In September a new event called Agriculture 2.0 will introduce a select group of alternative agriculture entrepreneurs to investors. SPIN-Farming LLC, together with NewSeed Advisors will co-host Agriculture 2.0 in New York.
Roxanne Christensen, co-author of the SPIN-Farming online learning series, says a wave of innovators is developing profitable models for sustainable alternatives to industrial agriculture. These new entrepreneurs are developing breakthrough technologies, approaches and business models that, she says, “can help create a post-industrial food system that is less resource intensive, more locally-based, and easier to monitor and control”.
When I first wrote about SPIN-Farming here last July, I was intrigued by the idea of a franchise-ready sustainable farming system that could be deployed quickly and on a wide scale. (That is the concept behind SPIN Farming; it stands for S-mall P-lot IN-tensive).
SPIN’s growing techniques are not, in themselves, a breakthrough. What’s novel is the way a SPIN farm business is run. SPIN provides everything you’d expect from a good franchise: a business plan, marketing advice, and a detailed day-to-day workflow. In standardizing the system and creating a reproducible process, it doesn’t sound all that different from McDonalds.
There are a host of reasons why urban farming is more complicated, once you start, than opening a hamburger restaurant. Among these: Skewed planning laws, competition for land from developers, insecure water supplies, pollution management, and the sheer number of diffferent actors involved even in a simple food system. But the “just start a business” approach will inject a new dynamic into the range of experiments multiplying all over the world.
Areas represented at Agriculture 2.0 will include controlled climate growing systems, building integrated agriculture, urban agriculture, closed loop irrigation and waste processing systems, mobile food processing, aquaculture, and appropriately-scaled marketing and distribution systems.
According to Janine Yorio of NewSeed Advisors, the conference will take a sector which has been viewed as marginal, dispel that notion, and expose its potential to the mainstream financial community. “We want to shine the light on the sustainable agriculture sector and demonstrate to investors that there are real economics and commercial prospects here,” Yorio says.
Registration for Agriculture 2.0 opens on June 29. For more conference information visit NewSeed Advisors.
If, like me, you’re trying hard to cut down on air travel, but want to know more about this development, you can always see Paula Sobie, co-founder of City Harvest and now also a SPIN farming trainer, speak at the Foodprint conference in The Hague on 26 June.