Forty Six. / Contributor Thirty Nine: Jonas Guenther, We Are the New Farmers.

On the Summer of Reckoning, the Future of Engineered Farming, and Stone Paper Notebooks.

Hey, everybody. As the world continues to reopen, even through some very emotionally trying times, we have to treat this moment like a rebirth. The circle of life in the plant world can feel so gentle and fragile, but it is a great model for us to recognize that we all have bright futures ahead, even as the moments can feel a bit bleak.

The difference is, unlike plants, that we need to take our own actions to create our own rewards. Sure, we can count on a little luck, but as the Roman philosopher Seneca said, luck is just when preparation meets opportunity!

Nature is healing. NYC is undefeated. This is going to be a good summer.


All this plant talk leads me to this week’s contributor. He’s another longtime friend from the startup world, and I got to know him when he was building his then fledgling business at Futureworks and he’s evolved it into of the rising stars and companies to watch within the sustainable foods and proteins space. He’s a humble and kind soul who I hope you all get to meet.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jonas Guenther.

Enjoy!

Jonas Guenther is the founder of We Are The New Farmers, an urban algae farm located in Brooklyn, NY on a mission to make the world’s oldest food source a mainstream staple. Jonas also started the magazine Finding Tomorrow that offers a glance of a future in which we have overcome climate change and implemented solutions that make the future exciting. Prior to launching New Farmers, Jonas completed his Master’s degree at NYU where he built the Urban Food Lab - a project platform and indoor farm that enables students to learn about sustainability and food by running their own mini-projects connecting their studies to the world of farming.  

A fun fact: Despite never leaving Germany (that’s where I grew up) until I was 22, I have been to over 40 countries thus far. The travel bug hit me late, but it hit me hard and I had the privilege to experience countries as foreign (for a German kid) as Iran, Albania and Nicaragua.

I realize it’s such a feel-good-Instagram-caption-nothingness to say, but I am so grateful that I had this opportunity and truly think that many of today’s discussions could use a dose of perspective that you only gain by leaving for a while.

Here we go.


What are you currently working on?

Over the last several weeks, I have developed an online curriculum for nutritionists and health professionals about the history and health benefits of microalgae. We identified nutritionists as important multipliers for our business (we sell fresh frozen microalgae cubes for smoothie evangelists and algae aficionados) and we want to fulfill their hunger for information around algae. It’s been a lot of fun shooting the videos and coming up with the content and I am excited that we are now only weeks away from launching - hit me up if you want access to the beta!

Apart from that I want to write more stories for Finding Tomorrow. It was honestly a little bit scary to publish some of my writing for the first time, but the feedback was great and there are so many stories to tell. We live in times where dystopias are many, utopias few and plausible visions for the future rare. But we need to stay optimistic to be able to create the future we want.

What are you currently excited about?

Reopening! I mean I bet we all are and I am incredibly excited to meet a lot of people that I haven’t seen in a while, but I am also excited about it for professional reasons. Where do we go from here? This summer will be a summer of reckoning: after months at home many millennials have changed their behaviors and want to reduce their social media intake.

We are asking ourselves: where are they going to spend their time (and money)? Will they spend less time online and more time IRL? I think optimistic messaging is on the rise, but how quickly will that feel superficial and not substantial? The pandemic has shaken up marketing departments - reopening will force them to adjust messaging again. 

Oh, and New York is Dead, obviously.

What’s a story or article that you're currently thinking about?

One article that has stuck with me for the past weeks is Matt Klein’s The Meta Trending Trends: 2021. It’s a meta-analysis of more than 30 trend reports and it aims to answer the question: what are the overarching themes of our time? I am a little obsessed with the future (if you haven’t been able to tell by now) and this article gives me inspiration. Maybe it’s nothing more than a science-based horoscope but I keep going back to it. Is it confirmation bias?

17. Engineered Farming 🌱

Innovation is bred with dirt and livestock to feed all more sustainably

Keywords: urban and vertical farming, -ponics, agri-tech, food security

Drivers: sustainability efforts, mega-cities, STEM dev, hungry populations

What’s a product you’re currently obsessed with?

I am still very much an offline note taker and a notebook accompanies me to pretty much any meeting. I recently came across Karst Stone Paper notebooks, which is made from recycled stone rather than wood pulp. It’s unbelievably smooth and resistant to my frequent coffee spills.

Everyone who appreciates the feeling of writing the first line in a brand new notebook, will understand the joy of finding a notebook that just works for you.

Wild Card: What’s an item you can’t shake your mind off of?

Right now I have to tell everyone about a book I finished recently that had a surprisingly strong effect on me: The Overstory by Richard Powers. It gave me a new perspective, the vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible perspective of trees.

Plants are willful and crafty and after something, just like people.  


~ C O L O P H O N ~
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