By Savoy Director of Corporate Development, Bobby Gill
The Savory Institute (SI) had the honor of kicking-off the American Grassfed Association’s (AGA) annual conference this past week in Tarrytown, NY. The conference, an annual gathering of those pushing for only the highest standards of 100% grass-fed livestock, was held at the famous Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture just 30 minutes outside of New York City.
The 80-acre Stone Barns property was once owned by Peggy Rockefeller, and after her passing was turned into a farm, restaurant, and sustainable agriculture research facility, most notably known for chef Dan Barber’s world-renowned Blue Hill restaurant and the work he and his staff do to utilize every portion of the animal, turn traditional culinary methods on their heads, and develop new breeds of foods grown for flavor rather than size.
Chris Kerston, Director of Public Outreach for SI, spoke in his opening remarks to the benefits of Holistic Management (HM) in improving environmental, economical, and social outcomes. Although these benefits of HM are all common knowledge to a crowd of ranchers, industry executives, and agriculture policy wonks, Mr. Kerston also introduced the Savory Institute’s new Land to Market program which has recently been under development and is now being prototyped in 2017.
Chris Kerston gives the AGA Conference opening remarks
SI’s Land to Market program is a market engagement initiative for both brands and consumers, ultimately linking farmers and ranchers in Savory’s global Hub Network to markets and consumers who want to buy food and fiber that regenerates the land. Data collected where livestock are raised will verify the positive ecological outcomes on these lands, and data will be pooled together for transparency and traceability in the market space, all tied back to a new regenerative logo that can be placed on product packaging. At the global level, this will allow improved supply chains, improved market demand, and a robust evaluation of how products from HM producers are storing carbon back in our grasslands’ soils.
One of the many attendees excited for SI’s new Land to Market program was Will Harris of White Oak Pastures. Will is not only a participating supplier in the prototyping phase of the program but also SI’s Hub leader in the southern US, President of the AHA Board, and holder of the greatest Southern accent the world has ever known. Don and Debbie Davis and Chad Lemke of Grassfed Sustainability Group, our Savory Hub in Texas, were also among the attendees. Don and Chad both sit on the AGA’s Board of Directors, Don as Vice President and Chad as Secretary.
As the conference progressed, attendees were treated to a new film from ASU researcher and friend of the Savory Institute Peter Byck, a farm tour of the Stone Barns Center, unveiling of the AGA’s new grass-fed dairy standards, and a butchering demo from James Beard award-winner Kari Underly and Bryan Mayer of Fleisher’s Craft Butchery. Lunchtime talks were given by Judith Schwartz, author of Cows Save the Planet and Water in Plain Sight, and Mary Berry, daughter of acclaimed author Wendell Berry and founder of The Berry Center.
Kari Underly (left) and Bryan Mayer (right) demonstrating butchering techniques
As with many farming events, mother nature tested the heartiness of those in attendance and delivered 12” of unexpected snow on the second day, shutting down the nearby schools but proving the resilience of grass-fed advocates who made their way to the conference no matter the odds.
The Savory Institute is honored to have such a close working relationship and strong support of the AGA and its network, and we look forward to continuing each other’s important work of advocating, training, and removing barriers for those that aim to heal their land through properly managed livestock.