Tag Archives: masterplan

From a “Still Skeptical” post: Founding a Business

10 Jun

Check the date! This post was written over two years ago, in fact almost three. In it I outline accurately plans I still have to this day.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2008
Founding a Business
I have been thinking a lot lately about the plan of what I want to do after college. And things may be coming together quite interestingly. There are big changes happening in agriculture, especially toward sustainable farming. Some ideas I have:

Found a non-loss, non-dividend Social Business.
Goal: Get organic into the lives of all rural families living below the poverty line for self-sufficiency and empowerment.
2. Market and sell organic produce in the US to ensure that small producers always have an outlet for excess production.
3. Research and disseminate best techniques for high-yield organic small farms.

Dealing in: high yield, direct trade, commercial organic fruits, vegetables, commodities, and herbs: banana, pineapple, cotton, corn, coffee, sugar cane, plantain, cocoa, dairy, livestock, name (root), noni (experimental), oregano, basil, etc.

Direct Trade: Microsupply/Microdemand.
Imagine buying a pack of bananas (organic and directly benefitting farmers and the environment, etc), from 4 different farms (individual farmer here could== coop region) in different regions/countries/local varieties. Say that bananas are not a uniform taste, as the clone seeds are—designed to be big and yellow on the outside and distributed by a single company. But organic actually taste better. How much better? You decide. Vote thumbs up or thumbs down on our website to let us know for each one, and look for your favorite in singles next time you go to the supermarket.
–> Some types sell out quicker and are higher rated… stores notice and request more from that farmer. Farmer can produce more funded by higher price. Exceptional examples could hit a “genetic jackpot” and maintain exclusive or sell seed.
–> Range of sticker prices based on ratings, with the best taste costing more and the low-range still a few cents higher than standard quality plantation banana.
–> Would give local farmers incentive to experiment, they may strike it rich! Would lend itself to organic non-gm farming, which already represents a large benefit to family ownership/livelihoods. With many small plots, could even find out what your farm is best at producing by rating against other small farmers.
–> New market for seeds can be grassroots-based in constant evolution and locally variant. Microsupply, microdemand for seed market as well driven by the larger research farms.

How? The internet can manage this quantity of data!

Local Campaign:
-With organic farms can do Community Shared Agriculture shares to benefit from added diversity of production, for any size farm even those that can’t make it international.
-Uncertified organic “gardens” can be grown in backyard for family or market, if seed is made available that doesn’t need fertilizers or pesticides. Reduce dependence on (costly, external) food and boost family income.
-“Preserve your environment and stand up for your livelihood because their economics is not working.” Support local farmers. Support organic. Organize and lobby for fair laws (while using the existing ones)
-Once you’re big enough, join your local coop for shared investments and shipments. Coops can work with us for finding buyers, brokering deals, farmer education, flyers etc.

Scattered, and still some things to work out, but well on the way to becoming the material and flesh of venture capital. Just need a team of impassioned individuals– consider this an invitation to ask more.

-Eddie
Posted by HP at 9:40 PM
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Julio

28 Apr

Check out the crazy new format! Inspired by twitter (follow me: http://twitter.com/eddiemill/), let me know what you think of it. Do you have time to read long posts?

Today’s post is about Julio, the man with the most beautiful farm in the world, my good friend and co-founder of a model farm that will change the world.
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The “Next Big Thing”: Bioregional Organic for international community and development

17 Nov

As you may know, food has been the main focus of my life now for some time. Improving the inefficiencies that exist has been a priority since my journey to Costa Rica one year ago. Tonight I had a moment unlike many others, a vision of what’s next and my role in it: a transitional role to a new market optimal.

First a brief overview, then the idea.
How conventional food systems work (I’ll use coffee for the example) is that farmers produce the crop, sell to a local intermediary who then arranges for it to be picked up, processed, and sold through various [anonymous] supply chains. Essentially, before the coffee is brought to a supermarket it is combined into some “least-common-denominator-quality” brown grind and then set into cans that can compete on lowest price (think big Maxwell House tin). The farmer gets almost nothing for his crop (while in exchange not much is expected of him) and is subject to the price variability of the free market, not to mention the mercy of nature on his plot. Unorganized producers selling to intermediaries is the worst, and has resulted in many small farmers going out of business to larger plantations. It’s simply too inefficient.

Fair Trade can be seen as a direct response to that. Its goals are to a) ensure a more constant price for farmers b) raise awareness through consumers about the product they buy, and c) encourage cooperative selling and investment among small farmers. On these scales it performs very well in providing a more just cup of coffee. Unfortunately it requires that farmers already be organized, which excludes most smallholders.

Organic production is another step up. It is certified for its a) gains to farm and crop biodiversity, b) soil health and sustainability, and c) minimized reliance on external inputs which are energy-intensive, unessential, and harm the environment. If a farmer is fair trade and organic, he gets a better price. In the US, an organic farmer is likely a happier one that sells locally. It’s also a beloved industry that has been growing 12-20% per year for its [perceived] benefits to food quality, freshness, health, and safety. Take a minute to look at these goals, until you see a farm system that is advantageous to the abomination of factory farming.

…if it’s feasible..

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The Organic Development Paradox

3 Nov

There’s something happening in Latin America.

Somehow, our solutions for growth and trade and food have not worked for poor people.  The land is used by big foreign companies, to grow food to sell here in our supermarkets that are big and beautiful.  As plantation-factories grow bigger and more capital-intensive, there’s really not much advancement in wages for the workers!  And they’re still exposed to harsh chemicals and long daily hours of machete work.

Organic farming can be much better for farmers and the environment. Fundamentally, it denies the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and GM seeds.  What it means is that the mindset of the farmer is very different- rather than try to minimize the costs to produce as much as possible, it’s more about managing the land.  It’s more “labor intensive,” which means more skilled jobs that the family can help out with. And you can use “crop rotation,” which is just not planting the same thing every year.  The interesting part is that you can actually get a “higher yield” from this small-holder, labor-intensive, ecological agriculture.  The plants grow better when cultivated for health, beauty, and permanence surrounded by other plants of different types.  Foodfirst backgrounder on organic yields: sustainable-ag-can-feed-the-world

AND consumers are taking a liking to this more natural crop.
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