Selling people on the importance of regenerative organic agriculture is a much less daunting task than it was a few years ago. Yet, the ultimate challenge remains the same: implementing this farming practice on an international scale, especially critical since more than 70% of the planet’s food supply is currently produced by 450 million small farms in rural regions throughout the developing world.
As one of the three primary founders of the Regenerative Organic Certification, along with Dr. Bronner’s and Rodale Institute, Patagonia understands this as well as anyone. That is why it has just announced a very significant partnership with EARTH University in Costa Rica, which went into effect last summer, to bring regenerative organic agriculture to small cacao farms in that country.
Although the project is financed by Patagonia, it is being implemented by EARTH University, a non-profit, four-year institution that is heavily focused on agricultural sciences. For many years, it sold bananas, flowers, pineapples and coffee, all grown on its campus farms, to Whole Foods Market. Additionally, EARTH’s involvement with cacao is extensive. It has been working with the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, USAID and the Caribbean Cacao Platform to promote sustainability throughout the cacao supply chain and to drive efficiency in crop production.
“We are delighted to support EARTH University’s important work of bringing regenerative organic practices to these small cacao farms in Costa Rica. This effort is a model for farmers who see the need to move away from chemicals and thereby are respecting the natural ecosystem which will improve the health of their own farms and communities,” said Birgit Cameron, Head of Patagonia Provisions.
By executing the regenerative principles on one of EARTH’s model farms and implementing a participatory and holistic training model, the initiative seeks to strengthen the knowledge of 50 cacao-producing families in the province of Limón. The training program addresses topics such as soil health, land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness while promoting the use of good agricultural practices for organic crop production and soil regeneration.
“Using the regenerative organic principles that Patagonia and its experts have taught us, local cacao farmers are learning how to make sheep an integral part of the circular production process and how growing breadfruit alongside the cacao trees will increase yields, improve soil health and serve as a cash crop. The farmers are seeing how true regeneration practices provide a beneficial outcome in every way,” said Mauricio Segura, Project Director at EARTH University.
LEVERAGE FOR GLOBAL IMPACT
What truly makes this initiative unique is the partnership with EARTH University itself.
Students come from 38 countries around the world, mostly Latin America and Africa. 70% are from rural impoverished areas, and 89% of the students receive partial or full scholarships. With the school’s focus on sustainability, organic farming and entrepreneurship, the ultimate goal for EARTH is to have its students utilize these skills and knowledge back home after graduation in order to positively impact their communities.
And this new partnership with Patagonia is already delivering results, not just with the farmers in Costa Rica but with EARTH students, who are taking to this curriculum in a very meaningful way.
“We now have students doing internships in Portugal, Mexico and South Africa, where they are teaching regenerative organic techniques to farmers in those countries. Our students from Africa are particularly interested in how this farming method can play a role in preserving water, something of great importance to them. Additionally, we have a recent group of graduates who want to teach regenerative organic practices to farmers in the southern part of Costa Rica. This is an unbelievable opportunity for EARTH University and for our students to impact the world in such a positive way, at a time when our planet needs it the most,” said Mauricio Segura.
In 2012, I was very fortunate to have been invited by Whole Foods Market to visit EARTH University, and click HERE to see my video overview of the school. Major kudos to Michael Besancon, Kate Lowery and Liz Burkhart, all formerly of Whole Foods Market, for helping to make this incredibly memorable trip happen.
Max Goldberg, Founder
What were you hoping to accomplish with the rebrand?
Our primary goals were (1) to update the packaging so it appeals to both category and current REBBL buyers, something that was validated by our research (2) to better differentiate between the Elixir and Protein lines (3) to list the plant-based functional ingredients on the front panel, and (4) to showcase the benefits that shoppers are seeking, especially during the pandemic recovery.
Can you discuss the key visual and verbal elements?
The key elements were driven by two main factors. First, more than ever, consumers are seeking products to strengthen their whole-body wellness, so they can get back to living their lives. Second, we wanted to clearly communicate that every bottle of organic REBBL is packed with deliciously satisfying, nutrient-dense plant-based ingredients, including functional super herbs and adaptogens, to nourish the body. We also ethically source our ingredients and use 100% recycled plastic bottles.
Our new packaging now lists plant-based functional ingredients on the front panel, in addition to the improved benefits customers are seeking. “Supports Immunity” and “Supports Wellness” are now both front and center. People who care about health, wellness and their impact on the planet can feel good about what they are buying and putting into their bodies with REBBL.
The new packaging is just starting to hit shelves, but early indicators from consumer comments and engagement — people posting, user-generated content, social media and reviews — tell us that consumers love the new packaging! Business is up, and we believe the immunity benefit is driving a lot of that growth.
What were the key challenges that you faced along the way?
We have been working on adding immune support to our products since long before COVID struck. Consumers, even pre-COVID, had a high level of interest in supporting their immune health, but we were not willing to compromise the taste and integrity of our best-selling drinks without careful development and proven research. It took time for us to perfect our blends.
We’re proud to say that REBBL is one of the only immunity-supporting drinks to be clinically proven. Our immunity support is backed by science.
Huge congrats to founders Justin Guilbert and Douglas Riboud, and to current CEO Ben Mand, who is doing a masterful job. Justin and Douglas have another hit on their hands with Goodfish.
According to research published in the journal Environmental Pollution, organic food consumption among children is associated with higher scores on tests measuring fluid intelligence and working memory.
Dave Chapman, a Vermont farmer and co-director of the Real Organic Project, told the New York Times, “Hydroponic production is not growing because it produces healthier food. It’s growing because of the money. Anyone who frames this as food for the people or the environment is just lying.”
Responding to a complaint by the Environmental Working Group, the USDA confirmed that the Harris Teeter organic brand of chickpeas was, in fact, contaminated with the cancer-causing weedkiller.
Leaders of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa -- a group of 200 million farmers, fishers and consumers -- explain how they want agroecology, not GMOs and toxic chemicals.
A phenomenal piece of investigative journalism from The Intercept.
New data from Placer.ai tracking foot traffic at America’s leading food retailers shows that traffic at Whole Foods – while rebounding - remains lower than it was in 2019, while many rival grocers have staged a stronger recovery.
Farmers are a crucial part of Biden's plan to address climate change, but the economics behind paying them to capture greenhouse gases are complex.
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* Beauty company Davines Group has partnered with Rodale Institute to open a regenerative organic farm, research center and education hub in Italy.
* Meet E’Syntheis Chambers, the 7-year-old organic juicing entrepreneur from Dallas.
* From soap to chocolate: Dr. Bronner’s expands into food and extends its positive impact on the supply chain.
* Pocono Organics has become the world’s first Regenerative Organic Certified hemp grower.
* How a San Rafael native is helping migrant farmworkers in California and bringing awareness to important agricultural issues.
* The J.E.D.I. Collaborative, which aims to increase justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in the natural products industry, has officially launched.
* The LA City Council candidate that is running a green, regenerative and organic campaign.
* In a historic announcement, Argentina is now the first country to ban salmon farming in marine cages.
* Kenya has approved GMO cassava.
* In Russia, leading organic food retailer VkusVill featured an LGBT family in its new promotional material, defying the country’s law against “gay propaganda toward minors.”
* In case you missed our recent series on fraud in organic, here is Part I (Belcampo’s Deception Highlights the Importance of Citizen Watchdogs) and Part II (The Blurry Lines of a Fraudulent Organic Product).