethical Markets released in late April its 2018 Green Transition Scoreboard® finding $9.3 trillion of private investments in green sectors worldwide, cumulatively since 2007.

This 2018 report: “CAPTURING CO2 WHILE IMPROVING HUMAN NUTRITION & HEALTH” also focuses on how productive capture of CO2 is making useful products and how expanding production of food in saltwater agriculture can achieve both better human nutrition and reduce climate risk.

Download the Report at www.ethicalmarkets.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/GTS-2018-Full-Report.pdf

Global Private Green Investments – 2018

Sector and Amount in US$:

Renewable Energy $3,864,203,673,121

Energy Efficiency $2,038,487,667,163

Life Systems $1,891,555,846,366

Green Construction $1,072,360,379,757

Corporate Green R&D $ 505,274,742,000

Grand Total = $9,371,882,308,407

The report’s lead author, science policy veteran Hazel Henderson, CEO of Ethical Markets says “We found over-investment in the planet’s 3% freshwater, overlooking the other 97% saltwater and the many varieties of salt-loving halophyte) plants that already provide human food, grown on the 40% of degraded and desert lands, e.g. the highly-nutritious grain: quinoa, available in many supermarkets.”

The report‘s co-author, Tim Nash, Founder of Good Investing, assembles the research on the private investments in green sectors the Scoreboard tracks in Renewable Energy, Efficiency, Life Systems, Green Construction and Corporate Green R&D. Tim adds, “Green sectors are continuing to grow rapidly, outperforming most traditional sectors. At this rate, we will surpass $10 trillion of private investments in the global green economy this year”.

Many investors, start-ups and new opportunities are found in all green sectors, as well as in these new approaches: the rapidly-growing plant protein markets serving the widespread growth of vegetarianism, as well as in new uses for carbon and CO2, citing hundreds of statistics and references.

The report shows that these trends in better nutrition and increased carbon capture and re-use are also good news for the planet. “Pinpointing these investments and opportunities for desert-greening and using CO2 to make plastics, cement and other useful products only requires a new perspective …beyond existing cognitive biases including herd behavior in markets and theory-induced blindness!” says Henderson.


Read more from Hazel Henderson in her latest article in GreenMoney Journal’s Water Issue (March 2018) entitled “Global Transition to Halophyte Agriculture May Be Inevitable” – https://greenmoney.com/global-transition-to-halophyte-agriculture-may-be-inevitable

About Ethical Markets, Certified B Corporation
Founded in 2004 with a mission to reform markets and metrics while helping accelerate the global transition from fossil-fueled early industrialism to cleaner, healthier, inclusive knowledge-richer green societies everywhere. Its “Ethical Markets” TV series is distributed globally to colleges and libraries by www.films.com or free at ethicalmarkets.tv

This global, network of networks connects ethical investors, asset managers, green entrepreneurs, NGO leaders and academics. It sponsors the asset EthicMark® Awards for Advertising that uplifts the Human Spirit and Society, with nominations for its 2018 Awards now open at www.ethicmark.org , where past winning campaigns can also be viewed. A full list of information services at www.ethicalmarkets.com


Dr. Hazel Henderson
phone 1+ (904) 829-3140

Tim Nash
phone +1 (416) 821-9179 

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

Celebrating its 35th Anniversary, Stonyfield Organic Takes its Good-For-The-Planet Mission to New Pastures

Advocates to Remove Toxins Where Children Play, new survey reveals parents’ knowledge of pesticides in community parks and playing fields lags significantly to food awareness

Marking its 35th anniversary, Stonyfield Organic, the country’s leading organic yogurt maker, announced in April 2018 a bold commitment that not only celebrates the brand’s organic leadership role in the food space, but also casts an eye to a different and equally as large issue facing families. While huge strides have been made in the organic food space over the past 35 years, less is happening around environmental and health issues specific to the use of pesticides beyond food. To that end, Stonyfield is dedicating this year, and beyond, to bringing greater awareness about possible exposure to pesticides in children’s outdoor playing fields and community spaces.

In a recent survey, Stonyfield found that while the majority of American parents (69%) are looking to lessen exposure to pesticides in food, nearly the same number (67%) do not consider sports fields, playgrounds and parks to be of concern. Yet most of the playing fields and parks kids play on are treated with a chemical cocktail of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Many of the commonly used chemicals are either proven or likely endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the development of children’s immune, reproductive, and metabolic systems. Today, 68% of US parents are more likely to buy a product labeled organic, their primary reason being to avoid pesticides, but Stonyfield believes food is just one part of the preventative health equation and the maverick yogurt company has set out to raise awareness and empower parents everywhere to make change locally.

“When we first began 35 years ago, many people thought we were crazy and organic just meant you had to ‘chew more’. Today, it’s encouraging to see the strides the organic food industry has made, helping educate around health and working towards making organic a mainstream and accessible food choice for families. But we’ve still got work to do,” says Stonyfield’s co-founder and Chief Organic Optimist, Gary Hirshberg. “We want to ensure that every kid in America is protected from harmful chemicals and toxins. It starts with food, but we believe all children should play free as well– free from worry, free from harmful chemicals, and free from toxic persistent pesticides.”

Stonyfield is proud to advocate for reducing kids’ exposure to toxic persistent pesticides and to lend its voice to support and empower parents. In the same survey, one third of parents said that if they were made aware their child’s sports field, playground or park was treated with pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals, they would not allow them to continue playing in these spaces.

“To put it frankly, the use of certain pesticides and other chemicals on playing fields should be banned, as children are much more susceptible to possible chemical side effects compared to adults,” says Philip Landrigan, MD, MSc, Founding Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and author of the book Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know. “Children have a larger surface-to-volume ratio and more permeable skin, leading to greater skin absorption of toxic chemicals, not to mention that their developing organ systems are more susceptible to the impacts of pesticides and less likely to be able to detoxify harmful chemicals. That’s why it’s so important that they’re playing on organic fields, without the worry of harmful pesticides or other chemicals.”

At a time politically when funding and resources for toxic-chemical regulation are being drastically cut, and even agencies like The National Center for Environmental Research, that works to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children, is being dismantled, watching out for children’s health is more urgent and important than ever.

For that reason, Stonyfield is announcing a three year, half million dollar initiative to work with 35 communities across the country to convert outdoor playing fields and parks to organic while also igniting a larger movement to ensure that all kids can play freely without the concern of potentially harmful chemicals.

“While Stonyfield is best known as a passionate change maker in the organic food movement, this effort goes far beyond the products we make and sell. We need to be just as concerned with what goes on kids’ bodies as what goes in them. This takes our mission of healthier people and a healthier planet to the next level by shedding light on an often overlooked issue and reminding everyone that they can make change locally to protect the health of our children and our environment,” added Hirshberg.

With pilot fields converting this spring, Stonyfield will be announcing more about the initiative in the months to come. Beyond its direct work with 35 communities, Stonyfield aims to empower families everywhere and will be providing tools and resources to make change locally with the official launch of the initiative later this year. For more information, visit https://www.stonyfield.com/organic/environment/35-years-35-communities and follow Stonyfield’s progress using the #PlayFree hashtag on social media.


About Stonyfield
As the leading organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield takes care with everything it puts into its yogurts and everything it keeps out. By saying no to toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics and GMOs, Stonyfield has been saying yes to delicious, healthy food for 35 years. With their direct milk supply program, Stonyfield helps to grow the number of organic dairy farms in New England – and through their support of the Wolfe’s Neck Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program, Stonyfield is helping to train the next generation of organic farmers.

Stonyfield and Lindberg International surveyed 1,000 adults age 18 and older, comprised of 537 parents with children living at home, in January 2018.

For more information go to- https://www.stonyfield.com/blog/stonyfield-organic-advocates-to-remove-toxins-where-children-play

Additional Articles, Food & Farming, Sustainable Business

Understanding Food and Climate Change: A Systems Perspective from the Center for Ecoliteracy

Exploring the links between food systems and our changing climate from a systems thinking perspective.

The interactive guide for educators, students, and advocates explores how food systems and our changing climate interact, and how personal choices can make a difference.

Understanding Food and Climate Change: A Systems Perspective explores the links between food systems and our changing climate with an emphasis on systems thinking. A systems approach helps to illuminate how seemingly disconnected phenomena are often dynamically linked and can be understood best when viewed in a larger context. The collection of essays contains an extensive bibliography that provides resources for further investigation.

Understanding Food and Climate Change: An Interactive Guide uses text, video, photography, and interactive experiences to help educators, students, and advocates learn how food and climate interact and how personal choices can make a difference. Ideal for grades 6-12 and general audiences, and connected to Next Generation Science Standards and the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies themes, the guide offers activities for student research and provides extensive resources for further investigation.

Download the Guide here.

What People are saying about the guide:

“The food and wellness movement and the movement to foster awareness and understanding of climate change are among the most powerful social movements in today’s global civil society. And yet, there is hardly any connection between the two, either conceptually or organizationally, even though a thorough understanding of the multiple links between agriculture and climate change seems critical for the survival and well-being of humanity. This interactive guide promotes such understanding in a lively, multicultural way. It will be an invaluable tool for food and climate educators and change advocates, and I highly recommend it.”Fritjof Capra, PhD, Physicist, Systems Theorist, and Author

“Understanding Food and Climate Change is a much-needed resource for educators everywhere that brings the food system “home” in a lucid and informed publication. The food sector, which includes farming, silvopasture, agroforestry, grazing, food waste, and dietary choices—is one of the two largest contributors to global warming, the other being transport. As a solution, it has the potential to be the largest sector in terms of its contribution. It can not only reduce and stop emissions, but it can also bring carbon back home through regenerative land use practices.”Paul Hawken, Editor of Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

“Agriculture has a huge impact on the environment—greenhouse gases as well as pollution of air, water, and soil. The Center for Ecoliteracy’s Understanding Food and Climate Change is essential for finding out how this happens and what we can do about it.”Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, emerita, New York University

“We have an obligation to lead by example as well as give our best effort toward restoring the health of our planet for the next generations who inherit the earth. That’s why I enthusiastically support the work of the Center of Ecoliteracy, whose new suite of resources, Understanding Food and Climate Change, provides insight into how we, as stewards of our environment, young and old, can align our actions with our values.”Kat Taylor, CEO, Beneficial State Bank and Board Chair, TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation

“Teaching children how climate change impacts the food we grow and eat has never been more important. The Center for Ecoliteracy has done a wonderful job of synthesizing many critical issues into this highly usable teaching tool, and they have made it available for free! I hope Understanding Food and Climate Change will be used in classrooms across the country. A sustainable future for the planet depends upon the edible and environmental education of every child.”Alice Waters, Founder, The Edible Schoolyard Project

Additional Articles, Energy & Climate, Food & Farming

50 Farms and No Regrets

By Teresa Opheim, Senior VP, Iroquois Valley Farms

Iroquois Valley Farms has reached a milestone: This spring we added the 50th farm to our portfolio. Our farmland REIT — honored as a “Best for the World” company from B Labs — provides secure land tenure for 35 farm families working nearly 9,000 acres of farmland. More families will be joining the Iroquois Valley Farms fold soon.

Iroquois Valley Farms starts with the farmer, who comes to us with specific land needs. The company either purchases land the farmer wants, and then rents it to the farmer with a long-term lease. Most frequently the purchased farm is additional acreage for the farmer. We also provide mortgage financing to help farmers purchase the land themselves. All of our farmland is organic and beyond, or in transition to organic. All of our farmers run their own businesses.

We have seen strong and steady growth in the value of our investment portfolio over the last 11 years. Original investors in 2007 have received an 11 percent internal rate of return. We just launched a new offering, through which we will raise $20 million to help fund a long pipeline of farmers wanting our help. We also offer Soil Restoration Notes™ to investors, with a portion of returns going to help our farmers transitioning to organic.

We are thankful for the passionate commitment of our 300-plus investors, people and organizations all committed to healthy food, living soil, carbon sequestration and vibrant communities of plants and animals. People like Sallie Calhoun, the founder of the #NoRegrets Initiative, which includes a wonderful set of investment principles. Those principles describe our approach perfectly:

Your investments should move towards healthier land in the short- and medium-term.

Iroquois Valley Farms invests in farmers who eschew chemicals. Farmers like the Lepleys in Ohio, who are transitioning 400 acres from a dead soil monoculture to certified organic production. And the Weiks in Minnesota, who seeded bare ground to pasture, thereby reducing erosion while they raise high quality pork.

Each of our farm families follow basic soil health principles: They (1) use plant diversity to increase diversity in the soil; (2) manage soils more by disturbing them less; (3) keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil; and (4) keep the soil covered as much as possible.

Rory Beyer, Minnesota farmer

As a result, they are reporting substantial increases in soil organic matter, a key soil health indicator. Iroquois Valley Farms has provided refinancing for the Beyer Family in Minnesota, who became very serious about holding their soil in place after receiving 17 (!) inches of rain in one day in 2008. Rory Beyer tested soil in one spot on the farm in 2009 and found a paltry 1.7 percent organic matter. In 2017 – after years of pasture and intense rotational grazing – the organic matter is 4.4 percent. “You can build organic matter in the soil, and you can do it fast,” he says.

Your investments should be structured to avoid exit pressures that would jeopardize medium- to long-term viability.

To us, “long-term viability” is keeping farm families on the land for hundreds of years. We have purchased land and provided financing for farm families now in their sixth generation of farming.

There is no one else offering what we offer. Our terms are truly supportive: Our farmers can purchase the land after they rent for seven years, but they do not have to if the timing is not right for them. Rent is set lower during the transition to organic certification, and then increases during the farmers’ highly successful years. Those who receive mortgage funding from us pay interest only during those tough early years. Our investors make a seven-year commitment, which provides further security to our farmers. Our large pool of investors means our farmers are not in jeopardy of losing their land tenure if some chose to redeem their shares.

Your investments should increase diversity of various kinds at various scales.

As the #NoRegrets Initiative states: “Diversity is a harbinger of a healthy system.” A key part of our risk management strategy is our diversified agriculture. Our farms, which are in 14 states, have different business plans, varied markets and distinct soil types. Our portfolio includes large organic grain operations growing specialty corn and heirloom wheat (the Wilkens in Illinois), organic 100% grass-based dairies (such as Creambrook Farm in Virginia), a small poultry-based permaculture system (Main Street Project in Minnesota), and several grass-based livestock operations (Vermont Natural Beef).

Grass-based, Vermont Natural Beef

All of this diversity makes for sound and secure returns for our investors. We are eager to expand the diversity of our investors as well. With a Reg A+ offering we are developing, we will be able to add non-accredited investors to our fold by next year.

Five of our nine REIT board members are women; that board includes racial diversity as well. We have just added two young female farmers to our fold. However, we need to increase the ethnic and gender diversity in our portfolio—and we know it. Existing farm families are our bread and butter, but many others have not had the chance to farm or have had farms taken from them. The funding we provided Main Street Project, which trains Latinx farmers in regenerative agriculture, is a crucial step in working toward that diversity.

Staff from Main Street Project – a small, poultry-based permaculture system in Minnesota

Your investments should fill gaps in the system

Farmers are flooding us with requests for support as their bankers decline operating loans and foreclose on mortgages. Many conventional farm lenders are still hostile to organic production, even after the proven profitability and popularity of organic food. As the financial industry calls in their chips, Iroquois Valley Farms is one solution to offer the financing needed by those who raise our food, sequester carbon, build our soils and provide habitat. We will need many partners to help fill the financing gap conventional lenders have left us.

“Regenerative agriculture will require more land stewards making real livings,” the #NoRegrets initiative states. We are eager to raise more capital and form more creative financing partnerships to help land stewards create a regenerative food ecosystem.

For more about our company, contact Alex Mackay at (503) 765-5272 or amackay@iroquoisvalleyfarms.com and check out our website at www.iroquoisvalleyfarms.com and also #noregretsinitiatve at- www.noregretsinitiative.com


Article by Teresa Opheim, Senior Vice President, Farmer Relations, for Iroquois Valley Farms, where she helps the company keep a strong focus on the farmer. She is a member of the Board of Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, PBC and of Iroquois Valley Farms LLC. She also is the Project Director of Iroquois Valley Farms’ Conservation Innovation Grant, a federally funded program that encourages conservation finance solutions to increasing conservation on agricultural lands.

Teresa served as the Executive Director of Practical Farmers of Iowa from 2006 to 2016. She served as Executive Director of the Midwest Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and has worked for the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law Institute and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She is the editor of The Future of Family Farms: Practical Farmers’ Legacy Letter Project (University of Iowa 2016). Teresa has journalism and law degrees from the University of Iowa. Teresa and her family reside in Minneapolis.

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

Developing the New Mexico Landrace (Heirloom) Corn Project

By Tim Vos, Field Coordinator & Agroecologist, NMLCP

In February 2016 The New York Times ran a story, “Oaxaca’s Native Maize Embraced by Top Chefs in US and Europe,” highlighting the work of a new company called Masienda that was sourcing landrace (heirloom) corn from small farms in Mexico. Masienda’s business model emphasizes conservation of agrobiodiversity, while supporting smallholders using sustainable/organic farming methods. When some of us here in Santa Fe saw this article we asked the question, “Why can’t this be happening in New Mexico as well?” And so the New Mexico Landrace Corn Project was born.

In 2017 the New Mexico Landrace Corn Project (NMLCP) distributed 1600 pounds of blue corn seed. This seed originated at Santo Domingo Pueblo (400 lbs.) and Isleta Pueblo (1200 lbs.). Masienda purchased the seed with the expressed intent to make it available at no cost to farmers across the region that wanted to plant it. Farmers who received the seed agreed to grow it following organic protocols, and to offer Masienda first right of refusal to purchase the harvested grain.

Throughout the 2017 growing season, NMLCP was able to continue developing relationships with participating farmers, getting to know them and their farming operations, and becoming familiar both with opportunities and challenges. Much of the land brought into production had been idle for many years. This in itself presented difficulties. But in almost every case, we were able to see significant progress in terms of land health, while we cultivated deepening conversations about whole farm management, agrobiodiversity and soil quality, and ways to help make farm businesses more profitable. The increased farming activity stimulated by access to corn seed and the prospect of a guaranteed market opened up a whole new conversation amongst folks in farming communities around the state.

Isleta Pueblo farmer Joseph Jaramillo participates in the New Mexico Landrace (Heirloom) Corn Project.

NMLCP helped facilitate harvest, post-harvest processing, and trucking of 15,000 lbs. of blue corn. Masienda bought the corn and arranged to have it shipped to a co-packing facility in Chicago. NMLCP provided logistical support to expedite the final process and make sure farmers were paid for their product in a timely manner. All of the farmers who sold grain to Masienda in 2017 will be continuing to participate in 2018, and in many cases are planning to scale up production.

Most of the farmers who planted corn last year did not sell to Masienda. In some situations a successful harvest was not achieved, due to a range of problems including not having appropriate equipment, lack of reliable water supply, prairie dog invasions, and insufficient access to labor to complete farm work. Even in these instances, we saw significant learning and renewed resolve to continue farming. In some higher elevation locations early fall frosts impinged on the harvest. But at the same time, because of the genetic diversity within the blue corn variety being planted, early maturing plants did yield viable seed suitable for planting in the next growing season. This is a part of the participatory breeding program that we are initiating going forward, as selected seeds adapt to new environmental conditions, they become more viable in different geographic niches. Higher elevation and latitude mean shorter growing seasons, and we learned a lot about the ideal conditions of corn that evolved through thousands of years in the central Rio Grande valley, and how it does or does not fit into varying ecological conditions.

In many cases, farmers had a good harvest, but elected to keep their corn for family and community uses. Also, some farmers found that they had better local marketing opportunities within their home regions. For example, in the Navajo Nation, there is strong demand for corn, and farmers can get a higher price, and with less need for processing, than in the shipping market.

Although grain off-take for commercial markets was less than initially expected, the ripple effects of NMLCP’s outreach and seed distribution activities have been very encouraging. Feedback has reached us indicating increasing interest in the idea of the project and its potential benefits for a diverse range of farmers. It’s a gradual process. One of the crucial lessons learned so far is that even when a farmer is very interested in participating, the costs and challenges associated with scaling up a farming operation and entering the commercial marketplace are often daunting, and even prohibitive. Simply providing a market opportunity is not enough. Material and technical assistance are also necessary. Risks often outweigh benefits, at least in the initial stages of thinking something like this through. Many farmers see the benefits, but there is a gap between where they are now and the lead-up process to becoming fully operational, productive, and profitable as a farm business. This is the work that the project is trying to accomplish, to build a bridge, so to speak, to share risks and offer material and agroecological support, in order to make it possible for farming to be a viable livelihood and way of life again in rural New Mexico.

The corn project recently received some encouraging news. Chefs in Santa Fe and Albuquerque are praising the New Mexico grown blue corn they’ve sampled, saying it has superior culinary characteristics (“it’s delicious!”) and asking for a steady supply. These same restaurateurs, along with some farmers, are now talking about the potential for setting up value-added processing facilities to do nixtamalization and masa production. A farmer in Anthony, NM says many locals are starting to get excited about the corn project. When I asked him why, he said that he thinks it is because the idea of planting blue corn reminds folks of their traditional farming heritage, and makes them feel hopeful that farming as a way of life could be viable again in the future. This affirms the original premise of the corn project. Corn was and is central to Southwestern food and farming culture, and people still identify with it.

NMLCP is now working to consolidate gains and apply what we’ve learned. As a core group of farmers is preparing for spring planting, we are distributing seed as we did last year, and linking our agreements to more detailed organic soil husbandry and whole farm management guidelines. Conversations are ongoing regarding formation of a coop structure, which would strengthen the network of participating farmers and allow for direct funding for shared material resources. As mentioned, local chefs are looking for a steady supply of locally grown blue corn, and the idea of establishing one or more value-added processing facilities is now being considered as a more tangible and imminent possibility. The concept of the corn project, which is still in the early stages of its evolution, seems to be taking root, showing that it is feasible, with strong potential to significantly make a difference for New Mexican agricultural communities. We hope to find funding to help more farmers get onboard.

More information on Masienda visit https://www.masienda.com


Article by Tim Vos, who made his living as a working farmer growing certified organic vegetables in California for many years. He has a PhD in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz and taught classes on the principles of sustainable agriculture, practical farming and organic production methods, and environmental ethics. Tim currently serves as field coordinator and agroecology specialist for the New Mexico Landrace Corn Project.

Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Sustainable Business

Engage the Chain: An Investor Guide to Engaging the Food Sector on Sustainability Risks

By Brooke Barton, Senior Director, Ceres

Ceres Logo

In April, Greenpeace released video footage[1] showing that a palm oil supplier for major food companies, the Hayel Saeed Anam Group was destroying large swaths of rainforest in Indonesia, despite concerted efforts by industry stakeholders to stop forest destruction in palm oil supply chains. The repercussions for Hayel Saeed Anam Group are still unfolding, but recent history suggests that the outcome may well involve financial consequences.

Two years ago, the Palm oil giant IOI Group’s share price dropped 18 percent after its certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was suspended when it was found to not be meeting the certificate’s standards. Several major brands including Unilever, Kellogg and Nestlé cut supplies sourced from the IOI Group, leading to a drop in its income.

Indonesian palm oil plantation
Indonesian palm oil plantation

Commodity-driven deforestation is but one of the profound sustainability challenges that large food and beverage companies are facing today in their agricultural supply chains.

Climate change, erratic weather and shrinking freshwater supplies are compromising agricultural productivity and increasing procurement costs. Illegal and unethical practices such as forced labor, and the razing of rainforests for cattle production, are intensifying as global population rises and places more pressure on food systems. And as consumers step up demands for food that is ethically and sustainably produced, campaign groups like Greenpeace are turning up the heat on questionable or illegal supply chain practices that exploit workers or communities, pollute water supplies, or destroy protected forests.

These sustainability challenges pose financially material business risks for food and beverage companies, from price volatility, inconsistent quality and supply of ingredients, to damage to brand equity from advocacy campaigns, to legal sanctions and seizure of goods.

While food companies have traditionally used procurement strategies to manage these risks (e.g., shifting to new sourcing regions or acquiring new suppliers) these strategies are becoming less effective on a resource-constrained planet.

The challenge is clear for global food and beverage companies: as the population rises, the agriculture sector they rely on will need to produce more food with fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while simultaneously shifting toward farm practices that conserve or restore diminishing water and soil resources. Sustainable sourcing strategies and supply chain transparency will become—and are already– essential practices for the food and beverage industry to ensure that their suppliers are making these critical changes.

As significant owners of and lenders to companies, investors can be major forces in driving these sustainable sourcing practices. It’s in their best interest to do so, as business risks that affect company bottom lines can show up as decreased revenue or stranded assets in investor portfolios.

But understanding and assessing how companies are managing these factors can be a challenge when each commodity – and each company – is faced with a different constellation of risks and impacts.

To help investors understand these risks and their potential impact on their portfolios, Ceres developed an online resource Engage the Chain: An Investor Guide to Agricultural Supply Chain Risk (https://engagethechain.org).

Engage the Chain provides investors with information about the social and environmental impacts driving material business risks for eight key commodities: beef, corn, dairy, fiber-based packaging, palm oil, soybeans, sugarcane and wheat. These commodities are among the most prominent drivers of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and water depletion and pollution.

Sugarcane workers

Each of the eight commodities briefs includes global production data, a visual of the value chain for each commodity and a list of key companies involved in each stage, and an assessment of how the seven key drivers are impacting the commodity.

It further identifies the major U.S.-headquartered food and beverage companies that source these commodities and clarifies actions investors and companies should take to reduce agricultural supply chain exposure.

Herd of Brahma cattle led by Pantaneiro cowboy

Since the launch of the website in July 2017, we’ve added new resources, and will continue to do so to keep investors abreast of new research, new tools and opportunities for engagement. Engage the Chain is intended to serve as a platform for highlighting best-in-class practices and providing talking points for investors to communicate effectively to companies in the sector.

New content added this year includes:

• Deforestation case studies series[2] that looks at the business risks companies may encounter when they source commodities from areas with deforestation. It spotlights three companies (IOI Corporation, JBS, and United Cacao) and summarizes the business risks and negative financial consequences they faced.

• Overview on sources of GHG emissions in agricultural supply chains

• Opportunities for reducing GHG emissions and sequestering carbon through agricultural practices

• Zooming in: An assessment of the traceability commitments of companies with zero deforestation policies[3]

Coming Soon to Engage the Chain

This summer additional resources will be added, including:

• Tools for analyzing Scope 3 GHG emissions (supply chain emissions)

• Briefing papers on GHG mitigation opportunities in beef and soy production.

• A short issue brief on grievance mechanisms and a company case study to investors with a baseline of knowledge on how investors can mitigate business risks associated with human rights abuses.

Investors are encouraged to visit Engage the Chain, use the information to analyze the vulnerability of individual companies, assess their plans to mitigate supply chain risks, and then start a dialogue with their portfolio companies.

As Allan Pearce, a shareholder advocate with Trillium Asset Management, puts it, “Commodity-based agricultural production is emerging as a key driver of climate change, deforestation, water pollution and biodiversity loss, while also subjecting hundreds of millions of people employed in agriculture around the world to harsh working conditions and poverty. Many companies don’t understand the full extent of these impacts in their agricultural supply chains, which is alarming because they can pose real financial risk.”

For more information on Engage the Chain, contact Julie Nash, nash@ceres.org


Engage the Chain was developed with peer review support from investors, companies and NGOs (https://engagethechain.org/about-investorguide). It was funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, as part of a conservation and financial markets collaboration among the foundation, Ceres, World Business Council for Sustainable Development and World Wildlife Fund.

Article by Brooke Barton, Senior Director of Water and Food at Ceres. Brooke directs Ceres’ strategy for mobilizing leading investors and companies to address the sustainability risks facing our freshwater, food and agriculture systems. In this capacity, she oversees Ceres’ research and private sector engagement activities on the financial risks associated with growing freshwater challenges and deforestation.Brooke is the co-author of The Ceres Aqua Gauge: A Framework for 21st Century Water Risk Management [4] and three studies focused on agricultural water risks facing the food sector: the 2017 Feeding Ourselves Thirsty: Tracking Food Company Progress Towards a Water-Smart Future [5], as well as the first benchmarking analysis [6] that was released in 2015, and Water and Climate Risks Facing U.S. Corn Production [7]. Previously, Brooke directly advised Ceres Company Network members in the food and beverage sector on strategies for enhancing the overall sustainability of their operations and supply chains. Prior to Ceres, Brooke was a researcher for the Harvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, where she wrote case studies and articles on the integration of business strategy and sustainability. She holds a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Article Notes:

[1] https://news.mongabay.com/2018/04/palm-oil-supplier-to-food-giants-clears-forest-peatland-in-indonesia-greenpeace-says
[2] https://engagethechain.org/case-studies-business-risks
[3] https://www.ceres.org/sites/default/files/Fact Sheets or misc files/Supply change ceres.pdf
[4] https://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/ceres-aqua-gauge-framework-21st-century-water-risk
[5] https://feedingourselvesthirsty.ceres.org
[6] https://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/2015-analysis-feeding-ourselves-thirsty-how-food-sector-managing-global-water
[7] https://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/water-climate-risks-facing-us-corn-production

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

Maturing U.S. Organic Sector Sees Steady Sales Growth of 6.4 Percent in 2017 to Nearly $50 Billion

Organic Trade Association survey puts 2017 organic growth rate at 6 times the pace of overall food market.

American consumers in 2017 filled more of their grocery carts with organic, buying everything from organic produce and organic ice cream to organic fresh juices and organic dried beans, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2018 Organic Industry Survey released in mid-May.

Organic sales in the U.S. totaled a new record of $49.4 billion in 2017, up 6.4 percent from the previous year and reflecting new sales of nearly $3.5 billion. The organic food market hit $45.2 billion in sales, also breaking through to a new record for an increase of 6.4 percent. Sales of organic non-food products rose by 7.4 percent to $4.2 billion, setting another new benchmark.

The growth rate for organic food sales was below 2016’s 9 percent pace and was impacted by markedly slow growth in the big organic dairy and egg category. However, it was well above that of the overall food market, which nudged up 1.1 percent. Organic continued to increase its penetration into the total food market, and now accounts for 5.5 percent of the food sold in retail channels in the U.S.

“Organic has arrived. And everyone is paying attention,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Our survey shows there are now certified organic products in the marketplace representing all stages of the life cycle of a product or a company—from industry veterans to start-ups that are pioneering leading edge innovation and benefits and getting shelf space for the first time. Consumers love organic, and now we’re able to choose organic in practically every aisle in the store.”

Twenty Years With Growth 15 Times Over

This year marks the 20th year of the Organic Trade Association’s survey. The survey, widely regarded as the most comprehensive look at the retail organic sector in America, first measured organic sales in 1997. That year, organic food sales were pegged at $3.4 billion; 2017’s sales of over $45 billion reflect a growth of nearly 15 times. In the last decade alone, the U.S. organic market has more than doubled in size.

The organic sector has thrived since the advent of a strict, comprehensive federal standard for organic and the introduction of the organic seal in the marketplace. In 1990 when the Organic Foods Production Act was signed into law authorizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, U.S. organic sales totaled just $1 billion. By 2002 when the final federal organic standards were implemented and the USDA Organic seal was introduced, organic sales had climbed to $8.6 billion. Fast forward to the present, and you see over 24,000 certified organic operations nationwide serving an almost $50 billion market, whose annual growth rate regularly outpaces that of the total food market.

While the growth in organic sales slowed in 2017, some slowdown in what had been an on-fire growth pace was expected. The organic market is maturing and coming of age. New channel and product expansions are becoming more incremental rather than revolutionary. Organic’s market performance revealed the maturity or different stages of development of each category in organic food, plateauing in some areas and shifting in others to reflect new trends and challenges.

“The organic food market will see a steadier pace of growth as it matures, but it will continue to surpass the growth rate of the broader food market,” noted Batcha. “Demand for organic is flourishing as consumers seek out nutritious and clean food that is good for their health and for the environment. That demand is driving innovation, and there are now so many organic options that we can all eat organic for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and everything in between.”

Produce Remains Top Organic Category; Organic Dairy and Eggs Challenged

Fruits and vegetables continued to be the largest organic food category, recording $16.5 billion in sales in 2017 on 5.3 percent growth. Fresh produce accounted for 90 percent of organic fruit and vegetable sales. Sales of organic dried beans, along with dried fruits and vegetables, were a stand-out subsector in the category, increasing by 9 percent and reflecting growing demand for legumes and plant-based products.

The organic dairy and egg category had one of its most challenging years in 2017. While still the second-largest selling organic category, sales of organic dairy and eggs grew just 0.9 percent to $6.5 billion. The slow growth in this key organic category acted as a drag on the growth of the overall industry.

Many producers have entered the organic dairy market over the last several years, attracted by the steady growth of the sector and the high returns for organic products. This new wave of supply, however, hit the market just as demand for organic dairy began to shift to more plant-based offerings, creating a situation of too much of a good thing. The oversupply of organic milk did have a silver lining for other dairy products: organic ice cream sales were up over 9 percent and organic cheese sales rose by almost 8 percent.

The organic egg market faced unique challenges. Pasture-raised eggs, which clearly delineate humane practices such as outdoor access, presented stiff competition for organic eggs in 2017. Consumers perceive organic as requiring a number of humane practices including outdoor access for livestock and poultry. However, the requirements as written within current federal organic standards are unclear and inconsistently applied. The organic industry worked to advance the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule to clarify required practices, but the rule was abruptly withdrawn by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2017.

USDA’s squelching of this regulation widely supported by the organic sector caused millions of consumers to question the meaning and relevance of the USDA Organic seal as it relates to dairy and egg products. This confusion and uncertainty dampened ed consumer demand for both organic eggs and organic dairy.

On a Tear: Beverages Move to #3 Slot

Consumers are drinking more, but that’s not a bad thing. They’re drinking more healthy organic beverages, especially fresh juices. Organic beverage sales rose 10.5 percent last year to $5.9 billion, making beverages the third-largest organic category, and a stand-out area of innovation and adaption of health trends. The driver in beverages was fresh juices for which sales jumped almost 25 percent to $1.2 billion and continued a multiyear double-digit growth streak. Non-dairy organic beverage alternatives in the form of almond, soy, coconut, rice and other blends also gained in popularity in 2017.

Outside of the Food Aisles: Solid Growth and Lots of Potential

The organic non-food market grew a solid 7.4 percent in 2017, handily outstripping the 1.9 percent growth in the broader market. In the last ten years, the size of the organic non-food industry has more than doubled. Organic fiber continues to be the largest and fastest-growing sector in the category – up 11 percent to $1.6 billion — with most of those sales in organic cotton. Organic dietary supplements rose 9 percent as demand increased for whole food or plant-based supplements.

“Consumers don’t want to eat just clean food, but they also are demanding transparency, clean ingredients and plant-based products in every aspect of their lives,” said Batcha. “The non-food organic market has made great strides, but there is still a vast opportunity for more growth in this sector.”


About the 2018 Survey
This year’s survey was conducted from January 25, 2018, through April 22, 2018, and produced on behalf of the Organic Trade Association by Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) with 250 companies taking part. Executive summaries of the survey are available to the media upon request. The full report can be purchased; online orders can be placed on this page – https://ota.com/what-ota-does/market-analysis/organic-industry-survey/organic-industry-survey

About Organic Trade Association
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace. More information at ota.com

Contact Person Maggie McNeil. OTA
Phone (202) 403-8514
E-mail mmcneil@ota.com

Additional Articles, Food & Farming, Sustainable Business

The Best is Yet to Come

By Harn Soper, CEO, Sustainable Farm Partners (SFP)

Looking Back

Sustainable Farm Partners began to take seed when I was eleven. That was my first summer working with my Uncle Jack on our family farms in N.W. Iowa. I took great satisfaction knowing I was on a tractor cultivating corn while my friends back in Sioux City were riding their bicycles. But more important than my eleven-year-old ego was the work and responsibility handed to me leaving me with a love for farming and most importantly, a deep respect for farmers. That respect came home later that fall when my father came to me and asked how much I made last summer. At a dollar-an-hour I was proud to report that I made $385. He had just finished the books from the harvest when he told me that I made more money that summer than my Uncle Jack made all year.

Fast forward when my extended family told me it was my turn to run the family side of the farm business, as had my father for 30 years. I accepted under the condition that we agreed to begin farming organically. It was unanimous. What I learned over the following years making the successful transition from conventional chemical-based GMO farming to organic brought my understanding of the world of agriculture into clear view and that view was disturbing.

Iowa soils were eroding at an alarming rate under tillage practices that left the soil bare. Iowa groundwater was being contaminated by chemicals causing lawsuits between neighbors. Today, conventional GMO commodity grain prices are at or below the cost of production and, under the push to corporatize agriculture, our current farming system has forced smaller family farmers to get out. This condition is being repeated across the grain belt of this country.

Banking Today

Banks are a critical resource to farmers for both mortgages and operating loans. This year, banks have begun pulling back from making loans to farmers unless they can pledge enough equity to secure the loan. According to RaboBank, many farmland mortgages are at risk of default such that many banks can now only lend to the top 20 percent of farmers who have enough equity. That leaves 80 percent of our farmers and our country’s food security at risk. This is all because of pervasive low conventional grain prices and the growing demand by consumers for healthier food.

Organic Farming Today – It looks good on paper, but will it work on the ground?

The answer is a clear YES. With each harvest I’ve had the opportunity to track the progress of each of our farms. Harvest begins early.

Looking back comparing 2008 conventional GMO crops to 2017 organic crops … the results were stunning.

2017 organic corn yields increased 25 percent.

Organic soybean yields increased 26 percent.

And our organic oats yields increased 69 percent.

While weather events can and do impact yields, the trajectory is clear. Each year as the soil grew healthier so did our yields and their capacity to withstand weather events while increasing nutritional value.

At the same time, the prices we received for our organic grains versus our conventional grains were as dramatic. Comparing 2008 with 2017 after only 6 years in organic production, organic corn prices per bushel increased by 170 percent, organic soybeans increased by 126 percent and our organic oats increased by 125 percent.

Investors with the capacity to think longer-term will find organic grain farming a proven safe haven in agriculture. With yield and prices combined, the net operating income (NOI) on our farms increased by nearly 300 percent. Add to that, over the past 70 years the value of our Iowa farmland has continued to appreciate at a rate that surpasses the S&P 500.


The Wealth Pyramid – understanding the roots of all wealth

In a balanced portfolio, organic farmland is a hard asset that is uncorrelated to the stock market and a counterbalance to market gyrations. Farmland is the foundation for all wealth. The Wealth Pyramid exemplifies the three main ways we invest.

Primary Wealth is farmland and agriculture, all that grows above, within and below our soil. Everything we need to survive and thrive comes from Primary Wealth. History is littered with entire cultures that collapsed and disappeared when their agriculture failed. The industrial revolution owes its entire success to the energy released from hydrocarbons that are below our soil because of the relationship between plants, animals and soil over 300 million years ago.

Secondary Wealth represents how human ingenuity went to work harvesting Primary Wealth: from food to fiber to timber and to the energy needed to grow our economy. Secondary Wealth created the middle class causing the greatest economic expansion in human history. All because of soil.

At about the same time Secondary Wealth got established, Tertiary Wealth began to evolve which allows us to invest in Secondary and Primary Wealth increasing our personal treasure and opportunity.

Primary Wealth, the foundation of all wealth, will balance investments in Secondary and Tertiary Wealth.

Sustainable Farm Partners (SFP) and Risk Management

Farming, like all investments, carries some degree of risk. How SFP mitigates these risks is unique and key to the opportunity. Market demand for organic food is the fastest growing section in the grocery store isles. Geographically, SFP’s established farm operating network is spread out to minimize the impact of local weather events. Our distributed farm network is focused on areas with the best available soil. Linking our farming network provides the opportunity to negotiate better offtake agreements and to negotiate greater discounts on inputs. And in the event of any crop damage due to a weather event that diminishes our yields, we have crop insurance covering up to 85 percent of our crop loss paid at our higher organic prices.

We find ourselves at a time in this uncertain world economy and political climate when old patterns of thinking about food and laissez-faire attitudes towards environmental stewardship are no longer sustainable. It is a time when we must rely less on government to set the farming agenda and more on ourselves as individuals to support sustainable organic agriculture. The solution is simple as long as we adhere to the three principles of sustainability: people, planet and profit. If one of these three legs that uphold a sustainable world are missing, it all falls over.

From that first seed planted in me when I was eleven to the success I’ve experienced in how to transform a conventional farm to organic, Sustainable Farm Partners has come to fruition. This spring SFP has three immediate organic farms in our purchase pipeline with more farm purchase opportunities coming in from both our farm teams and from young farmers and existing conventional farmers who want to join our organic farming network. But we can’t do it alone. We need a much bigger team of investment partners to achieve our goal of $50,000,000 to transition 7,000 acres to organic. For details on how to join our investment group, please contact us at- www.SustainableFarmPartners.com or call us directly.

If you are uncertain about organic farmland as an investment, ask famous investor Warren Buffett who stated, “I would rather own all the farmland in the US than all the gold in the world.”

Let me close with the good news that “the best is yet to come.”


SFP Contacts:
Fred Richardson, Director of Investor Relations
(505) 663-6034 or Email – fred@sustainablefarmpartners.com

Harn Soper, Director of Farm Management
(650) 804-0198 or Email – harn@sustainablefarmpartners.com

Harn Soper is CEO and general partner in Sustainable Farm Partners (www.SustainableFarmPartners.com) and on the board of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (www.ofrf.org), consults with the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (www.SILT.org) and a passionate supporter and board member of Vida Verde Nature Education (www.vveducation.org)

Mr. Soper is past president and board member of Soper Farms Inc. Soper Farms is an 800-acre family century farm in northwest Iowa. Under his guidance Soper Farms has transitioned their farms from conventional GM-based chemical farming to organic specializing in row crops. This perspective gives Harn a unique side-by-side understanding of multiple farming systems, their advantages and disadvantages. Today, Soper Farms has three farms in organic production, one in organic transition and one remaining in conventional production.Seeking further farm efficiencies, Harn was instrumental in conducting on-farm energy research including grants from the University of Northern Iowa Farm Energy Working Group. Teaming with Rich Schuler, MS Physics, and lecturer at the Iowa State University, they developed a prototype small-scale energy extracting system from an integrated aerobic and anaerobic compost system.

Harn graduated from Colorado College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music. As an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, he was an early adopter in digital recording. He expanded his focus towards digital audio/video technology and Internet asset security with Pinnacle Systems, Avid Technology, Harris Broadcast and numerous broadcasters worldwide including US broadcast and cable companies NBC, ABC, CNN and international media companies including TVB Hong Kong, the Australia Broadcast Corporation, and the BBC and ITN in the United Kingdom.

Upon leaving the technology field Harn returned to the fields of Iowa focusing on his family farms and starting Sustainable Farm Partners. He now serves on the board of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), is on the advisory board for Sustainable Iowa Land Trust (SILT) and, through Green America, worked with industry groups developing solutions to increase the availability of non-GMO and organic grains across the supply chain.

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

Frey Vineyards – Out of the Ashes

By Katrina Frey, CEO, Frey Vineyards, Ltd.

(Reader Favorite from June/July 2018)

Introduction: Frey Vineyards, Ltd is the nation’s first organic and Biodynamic winery, founded in 1980. Located in northern CA in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, the winery produces 200,000 cases of USDA certified organic wine, made with no added sulfites. The company owns one thousand acres; 350 of these acres hold organic wine-grapes and the rest are set aside woodlands for biodiversity and water protection. The wine is distributed throughout the US. For more about the company and the wines visit www.freywine.com

The story begins with a strange orange glow in the sky that awakened me at one AM on the morning of Oct 9th, 2017. Stepping outside into a howling wind, I watched in horror as a huge wildfire burned on the distant ridge. The wind was blowing away from us, so I was very concerned about our neighbors below the ridge in Potter Valley, never dreaming that at the same time the Redwood Complex Fire was racing around the bottom of the ridge and heading straight to Frey Vineyards and engulfing the only paved road out.

A half hour later, Frey Vineyards was consumed by flames. During that half hour the sixty-five family members and friends, ages one to ninety-three, who were sleeping there that night managed to safely self-evacuate up a dirt mountain road, across seven stream beds to the little town of Willits. Soon after that all the cell service in the area went down, and the roads back to the winery were barricaded, which added greatly to the confusion and the worry.

Katrina and a group of Frey employees

Tragically, nine people perished in the fire. Redwood Valley only has three thousand residents and 340 houses were leveled. Frey’s historic redwood office buildings, the bottling line and the newly remodeled tasting room, four shops and barns were destroyed, as well as six acres of vineyards and our beloved herd of goats. Also scorched were the majestic oaks leading to the winery and over fifty acres of wooded mountain lands. Of the fourteen family houses on the property, only two survived. Between family members and employees who lived in the devastated neighborhood, Frey Vineyards suddenly had 18 homeless employees, who between them had eleven minor children. The winery quickly made a decision to continue the full-time payroll, anticipating the extreme needs of the employees and their families who had lost houses and knowing how many demands were going to be made on all employees; to finish the grape harvest, reconstruct records, reestablish the crushing and bottling stations, and set up temporary offices. We were very fortunate to have our records stored in the Cloud, so we were able to get our accounting back on track rapidly.

October is our busiest month of the year, harvesting grapes and selling wine across the nation for the upcoming holiday season. We were only two thirds into our harvest season, with tons of grapes still hanging in our own vineyards, as well as in the fields of our certified organic farmer partners. They were frantic about picking their grapes, but all roads to the winery were blocked. Then in a beautiful gesture of solidarity, the other three large wineries in Mendocino County with certified organic processing permits, offered to make space for our wines. Our winemaker raced from facility to facility, overseeing the crushing to assure the wines were being processed to our high National Organic Program (NOP) standards, with no added synthetics such as sulfites. We are so grateful to Barra of Mendocino, Fetzer and Parducci wineries for this invaluable help.

Fire-singed, organic cabernet vineyards

What survived the fire, were the tanks filled with 2016 not yet bottled wines and our 8800 square foot metal warehouse, filled with all our bottled inventory. The fire rushed through so rapidly that the huge stainless steel fermenting tanks holding the just harvested 2017 white wines and early red wines were never damaged. By the end of two weeks, when we were finally allowed back onto the property, shipping could resume. Our awesomely loyal Frey wine fans stocked up, enabling us to finish up the year with 6 percent growth, in spite of the enormous disruption.

Katrina and team planted new oaks after the those leading to the winery were scorched.

Unfortunately, the estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes that were still in the vineyards during the fire, are now revealing serious smoke taint. They will not be bottled, but it leaves Frey Vineyards short of these important varietals for a year. Anticipating this, a Frey team traveled to Argentina in March during their southern hemisphere harvest time and made some organic wines at the Domaine Bosquet winery, a certified organic winery in Mendoza. Those wines are now on cargo ships making their way to California and will help mitigate the shortages.

Luckily, the winery was well insured, although with the scope of this disaster, our losses have exceeded our coverage. It is a very complex claim and we have hired a forensic CPA as an advocate. The silver lining for the winery is the two prior years spent in developing plans for a new production facility, two miles down the road. With insurance monies we will soon pour a slab and order the 42,000 square foot metal building.

There is still a staggering workload, but employees at least for now, are safely housed. A riot of spring wild flowers carpets the carbon rich charred black soil. Honeybees are buzzing amongst them and oak trees that appeared dead are pushing out leaves on blackened branches. The grapevines are pruned, and the vineyard crew is busy repairing burnt fencing to protect what we have every hope will be a celebratory 2018 harvest.

In closing, Frey Vineyards is grateful for the wonderful support of The Community Foundation of Mendocino County extended to our employees and to residents of Redwood Valley. 

For readers interested in donating to Redwood Valley Fire recovery go to – http://www.communityfound.org/grants-scholarships/disaster-fund-for-mendocino-county/

The Frey family along with varieties from Frey’s Organic Wine Club 


Article by Katrina Frey, CEO, Frey Vineyards, Ltd. in Redwood Valley, CA. Since founding the pioneering organic and Biodyanmic® winery in 1980 with her husband, Jonathan, and brother-in-law Matthew, she has worn many hats: grape picker, wine bottler and sales director. The winery has grown from producing 2000 cases to 200,000 cases of organic and Biodynamic® non-sulfited wines.

After graduating from Earlham College in Richmond, IN in 1973, Katrina moved to Covelo, CA where she studied Biodynamic farming under Alan Chadwick, the influential English horticulturist. Katrina served on the Demeter USA Board for eight years. She has spoken about organic wine making and marketing at the Natural Products Expo East and Expo West, and IFOAM international conferences.

In March 2004, Mendocino County made history by passing a citizen’s initiative to ban the propagation of genetically engineered crops and animals. Katrina was a member of the strategy team and fundraising chair. She continues to work on issues surrounding GMO’s and agricultural crops.Katrina lives on the Frey Vineyards property, with her husband Jonathan. She tends honeybees, gardens and runs after her five grandchildren.

Additional Articles, Featured Articles, Food & Farming, Sustainable Business

ImpactAssets Releases IA 50 Impact Investment Fund Showcase

Industry’s only free, searchable resource of impact investing fund managers features firms that manage $29.2 billion in assets.

ImpactAssets has released its 2017-18 ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50), a free, online database for investors and financial advisors that features a diversified listing of 50 private capital fund managers that deliver social and environmental impact as well as financial returns. IA 50 users can sort and filter across a range of asset classes (debt, private equity and real estate), geographies, size of funds, themes and more. Find the database here.

“As impact investing grows exponentially, the IA 50 has remained a leading and trusted resource for impact investors of all experience levels,” said Jed Emerson, ImpactAssets Senior Fellow, and IA 50 Review Committee Chair. “Our consistent and objective evaluation of impact fund managers is providing financial advisors and their clients with a starting place to make informed investment decisions. And we are helping to catalyze the growth of impact investing by creating a centralized information source in a fragmented field.”

Fund managers included in the seventh annual IA 50 manage an estimated $29.2 billion in assets devoted to creating measurable, positive impact – nearly double the assets managed by IA 50 managers in the previous year.

This year’s showcase includes:

• Larger Funds: Six funds have more than $1 billion in assets under management.

• Deep Experience: A total of 32 out of 50 fund managers have been operating for more than 10 years.

• Diverse Management: Nearly half (48%) of all IA 50 funds have investment management teams with 50% or more women and other under-represented groups.

“The 2017-18 IA 50 highlights a strong field of managers across an increasingly rich marketplace of impact fund opportunities,” said Jennifer Kenning, CEO and Co-Founder of Align Impact, and IA 50 Senior Investment Advisor. “We are excited to see the growth of this space as evidenced by the increasing number of high-caliber fund managers, whose strong financial and impact track records position them to serve the growing investor demand for impact investments.”

In addition to Emerson and Kenning, the IA 50 Review Committee includes impact investment pioneers and leaders, including Karl “Charly” Kleissner, Co-Founder of Toniic and KL Felicitas Foundation; Kathy Leonard, Senior Vice President, Investments and Senior Portfolio Manager for UBS; Stephanie Cohn Rupp, Managing Director, and Partner, Tiedemann Wealth Management; Fran Seegull, Executive Director, U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, Ford Foundation; Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons, Co-Founders of Blue Haven Initiative; Matthew Weatherley-White, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The CAPROCK Group.

“The IA 50 has become the go-to database for insights and actionable data on innovative managers creating impact with investment capital, which is especially valuable for family offices and accredited investors getting started in the impact space,” said Stephanie Cohn Rupp, Managing Director, and Partner at Tiedemann Wealth Management. “We’re thrilled to be helping investors connect their portfolios with their passions and drive capital to impact.”

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 2017-18, fund managers needed to have at least $10 million in assets under management, more than 3 years of experience as a firm with impact investing, documented social and/or environmental impact and be available for U.S. investment. Additional details on the selection process are here.


About ImpactAssets
ImpactAssets (www.impactassets.org) is a nonprofit financial services firm that increases the flow of capital into investments delivering financial, social and environmental returns. ImpactAssets’ donor advised fund (“The Giving Fund”) and field-building initiatives enable philanthropists, other asset owners and their wealth advisors to advance social or environmental change through investment. The Giving Fund currently has $424M in total assets.

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. These 50 firms have been selected to demonstrate a wide range of impact investing activities across geographies, sectors and asset classes.

Amy Bennett Director, Marketing
Phone (415) 370-4899 / email- abennett@impactassets.org


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

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