Solving Climate Change Through Agriculture | Askov Finlayson
Kernza® and other perennial grains hold the power not only to reduce climate change, but actually reverse it. So we’re Giving 110% to help them grow.
When we built our Give 110% model, we set out to find and fund the most promising solutions to climate change—turning every Askov Finlayson purchase into a net climate positive through our commitment to carbon accountability.
We quickly zeroed in on a big idea: cutting-edge perennial grains, like Kernza, represent a powerful opportunity to remake our agriculture system as a solution to climate change. Kernza produces root systems reaching 10 feet deep, which foster healthy soil and turn our fields into giant carbon sponges.
Askov Finlayson is supporting the scientists and advocates leading a decades-long journey to scale Kernza and other perennial crops. We’ve also partnered with Minneapolis-based Fair State Brewing Cooperative to make a beer called Keep the North Cold using all Minnesota grown ingredients, including Kernza.
This work may sound cutting edge, but it’s actually a return to nature. Soil should act as armor for the planet—locking in carbon and absorbing more from the atmosphere. But conventional farming has left much of the world’s soil thin and weak. As a result, agriculture accounts for 13 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions annually.
Of course, a major global shift to perennial crops is a big change and change is hard. To make this big idea into a big movement requires everyone’s participation: farmers, retailers, scientists, foodies, business leaders, investors, philanthropists, policymakers, creative folks and social media junkies. If this work succeeds, it will be part of a bright future—one with four distinct seasons, where our planet and our outdoor traditions remain alive and well for generations to come.
Investing in farming as a climate solution
Minnesota ranks #1 among states growing Kernza, by number of farmers and total acres planted. And the North is a global hub for research and development.
Along with energy, education and climate justice, we’ve made agriculture a key focus area for our Give 110% initiative. This year, Askov Finlayson is making a big investment in smart people leading a decades-long journey to scale Kernza and other perennials. We support:
The Land Institute (Salina, Kansas)
The Land Institute is the birthplace of natural systems agriculture. For over 40 years, the organization has worked to create an agriculture system featuring perennial grains grown in diverse cropping systems. The vision is to create an agriculture that mimics natural systems in order to produce ample food and reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of industrial agriculture. Today, The Land Institute is the global leader in developing perennial crops. These deeply rooted crops foster healthy soil – which increases ecosystem nutrient retention, carbon sequestration, and water infiltration, and can contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation, while overall helping to ensure food and water security over the long term.
Green Lands Blue Waters (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Based at the University of Minnesota, Green Lands Blue Waters works with a wide group of partners across the North to create landscape-level change by supporting the development of and transition to a new generation of multifunctional agricultural systems. The Green Lands Blue Waters network focuses on integrating more perennial plants and other continuous living cover across the agricultural landscape. Green Lands Blue Waters plays a key role in making the North the world’s biggest hub for perennial grains research and development.
Our mission to Keep the North Cold is perfectly encapsulated by the work our grantees are doing to champion Kernza and lead a growing movement around its enormous potential to solve climate change. Perennial grains represent the closest grain agriculture can come to functioning like natural ecosystems—and it’s our best shot at sustaining human life on this planet.
Fighting Climate Change—16oz at a time
To solve climate change, we all need to act and drinking beer is the perfect opportunity.
Defending our cold winters and our best outdoor traditions against climate change is a year-round activity.
This spring, we’ve partnered with our forward-thinking friends at Fair State Brewing Cooperative to brew a delicious beer made with Minnesota-grown Kernza and other locally grown ingredients.
Keep the North Cold supports climate solutions in two ways. In addition to using Kernza to make the beer, which helps contribute to growing market demand and consumer awareness around this innovative grain, we’re donating a portion of proceeds to support The Land Institute and Green Lands Blue Waters in their vital work to develop and scale perennial grains.
Keep the North Cold hits taps and liquor store shelves across Minnesota on May 7.
Keep the North Cold is brewed with 100% Minnesota-grown ingredients—showing off the talents of farmers across Minnesota. It’s a smooth golden ale that gets its light breadiness from barley malts from Vertical Malts, in Crookston, Minn. The Cascade and Chinook hops that lend Keep the North Cold its citrus and floral aromas come from Mighty Axe Hops, from Foley, Minn. And, the significant portion of Minnesota Kernza in the mash lends a nice earthiness to the beer.