Current agricultural supply chains fall short in delivering the environmental and livelihood outcomes needed, leaving regenerative farmers with limited ways to access viable markets. As part of the Growing our Future initiative, we set out to reimagine the process of buying and selling regenerative products, envisioning a decentralized, collaborative, and regenerative model called the Regenerative Value Network (RVN). By reconfiguring relationships from transactional exchanges to collaborative partnerships, RVNs foster a resilient and equitable food system. Here, Valentina Toledo, Forum’s Senior Change Designer, who leads our work on Pathways to Market, explores the transformative potential of this new marketplace model.

The recent Earth Commission report stated that humans are, at present, “taking colossal risks with the future of civilization and everything that lives on Earth,” concluding that we have now surpassed safe planetary boundaries. In the words of Wendy Broadgate, Earth Commission Executive Director, “a safe and just transformation to a manageable planet requires urgent, collective action by multiple actors, especially in government and business, to act within Earth system boundaries to keep our life support system of the planet intact. Stewardship of the global commons has never been more urgent or important.” 

Within this context, the need for regenerative agriculture has never been more critical. The challenges faced in the US, from the lack of a supportive policy environment to limited market access, demand a radical shift in the way we approach our food systems. As industry news buzzes with discussions about regenerative agriculture and other significant developments, it is clear that the time is ripe for transformative action. With the growing recognition of regenerative agriculture's potential to address pressing global challenges, such as climate change and food insecurity, food and agriculture actors must come together to fundamentally reshape how our marketplaces work. 

Reimagining a new model for regenerative agriculture marketplaces 

Part of the Growing our Future initiative - dedicated to accelerating the transition to a just and regenerative food system in the US - focuses on pathways to market and poses the fundamental question: 

What if we reimagined how regenerative products are sold and bought? How could reconfiguring relationships within a new marketplace model be the ‘secret sauce’ for strengthening regenerative marketplaces? 

With these questions, we explored a new marketplace model that is aligned with regenerative agriculture principles: the Regenerative Value Network model. 

So what is the Regenerative Value Network model?

Regenerative Value Networks (RVNs) represent a marketplace model that aligns with the goals of regenerative agriculture and of the value network model, underscoring the interdependence of all players within the network. 

Unlike the traditional supply channel model, RVNs provide more of a holistic understanding of value proposition, generation, and distribution. The model acknowledges the importance of relationships within the network – from food and farming businesses, intermediaries, distributors, processors, to end consumers. It also recognizes the tangible and intangible benefits provided to society and the economy, like ecosystems services. RVNs emphasize collaboration, shared value creation, and the holistic well-being of participants, fostering a regenerative marketplace that benefits society, the environment, and the economy.

Regenerative Value Networks are able to: 

  • Unlock potential and overcome barriers. Within our work on Pathways to Market, we delve deep into the barriers to buying and selling regenerative products – identifying barriers faced by buyers, by sellers, and those that both buyers and sellers share. From inadequate infrastructure to multiple certification schemes, we identify the challenges that impede progress towards a regenerative marketplace. We also provide potential solutions that buyers and sellers can work on together to address their shared challenges.

    • Nurture collaboration and equitable relationships. The RVN model introduces a paradigm shift in the way buyers and sellers engage with each other. By fostering collaborative partnerships and shifting from transactional exchanges to shared value creation, we can build a resilient and just food system. With RVN principles as our guide, we nurture trust, transparency, and inclusive participation to create a thriving marketplace for regenerative products.

      • Reshape market dynamics. Through our work, we have identified eight key components that underpin the RVN model, each playing a vital role in reconfiguring the marketplace. These include: 

          1. Vision, purpose, and values
          2. Governance structure
          3. Membership and participation
          4. Financial viability 
          5. Impact measurement
          6. Communication and engagement
          7. Network resilience
          8. Learning and adaptation

      You can explore these components and uncover actionable insights for building a Regenerative Value Network through our Pathways to Market toolkit.

      Regenerative Value Networks: A new path forward

      Our work on Pathways to Market has illuminated a new path forward for agriculture. By embracing the power of RVNs, we can fundamentally reconfigure the relationships that underpin our marketplace and allow regenerative agriculture to flourish. Now is the time to apply the model in practice, refine its effectiveness, and replicate it with urgency. 

      Dive into the Pathways to Market toolkit and discover tools and resources necessary to shape a Regenerative Value Network.

      Learn more about the Growing our Future initiative and our work to catalyze the transition to a just and regenerative agriculture system in the US

      To join the work on shifting pathways to market and implementing the Regenerative Value Network model, contact Valentina Toledo

      Further resources 

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