When Sarah Day Levesque started Regenerative Food Systems Investment (RFSI) in 2018, she was looking to bring awareness—and capital—to savvy investment opportunities in regenerative agriculture and food, something she felt was lacking.
“She saw a gap between all this funding that was going into ag, but not very much flowing into these ecological, organic, regenerative systems,” said Anthony Corsaro, director of business development for RFSI. “[She saw] not just a need at the farm level but a need in the total food supply chain and a systems approach.”
Sara Day Levesque, Founder, RFSI
RFSI's goal from the beginning has been to work across diverse groups of funders and stakeholders to mobilize more capital for regenerative food and agriculture projects as well as aid in the distribution of information and tools that communicate the financial, ecological, and social benefits of investments in a regenerative food system.
“[Sarah Day Levesque] saw a gap between all this funding that was going into ag, but not very much flowing into these ecological, organic, regenerative systems.” -Anthony Corsaro
In 2019, Levesque launched the the RFSI Forum, an annual marquee in-person event. Because of the pandemic, the forum was virtual the following year but was back in-person in 2021—and will be again this October in Denver.
The RFSI forum covers all all investment areas related to regenerative agriculture—row crops, permanent crops, specialty crops, livestock—any sort of food commodity or region. It includes ecosystem service markets, ag tech, CPG brands, and middle supply chain infrastructure—the whole system of food and the regenerative transformation being spurred by diverse sources of catalytic capital.
“At the forum, you’ll have a mix of different stakeholders—investors and funders of all types, sizes, and shapes,” Corsaro said. “You’ll have ‘activators’—the people who take the capital and do something with it, and then the advocacy folks who work in the regenerative space and want to have a better understanding or network with these people that are doing the capital allocation or capital activation in regenerative food systems.”
Corsaro, who joined RFSI in 2021, views regenerative as a continuum, with no starting or finish line—just various points you can be at.
“At the forum, you’ll have a mix of different stakeholders—investors and funders of all types, sizes, and shapes.” -Anthony Corsaro
The challenge of the space overall, he noted, is that regenerative ag is not a new way of farming but a return to using previous wisdom, and it leaves things not “super black or white.” But that creates a lot of opportunity for discussion.
Anthony Corsaro, Director of Business Development, RFSI
“Regenerative is still being defined, and there’s lots of good engagement and discourse in the space and various different opinions,” Corsaro said. “The organic community really wants it to be something that is organic-plus, so organic has to be the baseline. And then the non-organic community doesn’t want that to be the case. So there’s some tension there. It’s a space that is still being developed and discussed, but it’s a fun space to be in, and there’s a lot of action right now.”
“Regenerative is still being defined, and there’s lots of good engagement and discourse in the space and various different opinions." - Anthony Corsaro
Corsaro's father, Dan, was one of the founders of Indianapolis Fruit Company, so he’s grown up around the industry and has an emotional connection to food and has learned the importance of what it takes to feed people.
“I also have an autoimmune disease, so food has been super important for my personal health, and that journey really inspired me to pursue working in regenerative because I believe it produces the best food for us to eat for our human and planetary health,” he said.
In fact, it was his autoimmune disease that led Corsaro to take a sabbatical from the family business, and during that time he learned all about regenerative ag and discovered a passion for it.
“I really believe in shifting to regenerative because it’s the best food for us to eat as a human species,” he said. “It’s the healthiest thing we can put in our bodies. And I work on the financial side of things because we have to invest heavily to transform our food system into one that produces regenerative products at scale.”
“[Regenerative ag is] a space that is still being developed and discussed, but it’s a fun space to be in, and there’s a lot of action right now.” -Anthony Corsaro
Aside from gearing up for its forum, RFSI also has a newsletter with lots of content telling the stories of regenerative ag investment. And it launched a virtual series on the different thematics inside the supply chain and the different types of investments happening there.
“We’re in the business of facilitating the conversation, information exchange, and engagement of regenerative ag investment, so it’s been a fun time for us to meet a ton of different stakeholders, connect people, educate people, and hopefully spur more investment at a larger scale,” Corsaro said. “We are seeing a robust amount of organizations making commitments to [regenerative] that present a lot of opportunities in the space.”