VoLo Foundation Awards SfL $100,000 Grant in Support of Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative

July 26, 2021

Solutions from the Land has been awarded a $100,000 grant from VoLo Foundation to underpin the work of the Florida Climate Smart Agriculture Work Group. Under this initiative, a group of Florida farmer, rancher and forest landowner leaders, led by Jim Strickland and Lynetta Usher Griner, are working to transform the core function of Florida agriculture from a sector that simply produces commodities to one that simultaneously also filters and stores water, sequesters carbon, improves biodiversity and wildlife habitat and provides other high value agroecosystem services (AES).

Left to right- Ernie Shea, President, Solutions from the Land; J. Scott Angle, Senior VP University of Florida and head of IFAS; Fred Yoder, Co-Chair, SfL; Wendy Joy Oliver, Program Director, VoLo Foundation; Jim Strickland, Co-Chair, Florida Climate Smart Agriculture; Nicole Salzberg, Events Coordinator, VoLo Foundation.

VoLo Foundation is a private family organization that “exists to educate the public to create a sustainable and secure planet for generations to come,” says VoLo co-founder and trustee Thais Lopez Vogel, “My husband David S. Vogel and I are happy to assist Solutions from the Land to solve global challenges like climate change and shaping the future of agriculture and forestry at home and around the world.”

The contribution will enable the FL-CSA to further expand its climate smart agriculture work by more accurately measuring agroecosystem services (AES) and their interactions. “This collaboration aims to use the purposeful management decisions that are made every day on farms to potentially increase carbon sequestration, water quality, biodiversity and soil health,” says Lopez Vogel.

With a measurement of AES, management tools could be selected to increase those services, or to better understand how the services are able to mitigate impacts from climate change. That understanding can allow for the prediction of outcomes and the development of systems that are more resilient to climate-related disturbances.

The project also aims to help growers identify areas or methods of production that can be improved for optimal delivery of agroecosystem services. The findings can also be used to encourage policy makers to incentivize or reward enhanced AES delivery.

FL-CSA works group leaders, in collaboration with SfL and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), jointly co-sponsor the initiative. The organizations recently hosted their first field day at UF/IFAS’s Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, where researchers demonstrated the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools to monitor and measure the AES that producers deliver.

The goal of this initiative is to provide data in support of public policy incentives that enable Florida producers to expand their delivery of the public benefits that sustainably managed farms, ranches and forests deliver. To measure AES, it is important that all or most of the relevant services and their interactions are included. These services act together naturally in an agricultural system and their true value resides in this interaction.

“As a public university, we rely on government funding for research into how to produce more—more food, fuel, fiber, and more climate solutions and environmental benefits. VoLo Foundation is showing great leadership by funding the early work of a unique producer-scientist alliance that has the potential to transform Florida agriculture and the public’s perception of it. It’s seed funding for a movement that will ultimately benefit all Floridians,” said J. Scott Angle, UF vice president for agriculture and natural resources and the leader of UF/IFAS.

“SfL and UF/IFAS are grateful to VoLo Foundation for their support of FLCSA’s efforts to boost agriculture’s role in addressing challenges to our natural resources, our climate and our wellbeing,” said SfL President Ernie Shea. “The catalytic, transformational change leadership they are providing is a model for 21st century agriculture across the country and the world, and we are honored to be helping them achieve their vision for a better future for producers, the public and the planet.” 

For additional information, contact Shea at 410-952-0123, or at [email protected]; or Chris Moran, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), the University of Florida, at 352-273-3457 (office) or 352-226-5879 (cell), or at [email protected].

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Solutions from the Land (SfL) builds and facilitates state, national and global initiatives and alliances through which farmers, ranchers, foresters and collaborating partners showcase examples of innovation and proactively advocate for policies, partnerships, investments and research that will enable agricultural landscapes to deliver near-term, cost-effective, integrated solutions to global mega-challenges: food and energy security; sustainable economic development; climate change and environmental improvement. Learn more.

VoLo Foundation (VoLo) is a private foundation in Jupiter, Florida. VoLo believes in developing knowledge and sharing information that has the potential to create global impact. Through original research and analysis, and in collaboration with philanthropic and academic partners, we aim to enrich the lives of individuals, strengthen communities, and educate future generations. Learn more.

University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). UF/IFAS is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information accessible. Learn more.

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