Presenters and Panelists

Much appreciation and thanks goes out to our esteemed presenters and panelists!


L. Hunter Lovins

Natural Capitalist Solutions, President, Founder, Author

Watch the video on YouTube.

Hunter talks about regenerative agriculture, gives examples of it in action, and provides insight into carbon farming, the process for getting started, and more.

Hunter Lovins

L. Hunter Lovins is the President and Founder of Natural Capitalism Solutions(NCS), a non-profit formed in 2002 in Longmont, CO. A renowned author and champion of sustainable development for over 35 years, Hunter has consulted on business, economic development, sustainable agriculture, energy, water, security, and climate policies for scores of governments, communities, and companies worldwide. Within the United States, she has consulted for heads of state, departments of defense, energy agencies and hundreds of state and local agencies.
Natural Capitalism Solutions.

Hunter is an adviser to the CLimate Economy Action Network (CLEAN).


Dr. Kristine Lang

Rodale Institute, Midwest Organic Center, Extension Scientist

Watch the video on YouTube.

Dr. Lang talks about the history, mission and activities of the Rodale Institute, and their work with farmers in the Midwest.

Kristine provides on-farm consultations for Midwest farmers and landowners who want to transition any portion of their operations to certified organic systems. She is developing partnerships with local and regional organizations to extend Rodale Institute’s outreach in the Midwest. Kristine has a Ph.D. in Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University, and she will also oversee specialty crop research at the RI MOC.

Panel Discussion

Watch the video on YouTube.


Jackie Mills of The Family Garden, New Douglas

Dave Ernst of Ernst Family Farm, New Douglas

Michael Turley of Rolling Lawns Farm, Greenville

Cindy Winland, Funding and Resource Expert, Just Transition Fund


Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Time: 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

  • 4:45 | Event opens
  • 5:00 | Welcome
  • 5:05 | Presenter: L. Hunter Lovins
  • 5:50 | Q & A
  • 6:00 | Presenter: Dr. Kristine Lang
  • 6:20 | Q & A
  • 6:30 | Panel Discussion with Hunter, Kristine, and Local Farmers and Producers
  • 7:45 | Next Steps: Introduction to CLimate Economy Action Network (CLEAN)
  • 8:00 | Wrap

Location: Online Web Conference

Download Flyer (PDF) | Download Press Release (PDF)

Event Description

In St. Louis’s Metro East area, a group of organizations are teaming up to help build local economic resilience and diversity in the face of climate change. People interested in building a vision of the future where business models and lifestyles are good for humanity, the climate and the economy are encouraged to participate. Speakers and panelists for Part 1 of this 3-part kickoff event will discuss the potential, current status and challenges of local regenerative agriculture, “a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems.” A concurrent launch of the Metro East’s CLimate Economy Action Network (CLEAN) will help individuals to get involved with existing activities and to find their niche for their passions and expertise. This event is being held online to keep people safe and healthy while helping to build an attainable and realistic vision of the future where everyone thrives authentically.



Main Sponsor

The Just Transition Fund is dedicated to helping coal-affected communities build strong, resilient, and diversified new energy economies.

Metro East Community Sponsors

Energy Resources Group


Federal Funding sources for local farms and local food systems

Thanks to Cindy Winland at the Just Transition Fund for this helpful information.

  • EPA Local Foods Local Places Local Foods, Local Places supports locally led, community-driven efforts to protect air and water quality, preserve open space and farmland, boost economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses, improve access to healthy local food, and promote childhood wellness. Partner communities have opened year-round, downtown markets featuring foods from local farmers, planned cooperative grocery stores, created centrally located community kitchens or food hubs to aggregate and market local foods, started business incubators to help entrepreneurs launch food-related businesses, made it easier for people to walk or bicycle to farmers markets and local restaurants, and made healthy local food accessible to families, including via SNAP, developed community gardens.
  • USDA-NIFA: The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program Formerly known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI): To support projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. The program will test strategies that could contribute to our understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. Closing date: May 18, 2020


  • USDA-AMS: Local Food Promotion Program The Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) funds projects that develop, coordinate and expand local and regional food business enterprises that engage as intermediaries in indirect producer to consumer marketing to help increase access to and availability of locally and regionally produced agricultural products. Closing date: May 26, 2020


  • USDA-NIFA: Community Food Projects (CFP) Competitive Grants Program: In FY 2020 and FY 2021, NIFA’s CFP intends to solicit applications and fund two types of grants. The types are entitled (1) Community Food Projects (CFP) and (2) Planning Projects (PP). The purpose of the CFP is to support the development of projects with a one-time infusion of federal dollars to make such projects self-sustaining. Closing date: June 3, 2020



  • USDA Value Added Producer Grants in Illinois The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of new products. The goals of this program are to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities and increase producer income. You may receive priority if you are a beginning farmer or rancher, a socially-disadvantaged farmer or rancher, a small or medium-sized farm or ranch structured as a family farm, a farmer or rancher cooperative or are proposing a mid-tier value chain.
  • Rural Cooperative Development in Illinois The Rural Cooperative Development Grant program improves the economic condition of rural areas by helping individuals and businesses start, expand or improve rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through Cooperative Development Centers. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on gov.
  • USDA Rural Business Development Grants This program is designed to provide technical assistance and training for small rural businesses. Small means that the business has fewer than 50 new workers and less than $1 million in gross revenue.


Examples of other organizations and their sources of funding for farms and local food systems

  • Sprouting Farms Talcott, WV. Sprouting Farms seeks to develop new and existing farm businesses and increase local food production in the New and Greenbrier River Valleys by laying the groundwork for sustainable farm businesses. Supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission (EDA), One Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, USDA, Summers County Farmland Protection Board, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, and the Just Transition Fund.


  • Appalachian Sustainable Development Bristol, VA.  We help family farmers stay on local farms by connecting them to strong markets of different types and sizes. We provide them with the necessary training, tools, and resources for success. We help families learn about and explore the idea of eating fresh, healthy food and where to access local products. Supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission (EDA), BB&T bank, First Tennessee Bank, Blue Ridge Beverage, Appalachian Region Conservation & Development, and the Just Transition Fund.


Other resources to consider