David LeZaks, Ph.D.
David LeZaks, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, is an environmental scientist and financial activist whose work is centered around developing innovative mechanisms for financing the transition to agroecological farming and food systems.
Before joining Croatan Institute, Dr. LeZaks led the Regenerative Food Systems initiative at Delta Institute in Chicago, where he managed a portfolio of projects that focused on the design and deployment of disruptive mechanisms to unlock substantial capital flows into regenerative agriculture.
We Are Seeing More Compassionate Catalytic Capital Emerging to Fund the Transition to Organic Regenerative Farming
We are looking at organic regenerative agriculture as an economic tool to revitalize rural communities and creating new financial mechanisms to help fund this transition--David LeZaks, Ph.D.
We're talking about catalyzing a farm to food system vision for regenerating community health, wealth, resilience and well-being.
In this interview I talk with David LeZaks, Senior Fellow at the Croatan Institute. David considers himself a financial activist who is working to design and deploy disruptive mechanisms to unlock substantial capital flows into regenerative agriculture. David thinks like a mountain. With a Ph.D. in environmental science, he crafts biomimetic solutions that reflect nature's wisdom to our most challenging food and agriculture problems. He is an in investing in regenerative agriculture. For the last decade, he has been a thought leader in connecting capital to grow the food systems we want. His work in the field began by starting the first national Agricultural Innovation Prize and led the Regenerative Food Systems initiative at Delta Institute. David connects people, generates ideas, and agitates systems, building effective partnerships focused on transformative systems change, identifying opportunities to create mutual value, while separating the wheat from the chaff of innovative ideas.
David believes we need to think about how our money is working for or against us to create an extractive economy where wealth does not remain in rural communities, and we all bare the costs on the landscape and in our health for cheap, subsidized food. He believes we need to see transitioning farmers to organic, regenerative agriculture and connecting them with local food systems as a way to revitalize rural economies.
David's food system activism is through creating innovative, disruptive financial tools to help support, incentivize, and expand capital access for farmers, landowners, and supply chain actors to shift to organic regenerative agriculture. David, in collaboration with banks, the supply chain, farmers, and philanthropic capital helped design and create the first Organic Transition Loan for farmers to transition from conventional to organic agriculture--a period when they can have difficulty covering their production costs before they can access better paying organic markets.
David believes that although we are seeing more local food system activity right now as people turn to local farmers and millers for food when grocery shelves are empty, the foundational infrastructure needed to fully connect the local and regional food systems must be rebuilt. We have deconstructed the diversity of our processing infrastructure--where we had hundreds of small flour mills across the Midwest, for example, we now have only a few. This will require a shift in the financial system to support the infrastructure we need for a healthier, more resilient farming and food system.
During these difficult days, David says we need to consider our actions. We have the opportunity to create the world like we want. This is not the first challenge we are going to face in the 21st century and we need to think seriously about what we can we do to build redundancy in the food system, beginning with local and regional short supply chains. David wants to work with communities and financial systems to imagine and develop these systems from soil to plate.
Please enjoy my conversation with David to learn how we can catalyze and support a regenerative farming and food system that works for everyone.
Don't forget, I’ve created a special Our Food Is Our Future Facebook Group where you can join the conversation and share your reflections, questions and ideas about creating a healthier farming and food system.
Here's to a healthier farming and food system for us all,