Hey everyone, wanted to provide an update and a quick blog about my trip to the Netherlands. I’ve returned home, and throughout my entire trip I did not see one person wearing wooden shoes (what a total bummer). This trip to the Netherlands came up fairly last minute, a couple weeks ago we were notified that we had been selected as one of the top 5 finalists for the startup pitch competition at the Regenerative Agriculture and Food Systems Summit that was to be held in Amsterdam. We looked into the event a little deeper, looked at the incredible caliber of speakers and attendees, and decided that we should go take in this once in a lifetime opportunity.
At the event, I gave a 5 minute pitch about Continuum Ag, followed with a 5 minute Q&A session where I took questions asked by the judges panel, which consisted of sustainability and investment leaders from throughout Europe. Continuum Ag was the only American company represented at the pitch competition finals, and I am happy to announce that we came home with the winning title as voted on by the attendees. Each attendee was able to vote through the conferences app, where they selected us as the winner. I am extremely grateful to receive this award, but I take this as another kick in the butt that we are being looked to on a global level to be the how-to for regenerative agriculture, and we need to continue to accelerate our progress.
Throughout the rest of the week, I spent a lot of time with our friends over at Rabobank at their world headquarters in Utrecht, Netherlands, which is just a short train ride down from Amsterdam. I spent multiple days there, having meetings with a variety of teams from the carbon bank, investments and others. The office itself is extremely impressive, and the activity going on throughout the building was constantly a buzz. Going away from the week, we have a lot of opportunity, a lot of potential working with Rabo and their network, but the carbon space and sustainability need some major changes in order for the vision to be fully attained. I am looking forward to seeing where that’s going to go, and stay tuned for updates as we continue to work with a wide array of enterprise level customers, including Rabobank.
Some other observations from the entire week is I took trains, Ubers and bikes across the entire country. Of course all of Europe is very squeezed, space is tight, and the country has over 17 million residents in a country that is half the size of the state of Iowa. The agricultural areas that we saw were all impressive, but very small. There were lots of cattle out grazing, lots of corn ready to be chopped for silage, lots of old and new windmills, and a very diverse agricultural landscape. What was surprising to me was how flat the entire country is, but how extensive their canal waterway systems are to be able to irrigate and get water to the livestock throughout the entire country. The Dutch farmers are under a lot of scrutiny with their government recently, but from what I saw it looks like they are doing a good job keeping the ground covered, getting livestock back out there, and making progress towards a more regenerative system, which is definitely inspiring.
The Netherlands is actually the second largest exporter of agricultural goods in the world, second to the U.S. They have a lot of very high value crops and a lot of food crops that get redistributed throughout Europe and more. Beyond the small farms, there was a lot of massive greenhouses and some facilities of greenhouses spanning hundreds of acres that were apparent while traveling throughout the country. Overall, a really good trip and one I would encourage anybody else to go on whenever you get the chance, I look forward to going back myself and continuing to expand our efforts beyond the U.S, Europe, and to the entire rest of the world.