We accept that our effort to demonstrate the viability of permaculture and micronutrient-rich foods requires evidence that markets exist for the end-products. Therefore, a key component of advancing our mission is shaping markets for micronutrient-rich foods grown on permaculture-managed lands.
As part of our investment strategy, we are launching complementary land-centered businesses. Through our Foundation’s research on emerging market food and beverage commodities, we are analyzing opportunities for market entry and growth. Our businesses are primarily intended to support the micronutrient-rich crops we select to grow on our lands -- GBOMBS, Greens-Beans-Onions-Mushrooms-Berries-Seeds+Nuts -- as well as the wild edibles that can be harvested without sacrificing their natural regenerative patterns.
LivingFuture Foundation | LivingFuture Foundation is our $23 Million family-funded 501(c)(3) specializing in progressive land conservation, stewardship practices and ecological innovation. The Foundation’s mission is to mobilize human genius toward the design of a future that is physically, culturally, and perpetually conducive to life. Melissa, Founder and Executive Director, established LivingFuture Foundation in 2003. The overarching term used to describe LivingFuture's work is 'living systems design.' It is an approach that strives to mimic natural processes and evolutionary dynamics in the re-design of physical and cultural infrastructures so that they become perpetually life-enhancing and foster creative, adaptive communities at local and global scales. The Foundation supports Earth Asset’s investment and management efforts by conducting research and sharing the important practices on which many of our decisions are based. Some examples of LivingFuture’s research include agriculture-superfood potentials for the northeastern united states, new applications of forest and permaculture cropping systems that incorporate wildlife browsing patterns and habitat needs; revisionary gastronomy that integrates modern culinary techniques to maximize nutrient density, flavor, and human health-enhancement.
Vermont Seaberry Co | We launched the Vermont Seaberry Company in 2013 to bring our much loved crop, the seaberry, to market. The seaberry shrub was selected for inclusion in phase 1 crop plantings at Teal Farm because of its soil-building qualities, climate hardiness, exceptional nutritional benefits and flavor, and its service as superb wildlife habitat. Intentionally small, we are about quality, not quantity. Our seaberries are hand-harvested by Mia Jung, the "seaberry whisperer", and immediately processed or vacuumed-sealed and put into cold-storage.
Ethical Hands | Ethical Hands is our newest venture, and will launch the summer of 2014. It is a team of harvesters trained to protect (and ultimately process) the highest nutrient content of superfoods grown in perennial and permaculture systems throughout Vermont. We will track and harvest cultivated and wild superfoods on clients' land, for the highest nutrient and value yield. Using digital and local reporting, including webcam installation, we intend to capture and preserve the value of our client' best medicine.
Ethical Hands is a revolutionary approach to land management and food system stability. The company facilitates landowners’ ability to plant and maintain land/health-enhancing superfoods, primarily in low-maintenance broad acre permaculture systems in under-used pastures and fields, all free of the hassle. We can monitor and harvest each superfood, will eventually offer processing services, with the possibility of purchasing crops outright--or a combination of all the above. What better way for landowners to invest in installing these systems, reap the health and financial benefits of their yields, and be freed from of the time-sensitive needs of harvesting and processing. Our hope is that Ethical Hands will enable a new wave of perennial food system investment. This kind of investment, in turn, will stimulate economic opportunity for those growing nursery perennials, will support the research and development of climatically adapted varieties and new crops, spur a wave of specialty processing, and enlarge the creative palate for chefs and farm-to-table restaurants in the region to use these ecosystem-and health-enhancing foods.
Earth Asset Trust | The long-term protection of land is an important element in our work. Working landscapes can and should be protected from undesirable and destructive use transformation. We believe, however, that protection of working landscapes needs to be far more future-thinking, allowing, for example, permaculture design impact -- such as water harvesting earthworks excavation and installation -- to be as ecologically enhancing and economically viable as possible. Our experience suggests that a considerable amount of land conserved over the past three decades is encumbered by easements that overly limit, possibly even prohibit, permaculture practices as well as needed onsite housing.
Though we are heartened by the work accomplished by local land trusts over the past thirty years, we see significant problems with how these lands can and will be used and stewarded over time. Because of the highly restrictive language in these easements, neither Earth Asset or our Foundation would be able to acquire traditionally conserved lands because we could not carry-out permaculture practices on most of them. If, as we hope, our land use strategies become more mainstream, and as investors are searching for land to acquire on which to implement elements of our bespoke land investment toolkit, they will unable to purchase many of the conserved lands out there. In short, a lot of land is taken out of circulation for innovative agricultural land use. The consequence is unfortunate to buyers and sellers.
Earth Asset has tremendous experience in traditional conservation projects gained from all project participants’ perspectives -- land trust, landowner, appraiser, land planner, legal, tax, and wealth advisors, neighbors/abutters, local community members, and governmental entities.
Earth Asset Trust aims to demonstrate the future of working landscape conservation, and to establish models of high-performing, ecologically and biologically healthy food systems designed and managed in accordance with intelligent, innovative and future-thinking practices.
An interesting sidenote is the recent and growing trend of conserved lands coming to market, largely the result of an aging population of original owners/easement grantors who need to sell. We are on the precipice of a massive wave of conserved land transactions. The success of selling and buying conserved land will be directly tied to the confidence of the agents involved in marketing and representing them. Too often both buyers and sellers need to be educated about these oftentimes misunderstood property encumbrances. Earth Asset believes that a property’s conserved status should add value, where many in the real estate brokerage industry are unfamiliar with this important family planning tool, and mis-perceive conservation easements as value-limiters and marketing obstacles.