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Creating Hyperlocal Businesses that Reach Mass Markets Through Farm Fusion

Redefining urban agriculture by fusing community, health, entrepreneurship, and food through a business incubator and mentorship network.

Photo of Brandon Youst
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Urban Farm Academy L.L.C.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

We are a network of entrepreneurs creating the new food future with farm fusion business models. The most heavily involved co-collaborators include: Profound Microfarms (@profoundmicrofarms) Farming the Future (@farming_the_future) Bootstrap Farmer (@bootstrapfarmer) On the Acre (@acreonthe) Craven Local Food Market (@cravenlocalfoodmarket) Fresh Impact Farms (@freshimpactfarms) Urban Dirt Co. (@urbandirtco)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://urbanfarmacademy.com/

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Ernul (North Carolina)

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

United States of America

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Business incubator is available to anyone in the United States, but our HQ and area of focus for conferences and collabs are in Dallas, TX.

What country is your selected Place located in?

United States of America

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

A big part of our network resides in Dallas where we work with people directly involved in food & agriculture from many angles - farm to table events, farmtender tours, top chefs & mixologists, south Dallas food deserts, agriculture departments, farm product manufacturing & distributors, press, etc.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) is a large and diverse area that is home to almost every demographic that is represented in the greater United States. There are parts of the city that are beautiful and feature some of the most interesting culinary collaborations between chefs and farmers. However, just a few miles away it features areas where food deserts are a serious problem for those underserved communities. That said, its diversity provides a place where we can bring together the wide range of interests and industries which all live together in the same area. We've seen attempts where large grants are given to start community gardens, but the education and financial commitment is not considered long term, so these projects inevitably fail. By looking at these problems from an entrepreneurial point of view (and with the support of the local educational institutions), we have the opportunity to change the way we approach collaborations between charities and businesses to ensure their long term sustainability for the economic benefit of the whole DFW area.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

6800000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Many themes interconnect and can be tackled together with a different approach to business and governmental regulation. Large monoculture farms are degrading the soil at an alarming rate, while also feeding food insecurity and diversity at the local level. Our current system subsidizes some of the worst forms of human nutrition (wheat, corn, soy) and keep those foods priced cheap compared to things grown in a healthier and more sustainable way. This also makes it more difficult to start a business based on sustainable/regenerative practices due to the price distortions and the skewed consumer price expectations that follow from that. So we've been trained to price shop our food choices instead of being based on the nutrient profile of the food. Most people assume the food their eating won't harm them and haven't made the connections to long-term health complications, day-to-day energy levels or the true externalities of their purchasing decisions.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Long term as those subsidies are phased out, smaller regenerative and indoor farms will benefit from those price distortions heading in the opposite direction. This has the opportunity to make small scale urban farming more profitable and accessible to anyone who will choose to get involved. And by combining industries through a Farm Fusion approach, we can 'own the supply chain' by taking our farms production and turning them into value-added goods, or creating experiences that the modern consumer is looking for. Technology has allowed us to run online stores that remain open 24/7. With apps that provide a greater level of connectivity, we can manage a greater capacity for direct distribution in ways that once would have required a much larger or complex infrastructure. We can collaborate with other farmers and producers, creating delivery hubs providing for the local food economy. By recalibrating what's possible, thousands of people can leave behind careers in all stages and walks of life and participate in rebuilding the hyperlocal food economy. Our Craven Local Food Market is a farmer owned meal subscription service where we grow, harvest, cook and deliver meals to our client base on a weekly basis. We only harvest and purchase exactly what we need, so it is a big step towards a zero-waste business model. More businesses like this, implementing a Farm Fusion business framework, will be designed to achieve similar or even better results in a more urban context.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Increased access to healthier food reduces the strain on the community-based systems, providing more opportunities for those areas to thrive. When bootstrapping entrepreneurship is encouraged with support educational platforms and peer to peer networks, the success of start-ups is increased. With risks decreased, more choose to take the opportunity to create the life and future that they want to see for themselves, no matter what stages of life they may be at. Leveraging the opportunities that technology brings allow us to create something that leaves the old system behind, creating something that has value, profit and a social impact.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

With a food economy that has more local farmers and producers creating an expanding line of offerings, we will be reaching mass markets in ways that are not being met by today's farmers and entrepreneurs. Instead of relying on multinational food companies using global supply chains, the collaborations of farmers and producers will lead to more localized and seasonal offspring of these convenient options. The continued proliferation of apps, data and more peer to peer connection will flatten the informational advantage once held by the few that had the information. With businesses easier to start, more businesses will have the opportunity to thrive and create new and unique products. With more connection and information sharing, we will all benefit from a competitive, yet abundant minded approach that builds each other up instead of using the sometimes devastating levers of large capital that can artificially keep the price so low for so long, competitors are forced out of the market. This all leads to a more resilient food system and a stronger local economy that provides infinite opportunities for start-up entrepreneurs to get a foot in the door in starting a business.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Linkedin

Attachments (1)

The Bootstrap Farmer Guide to Farming the Future.pdf

Our book and vision for the future, in PDF format.

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Photo of Constanza Castano
Team

Hi, Brandon Youst ! Welcome to the Food System Vision Prize Community!

Please make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.

Here is the link to the pocket guide: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o8WGMus6-V8GywWdlNwmCpk7I1fMVzcQ/view

All the very best for the Prize!

Warm regards,

Constanza