Chipotle today unveiled the eight ventures selected for the second class of its Chipotle Aluminaries Project, the food-focused accelerator program the company does in partnership with non-profit Uncharted. This year’s company’s are all growth-stage startups addressing the problems currently facing young farmers and small farms, reliable access to farmland being a major one.
Around the U.S., the average price of farm real estate has more than doubled, according to the National Young Farmers Coalition. The Coalition also notes that over the next five years, almost 100 million acres of farmland will change hands, and that at least some of it will go towards non-agricultural uses.
Given that diminished access to land, the bulk of the companies and organizations chosen for Chipotle’s Aluminaries Project 2.0 are developing solutions to address the land access issue:
- Agrarian Trust is a land trust working to acquire and hold farmland and provide farmers access to it through long-term leases.
- American Farmland Trust helps new farmers gain access to land through national and localized networks and services in order to transfer farms from one generation to the next.
- Demeter Mobile uses an app to pair growers with service providers (harvesting, sweeping, etc.).
- Farm Commons provides legal resources to farmers.
- F.A.R.M.S also offers legal services to the farming community.
- Rogue Farm Corps provides farm-training programs in agricultural communities across Oregon.
- Sustainable Iowa Land Trust protects Iowa’s farmland.
- Viva Farms provides bilingual training in organic farming practices, as well as access to land, infrastructure, equipment, marketing, and capital.
The selected companies participate in the seven-month-long program, which connects them with mentors, potential investors, and support from Chipotle executives as well as others from around the food industry. While most of the program is conducted virtually, there is a five-day in-person summit companies attend in Newport Beach, CA. There’s no cash investment involved, but participants do get free burritos.
Chipotle launched the Aluminaries Project in 2019. It has so far seen participation from ImpactVision, Sophie’s Kitchen, and AgVoice, among others.