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Plant Futurist Newsletter - Volume One, Issue Three

Despite March's tarnished reputation as of late, it's slowly becoming one of my favorite months. Days get longer, my favorite fruits and veggies start to make their return to the Farmer's Market (Tomatero Farms Strawberries, I'm talking to you,) most bugs are still dormant and my neighborhood is vibrant due to the explosion of flowers lining yards and sidewalks.

The pace here at Plant Futures is also starting to perk up. All those network seeds we've been planting, they're sprouting! We're up to 21 chapters and counting. The experts we've been cultivating have appeared during the symposium as well as our newly launched Plant Futures Webinar series. And potential Challenge Lab Partners and collaborations are emerging faster than a California Poppy from an East Oakland sidewalk. We are excited about all of this growth and hope you are, too.

In this month's newsletter, you'll find details on how to attend our webinar series as well as another virtual event hosted by the Plant Futures Harvard Chapter. Learn about those 21 organizations I mentioned, and check out some interesting reads and opportunities from our partners and other like-minded organizations below.

There's also an announcement about The Greg Steltenpohl Pragmatic Visionary Award, an award that's near and dear to our hearts, and history. Please take a look and be sure to share with your colleagues.

Happy Spring, everyone. And to all my fellow female (plant) futurists, Happy Women's History Month!

Cynthia Bazán Director of Operations

2022 Spring Webinar Series

We launched the Plant Futures Webinar series in February and would like to extend a special thank you to all of the speakers who have joined us for a wide breadth of topics! So far we’ve covered the possibility of a Plant-Based Economy , Climate Change and Food Demand, Applying Behavioral Science to Food Policy, and Essential Farmworkers & Conscious Food Movements. A reminder that all of the live webinars are open to the public and lucky for you, we still have a few sessions in the series. Our upcoming webinars include:

3/31 Plant Based Nutrition, Diet and Health with Christopher Gardner.

Register here.

4/14 Food Policy & Defining Plant-Based with Wendi Gosliner and Sabina Vyas. Register here.

4/21 Accessibility of Plant-Based Food Options with Sam Lubow. Register here.

4/28 Equity Based Design with Lucy Flores. Register here.

PFI Harvard x Crop One Ever wondered about vertical farming? Curious about the future of sustainable agriculture? Come learn about this innovative agricultural technology in a virtual discussion led by Dr. Deane Falcone, chief scientific officer of Crop One. This free virtual event is hosted by the Harvard Plant Futures chapter and will take place on March 23 at 7:00 pm ET. You can register for free using this link.

In Other News…

Spring 2022 Challenge Lab Our Spring 2022 Challenge Lab cohort completed their mid-semester presentations in March - congratulations on all your hard work this semester! Undergraduate & Graduate students from UC Berkeley and UCLA are working on a variety of plant-focused innovation challenges, with 10 professional partners from the plant-based food & ag sector: Beeflow, Cal Dining, Meati, Once Upon a Farm, Better Food Foundation, Aromyx, CJ Cheiljedang, Huneeus Vintners, Amy’s, Plant Based Foods Institute.

Students will be presenting their final deliverables at the (virtual) final showcase on Thursday, May 5th from 4:00pm-8:00pm PST. Stay tuned for more information… Are you a professional partner interested in joining the Fall Challenge Lab? Please apply here.

Greg Steltenpohl Pragmatic Visionary Award

The Greg Steltenpohl Pragmatic Visionary Award seeks to encourage and support innovators, entrepreneurs, and change makers building a more positive, plant-centric food system. The award celebrates vision in action and values manifested through businesses that generate personal, community, and planetary health.

Each year, the award provides a $100,000 grant to an early-stage company to enable or expand the accomplishments, reach and impact of the recipient’s work. Innovations in all areas of the food system, from “soil to soul”, will be considered.

“The award will be presented annually in March at Natural Products Expo West and is hosted in collaboration with the Plant Futures Initiative, Greg's last entrepreneurial collaboration before his death” - AP News

To learn more about this Award, please visit: And read more here: New Hope Network, Business Insider, AP News

PFI Student Chapter Network

The PFI Student Chapter Network…we talk about it all the time but do you know who’s involved? Just in case you haven’t met …

Do you attend these Colleges or Universities? Interested in connecting with the other Plant Futurists on your campus? Ping us on Slack or shoot us an email. Your school’s not on the list? Is the FOMO creeping in? It’s not too late (or difficult) to get a chapter started on your campus. You can learn more about it here.

Interesting Reads

The Field Report: New UN Climate Report Paints a Stark Picture for Food Systems, but Solutions Exist The latest IPCC climate report notes that rapid, transformational change to food systems is necessary and possible, but countries are not doing enough—yet.

Plant-based animal-food substitutes: an update - Food Politics by Marion Nestle “I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here’s my latest collection of articles on what the plant-based meat and dairy alternative industry is up to.”

How Miyoko’s Creamery Made the World’s First Dairy-Free Cottage Cheese from Watermelon Seeds Miyoko’s Creamery has debuted a cultured vegan cottage cheese made from watermelon seeds that offers 10 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Have We Reached Peak Plant Milk? Not Even Close. There is already a vast array of dairy alternatives, but experts say the flow of new offerings won’t slow down anytime soon.

Amazon Fresh launches plant-based private label line The new collection includes 15 products at launch, and continues a private label explosion for the budding grocery chain.

Has the appetite for plant-based meat already peaked? Despite sales growth falling in the US and UK, an extra $3bn was invested into the sector in 2021

Munch of the Month

Cooking up compassion: “Peeled™” to debut as America’s first all-vegan culinary competition show Read More →


  • Decarbonization Challenge by Orange Silicon Valley Apply by April 1st for an opportunity to pitch your industrial decarbonization solution to investors in San Francisco. Select startups will have further opportunities to travel to Paris and formally connect with Orange and partner corporations.

  • You are invited to join the Presidio Graduate School Sustainable Food Group for a discussion with Kenton Harmer, Managing Director, and Lilian Autler, Senior Workforce Development Specialist at the Equitable Food initiative. Register on Eventbrite here or join at the time of the event here.

  • “Plant-based dishes are at the core of the Mediterranean diet. And with American diners increasingly leaning into plant-forward eating, it’s a great time to tap into the power of produce, legumes, pulses, and grains—and discover new ways to put them to work on your menus. When you attend the Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit, April 26–28, at The CIA at Copia, you’ll get new perspectives on modern, flavorful, and creative Mediterranean cuisine.” Apply Here.

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