Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the second class of ventures for the Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0, an accelerator program designed to support growth-stage ventures from across the country who are working on solutions to address problems facing today's young farmers. The industry-leading program is sponsored by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in partnership with Uncharted, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The seven-month annual accelerator program will connect ventures to the people and organizations they need in order to scale their solutions including mentors, funders and partners.
Chipotle announced the second class of ventures for the Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0, an accelerator program designed to support growth-stage ventures from across the country who are working on solutions to address problems facing today’s young farmers. The industry-leading program is sponsored by the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation in partnership with Uncharted, both nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations.
According to a survey conducted by the National Young Farmers Coalition, farmland access is the number one challenge facing young farmers and ranchers. The U.S. is in the midst of a major transition of farmland, with nearly 100 million acres predicted to change hands in the coming years. This trend is likely to persist as the average age of farmers continues to rise. Once land changes hands there is no guarantee farming on the newly sold soil will continue as land is often lost to non-agriculture use. With the additional unprecedented challenges for farmers due to the coronavirus, support has never been more critical.
"As a company dedicated to cultivating a better world and preserving the future of real food, Chipotle is committed to strengthening the farming community and empowering young farmers," said Brian Niccol, Chairman & CEO of Chipotle. "By investing in innovation through our accelerator program, these eight ventures will make a significant impact across areas of need for the farmers of today and tomorrow."
As farmland continues to diminish and the barriers young farmers face continue to increase, all eight selected ventures offer a product or service to empower farmers and make it easier to succeed in today's agriculturally challenged world. From the ability to access land, financial or legal guidance, connections to equipment and education, each business offers a unique solution.
The selected ventures include:
- Agrarian Trust: Agrarian Trust is launching a network of Agrarian Commons in communities across the country to acquire and hold farmland in trust, providing farmers with equitable, affordable, secure land access through long-term leases.
- American Farmland Trust: American Farmland Trust helps new farmers gain access to land through national and localized networks and services in order to transfer farms from one generation to the next and keep farmland in farming.
- Demeter Mobile: Demeter Mobile is bringing the shared economy to agriculture. Pairing growers and service providers, Demeter Mobile is helping connect the farming community with a few taps on an app.
- Farm Commons: Farm Commons provides the proactive legal resources that sustainable farmers need to become the stable, resilient foundation of a community-based food system.
- F.A.R.M.S: F.A.R.M.S. provides legal services to small farmers while reducing hunger in the farmer's community.
- Rogue Farm Corps: Rogue Farm Corps trains and equips the next generation of farmers and ranchers through hands-on educational programs and the preservation of Oregon's farmland.
- Sustainable Iowa Land Trust: Sustainable Iowa Land Trust permanently protects Iowa's land to grow healthy food.
- Viva Farms: Viva Farms empowers aspiring and limited-resource farmers by providing bilingual training in holistic organic farming practices, as well as access to land, infrastructure, equipment, marketing, and capital.
"The Chipotle Aluminaries Project 2.0 ventures are poised to have a major influence on the future of farming. Growing these organizations by focusing on areas of scale, like strategy and leadership, will lead to the growth of our young farmer community," says Caitlin Leibert, Head of Sustainability at Chipotle. "Bringing together the best and the brightest in the industry with a common goal of furthering access and innovation for young farmers is truly inspiring."
For the next seven months, the farmer-focused ventures will receive customized support, including mentorship from industry leaders including Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea; Ken Meyer, Former Executive Vice President of Operations at Whole Foods Market; as well as Chipotle executives. Ventures will also receive individualized investor introductions throughout the program and Chipotle VIP cards, which will provide real food to fuel work sessions all year long.
Chipotle is also empowering the next generation of farmers with increased local sourcing, offering education, scholarships, grants, and guaranteed three-year contracts to young farmers across the nation. Chipotle and the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation have contributed over $500,000 to-date to support the next generation of farmers.