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Sowing the Seeds of Resilience: Sustainable Farming Practices for a Changing Climate

June 27, 2024

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Sowing the Seeds of Resilience: Sustainable Farming Practices for a Changing Climate

A Greener Future Starts on the Farm

Spring is arriving in the Northern hemisphere, and with it comes new opportunities to plant the seeds of a greener, more sustainable future. As I attended the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco, I was inspired to hear about innovative technologies and approaches that can move us towards a future with healthier people and a healthier planet. As the new growing season begins, I wanted to take stock of our own investments in sustainable agriculture and to imagine what lies ahead.

I’ve been delighted to see many of our Leaps by Bayer investments beginning to bear fruit, bringing new agricultural approaches closer to the farmers who need them most. Andes Bio, for example, recently announced its new carbon program, which pays farmers to add carbon-sequestering microbes to their fields, reducing their environmental footprint. To date, Andes has successfully managed to remove more than 50,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere through their unique approach to engineering microbes. Another Leaps investment, EarthOptics, is partnering with ForGround by Bayer to bring farmers the tools and resources they need to implement regenerative agriculture. And our portfolio company, Rantizo, is expanding its customer base to 29 different states for its innovative approach to crop spraying, using drones to treat hard-to-reach areas and streamline the process.

Cultivating a Healthier Future

Farmers aren’t the only ones to benefit from these new technologies; several Leaps portfolio companies are bringing healthier, more sustainable foods to consumers as well. Fork and Good, our first investment in the cultivated meat space, just opened a new headquarters and pilot facility in Jersey City to produce its cultivated ground pork, and its innovative approaches were recently highlighted in The Washington Post. And as Forbes reports, Sound Ag has just launched its new epigenetically modified tomato, whose gene expression has been tuned to combine great flavor with shelf stability. I was delighted to see Sound’s tomato discussed in a World Agri-Tech panel on solving agriculture’s greatest challenges with genomics, which featured Sound’s CTO.

Cultivating a More Resilient Food System

As I reflect on these exciting developments, I can’t help but think about the broader context of the challenges facing our food system. The last few years have been tumultuous, with a changing climate, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a long-overdue racial justice reckoning revealing the fragility of our current food system. Farmers, ranchers, and food system stakeholders deserve updated, comprehensive federal food and farm policy that levels the playing field, invests in a climate-resilient future, and advances racial equity.

That’s why I’m so passionate about the work of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). As they noted in their recent blog post, “the years since the 2018 Farm Bill have been tumultuous,” but the coalition has remained steadfast in laying the groundwork for a strong 2023 (and now 2024) Farm Bill. Their comprehensive vision, structured around four pillars – investing in healthy urban and rural communities, leveling the playing field for small and mid-sized farmers, advancing racial equity across the food system, and building a climate-resilient future – aligns perfectly with the sustainable farming practices and innovations I’ve been exploring.

Cultivating a Brighter Tomorrow

As I look ahead to the growing season and the ongoing efforts to shape the next Farm Bill, I’m filled with a sense of cautious optimism. The challenges we face are daunting, but the ingenuity and passion of the sustainable agriculture community give me hope. From carbon-sequestering microbes to epigenetically modified tomatoes, the seeds of a greener future are being sown all around us.

And here at Thornapple CSA, we’re proud to be part of that movement. By supporting local, sustainable farmers and embracing the principles of community-supported agriculture, we’re doing our part to build a more resilient food system. After all, true resilience starts at the source – and that’s where the seeds of a brighter tomorrow are planted.

So as you prepare your own garden this spring, I encourage you to think about the bigger picture. Every seed you sow, every seedling you nurture, is contributing to a healthier, more sustainable future. It may seem like a small act, but together, we can cultivate a world where people and the planet thrive in harmony. The future is ours to grow.

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Thornapple CSA: A community-driven initiative championing sustainable agriculture. We connect members with fresh, organic produce, celebrating the bond between land and community.

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