Fall Reading List

Our team here at Bio-Logical Capital put together a collection of some our top reads this summer as well as a snapshot of a highlight from the past few months.

Here is our recommended reading list on current topics…


Meriwether’s Pick

Investment in Regenerative Agriculture Connects the Dots Between Soil and Plate, Civil Eats

Meriwether and Inky the horse in the Flat Top Mountains, CO

Meriwether and Inky the horse in the Flat Top Mountains, CO

I was excited to recently read Civil Eats' article, Investment in Regenerative Agriculture Connects the Dots Between Soil and Plate, as it shares concrete examples of how different groups, many of whom Bio-Logical Capital works with, are working on the business and ecological case for investing in regenerative agriculture. One of the groups, Mad Agriculture, is based here on the Front Range of Colorado and we are currently supporting their development of a "Perennial Fund" to help farmers transition from conventional practices to organic practices. I am particularly excited by the different examples shared in this writing that show how markets, investors, and farmers are working to both measure and then incentivize farming practices that sequester carbon. This article brings me back to one of my favorite concepts from Woody Tasch's Slow Money movement, that we must learn to invest as if food, farms and soil fertility mattered and are a risk worth taking! - Meriwether Hardie


Lilly’s pick

Call of the Reed Warbler, Charles Massy

Lilly doing some rainy riding in Crested Butte, CO

Lilly doing some rainy riding in Crested Butte, CO

Australia is the driest vegetated continent on earth and yet it lacks the emblematic plant life form that we all associate with deserts: large succulent plants such as cacti and agave. In efforts to unravel this paradox, I spent much of the last decade as a graduate student, and then post-doctoral researcher, exploring the arid desert regions of Australia. Most of my work involved collecting species of plants that provided – based on their physical and genetic makeup - an ‘evolutionary window’ into how the succulent, cacti-esque, life form evolved. Understanding the patterns that we see today (i.e., why certain plants live in one place and not the other) requires an understanding of the land on an evolutionary time-scale: the inter-laced tectonic, geologic, and climatic histories that have created, in concert, the present-day landscape. Charles Massy opens his new novel, Call of the Reed Warbler, rooted in the same evolutionary thinking: that we need to look at the agricultural landscape and its soil in the context of evolutionary time and consider the past bio-geo-chemical processes that have shaped the present-day environment. He writes from a place of deep scientific understanding combined with extensive farming experience, and tells a compelling story about how we can (and must) holistically care for our land and farm regeneratively. - Lilly Hancock


Olivia’s Pick

The age of robot farmers, the new yorker

Olivia’s first harvest from her backyard Morello cherry tree. No robots needed!

Olivia’s first harvest from her backyard Morello cherry tree. No robots needed!

During our annual company retreat last month, Grant brought up a great question around the intersection of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and regenerative agriculture. While we as a company explore what that could look like, I was reminded of a great piece in the New Yorker I had read recently around robotics in Florida strawberry fields. This in-depth piece tackles issues around immigration, worker rights, consumer demand for fruit availability year-round and the all-around tough business of farming. One third of the population lived on farms at the beginning of the twentieth century while today, less than 1% does. This change was due in large part to mechanization with inventions like tractors and harvesters that lessened the need for manual labor. As we move into the future and continue to develop machines that can reduce human labor - this piece begs the question, what does the future of farming really look like? - Olivia Maki


Mike on our rooftop farm in Denver,    Larimer Uprooted

Mike on our rooftop farm in Denver, Larimer Uprooted

As I spend a good amount of my days on a rooftop farm, I like to look around and see what others who are trying to succeed in this endeavor are doing. Particularly, I believe there is immense potential when we think about the application of rooftop farms on hospitals. We could be using our roof space to not only help provide energy efficient and climate resilient buildings of the future, but we can additionally ensure that some of our most nutrient-dense produce is making it into the hands and mouths of some of our most vulnerable populations. In this article, it was interesting to see that they employ a full-time farmer, beekeeper, and assistant as part of their model on a less than 3000 square foot site. I am curious to see where this scales to. If doctors could quantify proven health outcomes around these prescriptions of fruits and vegetables, would we see rooftop farms on all “safety net” hospitals or possibly even all medical facilities one day? I’d hope so. - Mike Spade


Jacob on a family backpacking trip in the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah

Jacob on a family backpacking trip in the High Uintas Wilderness in Utah

As an Iowa native I spend a lot of time thinking about farming, rural communities, soil health, and their interdependence. Farming is tough. Running a business is tough. Running a farm business is extraordinarily tough. And by most accounts, it’s not getting any easier. We should prioritize finding creative ways for farmers to diversify on-farm income. In this short op-ed two Iowans make the case for paying farmers to provide ecosystem services. I think there's a natural tendency when discussing big, daunting issues — like climate change, depleting soil productivity, biodiversity loss — to keep the dialogue at 60,000 feet. This piece is refreshing in that the authors' proposals are specific; they hover just off the ground. Let's keep our feet in the dirt, and continue digging into conversations like this one. - Jacob Ward


Had a blast this summer working at Philo Ridge Farm, cooking, teaching and working alongside our talented team of folks at    Philo Ridge Farm

Had a blast this summer working at Philo Ridge Farm, cooking, teaching and working alongside our talented team of folks at Philo Ridge Farm

This article is part of a larger New York Times series called the 1619 Project which examines the legacy of slavery in America. This piece shows how the rise of sugar production in the United States, and specifically in Louisiana, was driven by slave trade and financially underwritten by human capital. It articulately describes the persistence of institutionalized racism in the agricultural industry, and the way that government policy and financial institutions that allowed (and continue to allow) the sugar industry to navigate from a dependence on slave labor into our current time and food system without true accountability for their actions. I think that the link drawn between big food businesses dependence on refined sugar to sell unhealthy food, and the history behind the barbaric history of sugar’s agricultural production, is an important topic and category of our food conversations today. How we choose spend our money on food (and the way that it’s ingredients are produced), is much more than just a transaction in the present.  Each transaction we make represents a choice, and is a financial acknowledgement of the past, present and future ethics that drive our food industry. - Morgan Maki


Tad’s Pick

The Bonanza King, Gregory Crouch

Tad on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon this spring

Tad on a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon this spring

John Mackay was born a penniless Irish immigrant in 1831 and died one of the wealthiest men in the world. The Bonanza King tells the story of Mackay's ascent from common gold and silver miner to a global tycoon – and why he's all but anonymous today. At the same time, it's a window into California's boom and bust economy, with almost eery reflections in contemporary tech culture and wealth inequality in the United States. In light of expansive investment in new agricultural product categories - from CBD, to plant based foods and regenerative agriculture - this story of the 1800's gold rush feels like apt background reading for today's agriculture economy. - Tad Cooke


Gaelen exploring the great outdoors of CO

Gaelen exploring the great outdoors of CO

Just over a year ago I was introduced to an article titled “Why farm the city? Theorizing urban agriculture through the lens of metabolic rift” by Nathan McClintock. Since that time, I have revisited this work many times, each time gleaning more from it. While it is not strictly speaking, a design-based article, it has the potential to “point” toward design in a philosophical sense. In the article McClintock offers urban agriculture as one of the best available remedies for a vast number of concerns about modern culture’s relationship to nature, people’s relationships to each other, and our relationships with ourselves. I find that his words have far reaching ramifications for design, that have helped me formulate my own theoretical approach. I strongly believe in the ecological, social, and individual rifts that McClintock discusses but have found that underlying his message are thoughts about creating spaces where people be creative. Rather than dictating what a space is used for or how people should use a space, great designs set up a framework which allows the users of that space to shape it simply by interacting and using it. Urban agriculture is a poignant example of this in that people have the ability to make decisions about how they interact with non-human processes and so begin a dialogue with those systems, folding their own in as they go. - Gaelen Means, Landscape Architect Intern