Developed in collaboration with LIFT EconomyWe hold a vision of locally self-reliant, resilient, regional economies where the abundant resources of any given region are used locally to meet as many needs as possible and then surplus is traded as finished goods to obtain resources scarce in any one locality. We want to see this created as a documented open-source pattern that can be easily adapted and replicated to any bio-region on earth. We launched our Impact Accelerator in Fall 2014 with an open RFP (request for proposals) as a step toward achieving this vision.
We received 40+ applications from companies and organizations across the country and abroad. We had the good problem of many interesting, innovative and important projects to vet for the viability of impact potential. The top half of the organizations were interviewed and given detailed feedback on their proposal and coaching on next steps forward to manifest their projects. Out of these, 4 organizations were selected to work with in the first round of funding: Agrarian Trust, FiberShed, Local Economy Centers, and Three Stone Hearth. In 2015 we provided Agrarian Trust and Fibershed with the second round of funding.
Current Impact Accelerator projects:
Agrarian Trust has the mission to support land access for next generation farmers. In the next two decades, 400 million acres of U.S. farmland will change hands and the question of what will happen to that land when it reaches the market is crucial to the future of our food system. Just in time for this pivotal land transition is a new generation of young farmers, eager to become stewards of our land and healthfully provide for their communities. However, these farmers face ever greater odds in accessing affordable and secure land tenure; the price of land in the US has skyrocketed in the past decade, and one acre of farmland is lost to development every minute.
A sea change is needed to ensure secure, affordable tenure for this new generation of land stewards in this crucial moment of intergenerational land transition. Changing the system of agricultural land tenure in North America is critical not only for enabling new farmers but for also existing farmers pursuing sustainable and organic practices. The costs of producing food in ways that respect and enhance both social circumstances for farm labor but also environmental circumstances for the earth and climate are typically more expensive than ‘conventional’ methods. An ever increasing cost of securing land for production threatens to drive up the cost of quality, healthy, sustainable food beyond the means accessible to most people and the self-sustaining enterprise of sustainable farming itself. The Agrarian Trust is crafting the legal and social frameworks and contracts to enable land throughout the country to be placed in permanent trust with legally binding covenants that enable both regenerative stewardship and below market rate reciprocity relationships with farmers holding the lease or use rights.
Action for 1st Round of Funding
World Centric® has funded Agrarian Trust at this early stage to develop their legal structure and legal documentation frameworks for accepting land grants and putting them into a trust to be protected for agricultural use in the future. The documents are being developed on GitHub so as to be available as an open-sourced resource. Current progress includes; finishing drafting their organizational blueprint, filing for incorporation, and accepting the first two land bequests in upstate New York. With the first round of funding a draft of a Benevolent Investors Guide to Land was produced and submitted to a decentralized editorial team. The Agrarian Trust has the potential to fundamentally change the entire food system in this country and become a model for land tenure for the rest of the world.
Action for 2nd Round of Funding
World Centric® funded the development of a replicable blueprint legal bylaws and coalition to enable the widespread transition of farmland into commons ownership to enable farmers using sustainable practices to access land to produce goods in ways that are otherwise not financially feasible due to the distortions of land value in the current food system.
These two organizations are collaborating to create an Agricultural Carbon, or carbon farming program. Ag Carbon seeks to reverse global warming by advancing the adoption of agricultural practices proven to sequester soil carbon and permanently remove atmospheric CO2 — offering the significant co-benefits of making ranches and farms more drought resilient, improving on-farm productivity and enhancing ecosystem functions. This is being done through applied research, policy advocacy, and development of economic incentives for producers and land managers, with a near-term focus on producers in Marin and Sonoma counties.
Over the last year, the Ag Carbon program has provided critical support to the Marin Carbon Project (MCP) during its transition from research to implementation, developing a working carbon farming model that can be adopted throughout Marin and by other regions across California and the United States. This support has included technical assistance and on-farm conservation planning; co-development of the Rangeland Compost Protocol for formal review by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and American Carbon Registry; and leading the development of policy support and economic incentives at the county, regional, state and federal levels so producers and land managers can receive carbon offset and climate change mitigation funding.
The Ag Carbon program has the long term potential to shift land management practices on the majority of agricultural land in the world to fundamentally transform the material economy to be based on producing yields while bio-sequestering carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
Action for the 1st Round of Funding
Our initial funding has paid for a site assessment, soils mapping and producer education on the first ranch site and for a carbon farming training in Modoc county.
- Site Assessment and Soils Mapping. Staff of the Carbon Cycle Institute and Fibershed, the owners of the Bare Ranch, and members of the Alturas NRCS office convened January 7th to tour the ranch and survey the landscape to identify the areas that would benefit from the implementation of a Carbon Farm Plan.
- Education. Carbon Cycle Institute staff traveled to Modoc County to present on Carbon Farming at a soil health workshop in Cedarville, CA on February 19th. In addition to the Bare Ranch owner, about 40 local producers attended.
Action for 2nd Round of Funding
Fibershed used the second tranche of funding from World Centric® to develop and finalize the soil maps and carbon farming plan for the Bare Ranch in Modoc county. This led to the successful negotiation of a direct purchase of Climate Beneficial wool in 2015, and in tandem negotiated a deal to support a direct donation to the ranch from the end user to pay for compost creation and application. i.e., Thousands of pounds of wool were produced using climate beneficial practices thanks to the carbon farming planning that World Centric® helped support. Fibershed is working on scaling this work to 40,000 pounds of Climate Beneficial Wool in 2016.
This initiative of the Livability Project is creating a network of Local Economy Centers across the country that accelerate the United States’ transition to the Next Economy of a decentralized locally self-reliant bioregional economy. Local Economy Centers are places in communities and regions to create, organize, coordinate, incubate and grow the next economy -- an enlightened economy, that works in balance with nature, for all. This Next Economy encompasses the “relationship, local, D.I.Y. and sharing” economies. It works in service of people and small businesses, restores ecosystems, reduces consumption and works to restore equilibrium on many fronts. It diversifies trade through local currencies, time banking and sharing. Local Economy Centers will accelerate a community’s transition to the next economy, making it more adaptable, resilient and durable from all angles -- financial, social, environmental and humanitarian. Individual Centers will spread into a network of Local Economy Centers across the country. In essence, our goal is to light up a new economic operating system, complementary to the current economy, for communities that are ready to embrace and engage in a culture shift to living more locally and simply.
There are two proof-of-concept Local Economy Centers currently operating: Share Exchange on the West Coast in Santa Rosa, CA and Bethesda Green on East Coast in Bethesda, MD. Since opening, both Centers have gained widespread recognition and requests from surrounding communities for help creating similar centers and/or initiatives. In the Washington DC region, Bethesda Green’s business incubator and sustainability programs are spreading through a network of 12 organizations that make up a new ‘collective impact’ network called SMAC (Sustainability Mid-Atlantic Cluster). In the San Francisco North Bay, the Share Exchange center has catalyzed interest in 15 related regional projects and received requests for assistance from 4 out-of-state organizations.
A detailed financial model, or operating projection has been created that can model the financial viability of a new center based on any combination of 8 different revenue streams. This model allows for adaptation of unique variables in any region. This is currently being used to model numerous opportunities to replicate these centers on both the east and west coasts starting with the adoption of the made local regional branding program to promote and support regional producers.
Three Stone Hearth has pioneered the development of a unique business model as a community supported kitchen. Their model combines community-scale food preparation with an emphasis on local, seasonal, healthy, natural and whole foods purchased directly from sustainable producers in the region. In addition to providing meals for pick-up or bicycle delivery and a pathway to ownership for all staff, they also offer educational programs on nutrition, health, and their business model and philosophy. Part of their original vision has always been to document how they do what they do so others can replicate their business model in other regions. Since starting with 5 founding partners in Berkeley, CA in 2006 they have now grown to 15 worker-owner cooperative members and 28 full and part time paid employees. They have successfully proven their business concept to be viable but have been all consumed in doing so and have not invested heavily in the documentation or replication of their model.
We have helped prepare an outline of their key business elements, structure, processes and documentation. We are now working with them to identify the necessary work plan to complete this documentation and to prepare the strategy to roll out the replication phase of their enterprise in other areas. They have a backlog of requests to replicate in other areas around the country so we know there is a demand for this approach of scaling by replication. The long term potential of supporting the growth of the Three Stone Hearth model is a community support kitchen, financed and operated by the community for the benefit of the community in every region of the world forming a cornerstone of a sustainable food system that benefits all life.