INSPIRED IMPACT post headerINSPIRED IMPACT™ is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of purpose-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.


 

 

Andrew VermouthAndy Vermouth is the CEO of UpDIG headquartered in Denver. Follow them on Facebook and LinkedIn and learn more at updig.is.

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?
We foster knowledge exchange solutions and adaptations to support the planet’s 500 million+ small-scale farmers, as well as the ever-increasing billions of city dwellers around the world.

 

WHY DO YOU DO IT?
We saw a need for more innovative, market-based solutions to agricultural development after working with nonprofit organizations focused on serving subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Our global agricultural development work focuses on market-based programs aimed to build the capacity of individual farmers to support themselves and to create market linkages for those farmers to participate profitably in their regional and global food systems. We are passionate about aggregating the production of small-scale farmers within a foodshed as a solution to the problem of industrialized mega-farms producing commoditized, highly processed foodstuffs into food responsible for a global obesity epidemic which, for the first time last year, outpaced malnutrition as the primary nutrition-based issue facing the world at large.

 

WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
• More than 20,000 pounds of restaurant food waste diverted from landfill and converted to productive soil in the city of Denver
• 5,000 pounds of high-value produce grown in that soil
• At least three tons of soil carbon sequestered in urban brownfields
• 10,000 pounds of local produce distributed into the Denver/Boulder foodshed through corner stores and mobile markets on the Double Up Food Bucks program

 

WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Our Global Vision:
• Food security for the 500 million+ small-scale farmers in the world as they adapt to a changed climate.
• An environmentally sustainable food system that promotes community, self-reliance, and social justice.
• A healthy global ecosystem: regenerative agriculture and land-use practices heal the planet, feed the world, and promote public health, prosperity, peace, and democracy.

 

WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
• As we scale, we will continue to use baseline information from our pilots to build a unit economic model with a hardware/software that overlays field-collected and user-generated datasets on 1) produce production and sales data, 2) on-farm water and energy use, 3) volume of food waste diverted from landfill to compost, 3) local/regional foundational health data, 4) city/county income demographics, 4) state agricultural production data, and 5) USDA nutritional data (units of nutrient density per pound sold by produce type).

• As a part of our tracking on energy/water use and soil building programs, our SOM carbon token will incentivize best practices globally in regenerative agriculture and may allow eventual trading as a commodity by municipalities, corporations, and individuals.

• 10 years from now, we envision ourselves as an international BAAS company serving multiple clients with revenues on our metrics platform as well as an accumulated fund of SOM tokens.

 

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
High-level critical thinking people who share our passion to reform the global food system

 

WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
Overcoming inertia from global players focused on industrial agriculture’s “business as usual” which funnels investment capital toward known, safe revenue models. And, a general lack of understanding of what should constitute as genuine “impact” in nascent impact investment or “integrated capital” circles.

 

WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Think huge, grow small, and exploit your size to chip away at entrenched interests.

 

HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Deliberate on the true value of the food you eat, and act accordingly, for your own health and that of the world around you. If you’re an investor, consider the giant positive global impact you might make by accepting a 5x return on your money rather than chasing unicorns in the desert.

 


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