Cory VG earns certification from The Savory Institute

November 21, 2019

If you’ve wondered how Cory VG has been lately, the answer is ‘busy’ – but in the best possible way. In addition to running the farm, working on the business and winning awards alongside the other VG brothers, Cory has been spending time at The Savory Institute. He recently completed an innovative training program and today, we’d like to tell you about you a little bit about it.

In case you missed it: over the past few months, we’ve been sharing blog posts about our commitment to regenerative agriculture and the production of regenerative food. You can read those posts here, here and here.

Why this program matters

Cory is proud to have earned the designation of Accredited Professional in Holistic Management from The Savory Institute. This certification means that Cory can train other producers in holistic management on their farms, which helps us bring more Ontario land under holistic management. Another thing we’re excited about is The Savory Institute’s Land to Market program, which is essentially a regenerative supply chain system that can be implemented with meat, dairy, wool and/or leather goods. The program trains food producers on an outcome-based verification system that ensures all Land to Market certified food is raised on land that the managers are actively improving. It’s significantly different than current organic or welfare labeling systems within the food industry (a prescriptive structure that’s often ‘pay to play’ instead of being dependent on outcomes). While those labels don’t reflect our values or fit our raison d’etre, a proven, results-oriented labeling system certainly does. Not only does this certification program have substance, it relies on actual verified outcomes – something you can’t fake your way through or buy.

When you see a ‘Land to Market’ label on a cut of meat or other item, that food producer has demonstrated that their land is being regenerated throughout the production of the product. This involves elements such as soil testing, biodiversity and ecosystem function, among others. As the institute notes, it’s about making a genuine connection between ‘brand’ and ‘land’. We look forward to delving deeper into this program in future as a natural extension of Cory’s holistic management designation!

How does this make VG Meats better?

Well, it’s a bit of a ripple effect. At the root of it all is the benefit VG Meats will see from strengthening our regenerative food production practices – better land, water, biodiversity and animal life on the farm and of course, the best possible food. Because this training allows Cory to train other producers and partners, it allows him to increase the reach of regenerative farming in Ontario and across Canada. He’s not just taking this information home for himself, or even stopping with the VG Meats farm and retail team – he’s happy to bring it to as like-minded Ontario growers as possible.

Cory’s main takeaways

One of the biggest things Cory learned at The Savory Institute was how to better develop some of the tools he’s seen regenerative farmers using but hadn’t fully utilized himself. Now that he has a stronger understanding, he’ll be able to better use these tools on the VG family farm.

Earlier this year, the VG family developed a statement of purpose. This is a holistic plan that covers land planning, planned grazing, ecological monitoring, financial elements and more. While learning about some of these items in depth in Colorado, Cory was particularly inspired by the ecological monitoring content. In holistic eco monitoring, there are 15 points that are evaluated in order to verify that the land is improving. What Cory found revolutionary is that in everyday monitoring, only the leading indicators are analyzed. As these indicators give a solid representation of regenerative success, lagging indicators need less frequent evaluation. It’s all interconnected: organic matter will increase and sequester more carbon, which improves the water, and so on…you end up with healthier animals, cleaner air and water, more nutrients in the soil. When you observe the leading indicators closely, you can generally trust that lagging indicators will follow. Furthermore, you can look into these lagging indicators and improve performance in areas such as successful training and employee retention, profitability and having a safe workspace. When these critical areas are well attended to, there are fewer mistakes.

Our challenge to you

If you’re a food producer, we challenge you to join us by implementing regenerative agriculture practices on your own farm and/or developing a holistic plan. We’d be pleased to help mentor your team as they embark on an incredible movement.

If you’re a VG Meats customer, we challenge you to keep asking questions about where your food comes from and what you can do better as a consumer. We’d also like to see you asking how you can get involved in the regenerative movement, and see you identify your own leading indicators. Talk to us in person, on Facebook or however else is convenient to you – we all want a better environment, and working together, we can achieve it. If Cory has learned anything, it’s that progress is happening and we can all get involved. Thanks so much for reading, and please share this post with your community!