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Sustainability: Going Beyond the Buzzword, Part Two

Sustainability initiatives are the new normal. In the age of “greenwashing” and “environmentally friendly” labels, consumers can’t escape companies’ messaging that demonstrates support for a sustainable future, as explored in the first installment of our Sustainability Series

And although only some companies go beyond the buzzword—sparking tangible change in their sectors—the food and agriculture industry consistently strives to create a more sustainable food system. We Westies are proud to work alongside changemakers who know that sustainability isn’t just about the environment—but political, social and economic issues too. 

For the Future of the Food System

Food and agriculture workers will always be at the forefront of sustainable development. As stewards of the land, farmers possess an unparalleled knowledge of preservation. 

Agriculture is seen as the sole purveyor of sustainable change, which often leads to growers taking the blame for broader environmental shifts. And although the sector rightfully takes responsibility for resource reliance and land use, agriculture experts cannot singlehandedly prevent damage or provoke change.

Farmers are further defined by their adaptability. With Mother Nature as a guiding—yet notoriously unpredictable—force, agricultural workers have to know how to think on their feet. A successful farm must work in harmony with the earth’s ever-changing moods.

At Noble West, we’re lucky to learn from leaders across the food system. From energy experts to produce powerhouses, our clients are committed to creating sustainable change for the benefit of the people, the profit and the planet. We Westies are proud to work alongside changemakers who know that sustainability isn’t just about the environment—but political, social and economic issues too. 

Countless sustainability initiatives are taking the food and ag sector by storm. We’ve pulled inspiration from our clients by surveying some of their sustainability-focused best practices.

Controlled Environment Agriculture

Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) is an umbrella term for highly tailored, technology-based farming practices. Often referred to as “vertical” or “indoor” farming, CEA facilities are, by definition, sheltered from the natural environment. Growers who maintain CEA sites can fine-tune their facilities to cater perfectly to their crops—adjusting everything from temperature, humidity, ventilation, light and water.

By creating a custom ecosystem, growers are able to reduce resource use. CEA is well-known for cutting down water use between 70% to 95%. CEA facilities—specifically those with vertical crop stacking—also require less physical space, dramatically decreasing impact to the land. 

North Shore Living—the original living herb seller—grows their crops in hydroponically powered greenhouses. The one-of-a-kind site saves space and water, which is uniquely beneficial for their location in California’s dry Coachella Valley. Their herbs are fresh, full of flavor and grown sustainability. North Shore Living’s use of CEA is a step—if not a leap—toward a more sustainable future.

Integrated Pest Management

Another significant aspect of sustainability within agriculture is the protection of soil biodiversity. Integrated pest management (IPM) hinges on a holistic approach to pest control. By using a combination of environmentally specific practices, growers are able to mitigate ecosystem damage that excessive use of traditional pesticides can cause. Through biological controls, long-term monitoring and habitat modification, IPM acts as an effective—and sustainable—solution for long-term pest prevention.

Biological pesticides (or biologicals) are integral to successful IPM programs. As a leader in pest management innovation, our client Barrett30 developed an effective and environmentally friendly biological derived from natural ingredients. Ultrasafe and non-systemic, Barrett30 is less likely to accumulate in soil and water, ultimately minimizing its impact on the environment to ensure a greener horizon for all.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), another client of ours, is pioneering statewide IPM initiatives in the form of a sustainable pest management (SPM) roadmap. Through system-wide assessment, community collaboration and a forward-thinking approach, DPR plans to strategically advance pest management in order to make the state’s agricultural practices more sustainable—representing a critical step toward a brighter tomorrow.

Renewable Energy

Food and agriculture businesses—from farms to factories—require massive amounts of energy in order to run. In pursuit of sustainability, more and more leaders in food and ag opt for renewable energy sources. Whether harnessing wind, biomass or solar energy, these sustainable sites help conserve our resources.

As a leader in agricultural and commercial solar supply, our client JKB Energy helps businesses reach their sustainability goals. JKB sees solar systems as investments in not only the future of businesses but the future of the planet. Many food and ag trailblazers, such as North Shore Living, power their entire operation with solar energy harnessed on site—and choosing to use renewable energy in the present makes future prosperity possible.

When we look toward the future of sustainable innovation, we Westies know to keep an eye on the changemakers in the food and agriculture industry. 

Due to the inherent complexity of sustainability in the sector, we’ve only just scratched the surface. From innovative growing practices to energy-efficient sites, we’re honored to showcase our clients’ cutting-edge work. Stay tuned for future blogs that capture a different perspective on the subject—beginning with an exploration of ethics in sustainable food and ag.