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No Greenwashing Here - Our Road to Regenerative Organic
This probably comes as no surprise: my first-ever business book (at least one I paid attention to) was “Let My People Go Surfing” by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard 🌊
At some point the book takes a turn from surfing to discussing our best chance at reversing a warming climate and sustaining human life. Yvon’s answer: REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE.
He started in textiles, finding ways to source cotton from small-scale farmers using holistic farming methods that nourish the land rather than ravage it.
But he couldn’t ignore the food system, which accounts for one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions as a whole. 😬
A New Standard for "Sustainable"
Learning about the impact of agriculture on the climate led Yvon to start Patagonia’s food branch Patagonia Provisions, using the company to popularize sustainably-sourced food products. To create a standard for these "next-level" sustainable sourcing practices, Patagonia Provisions eventually partnered with Dr. Bronner's and The Rodale Institute to launch a new certification that goes beyond organic, beyond “sustainable”: The Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC)
This certification sets the highest standards for:
✅ ROBUST SOIL HEALTH
✅ ANIMAL WELFARE
✅ FAIRNESS FOR FARMERS & WORKERS
Regenerative agriculture is complex and varies farm-to-farm depending on where in the world you are and what you’re growing–but think of it as ✨holistic health✨ for a farm. Regenerative farmers are employing ancient wisdom to grow food and textiles the way nature intended. These practices bring nutrients back into the soil, reduce carbon emissions, improve water and air quality, increase biodiversity, and produce nutrient-dense food. 🍽️
We share more on regenerative agriculture, why it's important and how buckwheat plays a role in it here.
Backing Up Our Sustainable Claims
When I originally had the idea for Lil Bucks, it was first because I fell in love with buckwheat's amazing health benefits, and the taste and crunchy texture. When I learned about buckwheat's soil benefits, and the role it can play on a sustainable (i.e. regenerative) farm, I feel like it became my purpose on earth to spread the love of buckwheat to create more opportunities to grow this crop.
I've been crazy about building an authentic business, even if it meant growing slower at times because of that. When I talk about Lil Bucks' sustainable mission, it’s not to be cute or trendy. Behind the scenes these past five years, I’ve been pushing for more sustainable buckwheat sources, closer and closer to home.
From buckwheat flower to buckwheat cluster, at A Frame Farm
I eventually connected with A Frame Farm, one of the O.G. ROC farms, to grow our buckwheat. It’s a dream to create a market opportunity for Luke and Ali’s farm by popularizing buckwheat. Check out pics from our 2022 harvest here!
Hangin' in buckwheat fields with Luke Peterson and his family at A Frame Farm, Minnesota
But why stop at buckwheat? The regenerative organic certification pushed us beyond our sustainable mission with buckwheat, to look at our operation as a whole. What is the impact of our other ingredients, how can we do better at every step in our supply chain?
I eventually met The Forest Farmers, a ROC maple syrup operation in the northeast, and switched our sourcing to their delicious, sustainably harvested maple.
Mike of The Forest Farmers, makers of the first regenerative organic certified maple syrup
With ROC buckwheat and maple syrup, our first line, Lil Bucks Sprouted Buckwheat Crunch, crossed the threshold to be Regenerative Organic Certified, and is now held to the highest standards in sustainability.
Volume-wise, Lil Bucks is actually a much smaller product line compared to Clusterbucks, so this is just the beginning. In the month after certifying our first product line, we quickly made progress to improve sourcing for Clusterbucks. Right now (April 2023), the Clusterbucks line is, on average, made with 62% regenerative ingredients. We have a path to making Clusterbucks 70-80% regenerative by the end of the year!
There’s soooooo much I could say here, but how freaking full circle is it that, rather than working for my dream company that launched this certification, I instead started my own brand that ended up being one of the early brands to get this certification. 🥺
One of my fave Yvon quotes:
As Lil Bucks gets bigger and bigger, you can trust we won’t forget that.
💙 Emily (founder)