2017 was a year of fighting the good fight, and our members had many meaningful wins that created real impact. They secured grants, hired more employees, and had big, productive collaborations with each other.
We chatted with 18 of them to hear about some of their goals for 2018 and get the lowdown on their great 2017 memories. We’re going to spend the rest of the year telling you about what they had to say.
Next up are Brandon Hebor and Steven Bourne, Co-Founders of Ripple Farms.
Ripple Farms aims to tackle food security by reconnecting urban populations with food through hands-on workshops and educational material. Co-Founders Brandon Hebor and Steven Bourne are responsible for bringing Canada’s first urban farming unit to the Evergreen Brickworks.
What motivated you to start your organization?
Myself and Brandon (co-founders) both had some form of agriculture in our bloodlines, but obviously through the generations our families got away from that industry – so we like to joke that we’re again, first generation farmers, bringing farming back into our families in a very new and innovative way.
Ultimately, we decided to ‘take the plunge’ because we wanted to do something we loved, that being farming, and on top of that do our best to positively impact society and the environment while doing so – striving to have net positive operations in the future, while educating and employing the youth of tomorrow in this upcoming industry.
Greatest challenge or roadblock overcome in 2017?
Navigating the best way to scale our business financially. We didn’t want to give away any equity in the business, as we want to ensure our vision stays clear long into the future. Ultimately we were successful in securing a $2M loan from a Canadian Federal Agency – still talking with a few impact investors who we can see bringing onto the team, not just for their monetary contribution, but rather their belief in Ripple Farms leadership, future impacts, and networks that will make this a success.
Tell me about your biggest accomplishment for 2017?
So much has happened that led us to this point, all the partnerships, media exposure, and little wins that make this a success, but if I had to choose one – Ripple Farms biggest accomplishment in 2017 was selling our first urban farming unit to Seneca College, giving us the validation to persist with our vision.
One micro-goal you’re dead set on completing in this new year?
Sleeping more than 5 hours a night and cutting back from 8 coffees a day to 4… We are scaling fast and have our sights on the ‘phase two’ of operations, being the large-scale vertical farming facility. The money is there, we have good people to support us, and the experience to succeed – looking forward to 2018.
What is the most rewarding connection or experience CSI facilitated for you last year?
Stefan is a networking wizard! There has been so many connections that have helped us along the way, but the most impactful/promising to date was Joanna Reynolds – she immediately got behind our vision and wants to see us succeed. It’s connections like that we see as ‘lifers’, good people helping each other succeed.