Capstone Projects

Renaissance on the American Farm: Rationale and Business Plan for Accelerating the Adoption of Regenerative Organic Agriculture

Program: Sustainable Management Master's
Host Company: Carbon Capital
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana (onsite)
Student: James Strickland

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” (Aldo Leopold)

The industrialization of the American agriculture system has failed to live up to its promise. Increasing reliance on chemical inputs and heavy machinery have redefined the agricultural landscape, leading to catastrophic impacts on the environment and on farm profitability. Regenerative organic agriculture offers a way for farmers to reduce agriculture-base pollution, restore profitability, and sequester atmospheric carbon. However, farm debt and loss of income during the transition to regenerative organic methods are significant barriers to adoption. A novel investment fund, Carbon Capital, is proposed and would provide a market-based solution for alleviating the farmer’s economic risk during the three-year transition to organic certification. This fund will allow farmers and investors to profit from improved soil health, organic certification, and increased land value over an 11-13-year period. Further, Carbon Capital is an open source business plan, allowing the experience gathered through the planning and execution of this fund to be shared and replicated by other agro-entrepreneurs around the globe. This will enable the rapid transition of agricultural systems required to restore ecological systems and sequester carbon at the pace and scale required to address global climate change.

“Working on my capstone project allowed me to apply the tools I have developed through the course of the master’s program to a real-world problem. It was inspiring to interview renowned experts in the fields of soil health and regenerative organic agriculture. Their input was instrumental to my capstone project and the accompanying business model for mobilizing private capital in order to restore soil health and help address climate change. The capstone experience is an excellent way to merge the rich knowledge gained from the Sustainable Management program and the individual student’s professional goals or interests.”