The Scale Lab is a one year system analysis and cross-sector reflection to identify key next steps for food companies to contribute to the scaling of Regenerative, Climate-Smart Agriculture, with a primary focus on the US Midwest.
Our Vision is one where businesses can thrive by championing regenerative, climate-smart, agriculture systems in which farmers’ livelihoods and their communities are continuously strengthened. As a result, we increase the resilience of our ingredient supply and meet goals for net carbon reduction, numbers of acres in regenerative agriculture, water quality and quantity, biodiversity, and social well-being.
The Scale Lab is a pre-competitive group facilitated by the Sustainable Food Lab with our partners. We use a systems approach—applying tools that increase our understanding of the larger system while working on very specific high-leverage actions.
The Scale Lab is, by design, a one-year process that encourages us to move quickly to test proposed solutions. Our goal is to strengthen existing platforms such as the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, Field to Market, SAI Platform, USFRA, Climate Collaborative, and Cool Farm Alliance. Our assumption is that these existing platforms are the nodes within which action is already happening and where more will take place.
Our process through 2021 is shown below.
The below systems maps provide an Overview of the Model System as we see it, the Corporate Business Case & Internal Alignment and Supply Chain Programs to Scale Farmer Adoption. We see the solution to scaling regenerative agriculture to first include Corporate Buy-in and then the Scaling of Supply Chain Farmer Programs. We created colored blocks in our systems maps below to represent Corporate Action, Farmer Adoption, External Influence & Success Factors.
Overview of the Model System
This is the system of Regenerative Agriculture as we see it.
Corporate Business Case & Internal Alignment
For Regenerative Agriculture to become mainstream there must be a Corporate Business Case and Champions must have the ability to create Internal Alignment, including quantification of the benefits of investing in regenerative agriculture. The below systems map provides a Current Reality (exaggerated) as we see it and the Desired Outcome.
Supply Chain Programs to Scale Farmer Adoption
The actual transformation to a Regenerative System requires supply chain programs that scale farmer adoption. This includes rapidly growing the availability of agronomists who provide soil health support and farmer learning networks, funding mechanisms for farmers, new and improved contracting and procurement models, market demand for small grains and other rotation crops and shared public policy objectives.
The Scale Lab builds on the Sustainable Food Lab’s work facilitating diverse groups of stakeholders and creating spaces where people can share not only their successes but also look critically at what’s not working and support each other in learning and action.
The Scale Lab has received seed funding from the Walton Family Foundation.
We appreciate the contributions of the following individuals: Nick Mylet, Ryan Sirolli, Tai Ullman, Matt Schmitt, Chris Adamo, Christina Owens, Jay Watson, Steven Rosenzweig, Christina Skonberg, Kate Schaffner, Luc Beerens,, Margaret Henry, Stefani Millie Grant, Jan Kees Vis, Giulia Stellari, Nick Betts, Rod Snyder, Betsy Hickman, Erin Fitzgerald, Amanda Raster, Erin Callahan, Ryan Whisnant, Daniella Malin, Lisa French, Keith Berns, Sarah Carlson, Alisha Bower, Nick Ohde, Clay Bess, Laura Gentry, Rod Weinzierl, Jason Clay, Marty Matlock, Rob Myers, Linda Prokopy, Paul Wolfe.