What We Do | We work and live in, finance, plan for, and manage our own land-based wealth assets. By relying on our combined 30-plus years of experience in the real estate and ecological design industries (food system, building and renewable energy), and with the valuable experience we've gained from "boots on the ground" management of our 1,300-acre Vermont farm and forest, we are uniquely positioned to offer advisory services to other landowners -- private and institutional -- interested in long-term investment in land and regenerative land use strategies.
We scout for, acquire, design, restore, develop, manage, and implement long-term protection plans for both ourselves and our clients, specializing in perennial productive food systems that simultaneously build wildlife habitat, with emerging market recommendations to gain access to both capable stewards/farmers and the marketplace.
We're doing something unusual, and we realize that to breed confidence in anything unfamiliar, in order to ensure longevity, it must be done with the utmost integrity, intention, and self-responsiblity, including the willingness to challenge established practices and ideas.
We explore what the best uses and tools are for mid to long-term ownership, revenue generation, carrying cost offset, tax shelter, values-driven alignment, ecosystem benefit, and personal enjoyment.
We research emerging markets, consider non-agriculture complementary uses, anticipate diverse ownership, lease, and tax structure needs, create appropriate development and conservation planning and structuring, and formulate exit-strategies all to further a shared mission wiht our partners.
We expect our land assets to achieve multi-dimensional goals, serving as tangible hedges against inflation, climate change, and threats to personal and ecosystem security. Our long-term work with wildlife ecologists on our own holding, as well as foresters specializing in wildlife habitat and water management, allows us to offer a unique set of considerations in designing land use plans, including forest stewardship for water security and non-timber yields.
We plan for land so that its uses harmonize with living systems to meet emerging market demands across all life-relevant industries--food, health, renewable energy, and building--ensuring long-term ecosystem viability and wealth preservation.
We focus on 3 interrelated assets, what we call Tier 1 Assets: Land; Food; and Health. Experienced and holistic management of Tier 1 Assets, we believe, has the power to reverse global destruction and climate change, and to establish enduring economic value. Land, food, and health represent the winning trifecta of our time.
Our projects span 7 inter-connected disciplines:
-Plant-based health care
-Micronutrient dense perennial food system research, design, and new commodities development + marketing
-Zero carbon footprint real estate development
-Progressive land conservation
-New gastronomy (using micronutrient dense perennial food system as the basis for culinary excellence)
Why We Do It | We envision a world without hunger, animal cruelty, chronic disease, and global destruction; all by-products of how the world currently feeds itself. We believe there is an unbreakable connection between land, food, and health, and we see landowners as key players in effecting needed, multi-dimensional global change.
Like countless other people today, we have experienced the consequences of our broken agriculture and medical industries. Shawn’s mother suffered from debilitating migraines, was diagnosed with uterine cancer, and then leukemia. She is now thriving and her health stable after adopting a nutrient-rich diet. Melissa’s father has advanced heart disease, recently underwent quadruple bypass surgery, and shortly thereafter suffered a stroke, all which could have been avoided had he responded in a timely manner to the warning signs and life-saving, diet-related information made available to him. Like so many others, we’ve had front row seats to the suffering, fear, and life-altering consequences of chronic, diet-related diseases. We’ve encountered the nutritional ignorance exhibited by our parents’ doctors and the medical industry as a whole.
For these and many other reasons, we’re committed to demonstrating that land use can express higher thinking, respect, and integrity by responding intelligently and humanely to the very real conditions that we face. We believe that our needs -- food, health, shelter, community development, wildlife habitat protection -- can be met in ways that enhance human, ecological, biological, and economic health. Food security, health crises, food scarcity, and a growing population are global realities that need to be considered as new innovations come online, and as wealth is invested in future-looking, secure assets.
Some critical facts that inform our commitment to land and agricultural innovation investment:
1. The United Nations estimates that by 2050 the world population will reach 9 billion. How to feed 2 billion more people by 2050 is a critical issue to consider when planning for land ownership and ecosystem protection.
2. Health care expenditures in the U.S. were nearly $2.6 trillion in 2010 and are expected to increase annually. Of that, approximately 75% was spent on patients with one or more chronic conditions, most of which can be prevented and even reversed with a micronutrient-rich diet.
3. In the U.S., we have an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer - all diseases rooted in micronutrient deficiency. Therefore, micronutrient rich foods, when placed at the center of the a new diet and food system, can offset $1.86 Trillion in medical expenditures annually. That is real money, and a potential savings that will impact the quality of life and bank account of every household. Moreover, shifting dollars from disease care to health-promoting commodities will invigorate a new economy of growers and producers in local communities--i.e. regional, land-based economies will take off, enhancing the lives of all residents who share in an economically vibrant and biologically-rich environment that necessarily follows regenerative food production practices.
4. U.S. taxpayers subsidize corn production to the tune of $5 Billion a year. This results in farmers growing more corn than demand supports. Some of that surplus is sold to the meat industry for less than the costs of production, and some is made into high fructose corn syrup. Meat, cereal grains, and processed foods rank lowest in micronutrient density.
5. U.S. taxpayers spend $20 Billion on price supports that benefit the dairy, beef, and veal industries. Fruits and vegetables grown primarily for human consumption are specifically excluded from USDA price supports. And yet, the major cause of all diseases afflicting Americans today is a produce-deficient diet.
6. Freshwater resources are scarce--just 2.5% of all water on Earth, and 70% of that is locked in glaciers, snow, and the atmosphere. This leaves accessible fresh water at less than 1%.
7. Current agricultural practices account for 93% of water depletion worldwide, whether using surface water or groundwater, with the majority used for irrigated crops for livestock.
8. Over 5,000 gallons of water are required to produce 1 pound of meat. By comparison, it only takes 20 - 60 gallons of water to produce one 1 pound of vegetables, fruits, soybeans, or grains (all of which are more nutritious than meat and do not contribute to a number of diseases, as do animal products). Much of the water that is used for these animals is to produce the crops for livestock feed, drinking water, or slaughtering, and is largely non-renewable in our lifetime.
9. 1 person can save more water simply by not eating a pound of beef than they could by not showering for an entire year. Fresh drinking water from the ground is not infinite in quantity, and it is not renewable in our lifetime.
10. In the U.S., alone, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows in factory farms produce over 5 Million pounds of excrement per minute. They produce 130 times more excrement than the entire human population in our country. Raising animals for human consumption pollutes our waterways more than all other industries combined.
For these, and countless more reasons, we are investing in no-kill permaculture systems and land-based businesses. We believe perennial micronutrient food systems are where long-term investment opportunities are the most responsible and promising. These systems can be optimized for climate change resilience, and are scalable for diverse landscape sizes and types. However, they are as yet unproven at large scales, though there are abundant smaller models around the world that demonstrate what is possible in a networked landscape. Our efforts are aimed at proving these systems at larger scales and are premised on the exemplary global permaculture work of Geoff Lawton.
We believe these types of foods and perennial food systems hold promise for sound agricultural investing, for many reasons, but our top five reasons are:
1. They are the foundation of a healthy society.
2. They are crucial to reducing the $2.6 Trillion in annual medical expenditures.
3. They serve as a hedge against future climate change.
4. They make use of what is considered under-producing or marginal land, which can be found closer to population centers in areas not previously understood as agriculturally valuable.
5. They establish the foundation for new land-based job creation.
Micronutrient rich commodities, or superfoods, are key to a healthful lifestyle and a lynchpin in reversing and preventing chronic disease. Some examples of superfood crops with strong economic potential are tree nuts, perennial berry shrubs and vine fruits, tree fruits, and edible seed crops. Storable staples like beans, nuts, seeds, and higher-nutrient grains complement fresh crops like vegetables and a wide variety of foraged and cultivated mushrooms. We have barely tapped the potential of an entire spectrum of new agricultural development.
Our Approach | We invest in and manage Tier 1 Assets by relying upon due diligence and science-based approaches because it ensures professional integrity and trustworthiness in our work. Through our Foundation, we conduct extensive research that supports our due diligence and decision-making. It guarantees perpetual abundance, which collectively creates a reliable and lasting basis for investment.
When we design large landholding management strategies, we complement permaculture principles with a no-kill philosophy, challenging ourselves to eliminate the unhealthy, unnecessary, and costly (financially and environmentally) raising, slaughtering and eating of animals. Instead, we design our food systems in partnership with multi-tiered biological systems, including wildlife. Working closely with Sue Morse, a wildlife ecologist, forester, founder of Keeping Track, and one of the top wildlife trackers in North America, we are studying our land's wildlife browsing and breeding habits, as well as their land-transit and water use patterns. The purpose of this work is to inform our food system design so that it mimicks their habitat, invites them in to feed and drop manure. Our goal is to not have to manage wildlife to stay out of the system, but rather draw them in by providing beneficial food, and at the same time benefitting our system from the capture of a diversity of manures. Our large landholding and robust wildlife population allows for this kind of experimentation, and holds, we think, the key to future large-scale, cost-effective perennial food system management.
Another important dimension to how we work involves scrupulous attention to detail and professional integrity. We’re doing something unusual, and we realize that to breed confidence in anything unfamiliar, in order to ensure longevity, it must be done with the utmost integrity, intention, and self-responsibility, including the willingness to challenge established practices and ideas. Therefore, we look for the truth rather than seeking confirmation for our existing beliefs, are careful not make false assertions, are honest with ourselves and others, demand and seek excellence, and treat others with respect. This dimension of ‘how we work’ is the most important internal compass for our company. We are by no means perfect, but we want our work to reflect and inspire confidence and trust.
With our due diligence grounded approach and interdisciplinary skill set we are able to uncover creative opportunities and potentially costly problems not usually visible to single-discipline professionals. Over our 30 years of land-related work we've come to recognize the limitations inherent in approaching landownership in a piecemeal fashion. Often frustrated with lawyers, brokers, appraisers, land planners, designers, and tax/wealth advisors who only see one portion of a land-related picture, we've come to appreciate that the natural synthesis of our many years of experience far transcends the isolated professionals approach. Our bandwidth saves time, eliminates multiple fees, allows us to anticipate far-future scenarios, and frees us to consult the best qualified professionals when needed.
Women and Gender Lens Investing | We are a women-owned company, modeling how to effect profound systemic change through intelligent and conscientious landownership and investment. We specifically invite other women landowners and investors to join us in this effort because our research tells us:
1. Women want to allocate assets to keep the family healthy
2. Women are responsible for 83% of all consumer purchases
3. Women are drawn to investors who invoke pragmatism and a long-term perspective
4. Women have less confidence in direct investing, and rely on advisor advice
5. Women control over 60% of the wealth in the U.S., and the number of wealthy women in the U.S. is growing twice as fast as the number of wealthy men
7. 45% of American millionaires are women
8. 48% of estates worth more than $5 Million are controlled by women
9. 60% of high net worth women have earned their own fortunes
10. Women live longer than men, and will end up in charge of much of the $41 Trillion expected to pass from generation to generation over the next 50 years
The systems we’re focused on -- land, food, health, climate change, global destruction -- tend to appeal to women over men, who seem more attracted to traditional, fixed income real estate investment types.
The long-term aspect of our asset class (land and perennial polycultures) tends to appeal to women over men.
Our low to modest return on investment for values-based investing tends to appeal to women (return of non-financial benefits, like saving the planet and reversing disease are seen as acceptable replacements for cash) over men, who are more driven by shorter term financial returns.
We bring well-rounded and time-tested expertise in this alternative asset class and management strategy to the table, and in doing so we can help other high net worth (HNW) women cut out the unnecessary middleman and redirect management funds to individuals who are doing work to impact/enhance real return on investment.
An additional goal of our investments is to create durable and systemic change for women worldwide -- both as investors and beneficiaries of invested capital. For example, Criterion Institute explains their pioneering gender lens investing strategy in this way: “To expand investment opportunities with a gender lens and invigorate investors to move significant capital towards deals that generate social and financial return. The Institute is doing this because when women are economic agents, social change accelerates and returns multiply. The returns of investing with a gender lens can be measured in our families, our communities, and our economies. This is The Women Effect.”
We agree, and believe that our areas of focus and industry expertise bring value, credibility, and a tuned ear to our female peers.