GreenField and Snacktivist Foods have more than a few things in common. Under the leadership of third-generation farmer CEO Clint Brauer, the company is on a mission to eliminate chemicals from agriculture and food ingredients, through the use of advanced robotics. Snacktivist Foods, a woman-led bakery mix producer headed by CEO Joni Kindwall-Moore, hopes to lead the way in transforming the food system by using regenerative agriculture, crop biodiversity, and incorporation of climate-friendly ingredients such as sorghum, millets, and teff in its plant-based products.

Recently, the two companies have joined forces to supply grain sorghum harnessing GreenField’s BOTony WeedBot, designed to reduce reliance on herbicides by using robotics to target weeds. To find out more, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery touched base with the two CEOs.

Jenni Spinner: Please tell us your perspective of how regenerative agriculture has evolved in recent years. Please feel free to touch upon how use and understanding of RA has expanded among bakery and snack companies. 

Clint Brauer: No-tillage agriculture is the gateway drug into regenerative farming. It continues to expand in popularity. The next steps of cover crops and grazing those cover crops on the farmland, is growing in popularity, but at a much slower pace as existing equipment; doesn’t make it easy. We have robots that either exist or in development to make it easier. My belief is that in 15 years, it will be commonplace to plant cover crops and graze them with sheep, cattle, goats or even pigs.

Joni Kindwall-Moore: Regenerative is an agricultural approach that is soil-focused and uses various tools and practices that fall into the three pillars of regenerative agriculture: 

  • Biologicals: use of biologically derived inputs and reduction or elimination of synthetics
  • Biodiversity: intentional increase in farmland biodiversity starting with wider crop rotations and cover crops and the creations/maintenance of biodiversity reservoirs like pollinator zones and riparian restoration
  • Biomimicry: reflecting the natural systems that would dominate the landscape prior to human intervention, reintroduction of animals into croplands and planting species that are suited for the area like drought-resistant plants in irrigation-restricted areas.

All of these farm-level interventions require economic reinforcement so for bakery and food companies, creating foods that incorporate these crops is an important part of supporting the adoption and normalization of regenerative ag practices at the farm. Also, for many companies, there is an increasing interest in making sure that the supply chain reflects the sustainability goals of the company so regenerative agriculture helps provide critical transparency and communication of ESG throughout the value chain. Regenerative ag is at a point of needing to scale beyond niche markets, so the duality of ESG and climate-impact metrics with the timing for scaling regenerative agriculture is at a critical juncture. This is why it is so important for bakery and snack companies to form partnerships with farmers who are pioneering and scaling the regenerative movement. 

JS: How did you come to work together?

CB: I admire Joni’s work. She is every bit as driven as I am and for all the right reasons. We have a shared interest in sorghum and millet, although her knowledge outstrips mine. As for how we met, I think it was through Sara Harper at Grounded Growth, but am not sure. Seems like we have been talking about working together for a long time.

JKW: I met Clint via an introduction from a fellow Kansas ag entrepreneur, Lynn Rundle. But we were also in shared networks like Grounded Growth with Sara Harper so this helped to strengthen the partnership. It is important for us at this level to partner with farmers who are highly entrepreneurial because of the “build as you go” nature of pioneering a category and the nature of a startup. Clint is passionate about “walking the talk”, creating solutions to scale regenerative ag and completely aligned with our mission of building a better food system. 

JS: What about your business practices and philosophy makes this partnership a good fit?

CB: Joni and I both are doing this for human health reasons. That is the driving force. Regenerative ag, when stripped of the chemicals, and given better equipment, can scale and heal the environment. It is the only practice out there than can heal the earth and humans. There is a direct relationship between soil health and human health that is inescapable.

JKW: Ditto! 100% Regen ag is a win-win for everyone and it is centered around partnership to create new channels to market. I was a biologist who became a nurse so I see that we can not solve the problems of healthcare or with our ecosystems without addressing farming and food. It is the critical nexus point and Clint and I see that problem and the solutions with clarity. 

JS: Could you please tell us a little bit about the partnership and what it entails? Please feel free to share details about the BOTony WeedBot, and what makes it special.

CB: GreenField and its partner regenerative-focused farmers grow crops for Joni’s products. GreenField's co-op partner, MKC, provides logistics such as storage, cleaning and price stability. And then the key is our robots can help grow those crops with no herbicides after the crop is planted, and soon, zero herbicides through the entire crop cycle. That’s where it stands now.

JKW: It is very important to us and our customers that we are not using ingredients that are contaminated with herbicides. I personally believe that herbicides contribute health problems in both humans and other organisms and that we are just beginning to understand what the long-term effects are. Greenfield’s robots are a critical tool for weed management. We often hear that a farmer must choose between herbicides or tilling, with robots, you no longer have to make that decision and this is a critical advancement in scaling regenerative agriculture. 

JS: Do you have any other partnerships, projects, products, or other announcements in the works you’d like to share? 

JKW: Snacktivist is rapidly expanding this year with multiple new partnerships into new retail, foodservice and distribution. Our baking mix line is going to have a complete brand refresh this quarter which includes the addition of a connected QR code that will allow for consumers to connect with the supply chain and learn about our supply chain partners. We are also scaling and launching 3 exciting finished product lines. Our finished product expansion plans include a line of breakfast grain cups that include sorghum, frozen sorghum-millet pizza crusts, and vegan brownies that are made from millet and sorghum flour. 

JS: Do you have anything else to add?

JKW: Partnership is central to the Snacktivist brand DNA; we believe that regeneration is a team sport. This team is developed through long-term partnerships and built on the foundation of a shared mission to make truly healthy foods that are free from harmful chemicals and help build back our planet’s top soil. We are building a new category around regeneration. The level of trust that we hope to cultivate with our consumers actually begins in the field with our farming partners and the commitment to the soil that the food is grown in. This is our commitment to the future.