Farmland Legal Access Toolkit Launches Soon!

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I've been working with the fantastic team at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School for the past two years to bring this amazing project to fruition. The Farmland Legal Access Toolkit will not only provide farmer-friendly information to help new farmers access land and help landowners transition farmland to the next generation, it will also contain an amazing collection of "Farmer Stories" related to land access. 

With beautiful images, modern design and a friendly user experience, this toolkit will draw farmers in with relatable stories and leave them with resources to preserve existing farm legacies and build new family farms. The toolkit is set to launch this spring.

Additionally, a companion project -- the Farm Lease Builder -- will be available later this year. The Farm Lease Builder is a free, online, custom farm lease tool designed to facilitate long-term, sustainable farm leases. 

I'm so proud of these wonderful projects and lucky to work with the cutting-edge team at CAFS. Stay tuned for launch details!

UN FAO Project Wraps Up

 My debut on Mauritius national television (dubbed in French!)

My debut on Mauritius national television (dubbed in French!)

In my capacity as the United Nations FAO International Consultant on Organic Agriculture Legislation for the African island nation of Mauritius, I helped Ministry of Agro-Industry officials and a national team of consultants create a new national law regulating organic production, processing and marketing in Mauritius (similar to the USDA organic standards in the United States).

The draft legislation is now ready to be submitted to Mauritius lawmakers. When the new organic agriculture regulations come into force, small-scale farmers in Mauritius will be able to sell pesticide-free fruits and vegetables at a premium price. 

Project goals included enhancing sustainable farm livelihoods, domestic food security, increased access to healthy food, and improved soils and adaptability to climate change. I'm hopeful the legislation will contribute to all of these goals and more.

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Thanks to the national team for introducing me to the beautiful country of Mauritius and for supporting this important transition to more sustainable agriculture.

I can't wait to go back and eat my first local, organic, domestically-certified pineapple or litchi (while lounging on the beach, preferably).

 
 

Starting 11 Pitch

I pitched my sports tech company Starting 11 during the 2017 Twin Cities Startup Week Women's Pitch Fest. I gave a 3-minute pitch to an audience of over 300 people at the University of Minnesota McNamara Center on October 9. The Pitch Fest took place after the Minnesota Cup competition finale event, where Starting 11 was honored as the High Tech Division Winner (taking home 30K in prize money).

The third annual Women’s Pitch Fest, hosted by WE*, featured 18 women entrepreneurs and was organized by Capita3

Watch my pitch here (video courtesy of TECHdotMN):

 

Our winning Starting 11 team is below, with our fantastic mentor Steven Snyder.

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Foodblazer Goes Live!

I founded Foodblazer to answer the questions I hear over and over again from food entrepreneurs.

Savvy food entrepreneurs need to know enough about the law to make sure it doesn't interfere with their business. You need to know when it's worth it to pay for legal advice and when you could risk doing some legal DIY.

You want to protect your product, your brand name, and you countless hours of sweat equity. You want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have your legal ducks in a row.

I've helped hundreds of food entrepreneurs achieve clarity on these issues over the years. But there is only one of me, and only so many consults I can offer or speaking engagements I can take. That's why Foodblazer (formerly Good Food Boom) exists.

Foodblazer will be a stockpile of legal and business firepower for food entrepreneurs nationwide. I look forward to helping you learn how to grow and protect your business. 

United Nations FAO Project: Organic Agriculture in Mauritius

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I recently traveled to Mauritius as a legal consultant to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project to support the African island nation's transition to organic farming.

In my capacity as the International Consultant on Organic Agriculture Legislation, I am helping Ministry of Agro-Industry officials and a national team of consultants to create a new national law regulating organic production, processing and marketing in Mauritius (similar to the USDA organic standards in the United States).

As the next step in the project, I will help finalize the new Mauritius organic agriculture legislation and assist with the creation of organic implementing regulations.

Food Law Goes Blue

I recently spoke at my alma mater, the University of Michigan Law School. The Michigan Food Law and Policy Association invited me to speak about my career, my food law practice, and my advice for law students interested in working with agricultural and food entrepreneur clients.

I was joined by my husband and fellow Michigan Law graduate Teague Orgeman, a litigation partner at the Stoel Rives law firm in Minneapolis. 

Teaching Organic Food Law in Mauritius

I recently traveled to Mauritius as a legal consultant to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project to support the African island nation's transition to organic farming. 

I gave keynote address during an opening ceremony with the Mauritius Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mahen Seeruttun. I spoke about creating trust within an organic system through strong institutions and support for farmers.

I also provided a day-long training session to organic stakeholders and ministry officials on international organic agriculture law and best practices. Even better, I got to visit an organic vegetable farm and participate in meetings and a working group session designed to make initial decisions on the direction of the Mauritius legislation.

As a next step, I'll draft the framework for the new Mauritius organic agriculture law and travel to Mauritius in 2017 to work with stakeholders to finalize the new legislation.

 

I'm so grateful for the support of the students and staff at the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, who have provided invaluable research and writing assistance for this project.

Local Mauritius media coverage of my FAO mission is available via the MBC video above (in French and English) as well as here, here, and here.

United Nations FAO Appointment - Mauritius Organic Agriculture Law

As part of a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) project, an international team is working to support the development of an organic agriculture marketing system in the African island nation of Mauritius. In my capacity as the team's International Legal Consultant, I will be advising the Mauritian government regarding the creation of organic agriculture legislation in Mauritius.

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The project's goal is to increase the island nation's food security by increasing domestic food production and the provision of goods and services from agriculture, forestry and fisheries in a sustainable manner.

I'm supported by law student researchers at the fabulous Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, and will work with stakeholders and attorneys in Mauritius to strengthen the policies, laws, management frameworks and institutions that are needed to transition the country to a system of organic production and marketing. 

WE* Scale Panel Discussion at COCO

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Nearly 50 women entrepreneurs came together at Coco Uptown on May 18 to learn about the building blocks for high-growth startups at "WE Scale: The 5 Ws of Resourcing Your Startup."

I participated in a panel of four fantastic women discussing available resources and tools for women entrepreneurs that relate to the legal, financial, educational, investment, and operational aspects of scaling a business.

Panelists included leaders from the Sofia Fund, Capita 3, Geekettes, WomenVenture, COCO, Minnesota Cup, and the University of Minnesota. Learn more about WE* at westart.mn.

 

WE* Scale Panel for Women-Led Startups

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Recognizing the need to increase the number of scalable women-owned startups, MN Cup recently launched the Power of WE+: Women in Entrepreneurship at the 3rd annual Women in Entrepreneurship Conference.

WE+ will work to raise awareness around the great people and resources that exist to support women entrepreneurs, including women foodpreneurs. Join me and a panel of fantastic women entrepreneurs and advisers for the WE Scale: The 5 Ws of Resourcing Your Startup panel and networking event at CoCo Minneapolis on May 18.

More workshop details:

WE Scale: The 5 Ws of Resourcing Your Startup: If you are a woman entrepreneur focused on building a scalable, high-growth potential startup, then this is a workshop you won’t want to miss. Through a "WE" (Women Entrepreneurs) collaboration of women united by the goal of seeing more women develop, scale and lead new ventures in Minnesota, we've pulled together a panel of women who are ready to discuss the local and national resources that exist to support women entrepreneurs. We’ll cover the questions you’re asking about scaling your company: What is available to me? Where should I go? Who should I work with? When do I raise capital? … with a primary focus on “what” is available.

Click here for even more details and registration.

Speaking on Strategic Partnerships Panel @ Women's Entrepreneurship Conference

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It was a packed house for the 3rd Annual Women in Entrepreneurship conference, hosted by Minnesota Cup at the UMN Carlson School on March 31. 

I participated in a lively panel discussion on financing and strategic partnerships moderated by Sofia Fund CEO Cathy Connett. The panel also included Erin Newkirk, founder of Red Stamp, and Andrea Walsh of Health Partners. Monica Nassif, founder of Mrs. Meyers and Caldrea, was the keynote speaker for the conference.

It was great to see so many energized women entrepreneurs at the conference, and kudos to MN Cup Director Melissa Kjolsing for leading and executing the event.

Panelist at Harvard Law School Food Summit

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I was honored to speak at Harvard Law School on Oct. 3 as part of a panel entitled "Movers and Shakers in Food Law and Policy." The panel discussion was part of the inaugural Harvard Food Law Student Leadership Summit hosted by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.

Summit participants heard from national experts about key food law and policy issues related to the environment, health, food safety, and food waste; discussed ways to build a national network of food law and policy colleagues; and worked to develop coordinated strategies for addressing some of society’s most pressing food law and policy concerns. 

All The Law That's Fit To Eat: MinnCLE

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I addressed the law behind the latest headline­-making news about what we eat and drink during a webcast course that aired via Minnesota CLE on September 30. The presentation covered the Just Mayo labeling controversy, the Chipotle Non­GMO class action, and the most recent state and federal GMO labeling laws and litigation.

The CLE also unpacked "organic" vs. "natural" marketing claims, discussed craft beer and food industry trademark battles, and provided the latest Minnesota local food law updates on cottage food and agritourism regulation. 

Supersize Your Food Business Panel @ Startup Week

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Thanks to the expert panelists, food entrepreneur attendees, and MN Cup Semi-Finalists for making our Twin Cities Startup Week event a huge success! A panel of local food business experts shared resources, expertise, and entrepreneurial life lessons with a sold­-out audience of food entrepreneurs. The crowd stayed for almost an hour after the event, networking and making new business connections. A big thank you to our distinguished panelists:

  • Hannah Barnstable, Owner, Seven Sundays
  • John Trucano, President, Acorn Financial Corporation
  • Ali Shouman, CEO, B.U.I.L.D. CPG Sales and Marketing
  • Zoie Glass, Co­-Founder, Midwest Pantry
  • Josh Resnik, CEO, Wedge Community Co­op
  • Kathy Roland, Venture Partner, Oak Investment Partners
  • Mark Phillips, Corporate Four Insurance

And thank you to Seven Sundays and 2015 MN Cup Semi­Finalists Bizzy Coffee, Buddy's Nut Butters, and Rise Bagel for providing breakfast.

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