We’ve touched on the topic of “Growing a New Crop of Farmers” and the encouraging trend of college graduates choosing farming as a career. Now there’s a Silicon Valley incubator called the Local Food Lab that is geared to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in local food systems.
The Local Food Lab’s stated mission:
“Growing good food and farm startups: Local Food Lab stimulates and accelerates successful innovation and entrepreneurship in local food systems. By providing best-in-class entrepreneurial education and a potent network of diverse professional resources, Local Food Lab supports entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into thriving, sustainable ventures.”
Their first workshop took place over six weeks this last summer. For $2500, workshop participants are taught how to create a comprehensive business & marketing plan, and how to create financial forecasts. They also have access to the Local Food Lab’s commercial kitchen, garden and collaborative spaces, as well as a variety of mentors, fellow entrepreneurs and investors.
At the end of the six weeks, each participant presents their business plan to a panel of industry experts and investors for feedback and, fingers crossed, the seed funding to make their dream a reality.
Founders of the Local Food Lab Krysia Zajonc and Mateo Aguilar came from the Columbia Business School’s Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center which is itself a business incubator of sorts.
Zajonc told Co.Exist that she went to business school with the focused goal of understanding and then solving the problems that exist in current food systems.
“I saw there was a problem getting food from farm to table and linking producers to buyers but it seemed like those problems would be solved with a few really good apps and a logistics makeover of distributors. The bottleneck in my mind was the supply piece. There’s not enough food that people are demanding, and that’s why prices are so high.”
If you’ve got a great idea for a food startup and are in the Silicon Valley area, the next Food & Farm startup demo event is on November 14.
Sustainable America supports the local food movement. Locally grown food reduces oil usage for both production and transportation and helps to minimize food miles – the distance that food has to travel from farm to plate. With 7 billion+ people on the planet and counting, we will need to rethink and reinvent our agricultural systems if we wish to create a more resilient, more sustainable America.