3 Innovative Sustainable Farming Companies

tractor farming

Solving Environmental Issues with Smart Business

Companies around the world are working hard to make a difference in how we grow and raise food. Innovation can come in many forms; whether it’s a nature-based way of harvesting food, natural ways to preserve food, or a revamping of farm financing. We highlighted these three unique innovative sustainable farming companies who are changing our world.

Apeel Sciences

The Problem: Food Waste

dumptruck landfill

Apeel Sciences is a company based in Goleta, California that is making headway in reducing the amount of food waste from produce. According to the USDA, Americans waste a third of all food produced in the United States. The company got its start when founder James Rogers, Phd. was listening to a podcast about world hunger while driving though farm country. He couldn’t believe how people were starving even with our abundant sources of food. 

According to the USDA, 30-40 percent of all food that is grown is wasted. This highlights huge problems in our food system like hungry families are missing out on nutritious food. Also, consider all the inputs involved with growing, transporting, packaging, storing, and disposing of spoiled food. General spoilage of produce as it moves through the supply chain accounts for most of food waste. However, people also throw out food they decide not to eat or let spoil (surely everyone is guilty of doing it).

The Solution: Nature-Based Spoilage Prevention

Roger’s answer to this problem was to apply a thin coating of a natural, plant-derived material resembling the “peels” or skin of fruits and vegetables. It is made of lipids and glycerolipids, which are found in all parts of fruits and vegetables. With this extra peel shelf life is drastically improved. The coating serves to keep moisture in and keep oxygen out, slowing the rate of spoilage. Take a look at this in-depth Wired article explaining how it all works.

Currently, Apeel avocados are available at major US grocery stores. Avocados are notorious for having a short shelf life, while growing in warmer regions far from major markets. Apeel’s Treated avocados are able to last well beyond 30 days without any signs of rot. Apeel makes it possible to sell avocados in more grocery stores such as in rural areas, while reducing waste from spoilage.

The company ships the solution in powder form then mixed with water at the point of packaging. Application methods include spray on, dipping, or brushing so the company can cater to individual clients’ needs.

Amazingly, you can use basically any vegetables or fruit (particularly just the unused seeds and peels) to produce Apeel’s coating. Some have more lipids than others, but this flexibility allows for widespread adoption of the technology.

The company has managed to turn one of nature’s own solutions to protect fruits/vegetables, and turn it into a technology that farmers can use. As the founder says on their website about the collision of nature and technology, “It’s the best of both worlds, really.” Apeel Sciences shows us that ingenious, nature-derived technologies are key to creating a sustainable food system.

FarmRaise

The Problem: Finding Farm Finance

Farmers and ranchers tend to be busy with daily management decisions and various physical tasks, so they don’t have much ability to deal with complicated financial decisions. Because of this Farmers fail to adopt regenerative practices without the necessary funding. What farmers need is easy access to grants and loans that allow them to step up their sustainable farming game. Our next company, FarmRaise, sees “finance as a key lever for incentivizing regenerative practices in the agriculture supply chain.”

The Solution: A Convenient Online Platform for Getting Funding

Stanford MBAs Sami Tellatin and Jayce Hafner started FarmRaise, a service that helps farmers finance regenerative projects. They call themselves the TurboTax of farm funding. Their company provides financing options to farmers making it easier for them to utilize regenerative practices and ultimately boost profitability.

Essentially Farmraise, like Turbotax, makes it easy to complete complicated government paperwork. Farmers don’t have time to fill out applications for grants they might not receive. Farmraise takes care of all of that stuff so farmers can rest easy. Funding can come from a variety of sources including government agencies like the USDA or private sources.

You wouldn’t that something as simple as farm finance fits in the category of innovative sustainable farming companies. However, financing is one of the greatest barriers to farmers making serious improvements to their operations.

Government grants and subsidies support much of farmers’ livelihoods. Farming itself isn’t necessarily a great way to make money unless it is done on a large industrial scale. However, it is essential to feeding our nation and the world. Thus, we as a society MUST address degradation of farmland, air pollution, and other environmental concerns. Farmers can’t do it themselves, so FarmRaise addresses this issue directly by acting as a consultant that informs farmers of their options for funding while taking care of the nitty gritty.

Blueyou’s Selva Shrimp

The Problem: Destruction of Mangroves

indochina mangrove forest

3 billion people are dependent on seafood as a primary source of protein. Seafood production in the form of fishing and farming has a significant environmental impact. In Southeast Asia, expansion of fish farms and logging has destroyed ecologically important mangrove forests. According to the fishsite.com, “Vietnam had more than 408,500ha of mangrove forests in 1943. By 2006, this area was cut in half.” The mangroves host much biodiversity including various waterbirds, tigers, tapirs, siamang gibbons, water monitors, and saltwater crocodiles. Mangroves also act as flood protection. This is especially important for populations in South East Asia facing rising seas due to climate change. Companies like Blueyou are addressing this problem directly by making it easy for farmers to raise sustainable seafood.

The Solution: Selva Shrimp

black tiger prawns
Susan Slater, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

According to Blueyou, “Selva Shrimp® are premium-quality black tiger prawns naturally raised in mangrove forests by small-scale farmers in Southern Vietnam.” The idea is to combine preservation of the mangrove forests with aquaculture. This is an ingenious nature based solution(NbS) because this particular variety of shrimp thrive in mangrove ecosystems where they breed and feed in the shallow ponds and channels.

With minimal alterations to the local environment, the farmers can raise an abundance of shrimp. Farmers have an incentive to keep mangroves healthy since it directly correlates with shrimp yields and quality. Farmers don’t even have to bother feeding the shrimp and chemicals are unnecessary. The program works with over 3000 small-scale farmers in South Vietnam; it has since expanded to the Indonesian part of Borneo.

Smart Agriculture for a Better World

These companies highlight how simple changes to agriculture can make a huge difference in our world. Selva Shrimp and Apeel Sciences demonstrate how a deep understanding of the workings of nature can provide ingenious solutions to environmental problems. FarmRaise, on the other hand, by finding sources of funding, allows farmers to employ sustainable and regenerative methods more easily. It just goes to show that advancements in our food system can be made where you least expect them. We support innovative sustainable farming companies who are dedicated to improving the future civilization on Planet Earth.

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