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Disruptive Diner Marc Bowers
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Disruptive Diner Marc Bowers


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Marc Bowers has successfully launched and managed home, garden and construction products for himself, private equity firms and multinational conglomerates. He's also on the board of Earthdance Farms …

Marc Bowers has successfully launched and managed home, garden and construction products for himself, private equity firms and multinational conglomerates. He's also on the board of Earthdance Farms and wants to make sure he leaves a legacy that isn't hard on the planet and future generations. Knowing that profit and making a difference can't come from "preaching to the choir," Marc is launching a vertical growing wall for the luxury home market. Learn from him why he chose this niche, why his product is poised for success, and how you can make a real difference expanding your concept of the market for sustainable products.

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  • 1. DisruptiveDiner: Profitably Sustainable Food Marc Bowers
  • 2. My name is Marc. I commercialize ideas. I have 6 minutes and 40 seconds of your time. Here is what I want to discuss: 1) Macro-level “locavore” challenges 2) Household paradigm shifts 3) An early stage project that offers options I am not a specialist, however I do see solutions. It is these lower impact, local solutions that I would like to focus on. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 2 Introduction
  • 3. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 3 • The world's population is expected to increase to 9.1 billion by 2050 • Population is scaling at a rate of one “Germany” per year • Feeding all those people will mean increasing food production by 70% • A combination of higher crop yields and an expansion of the area under cultivation are imperative • The additional land available is unevenly distributed, and much is suitable for growing only a few crops Global headcount is a challenge source: Macro
  • 4. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 4 • Water scarcity • Soil scarcity/peak soil (soil is created in geological time) • Peak phosphorous • Carbon footprint (modern ag is fossil fuel driven) • Nutrition – variety, breadth of food options • Et al More challenges, more obstacles... sources: various. Macro
  • 5. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 5 Corn, rice and wheat account for ~90% of global cereal production. We eat what is commercially viable. source: Dietary variety is an issue Macro
  • 6. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 6 Hmmm... what does it all mean? • Environmental challenges exist that are spilling over into global food production – Challenges have always existed – Technology has historically kept ahead of the challenge curve • Economic realities are also factors – We eat what is commercially viable – Labor conservation vs labor intense • Humans are more detached from their food production, and by extension from their own nutrition, than ever before Macro
  • 7. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 7 And what can I do about it? Traditional • Recycle • Minimize/conserve water usage • Mow less frequently • Etc. Alternatives • Farm – vertical, container, other • Permaculture options • Raise fish, raise chickens • Forage – home/yard, parks, wild lands • CSA – Google EarthDance St Louis Macro
  • 8. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 8 The (Urban) Family Farm How big a backyard would you need to live off the land? 9,200 calories per day (family of 4) requires approximately 1½ to 2 acres of land. • 1 year of wheat requires ~12,000 square feet • 1 year of corn requires ~2,640 square feet • 1 year of pork requires ~200 square feet • 1 year of dairy (goats) requires ~100 square feet • 1 year of eggs requires ~65 square feet If you buy wheat and corn, you need less land. If your diet is meat free, you need less land. If you eat chicken but not pork/beef/etc., you need less land. source: Household
  • 9. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 9 Homesteading & Vertical Household • Growing crops vertically can double or triple your yield in less space and with less work • Doubling production yields reduces the amount of land required for cultivation • With careful planning and implementation you could produce ???% of your own food/nutrition • The Urban Homestead. Location: Northwest Pasadena, one mile from downtown Pasadena • Property Size: 66’ x 132’ = 8,712 sq. ft. (1/5 acre) • House Size: 1,500 sq. ft. (17% of the property) • Garden Size: ~ 1/10 acre (3,900 sq. ft. / ~ 66' x 66‘, 45% of the property) • Garden Diversity: Over 350 different vegetables, herbs, fruits & berries • Productivity: Up to 6,000 lbs. harvest annually on 1/10 acre source:
  • 10. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 10 Rooftop Gardening Household Benefits • Decorative • Food production • Temperature control – reduction in hot/ cold fluctuations • Hydrological benefits – water stays on site, doesn’t stress the waste & stormwater system • Architectural enhancement • Habitats or corridors for wildlife • Recreational opportunities • Google Urban Harvest StL's food roof source: Wikipedia, et al.
  • 11. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 11 On-site water recapture & usage Household • Rain gardens – route water to a fallow point on the property and raise more water intense fruits and vegetables • System stress – watch for tax and other incentive credits for keeping stormwater out of the sewer system • Better manages peak flow • Reduces overflow events into the watershed • Allows the property owner to use captured water on-site source:
  • 12. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 12 Aquaponics Household • Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. • Hydroponics requires expensive nutrients and periodic flushing of the system. • Aquaculture needs to have excess nutrients removed and replaced with clean fresh water. • Combining the two, these negative aspects are turned into positives. The positive aspects of both aquaculture and hydroponics are retained and the negative aspects no longer exist. source:
  • 13. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 13 Foraging is under-utilized Acorn Notes • Acorns weigh ~8lbs/gallon • There are ~60-100 acorns/lb • 1 cubic yard of acorns = ~200lbs • An oak tree produces ~70,000 acorns (~900lbs) in a good year • ~500lbs of acorns, 4 tubs, are required to meet personal household need for a family of 5 (assuming 50% substitution for flour). Arbor Management • ~750 lbs of acorns are required to plant an acre. • The ideal density goal for mature oak hardwoods is ~20 trees per acre. source: empirical learning. various bloggers. Household
  • 14. 14 Acorns – Processing taste test at all/most steps to determine tannin levels! 1. Within 24 hours of harvesting. • Visually inspect, sort and dry. Submerge in clean, cold water for ~20 minutes to wash and identify/remove floating debris. Freeze to kill bugs. • Optional - Toast in an oven on a cookie sheet at ~200°F for ~20-30 minutes to dry acorns and kill bugs. 2. Shell and remove kernels. Course grind kernels. 3. Leeching options: hot boil or cold • Hot – Steep kernel meal in boiling water, cover with 2/3rds water to 1/3rd meal. Let stand ~20 minutes. Strain off the dark water and add more boiling water. Repeat this process 6 or more times. Taste test until the acorns are mild and palatable. • Cold – soak in a bucket changing the water several time per day. 4. Strain using cheesecloth or towel to create an acorn flour meal paste. 5. If necessary, further grind to desired consistency or until the flour is fine enough to “stick to the sifter" (like wheat flour) when the sifter is turned upside down. 6. Use or freeze immediately and/or freeze any unused portions. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. source: empirical learning. various bloggers. Household
  • 15. 15 Acorns – Lessons Learned • Acorn flour yield is roughly 2:1. Two gallon-sized buckets of acorns will yield approximately one gallon of flour. • All acorns are edible. • Don’t let wet acorn meal lie about. It will mold. Keep at the leaching process. • The first 10% of the acorns that fall should be left alone due to likely immaturities. • White oak acorns taste better, less tannin. • Acorns do not contain gluten and cannot be substituted for wheat flour. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. source: empirical learning. various bloggers. Household
  • 16. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 16 New Product Project – Mission To engineer and market artisanal food growing systems that utilize historically unused growing space. New Product
  • 17. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 17 Gardening Limitations 1. Labor intense + back pain and injuries. 2. Aesthetics – forced choice between yard or garden. 3. Space displacement. 4. Poor water usage and retention. 5. Low flexibility – outdoor only. 6. Seasonal only. 7. Mono-cultural – no pest or blight control flexibility. 8. No garden-to-market transportability. 9. Stationary sun exposure. 10.Low(er) yields than alternatives. New Product
  • 18. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 18 An Opportunity Modular Nature:  Functions as a stand-alone or integrated system.  Buy all at once, or add modules over time.  Tie to existing solar, or buy with dedicated panels.  Harvest rainwater or connect to muni system. A module-based vertical growing system integrated with solar power, self- watering, soil moisture monitoring, and pivot capabilities. Individual modules are light enough to be independently picked up and moved by a single individual. The system can be arranged on a wall or free-standing frame and can be rack-stacked in a vehicle for transport. New Product
  • 19. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 19 Solutions Offered 1. Labor Saving – Wall pods are lightweight, easy to work with and flexible. 2. Aesthetics – Functional, decorative, or both. Also installs as a visual barrier between patios, etc. 3. Space Displacement – Vertical orientation. Equally functional as a rooftop garden. 4. Water Usage & Retention – Solar enabled to self-water on a timer from rain barrels or other sources. 5. Flexible – Indoor, outdoor, or both. 6. Seasonality – Can be moved indoors for extended growing season or winter gardening. 7. Mono-cultural – Pods enable beneficial plants to be moved next to one another within minutes. 8. Transportability – Move product to farmers market while still on the vine. 9. Solar Transit – Solar panels enable power pivot to track and optimize right angle sun exposure. 10.Optimized Yields – System benefits enable 3x crop yield improvement vs traditional gardening. New Product
  • 20. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 20 Target Markets • Big-box home & garden retailers (Lowe’s, Home Depot). • Landscape contractors. • Real estate management companies and condominium associations. • Construction companies. • Commercial and industrial sites. • Private-sector community development projects. • LEED and Passive building certifiers. • Green roof specialists. • Urban farms, restaurants, and food providers. • Architects, engineers, and specifiers. • Municipal, state, and federal agencies. New Product
  • 21. Copyright ©2013. All rights reserved. 21 Contact Info Marc Bowers • (314) 269-7986