Make The World Better Magazine, Issue 2

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The Next Regeneration

REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE has the potential to improve the planet from the ground up. These organizations are planting the seeds of a more stable food supply system and helping mitigate climate change

FEATURING INTERVIEWS WITH: Canadian Organic Growers • Nada Grocery • EMKAO Foods • Cascadia Seaweed • Bluebird Grain Farms • Solaires • ReFeed Canada • Moment Energy • Ecosystem Services Market Consortium April 2022, Issue 02 PLANET AND PRODUCE: THE GROWING IMPACT OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE M AGAZINE

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BLUEBIRD GRAIN

CANADIAN ORGANIC GROWERS

NADA GROCERY

are at the root of Canada’s organic future

Advocacy and

REFEED CANADA

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our
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education
grocery
26
A package-free
service with community at heart
Cultivating and producing ancient grains for the next generation 30 SOLAIRES Shining a light on accessible and affordable solar energy solutions 34
FARMS
On a mission to create sustainable food systems for future generations CONTENTS 6
44 WHAT PURPOSE-DRIVEN COMPANIES NEED TO KNOW ABOUT INSURANCE A look at the complex relationship between impact companies and the insurance industry 4 MAKE THE WORLD BETTER MAGAZINE
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

EMKAO FOODS

Supporting cocoa farmers in Cameroon and transforming their local economy

22

CASCADIA SEAWEED

Diving into the industry of ocean cultivated seaweed

April 2022, Issue 2

PUBLISHER

Sparx Publishing Group Inc. sparxpg.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Hamish Khamisa

EDITORS

Nikki Manthey

Libby Shabada

ART DIRECTOR

Elisabeth Choi

DESIGNER

Pauline Macapagal

PROJECT MANAGER

Alexandra Nikitina

CONTRIBUTORS

Bluebird Grain Farms: Brooke Lucy, Co-Owner, Marketing, Sales & Product Development Canadian Organic Growers: Joint contribution from multiple team members

MOMENT ENERGY

Powering

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES MARKET CONSORTIUM

Incentivization is key to improving soil health, one farm at a time

Cascadia Seaweed: Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Manager of Communications and Engagement

Ecosystem Services Market Consortium: Thayer Tomlinson, Communications Director

EMKAO Foods: Ayissi Nyemba, Founder & CEO Moment Energy: Edward Chiang, Co-Founder & CEO Nada Grocery: Brianne Miller, Co-Founder & CEO ReFeed Canada: Stuart Lilley, CEO & CVO Solaires: Carolina Betancourt, Marketing and Business Development Manager

All photo credits to the organizations.

Sparx would like to acknowledge that Vancouver is on traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples–Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/ Selilwitulh (TsleilWaututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.

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We are recognized as a minority-owned and -led organization

This issue of the magazine contributes to the following sustainability development goals:

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the next generation of cleaner energy storage 42
APRIL 2022 ISSUE 02 5

Letter from the Editor

And just like that, spring has arrived. Despite its predictable arrival, this year’s seasonal shift has brought with it a new set of uncertainties for those looking to make the world better.

The tragic conflict in the Ukraine has highlighted that, at a time when our planet and collective wellbeing need us to cooperate more, we find the world contemplating a future in which we’re increasingly fractured.

Among the many things recent events have thrown into the spotlight: the vulnerability of the global food supply.

The second edition of Make The World Better Magazine was originally conceived to focus on regenerative agriculture, inspired, in part, by the movie Kiss the Ground. The documentary masterfully conveyed the connection between the health of the soil we use to grow our food to our own health, and that of the planet. It, too, was a response to the vulnerability of the global food supply to practices of food production that are not sustainable, and the broader consequences of climate change.

We believe that making the world better through the lens of food requires action on multiple fronts. As such, the organizations and teams profiled in this issue offer a glimpse at the innovative and inspiring work being done along the value chain of food.

From the starting point, food production, there is a growing appetite (pun intended) for creative approaches to generating food. Through regenerative farming or responsible aquaculture, there is hope that we won’t be forced to choose between the ability to grow food and doing so sustainably.

Of course, food production is only one part of the puzzle. Ensuring we collect, package, and distribute this food as efficiently as possible is another crucial area in which the organizations we’ve profiled are effecting positive change.

In a nod to the Kiss the Ground conversation, we’ve included organizations whose focus is on energy. Whether through creating cleaner power sources or improving energy storage solutions, innovation away from carbon-producing fuel sources offers a path towards a truly sustainable future economy.

Innovation will be crucial to tackling climate and food challenges. However, innovation requires risk. Entrepreneurs and change makers need to understand the role that insurance could play in amplifying or attenuating the pace of positive change. Our special feature on this subject is especially instructive.

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At a time where we are witnessing firsthand the perils of war and division, it is all the more important to remember how interconnected we all are.

Regenerative agriculture is a living example of the strength of diversity in action. Now, more than ever, the path to a better future compels us to draw lessons from this farming practice to learn how to work with the planet and each other.

Hamish Khamisa Founder, Sparx
6 MAKE THE WORLD BETTER MAGAZINE
Regenerative agriculture is a living example of the strength of diversity in action.

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Share your story in a future issue of our magazine! Join our mission to amplify good, boost awareness of critical issues, and inspire others.

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Meet the people and organizations who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to fix the world’s food supply systems

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UP

It’s the second issue of Make The World Better Magazine, and we’re having a field day! This edition digs into the impacts of regenerative agriculture, both on the environment and the kind of products that make it onto our dinner tables.

Read on to learn about amazing organizations who are bringing ancient grains to future generations, growing organic farming practices through advocacy and education, diving into aquaculture, supporting Cameroon’s cocoa farmers, bringing package-free solutions to grocery shelves, tackling Canada’s food waste issues, and implementing sustainable energy solutions.

FEATURE APRIL 2022 ISSUE 02 9

CANADIAN ORGANIC GROWERS

Advocacy and education are at the root of Canada’s organic future

Stand Up For Organics (SUFO): we help farmers transition their farmlands to regenerative organic farming. All the funds we raise go towards supporting transitioning and existing organic farmers across the country.
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Organic food is widely considered to be healthier for both people and the environment. While you may be able to find organic food in the supermarket, finding information on how to grow and garden organically is a different story – at least it was – in Canada.

Canadian Organic Growers (COG) grew from the need for better understanding about organic farming and gardening methods, and today, they’re advocating for organic farming across the country. We spoke with Canadian Organic Growers about their mission and projects.

Tell us about COG’s mission. Our mission is to provide education, advocacy, and leadership to help build an agricultural system that empowers farmers and consumers, enhances human health, builds community, and mitigates climate change, while increasing Canadian food sovereignty.

What inspired your founders to start COG?

Our founders wanted to grow food without chemicals, both for their own health and the health of the planet. However, there was a lack of information on organic farming and gardening, particularly in the Canadian context.

Backyard gardeners, “back to the landers,” and farmers joined together to help share knowledge and resources.

What were some of the challenges they encountered?

There was a general lack of understanding about organic farming and gardening methods, as well as a social stigma directed at organic farming. Also, organic farming wasn’t taken

seriously by agricultural departments (provincial and federal) or agricultural colleges. This meant that farmers had to learn by trial and error, or from mentors.

The organic certification process and logo did not exist, so people didn’t have a way of knowing what foods were actually organic or not. Things have come a long way since those days!

What do you consider COG’s biggest success?

By creating Canadian Organic Growers chapters across the country, organizing workshops, and publishing a series of books, we have played a pivotal role in stimulating the Canadian organic movement.

Over the decades, an increasing number of farmers and gardeners have embraced organic methods, and the demand for organic food keeps growing, for example from 1.7% of the Canadian market share in 2012 to 3.3% in 2020 (Canada Organic Trade Association).

Part of this reflects the work COG has done over the decades. Our courses and books have helped farmers transition to organic farming. In fact, three of our books have been used as textbooks in universities in their agricultural departments.

We have also enabled more people across the country to access organic food – partially by our work in stimulating the organic movement but also through specific programs, such as COG’s Growing Up Organic, which has led to the development of school gardens and the introduction of organic food in schools, daycares, and other institutions across Canada.

What makes your organization unique?

Canadian Organic Growers is the only national organization representing organic farmers, gardeners, and consumers from coast to coast. Our membership encompasses people from all sectors of the organic community; no other organization has this scope.

Connaught gardens: students from Connaught Public School harvesting kale in their garden.

As a result, our activities range from teaching people how to grow sprouts and microgreens on the kitchen counter, to creating school gardens, to advocating for government support for farmers who are transitioning to organic agriculture, to teaching prairie farmers about organic regenerative agriculture.

We have chapters and affiliates across the country, which allows different groups to work on the local aspects of organic growing, education, and advocacy that meet the needs of their own community.

How do you feel COG makes the world better?

Canadian Organic Growers makes the world better by advocating for a cleaner environment, greater biodiversity, and a healthy, nutritious food supply.

As a result of our work, more people of all incomes and ages are eating local organic food and more land is being farmed organically. This means greater biodiversity and protection of

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pollinators, less pollution due to runoff of agricultural chemicals and antibiotics given to livestock, and more animals have access to the outdoors and are humanely treated.

Rural communities are benefitting from more money flowing into rural economies, and more people living in these communities have access to healthy, nutritious food. COG addresses the human aspect of food production by supporting the development of school gardens, incorporating mindfulness practices into gardening workshops, and developing an online Indigenous gardening workshop.

Our work also addresses the current climate crisis. Agriculture accounts for about 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) globally; COG is teaching farmers how to sequester (trap) carbon in the soil and reduce GHG emissions.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

Our main goal is to promote organic growing and strengthen the organic food supply through education, advocacy, collaboration, and partnerships. We want to provide farmers and gardeners with the tools they need to grow organic food, and in doing so, promote biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and protect our environment for future generations.

For farmers, we’re doing this through peer-to-peer education, publication of books, and production of webinars. We bring experts out to the field to talk with individual farmers about how they can adopt regenerative organic farming practices, and go to schools to help children learn how to garden organically and develop a taste for organic food (and practices). COG also helps seniors find accessible ways to garden and, in doing so, they can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of gardening organically in a community.

We also want to help consumers understand and appreciate the value of locally grown organic food. COG aims to increase awareness of the many reasons to buy local organic food, including the environmental, socioeconomic, and nutritional benefits. We do this through webinars, events (such as Organic Week held each September), and through our magazine (currently in the process of being moved to a free online format here).

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

Regenerative Organic Oats in the Prairies (ROO) is a three-year project to help oat farmers in Saskatchewan transition to Regenerative Organic Certification. The educational aspect of the project will help encourage other

farmers to adopt regenerative organic practices. This initiative, the first of its kind in Canada, is made possible due to the support of industry partners Riverside Naturals and Nature’s Path.

In Growing Up Organic (GUO), COG partners with schools to establish school garden programs as the basis for experiential education. For example, in the past year alone, GUO delivered 270 workshops and established 30 new garden beds in Ottawa schools, and the goal for 2022 is to build up to 48 new gardens and deliver more than 250 garden curriculum-connected workshops. COG is also developing a virtual Indigenous gardening workshop and now incorporating land acknowledgements, as well as mindfulness exercises in many gardening workshops.

The Canadian Access Project (CAP) is a two-year collaborative project, made possible with an investment from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), that will identify current barriers in the organic food supply chain, help the Canadian organic industry fulfill its economic potential, and provide Canadians with increased access to regionally-grown, organic food. COG will deliver virtual workshops and reports, and provide a detailed plan to create an environmental model, which would highlight the benefits of

William Amos announcing a $640,000 grant from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
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Nature’s Path

Growing Eastern Ontario Organically (GEO-O): the Beetbox Farm Cooperative Team, who serves West Ottawa with organic produce.

removing barriers to organic commodity production and distribution.

Growing Eastern Ontario Organically (GEO-O), is a three-year, on-theground initiative to support farmers to transition to organic agriculture through mentorship, financial incentives, and on-site experiential learning. GEO-O provides farmers with in-person, on-site, farmer-to-farmer training. GEO-O is a first of its kind experiential learning-centred approach in a specific region. It was made possible with funding from Ontario Trillium Foundation and Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

To date, we have had 57 farms enrolled in the program, representing over 10,000 acres of farmland. COG will compare the outcomes of GEO-O to similar efforts across the country in order to bring further benefits to the entire Canadian organic sector

Lastly, for more than forty years, COG published a hard copy magazine; however, we have since gone completely paperless. The Canadian Organic Grower is now available free, online, in

a blog-style format. The new version has information for consumers, as well as resources for backyard gardeners and farmers. The content includes features on organic businesses, tips for organic farmers, recipes, and news about organic science. Check it out! A beta version is online here, and we expect to launch the website formally in early 2022.

What do you most want people to know about COG?

We offer something for everyone who has an interest in healthy food and a healthy environment. Whether you’re growing herbs in window boxes or planting one thousand acres of wheat, COG has resources to help you learn how to grow food organically.

For consumers, COG works to improve production and access to organic food across the country and will soon (through the free online magazine) provide tips on buying, storing, and cooking organic food in season.

We also do a lot of work behind the scenes, such as advocating for changes in agricultural policies (particularly

regarding GMOs), helping develop the Canadian Organic Standards, and standing up for organic growers in any way we can.

How can people help or contribute to COG’s mission?

Grow or buy organic food. When you buy local organic food or grow your own food organically, you are helping to create a healthier planet for ourselves, future generations, and the living organisms who share our environment.

There are several ways people can contribute, including becoming a member of COG, volunteering with a chapter or the national organization, and helping to support our important work by making a donation on our website. COG is a charitable organization and can issue tax receipts for donations over $25.

cog.ca facebook.com/CanadianOrganic twitter.com/CanadianOrganic instagram.com/CanadianOrganic

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packaging
product
raw ingredient sourcing.
From freshly baked bread to locally grown and organic produce, Nada makes it their mission to partner with vendors who are prioritizing sustainability in their
choices,
design, and
package-free grocery service with community at heart 14 MAKE THE WORLD BETTER MAGAZINE
NADA GROCERY A

Sometimes, simple really is best, especially when it comes to food. Nada, a Vancouver-based grocery service, is working to bring fresh, healthy groceries to people and communities without adding anything extra, like packaging.

By embarking on this mission, Nada Grocery, a participant in a past Spring Activator program, is hoping to spark important conversations about our food system and its connection to the environment.

We spoke with Brianne Miller, Co-Founder & CEO, about how Nada is making the world better through their package-free, healthy alternative to traditional groceries.

Tell us about Nada’s mission.

Nada is a package-free grocery delivery service on a mission to connect people to just food, championing a community food system by linking buyers to suppliers, and offering healthy, local, and unpackaged products and services. Our vision is that healthy people equals a healthy planet, where people link their food choices to the health of themselves and the environment.

We’re working hard to connect people to food in its simplest form in an attempt to spark conversations about our food system. By supporting Nada, you’re not only supporting local businesses, but also championing a community food system that links buyers to suppliers who offer healthy, unpackaged goods.

What inspired you to start Nada?

As a marine biologist, Nada’s CEO & Co-Founder, Brianne Miller, has witnessed first-hand the devastating impact of plastic on the environment. It’s estimated that 9.1 billion tons of plastic have been produced since 1950, and close to 5.5 billion tons are no longer in use and not recycled. After seeing one too many remote field sites littered in plastic debris, Brianne began to wonder why there wasn’t a better way to shop – a way without so much waste.

Brianne has always had a deep love of the oceans.The magic of diving with dolphins and scouring reefs for nudibranchs is something that she wanted to preserve for everyone. Brianne realized that the current grocery models were broken, and even the most ethical, local, and organic example was still caught in this cycle of

Nada’s ultimate tumbler for on-the-go sipping! This Nada Miir Travel Mug is one of the many pieces found in their collection of package-free lifestyle products.

waste. And so, she asked the simple question that would positively change things forever. What if food... was just food again? With a leap of faith, a few jars, and some dear friends, the Nada story began. The result? A new way to shop for groceries and a commitment to both healthy people and a healthy planet!

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

Last year, we transitioned from a self-serve retail grocery store to an online business. As an independent grocery store and essential service supporting hundreds of small local suppliers and farmers, and providing food to our neighbourhood when large grocery store shelves were empty, we’ve been able to continue serving our community throughout the pandemic.

There have been lots of challenges and regulations to navigate along the way as we strive to keep our customers, community, and team members safe. We have been able to grow our team and reach customers in new neighbourhoods and new cities through delivery, making local and package-free foods more accessible.

APRIL 2022 ISSUE 02 15

What do you consider Nada’s biggest success?

Nada is working to champion a community-focused food system by linking buyers to suppliers and offering healthy, local, and unpackaged products. A women-owned, empathy-led, and community-focused business that encounters many different broken systems contributing to an inequitable world, Nada is focusing all of its efforts on making a small but mighty impact for the betterment of our collective future by targeting three buckets: impact, community, and supply chain.

What makes your organization unique?

Nada offers a package-free alternative to the conventional grocery shopping experience. We remove the need for unnecessary packaging by offering high-quality groceries and goods in upcycled containers, compostable bags, and deposit jars. We offer carbon-neutral grocery delivery via our electric vehicles to cities across the Lower Mainland, including Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Burnaby, Surrey, and Delta. Nada’s surplus food recovery program also completely offsets our direct carbon emissions. Check out our Nada’s Own products online to support this initiative!

Nada also facilitates monthly online events to both educate and build relationships with our community to encourage climate action and waste reduction. If you want to learn more about how to get involved in the package-free movement and our local food system, check out our newsletter!

How do you feel Nada makes the world better?

Our goal is to be part of the climate solution and foster a more just food system. We choose

Nada is grateful to call the beautiful coast of British Columbia home and take to heart their responsibility in protecting this special place on our planet.

Nada’s Co-Founder & CEO, Brianne Miller Photo by Maxine Bulloch
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to work with fellow 1% for the Planet, Certified B Corporations, and carbon or climate neutral companies whenever possible – from our products to our office supplies, and everything in between!

We strive to foster long-term relationships with our suppliers as much as possible and love working with those who do the same. This builds stronger communities and more resilient food systems, while providing better working conditions and compensation for those at all levels of the supply chain, including growers, makers, and manufacturers.

Tell us about your organization’s goals. With climate change looming as the global population continues to grow, and the demand for food continues to rise, it is crucial that we find ways to reduce the emissions associated with the food system. For most people, grocery stores are the vehicle that connects people to their food. Grocery stores thus play a crucial role in transforming the food system and have a unique opportunity to better connect people to their food and help them make more sustainable food choices.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

Here at Nada, we accept the donation of upcycled containers and jars to support our zero waste initiative. Each donation that we receive means that one less container has ended up in our landfills. The participation of our community in this program helps us continue to reduce waste and promote a more circular economy. Since the beginning of this program, we’ve been able to successfully divert over 1,062,177 containers from the landfill!

Nada’s Own is a line of package-free products made from in-house recipes by repurposing surplus food and giving it a second chance by making these creations available to the community.

What do you most want people to know about Nada?

When we say community is at the heart of all that we do, we really do mean that. From the products on our shelves to the brands we choose to work with, to the partnerships we bring inside of our store, there are so many hands involved and good work being done. Without the collective power of those who are working on improving their small piece of the food system and adapting operations with the planet in mind, we hold each other up and support each other in this rebuilding process.

How can people help or contribute to Nada’s mission?

Nada is 100% committed to improving our local food system. For every purchase you make, 1% of all topline revenues are donated to grassroots environmental organizations that are supporting a more sustainable food system and standing up for our coast. For the first quarter of 2022, a portion of every purchase of Nada’s package-free groceries will be going directly towards Protect Our Winters Canada

nadagrocery.com facebook.com/nadagrocery twitter.com/nadagrocery instagram.com/nadagrocery

Nada’s goal is to connect people to food in its simplest form and to spark a conversation about the local food system.
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EMKAO FOODS

Supporting cocoa farmers in Cameroon and transforming their local economy

Everyone loves to indulge in chocolate now and then – or frequently (we’re not here to judge). It’s a lucrative industry that employs and benefits the producers and retailers; however, one very important group that can be overlooked are the cocoa farmers themselves. EMKAO wants to change that.

EMKAO Foods is a manufacturer of organic, single origin cocoa beans, which participated in Spring Activator’s Campbell River Impact Investor Challenge. We spoke with Ayissi Nyemba, Founder & CEO, about EMKAO’s personal connection to cocoa beans, their progress towards their goals, and upcoming projects.

Tell us about EMKAO Foods’ mission.

EMKAO Foods is committed to disrupting the traditional cocoa manufacturing model by using a direct trade model to purchase high quality cocoa beans at a fair price to support small cocoa farmers in Cameroon, thus transforming their local economy.

What inspired you to start EMKAO Foods?

My family comes from generations of cocoa farmers in a country where cocoa production and export contribute significantly to the national economy and poverty alleviation. From my experience growing up on my parents’ cocoa farm, I made it my lifelong vision to help and support the struggling cocoa farmers in Cameroon.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

One challenge was having access to capital and raising capital to scale-up my business, as well as the adoption of healthier products by the industry.

Also, in the industry, cocoa beans

imported from Africa are, most of the time, associated with child labour.

What do you consider EMKAO Foods’ biggest success?

We opened our doors in February 2021 and are in full production! We have made a good impression in the industry with our products, and the feedback we have received is incredible. We have been supporting the livelihoods of 100 cocoa farmers and have planted an additional 20 trees. The farm is a different entity itself!

What makes your organization unique?

We specialize in the chocolate industry through a vertically integrated structure that leverages direct trade and single sourcing for the primary input product: cocoa beans. This structure is possible due to an ownership stake in a family farm (Kotou Farm) located in Cameroon, in western Africa.

EMKAO is able to directly import high quality, certified organic, cocoa beans from Kotou Farm with favourable payment terms. Once imported into Canada, EMKAO is able to

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process these raw cocoa beans into five marketable finished products. The current focus is to sell these products wholesale to other businesses, such as chocolatiers, bakers, candy producers, and related businesses. We fill an immediate need in the western Canadian market, as there are currently no other competitors who are processing beans locally with a B2B focus.

How do you feel EMKAO Foods makes the world better?

EMKAO makes the world a better place by fairly engaging the small cocoa farmers in our supply chain. We are making sure our customers know the names of our farmers. And, at the same time, we are offering ethically sourced cocoa beans, traceability via QR codes, and healthier locally made cocoa ingredients to our consumers in Canada.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

The main 2022-2025 goal is to obtain additional capital to finance the scale-up phase of the company.

We plan to do this by:

1. Serving the Canadian market and expanding to the US market,

2. Measuring and sharing the impact we are creating both in Cameroon and Canada,

3. Building up the team and bringing on more partners,

4. Creating more impact by growing more trees, and empowering women involvement in agriculture,

5. And having “just in time” traceability and production systems.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

We are working on developing our own in-house tracking device, TRAKAO. This project will provide immediate help

to EMKAO by enabling tracking of raw material shipments from Cameroon to Canada.

We will also be planning to launch some retail products in two years.

What do you most want people to know about EMKAO Foods?

EMKAO envisions a world where cocoa farming is a fair and decent livelihood, and where the profits from the chocolate products so widely enjoyed around the world are shared with the farmers who make it possible for these products to exist.

How can people help or contribute to EMKAO Foods’ mission?

Sharing, liking, and following us through our social media pages, @emkaofoods. Spread the word about our mission and vision, and purchase from us here!

emkaofoods.com facebook.com/emkaofoods twitter.com/emkaofoods instagram.com/emkaofoods

Crafting LIKAO cocoa liquor EMKAO’s line of vegan and organic cocoa ingredients Ayissi Nyemba, Founder and CEO of EMKAO Foods
APRIL 2022 ISSUE 02 19

MAKING

TECHNOLOGIES GLOBAL WARMING CATASTROPHIC

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Negative emissions are needed to stabilize below THE
WORLD BETTER

emissions stabilize TECHNOLOGIES WARMING CATASTROPHIC LEVELS.

Yale Environment 360, 2020
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WITH REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

CASCADIA SEAWEED

Diving into the industry of ocean cultivated seaweed

When we think of farming, we often picture expansive fields of wheat and grains, subjected to seasonality, water shortages, and pests. Luckily, farming without these issues is possible. In fact, there’s a growing industry that’s making a splash in the world of agriculture – or should we say, “aquaculture.”

Cascadia Seaweed, a provider of ocean cultivated seaweed, is showing North America that farming doesn’t have to be on land. And people are listening: Cascadia was one of the top 20 Companies of the Fall 2021 Impact Investor Challenge at Spring Activator. We spoke with Erin Bremner-Mitchell, Manager of Communications and Engagement, about what Cascadia Seaweed brings to the table.

Tell us about Cascadia Seaweed’s mission.

Cascadia Seaweed is growing to be the largest provider of ocean cultivated seaweed in North America. By simply cultivating seaweed in the ocean, we can help solve some of the biggest challenges humanity is facing today: climate change, economic instability, and food security.

This is what inspired Cascadia’s vision statement: “Through the cultivation of seaweed we will help improve human health, support coastal communities, and heal the Earth.”

What inspired your founders to start Cascadia Seaweed?

Bill Collins was conducting research for the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) to attract foreign direct investment to the Island. He landed on four different business cases, one of which was sustainable aquaculture. After an hour on the phone with one of Canada’s leading experts in seaweed, Bill’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked and he quickly developed the opportunity into what we know today as Cascadia Seaweed. The mission to improve human health, support coastal communities and heal the earth by

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scaling up the seaweed industry has attracted a diverse group of individuals who all share Bill’s original vision of generating a profit to enable people and benefit the planet.

What were some of the challenges they encountered?

Cultivating seaweed at scale in British Columbia is a burgeoning sector, which poses a challenge in awareness; however, this is also our greatest opportunity!

When we speak to investors, government officials, and consumers, we have a responsibility to share all of the positive impacts that seaweed farming can create.

Ocean cultivated seaweed requires no fresh water, fertilizers, pesticides, or arable land to grow. It utilizes nutrients from the sea, sequesters more carbon than land plants, mitigates acidification, creates habitat, and is renewable and fast growing. It is the definition of regenerative aquaculture, and this new and burgeoning sector directly supports the development of Canada’s growing Blue Economy.

We have certainly encountered challenges during the regulatory approval process and accessing capital, but we have a tenacious team, experienced leadership, and a compelling story which has helped us overcome these challenges.

What do you consider Cascadia Seaweed’s biggest success?

The most recent success the team at Cascadia Seaweed celebrated was our invitation to COP26 in Glasgow. Our CEO, Mike Williamson, represented Cascadia Seaweed at this event and spoke alongside global seaweed champion from the UN Global Compact, Vincent Doumeizel.

We also just celebrated the release of our first product under our CPG brand, Kove Ocean Foods!

Members of the Cascadia team and Indigenous partners conducting harvest operations in the Klahoose Territory, Spring 2021.

What makes this organization unique?

Cascadia Seaweed is the only vertically integrated seaweed company combining cultivation know-how, First Nations partnerships, and progressive brand development, and our leadership team has over 150 years combined experience in food, technology, and financial services businesses.

How do you feel Cascadia Seaweed makes the world better?

Seaweed can make the world a better place, and Cascadia is playing a part in that! By growing seaweed in the ocean, we actually make the ocean healthier! Not to mention all of the uses for seaweed that have the potential to make a positive impact on our shared environment, from methane reducing agrifeeds to plastic alternatives.

Tell us about Cascadia Seaweed’s goals.

We are looking to connect with investors, ESG, or family funds that align with our values and corporate vision to help us scale up – to turn this BC business into the driver behind a climate-positive industry.

Dr. Jennifer Clark accepts the 2021 Innovation Award in Victoria on behalf of Cascadia Seaweed at the annual Ecostar Awards gala hosted by the Synergy Foundation.

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Left: Mike Williamson, CEO of Cascadia Seaweed, and seasonal contractor Chris Williams, proudly hold up Cascadia’s first harvest of sugar kelp, spring 2020. Bottom: Matt Obee of Cascadia Seaweed congratulates Marshel Glidden, mechanical engineering student at Camosun College, for winning the Most Innovative Project award at the student project showcase. The winning team of four students were challenged to develop a more efficient “seed launcher” for Cascadia as their term project.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

Cascadia Seaweed earns access to the water by creating partnerships with Indigenous coastal communities. We all know that reconciliation with our Indigenous neighbours is a priority for governments at all levels. Reconciliation involves acknowledging and respecting the traditional territories and rights of First Nations governing bodies.

Recently, the Tsawout First Nation issued a license under their Marine Use Law to Cascadia Seaweed to install a

farm in their territory off of James Island near Sidney

“We need to prepare for the future and manage our own traditional lands, air and sea. As First Nations stewards we need to pass on the rich ecological knowledge of our ancestors to ensure that economic activities taking place in our marine environment are safe and sustainable. This includes the protection and regulation of food, social and ceremonial purposes and benefits,” said Chrissy Chen, Fisheries Manager at Tsawout First Nation.

What do you most want people to know about Cascadia Seaweed?

We are seaweed farmers, and that is what we strive to be best at, but we are also entrepreneurs. We are guided by

Vegan poke bowl, made with Cascadia’s seaweed by nutritionist and chef Chantal Davis from That Planted Life.

science and driven to make the world a better place.

How can people help or contribute to Cascadia Seaweed’s mission?

The first thing individuals can do to support Cascadia Seaweed is to talk to people about this interesting new industry, especially when discussing climate action. As we are becoming more aware of the connection between climate change and our consumer habits, let’s all be more cognizant of where our food comes from.

I encourage readers to check our plant-based food brand Kove Ocean Foods to learn how they can integrate locally-grown seaweed into their diet morning, noon, and night.

cascadiaseaweed.com facebook.com/cascadiaseaweed twitter.com/cascadiaseaweed linkedin.com/company/cascadiaseaweed

instagram.com/cascadiaseaweed

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Einkorn curing

BLUEBIRD GRAIN FARMS

Cultivating and producing ancient grains for the next generation

Even in Washington, one of the largest wheat producing states in the US, purchasing farm direct organic grains locally is not an easy feat.

Bluebird Grain Farms went “against the grain” to become a vertically integrated agricultural producer and processor, and they’re now on a mission to make farming across the US better for people and the planet. We chatted with Brooke Lucy, Co-Owner, Marketing, Sales & Product Development, about Bluebird Grain Farms’ history, mission, and goals.

Tell us about Bluebird Grain Farms’ mission.

Our mission is to cultivate and produce the most nutrient dense grains for our customers, and more importantly, for the next generation. This means growing and processing our ancient wheats with a minimal carbon footprint and taking care of the soil every step of the way.

Growing under an organic regenerative system means we take care of the soil, the wildlife, and the environment around us. Our employees and our community are included in this.

We want to expand our network of farmers, inspire other farms to transition to growing under an organic regenerative farm system, and prove that an organic regenerative system is good for the health of the planet and the ecological and human communities that live amongst the farm system.

What inspired you to start Bluebird Grain Farms?

We started Bluebird Grain Farms in 2004 because we could not purchase farm direct organic grains locally, even though our own state of Washington was one of the largest wheat producing states in the country.

We saw a niche. Ancient wheats clearly had more flavour, more nutrients, and were more resilient to a fluctuating climate. All these factors compelled us to grow ancient wheat.

What were some of the challenges you

encountered?

Immediately, we realized that we were going to have to set up our own processing facility because there were no organic wheat processors in Washington at the time. Also, the equipment needed to process ancient wheat was very difficult to find. Learning to process ancient grains was our first initial hurdle.

Product line

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Over the last 10 years, finding good employees in a small rural setting with rising housing prices has also been a challenge. It has been kind of a lonely path building our business, mostly because we are in a rural setting with not a lot of agriculture around us. Thankfully, we have always had this incredible support from our customers which has truly kept us going.

What do you consider Bluebird Grain Farms’ biggest success?

The fact that we have stayed in business for 18 years now is amazing. We are essentially running three businesses within one business. I feel that the quality of our product and the consistency of delivering a good product has been a big part of our success.

Sharing our story along the way has been important in engaging with our customers about what we do and why we do it.

Fresh milled flour

Sam Lucy standing in a rye field

What makes your organization unique?

Being vertically integrated as an agricultural producer and processor has helped us understand and know our industry very well. It has not been easy, but looking back, the knowledge that we have learned has helped us strategize our growth; we intimately know the challenges of ancient grain farming and processing.

We know what it takes to grow these grains and to make a business out of it. Understanding the cost of goods to produce and process has been the key determining factor in our success.

Having a niche market with ancient wheats has been critical to the success of our business. Our products have set the stage to the emmer and einkorn market that are now developing in the US today.

How do you feel Bluebird Grain Farms makes the world better?

We make the world better by providing nutrient dense grains that require less water and are cultivated under a strict organic regenerative farm system that provides good food for the people and good soil for the future.

Our farm model to produce and process local organic ancient wheats has really sparked an incredible movement throughout the US. In 2004, there were very few producers/processors of grains; there were a few Amish farms in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Anson Mills in South Carolina.

Now, there are probably more than five or six organic mills and several farm direct grain businesses just within Washington state, and a huge movement growing in the Northeast and the Midwest. Being

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successful has helped ignite others to try. This is very exciting. Our role now is continuous improvement and asking ourselves the question of what can we do to be even better at what we do?

Tell us about your organization’s goals. In June 2022, we will be moving into our new processing facility that is located on one of our grain fields. We will have increased capacity in our production as well as a great location. Here, we will be able to grow our business and show our customers how a vertically integrated organic farm operates.

People want to be connected to their food source and we want to be the connector. Our new location will allow our customers to engage in purchasing our grains, while witnessing the farming, storing, cleaning, and packaging of our products. It will be an experience, and not just a purchase.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

An “education component” is something that we will be implementing once we are moved into our new facility. We want to be a model farm for other organic regenerative grain farmers. We want to share and learn from others and grow our network of organic regenerative farmers in Washington state. We are not sure what this looks like yet. We are exploring partnerships with community organizations, and ideally, engaging a local university in some of our projects.

Clover interseeded with emmer as a nurse crop

What do you most want people to know about Bluebird Grain Farms?

We have built our business on growing and selling nutrient dense ancient grain products and fresh milled flour. We hope to expand the tenets of our business beyond just the health of our product, but also the health of the planet.

To begin, we want to educate our customers about organic regenerative farming and carbon sequestering. We believe net zero farming is possible.

How can people help or contribute to Bluebird Grain Farms’ mission?

Firstly, you can engage with Bluebird by purchasing our products, visiting us, and talking with us. Share with us on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Secondly, engage with friends and family by starting a conversation and educating them about the importance of supporting small scale organic regenerative farms.

Thirdly, eat local. This is a movement that is not going away, and it is critical to a low carbon footprint.

Fourthly, patronize restaurants and stores that sell products from small scale organic farms.

Last but not least, ask local grocery stores and restaurants to sell local products; the consumer often has more leverage than farmers and small businesses. Sometimes, they need to hear from their customers that they want to see local food on the menu and on the shelves.

bluebirdgrainfarms.com facebook.com/BluebirdGrainFarms twitter.com/BluebirdGrains instagram.com/BluebirdGrainFarms youtube.com/BluebirdGrainFarms

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SOLAIRES

Shining a light on accessible and affordable solar energy solutions

Lab photo of Dr. Deepak and Dr. Sahar Sam discussing the experimental results

and experts in this field, and are working with several universities and industry partners to achieve our goals.

What were some of the challenges they encountered?

With climate change a pressing concern, the need to achieve greenhouse gas emission targets is becoming increasingly important. However, renewable energy sources that can help decrease these emissions, like solar, aren’t always accessible or affordable.

Solaires, a past participant in the Spring Activator Campbell River Impact Investor Challenge, is addressing this issue by developing accessible solar energy technology of their own. We chatted with Carolina Betancourt, Marketing and Business Development Manager, about Solaires’ innovative technology, passionate and diverse team, and goals.

Tell us about Solaires’ mission.

At Solaires, our mission is to make solar energy more accessible by developing photovoltaic solutions that contribute to minimizing the planet’s environmental footprint.

What inspired your founders to start Solaires? Being passionate about new technologies to improve human lives, they started Solaires knowing how important it is to take action now to reduce the carbon footprint. Their personal goals include being able to use their knowledge and experience to work towards saving the planet and creating a better place for the next generation.

As a company, we have gathered a great number of specialists

We have a disruptive technology which, unlike sustaining innovations that improve existing products, we are reinventing a technology with a new business model. In addition to developing and validating our new technology, finding the best go-to-market strategy is one of the challenges we have faced.

Moreover, leading a large team of scientists, engineers, and business professionals is one of the dayto-day challenges to make sure everyone is aligned with our product development and business goals.

We strive to have everyone respect and follow our core values at Solaires. We have created a safe environment for everyone to share their thoughts and ideas, and make sure everyone feels valued and heard.

What is Solaires’ biggest success?

Although Solaires is a young company, we were able to gather

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more than 20 professionals and experts in this field, some with more than 20 years of executive experience. Today, we are working with five different research groups inside and outside Canada.

We have signed MOUs (memorandums of understanding) with several partners in Canada and overseas to test and evaluate our products. Furthermore, one of the founders’ biggest personal successes is seeing how engaged and dedicated our employees are to our goals.

What makes your organization unique?

We have a very diverse team with different backgrounds and mindsets who have come together to pursue one goal: help Canada achieve the zero greenhouse gas emission target by making solar cells and solar energy conversion technology more accessible and affordable.

We are changing the way solar cells are currently made and are also impacting the ability of women and minorities to participate in a science-based industry. Solaires is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), with 60% of the management team being women. We are committed to meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and we are also in the process of being B Corp certified.

How does Solaires make the world better?

Solaires is ambitiously working towards a number of powerful impact areas. Without a major acceleration in clean energy innovation, net-zero emissions targets will not be achievable. That is why we are developing the next generation of solar cells made from perovskite, which will make clean energy solutions more accessible and affordable while also broadening the possible applications for solar technology.

At the same time, we are raising awareness about climate change, supporting women in STEM, and advancing progress towards sustainable development. We are bringing to market clean energy innovation

that will accelerate the transition to a cleaner world.

Tell us about the organization’s goals.

Our primary goal as an organization is to secure a more reliable and clean energy source that will effectively help in emission reductions necessary to meet the international climate goals, as well as national reduction targets.

We want to support Canada in achieving its zero greenhouse gas emissions target by developing and marketing an innovative technology to harvest solar energy. We also hope our endeavour towards this goal will help establish Canada as an innovation hub and a world class centre of excellence for research and development of solar cell technology.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

We are planning to collaborate with Canadian and overseas organizations to help us develop as well as commercialize our solar cell technology. We have signed NDAs with these potential partners and are in the process of finalizing the partnership agreements.

We are also partnering with universities to test our products. Our aim with these partnerships is to bridge the gap between the technology that exists in university labs and the commercialization of said technology.

What do you most want people to know about Solaires?

We want people to understand the impact our project can make in a world where drastic emission reduction is paramount to control climate change. Our solar technology cuts down emissions of solar cells by 40 percent, making it a more clean source of energy. Our solar panels will be much more efficient, and the manufacturing for them needs fewer resources compared to the current solar panels.

We also need people to know that we are a purpose-driven company that is proud of the work we do. Our diversely talented team, made up of over eight different nationalities, practices our core values every day. At Solaires, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are part of our DNA, and we consider it the foundation of our innovation. Together, we are building an inclusive culture that encourages, supports, and celebrates the diverse voices of our employees.

How can people help or contribute to Solaires’ mission?

The easiest way to support us in our mission will be to spread the word! Please share about us, our products, and our mission in your social media handles. The support will help us attract investors who are interested in investing in our project. People can also help us grow and expand our network by introducing us to investors who are interested in our technology, to potential customers, and to partners who align with our mission and values.

solaires.net linkedin.com/company/ solaires-entreprises-inc facebook.com/SolairesInc instagram.com/SolairesInc

The Solar Ink TM
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COVER CROPS has increased in the 2012 TO

Yale Environment 360, 2020

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CROPS increased the 2017.

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WITH REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

REFEED CANADA

On a mission to create sustainable food systems for future generations

ReFeed Canada staff sorting useable produce to be redirected to local partners like the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
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As the world continues to experience unprecedented times, one thing that’s certain is humanity’s need for secure food systems. Unfortunately, many people remain food insecure, while the amount of food waste in developed countries like Canada continues to be high.

ReFeed Canada is challenging this reality by ensuring future generations have access to sustainable food systems. We chatted with Stuart Lilley, CEO & CVO, about ReFeed Canada’s efforts to repurpose food waste, their worm farm, and their exciting partnership on an eNFT project.

Tell us about ReFeed Canada’s mission. “For the Love of Food, People and Planet.”

ReFeed is on a mission to create sustainable food systems for future generations. At a time when over 58% of the food in Canada is wasted, with one third of that food still suitable for human consumption, 1 in 8 people in Canada remain food insecure. At the same time, the agriculture industry accounts for 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions produced globally.

The food system is broken, and we believe we can help fix it through circular systems that recover nutrients from agri-food waste, and produce surplus to produce nutrition for people, livestock, and soil.

What inspired you to start ReFeed Canada?

For the past 12 years, I have witnessed first-hand the industrial amount of pre-consumer food waste that occurs daily in our food industry. During that time, I worked with numerous companies in the food industry, including an insect technology start-up, supplying them with food waste to produce sustainable protein. I struggled endlessly with supplying food that could’ve been recovered for organizations that address food insecurity if priorities were aligned with society, rather than the company that controlled the waste stream.

I felt that a better system would be to have a facility that could receive and rescue industrial amounts of produce for people first, and what’s left could then be used as feed for livestock and insects to create sustainable protein and organic soil amendment and fertilizer products, all from agri-food waste. These products could then be sold to produce more food and the

revenues could be used to support the social enterprise part of the business, Circular Nutrition™, with a sustainable business model.

I didn’t understand why all interests: societal, environmental, and financial, could not be aligned in one facility.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

As a start-up, you encounter a multitude of challenges on a daily basis. ReFeed is a very ambitious project with multiple modular pieces that work together to create the circular system. Right out of the gate, we were handling industrial amounts of produce waste.

We officially took over the facility on March 1, 2020. Shortly after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and all of the plans and investors we had lined up fizzled. We had to go into survival mode, and that meant becoming scrappy in how we generated revenue while we figured out how we were going to build our vertical worm farm with no money and very little help.

Being underfunded was definitely one of the bigger challenges. If it wasn’t for my waste consulting company and the ability for ReFeed to immediately generate revenue by rescuing and processing produce waste, I don’t think we would’ve made it.

ReFeed Canada CEO and CVO Stuart Lilley at the ReFeed farm in Langley, BC.
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More recently, supply chain issues have severely delayed the buildout of the worm farm. But I have learned to be philosophical about every challenge and delay – it’s all part of the journey. I am confident we can get through anything as long as I keep waking up in the morning and showing up for work. This is all part of a bigger plan.

What do you consider ReFeed Canada’s biggest success?

I think our biggest success has been the team that we have assembled: our staff, advisors, and partners. We have been extremely lucky to find a great team that believe in the vision of ReFeed, the circularity of our model, and the impact we create, and are committed to bringing it to fruition.

What makes your organization unique?

I haven’t heard of too many companies that are committed to impact in our community and our environment before profit, never mind the fact that we are bringing together food rescue to address food insecurity, produce waste recovery to feed livestock, and worm farming to produce sustainable protein and replace synthetic fertilizers all at one facility – and somehow make it all make sense from a business perspective.

How do you feel ReFeed Canada makes the world better?

It would be easy to say that ReFeed makes the world better because of the environmental and community impact that we create, but the reality is that aspect of our company is just a drop in the bucket of what needs

ReFeed works with the food industry to collect unused food and food waste, directing it away from GHG producing compost facilities and extracting all its usable nutrition.

to happen around this planet. I truly believe that the greatest impact we are having in the world is how we are inspiring others to think outside of the box, helping to motivate others to improve or start their own impactful company, and contributing to a growing community of people that want to see real action with urgency to fix our broken systems.

I’ve said from the beginning of this journey that ReFeed isn’t the answer to everything, but it is setting a new benchmark of what can be done, and hopefully, it will push and inspire others to elevate their game so that we can start accelerating innovation and solutions that will reverse our current trajectory on this planet.

Tell us about your organization’s goals. Our primary focus is on building out our Langley facility into a centre of innovation, a commercial scale demonstration of the potential of circular systems in agriculture. We want to demonstrate the entire Circular Nutrition™ potential by utilizing agri-food waste as a resource to be food for people and livestock, or bio-converted into organic growing mediums that are then used to grow more food for the local market, dense in nutrition and carbon negative.

As this comes together, we are planning the expansion of ReFeed Farms into other markets, leading with our modular vertical worm farm, while also developing further applications for worms at the

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farm level to address manure management issues, the reduction of synthetic fertilizers and mined minerals, and supporting farmers’ transition to regenerative farming practices.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

One that we are very excited about is our partnership with a company out of Denmark that has created a platform for good called Coin4Planet. Founded by Morten Røngaard of Reality Gaming Group, the premise behind this platform is to create a blockchain-based investment platform which will raise funds by selling “Nature Coins.” The proceeds will be directed to real world projects that are making a significant impact, are transparent, and quantifiable for the planet, as well as society.

Coin4Planet provides a tool both for investors looking to contribute to green tech projects making a measurable difference, and those who are simply seeking annual returns with added stability from crypto assets which are tied to real-world projects.

ReFeed Canada will be one of their genesis projects receiving direct investment to support the expansion of our operations, including a range of products and services to help farmers move off chemical fertilizers and

ReFeed Canada worked with a local juice company to turn excess seasonal mandarin oranges into healthy fresh pressed juice for Greater Vancouver Food Bank users.

onto our natural solutions. I believe this new model of funding has the potential to change the world.

What

do you most want people to know about ReFeed Canada?

The most important thing that I want people to know about ReFeed Canada is that we are just a group of regular people who have seen that the food system has been broken for a long time and are not interested in more reports or committees to discuss what we need to do. We are just simply going to do what we believe needs to be done and are happy to do the heavy lifting to get the momentum needed to start changing the way things are done.

We can end hunger in this country because it’s not a food production issue, it’s a food redistribution issue – we already grow and make more than enough food to feed everyone. We can also eliminate synthetic fertilizer use by shifting to bio-based growing mediums and nutrient recovery from manure. We need to create systems that recover nutrients instead of wasting them, and nature is our guide.

We’re doing this to help ensure that our children have a future and that their children have a future. We don’t have any more time to waste.

How can people help or contribute to ReFeed Canada’s mission?

The first way people can help contribute to ReFeed Canada’s mission is to follow us on social media and to get the word out about the work that we are doing with your friends, your schools, local municipal, and provincial leaders.

In 2022, we’ll be launching our worm castings fertilizer and soil remediation products for purchase, and partial proceeds from these sales will directly support our social enterprise that rescues industrial amounts of produce for redistribution to food banks and non-profits.

In the bigger picture, look around your day-to-day life and see what you can do to help reduce your environmental impact in your community. Big business is watching and listening to the consumers like never before. What we support as a community and what we decide to spend our money on makes a difference. It says a lot about where we want to go as a society.

refeedcanada.com facebook.com/ReFeedCanada linkedin.com/company/refeedcanada instagram.com/refeedfarms

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the next generation of cleaner energy storage 38 MAKE THE WORLD BETTER MAGAZINE
Team members: Gabe Soares, Eddy Chiang, Sumreen Rattan, Gurmesh Sidhu
MOMENT ENERGY Powering

Electric vehicles offer a more sustainable alternative to gas-powered cars. However, the lithium required to power their batteries is often mined in a way that’s not socially or environmentally conscious. And once these batteries aren’t needed anymore, they can sit unused, but with a lot of energy left in them. Moment Energy is harnessing the potential of these batteries.

Moment Energy is an impact-driven energy storage company, which participated in Spring Activator’s National Impact Investor Challenge. We spoke with Edward Chiang, Co-Founder & CEO, about why Moment Energy got started and the exciting projects they’re working on.

Tell us about Moment Energy’s mission. Our mission is to ensure that all electric vehicle batteries are responsibly disposed of. The reason why this is a problem is because lithium recycling isn’t profitable, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars to get rid of a single electric vehicle once the driver is done with it. With that being said, unfortunately, only about 5% of all electric vehicle batteries are being recycled responsibly, with most of them ending up on shelves or in landfills.

However, we found out there’s an average of 80% life left in these batteries, so instead of prematurely recycling these batteries, they can be taken out of the vehicle and repurposed and reformatted into something that’s usable for the home or for commercial buildings. This helps people reduce their diesel consumption, lower their utility bills, and decrease their environmental footprint.

We also aim to ensure no new lithium is required to be mined for stationary storage applications because we try to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts happening across the world with lithium mining.

What inspired you to start Moment Energy?

For myself, while living for four months in a small town called Deep River (just north of Ottawa), doing some nuclear energy research for the Canadian government, I realized how even being two hours north of a big city, a lot of Canadians don’t have access to reliable energy. Ottawa was hit with a tornado, and out of power for four hours, while Deep River was out for 24 hours – something I was told was normal for them; they often lacked power for a week at a time, if not longer.

As we dug deeper, we found that Canadians – Indigenous communities, especially – are very diesel-dependent. The government spends tens of millions of dollars on shipping fuel just to keep the lights on, but a lot of remote communities don’t want diesel. They want to wean off diesel, but solar and wind power are too intermittent. That’s why energy storage is needed to decrease their fuel usage, and hopefully, even replace the diesel generators one day.

In terms of the founding members of Moment Energy, we’re a group of four best friends who met

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each other in our engineering program at Simon Fraser University. Here, we worked on a variety of projects, including building and designing an electric race car from scratch. From there, we started a mental health company, trying to commercialize neurostimulation devices, and soon pivoted to Moment Energy because we realized the skillset and passion for electric vehicles and renewable energy was something we all had in common. That’s how we got started in January 2020.

What were some of the challenges you encountered?

The first challenge we faced was the COVID-19 pandemic hitting when we were only a company for three months. We were new, but it was lucky that we were new because we weren’t in the middle of manufacturing a lot. During this time, there were some markets that were closed off and we decided to pivot away from, such as Vancouver’s film industry and outdoor events that use diesel generators that can be loud, a pollutant, and unsafe.

Over the past year, we addressed the off-grid residential market, which is still diesel dependent, but now they’re off-grid and they own their own energy. Now, we’re going to the off-grid and on-grid commercial markets as well.

The second challenge we’ve recently faced is supply chain issues. Everyone in the world experiences it.

The Suez Canal incident was one thing, but essentially for anything hardware-related, the prices have just gone up, mainly because of the whole supply chain shortage. For us as a hardware company that develops batteries, it presents delays.

However, it was a good learning curve for us – we definitely know how to better position ourselves on the supply end and better prepare for any delays that are going to be there in the future.

What do you consider Moment Energy’s biggest success?

Our biggest success is our three projects that we’ve deployed over the past year. These three projects are off-grid residential applications, but not just a cabin or a home. Some of them are mansions in the middle of the woods or on an island, so they use a lot of energy. The three projects were in Winnipeg, Quadra Island in British Columbia, and Edmonton.

It was really fulfilling to live on some of these sites for a couple days during installation to see everything get powered by our batteries: lights, TV, the fridge, etc. We were really happy about those successes and proud of Moment Energy.

Overall, we’ve grown incredibly quickly. Six months ago, we were still in one of our co-founder’s garage. Then, we moved into a small, warehouse sharing type model, and now we have our own facility. It all happened in six months. Recently, we also closed our seed round for $3.5 million.

What makes your organization unique?

We’re significantly more affordable, thereby allowing greater access to high quality, lithium-based energy storage to a lot of these markets that need it. As well, we have higher discharging capabilities with our batteries compared to traditional lithium.

Another thing that makes us unique is our environmental impact. New lithium is not required to be mined for our batteries which helps circumvent the negative social and environmental issues of mining. And then we do have a core technology overall. The core technology, in terms of why we win against any second life company, is the development of our battery match system.

How do you feel Moment Energy makes the world better?

We feel we make the world better because our method of energy storage offers a more environmentally positive solution than traditional energy storage. It’s also a safer option for our clients, as lead acid batteries,

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in addition to being negative for the environment, can be dangerous if you get the acid on you when topping up the batteries.

As well, our energy storage solution is a reliable alternative to renewable energy. Those who have installed solar panels or use wind energy often face sunlight or wind shortages which makes energy storage unreliable. Unfortunately, many end up having to turn to diesel generators as a back-up. So we see us fitting into the picture as sort of a hybrid approach; we install our battery, and combined with the diesel generator, we still reduce diesel consumption significantly.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

Right now, we’re partnered with four auto manufacturers, with about three more we’re in talks with, so we’re essentially leaders in terms of partnerships for auto manufacturers. In terms of our batteries, we have developed and deployed five kilowatt hours, which is a very small application. One residential home is 14 kilowatt hours, to put in perspective. We’ve also been deploying 20 kilowatt hours for offgrid residential homes.

Now, what we’ve just built and sent out is 100 kilowatt hours, which is about five off-grid homes or about eight on-grid residential homes. With that, we’re really addressing the more commercial-type applications, such as in the aquaculture or mining industries, where they use diesel generators and require more energy.

Another application we’re focusing on is small to medium manufacturing buildings. In provinces like Ontario and Nova Scotia and several states in the United States, they face demand charges where if you draw too much power from the grid, you will get fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our batteries can provide necessary juice for when they hit those peaks. We’re working to be the first commercial, second-life battery certification.

Our big, hairy, audacious goal is to ensure all electric vehicle batteries are repurposed by 2030 and that we would have a part in all that. And really, we want to make clean, reliable and affordable energy for all.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

Right now, a lot of our projects are in the works in the short term. For example, we’re sending our battery pack to Dalhousie to do testing. We’re working with the Verschuren Centre right now to lock down

an off-grid site to deploy our battery pack there, as well as working in Nova Scotia to work on on-grid projects with other companies too. Other BC-related projects are focused on the springtime.

What do you most want people to know about Moment Energy?

First and foremost, Moment Energy is a company that puts people first. Without our strong and passionate team, we would not be able to make meaningful environmental and social change for others.

We’re a cleantech company with a mission to change the way people view sustainable businesses. We’re providing an energy storage solution that is not only reliable, but environmentally sustainable. This speaks to how all products should be designed.

How can people help or contribute to Moment Energy’s mission?

Spread the word about us! We are always looking for project opportunities and new talent to join our team. The best way to contribute is to talk about what we’re doing (battery repurposing) and recommending our solution (energy storage).

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APRIL 2022 ISSUE 02 41

ECOSYSTEM SERVICES MARKET CONSORTIUM

Incentivization is key to improving soil health, one farm at a time

win-win-win for farmers and ranchers, consumers, and the environment.

While we do not believe ecosystem services markets are a “silver bullet” climate solution, we do believe our market program can complement other global efforts and provide near-term opportunities to reduce greenhouse emissions at the lowest possible cost, while other, more costly tools and technologies are brought online.

What were some of the challenges they encountered?

When thinking about ecosystems, it can sometimes be easy to forget about the “systems” part. Plants, animals and humans are all connected, starting with soil. Soil health should be everyone’s first priority when it comes to agriculture. Luckily, there’s a movement that’s aiming to ensure that happens.

Ecosystem Services Market Consortium is a non-profit that’s working to improve soil health across the US. We spoke with Thayer Tomlinson, Communications Director, about Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC), including why they started, their upcoming projects, and how you can get involved.

Tell us about ESMC’s mission. The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium’s mission is to advance ecosystem service markets that incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems, which benefits society. More specifically, we are creating a program that pays agricultural producers for the measurable climate and water benefits resulting from practice changes in their agricultural operations.

What inspired your founders to start ESMC?

ESMC was officially formed in 2019 after two years of multi-stakeholder discussions on how to best create carbon markets tailored to agriculture, and their ability to scale beneficial soil health outcomes. Our work is driven by the potential we see in agriculture’s ability to improve soil health and combat climate change. Our approach creates a

Building a market program that encompasses multiple crop types, production systems, and regions in the US is not easy. Ensuring that ESMC’s market program has the highest level of scientific rigor is even harder. Making our work even more complex is creating an ecosystem services market that includes credits for reduced greenhouse gases, soil carbon sequestration, improved water quality and quantity, and increased biodiversity.

Many of the tools, technologies, and program design aspects for our program have had to be built while we are building our program. While this process has allowed us to create new types of credits for carbon markets as a whole, it also takes a lot of time, effort, thought, and financial support.

What do you consider ESMC’s biggest success?

To tackle the challenges of building this market, our wide and diverse membership is one of our greatest resources. Our

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80+ membership represents the entire spectrum of the agricultural value chain, including agricultural producer groups and co-ops, major corporate food and beverage companies, agribusiness, conservation NGOs, agtech companies, land grant universities, and others. With our members, we are collectively investing in ESMC’s market program.

An example of this collaboration is our pilot projects around the country, which use nationwide member organizations and producers as pilot partners. Through our pilots, we work with an extensive network of partners and collaborators to test and refine our market program and other new technologies for every major farm commodity across the nation. These pilots are key to our success – the dedication and time our partners have put into the pilots is a full measure of our success to date.

What makes your organization unique?

Carbon market programs for agriculture are becoming more common, and farmers have lots of questions about why they should work with one program over another. ESMC is unique in that our organization is a not-for-profit organization operating a market program, while many of the other carbon market programs are for-profit organizations.

We’ve created a member-led consortium that can maximize environmental impact and producer income by delivering as much of the value back to farmers and ranchers as possible. Producers who work with us have the flexibility to choose among the practices that can generate credits, so producers can manage their operations to work best for them.

Additionally, our program pays producers for a suite of quantifiable impacts: carbon credits and water quality, water use conservation, and habitat and biodiversity enhancement and protection. So instead of focusing on just one type of environmental improvement, we “stack” multiple ecosystem services to go beyond simply improving soil carbon and reducing greenhouse gases. This approach to generating multiple

environmental credits from the same land improves our producers’ return on investment per acre.

How do you feel ESMC makes the world better?

Ecosystem markets represent one of humanity’s best chances to mitigate the worst consequences of climate change. Our ecosystem market program rewards agricultural producers for measured environmental impacts based on practice changes. But these benefits to farmers and ranchers don’t stop with our payments.

Regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices that increase soil organic carbon and reduce greenhouse gases have beneficial climate impacts, but they also improve overall soil health, structure, fertility, and productivity. This can create more resilient production systems that are less impacted by extreme weather.

Better soil health, in turn, means reduced soil erosion from wind and water, keeping valuable soil in the field. Improved soil water holding capacity can reduce nutrient losses and lower irrigation requirements. Improved practices can also positively impact biodiversity and habitat.

Tell us about your organization’s goals.

While ESMC has many goals, one key goal is to enable the success of the agricultural value chain to enroll tens of millions of acres in our market program. This work will help reduce the agricultural sector’s supply chain emissions to align with public commitments and science-based targets.

Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’d like to share?

Starting soon, our program will be operating in all 12 US agricultural regions, allowing producers across the country to enroll with ESMC and begin generating saleable ecosystem service credits. In May 2022, our market program will launch, which allows those producers currently enrolled in ESMC

pilot projects to participate in our full market program.

As the market continues to scale and demand for ecosystem services increases, the value/price of credits will continue to rise, further incentivizing producers to adopt more regenerative practices, which will produce additional beneficial environmental outcomes and provide additional revenue to producers.

What do you most want people to know about ESMC?

As we expand our market program, it is important for the producers who create credits, the buyers of those credits, and the wider public to understand how much science and verification underpins these credits. We base our work on science, widely accepted standards, and outcomes.

Our market protocols have the strongest possible scientific basis to provide confidence and trust to sellers and buyers, as well as the public. Our protocols, projects, and ecosystem service assets are verified and certified by global certification bodies, Gold Standard and SustainCERT, so buyers of our credits have confidence that their investment is truly having an impact.

How can people help or contribute to ESMC’s mission?

One way people can help ESMC’s mission is to learn more about where their food comes from and how it is produced. Farmers, ranchers, and the agricultural sector can play a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing soil carbon, and be part of the solution to climate change. Supporting agricultural producers as they transition to more regenerative practices is part of that solution.

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twitter.com/MarketEcosystem

APRIL 2022 ISSUE 02 43

What Purpose-Driven Companies Need to Know About Insurance

A look at the complex relationship between impact companies and the insurance industry

Entrepreneurs understand the fine balance between risk and reward, especially when it comes to doing business.

For purpose-driven companies who are innovating and taking risks in order to make the world better, the reward may include nothing less than helping save the planet itself.

But what happens when the insurance companies, a crucial component in the function of the economy, aren’t prepared to take the same risks?

Sparx Publishing Group spoke with James K. Asaad, President & Vice Chairman at Ferrari and Associates Toronto, who has extensive experience working with emerging industries, about the complex relationship between these businesses and the insurance industry.

The Current Relationship Between Insurance and Purpose-Driven Companies

As many business owners and seasoned entrepreneurs already know, securing adequate insurance coverage is a prerequisite to doing business. Insurance is embedded into every part of commerce and every transaction that takes place.

But what does insurance actually do for a company?

Put simply, insurance effectively takes away various elements of risk your business would otherwise be liable for, in exchange for a small percentage of what those risks would actually cost you.

However, the insurance industry in general is not very friendly towards innovation.

“The insurance market has been hardening since 2019, exacerbated by COVID,” Asaad said. “That issue is acute for startup segments… because the insurers that have been around

for a long time are insuring a lot of these businesses which have had a long runway in history. It’s an industry that looks backwards and then makes decisions on the future.”

In another view, the insurance industry’s perceived resistance to insuring purpose-driven companies seems contradictory. Insurance is designed to mitigate uncertainty, and from that perspective, a better world is a predictable world.

However, nature is becoming increasingly unpredictable, in large part due to climate change. If a company’s work helps mitigate the effects of climate change and restore some of that predictability, it seems logical that the insurance industry would want to incentivize these companies to succeed.

Perplexingly, this does not appear to be the case.

“Unfortunately, when the capital markets and entrepreneurs are always looking into the future… but the insurance company can’t stop looking at the rearview mirror, you slow down that innovation,” said Asaad.

Challenges Around Securing Insurance Coverage

The insurance industry’s pervasiveness and challenging relationship with innovative companies has resulted in an environment that can make it difficult for businesses in the impact space to get off the ground.

“It’s become an unfortunate situation where businesses are unable to launch,” remarked Asaad. “They can’t secure contracts if they don’t have insurance.”

In cases where purpose-driven companies are able to secure insurance, pricing is often a hurdle, especially for start-ups.

“As a result of reduced interest in that space, there are insurance companies that have become opportunistic,” said

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Asaad. “They do charge a premium to insure these companies. Recognizing that they’re one of few that have an interest in underwriting these things, they can call their shots on pricing.”

One potential solution to the pricing problem is grants and subsidies for entrepreneurs. However, Asaad believes this only addresses part of the overarching issue.

“We are seeing an increased amount of this capital that’s being provided to the entrepreneurs, be that by the private sector or the government,” he said. “That does help to remedy the situation in the sense that it gives them the capital they need to secure insurance. However, it does not change the insurance segment’s vision or view on startup businesses and startup segments.”

Though these challenges are undoubtedly tough, they’re not insurmountable.

What Can Purpose-Driven Companies Do?

In emerging sectors, where there’s not a lot of data and history available, it’s difficult to quantify execution risk from an insurance perspective. That’s why it’s important to make as many unknowns as possible into “knowns.”

To turn unknowns into knowns for his clients, Asaad uses a method called the Insurance Investment Presentation. “We want the insurance companies to get comfortable investing their capital into these leaders and businesses,” he said.

Critical Shifts in the Industry, and What Still Needs to Change

There is a growing sentiment in the insurance industry towards the opportunity purpose-driven companies represent.

“The competitive landscape right now, from an insurance perspective, is ready to be disrupted. What I’m seeing right now is a lot of younger people who see an opportunity within the industry to disrupt it, and have an entrepreneurial mindset, that want to insure and support the vision of these new segments where the journey is to make the world a better place,” noted Asaad.

Asaad compares these more entrepreneurial insurance companies to investment bankers. “They want to get to know: who are the people, the players, that have this idea? What’s their vision? What’s their aptitude, their experience?”

According to Asaad, one important change that still needs to be made across the insurance industry is a shift in mindset.

“We have to take the mindset of supporting the entrepreneur and supporting the segments that are trying to make the world a better place. That is our duty.”

“We want to start to recognize some of the operational pieces of the client or the business as it relates to insurance… When you get a sense of what the ecosystem looks like for their product or service, and how much control over it they have, you get a better sense of their ability to actually execute.”

Purpose-driven companies will also want to be particular when selecting an insurance broker to work with.

“Choose an insurance broker who demonstrates an interest in you and your business, an understanding of who you are, what your vision is, and who is fluent in the language of entrepreneurship, law, and finance,” Asaad recommends.

“They must exemplify the qualities of your business while packaging your story creatively in a manner which navigates the needs of underwriters in today’s market.”

Finally, purpose-driven companies should feel empowered to speak up about the challenges their companies are facing when it comes to insurance, and encourage others in the sector to share their stories as well.

If entrepreneurs advocate for focus on innovation in the insurance industry, meaningful change is possible, and with it, a chance to build a better world.

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“ We have to take the mindset of supporting the entrepreneur and supporting the segments that are trying to make the world a better place.

MAKING THE WORLD BETTER

GREENHOUSE 8%

AGRICULTURE EMISSIONS in Canada.

Government of Canada, 2021

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GREENHOUSE

AGRICULTURE EMISSIONS Canada. APRIL 2022 ISSUE 02 47
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