Core of CRS
Coast Range Seed can be thought of as a high quality sound system, or broadcast channel, where plant breeders can launch their brightest innovations and benefit from a thoughtful, cared for, and monetized introduction to the organic eating public.
Yes - despite the word "seed" in our name, and although we do have hands in plant breeding and seed production, we are not principally a "seed company," as in selling bags of seed. Rather, our approach is to invest most of our company in the fresh produce side of these seed questions, beginning from the farm level onwards. Following on the music metaphor above, think of us like a professional "producecast" for organic plaant breeders, broadcast at the acoustics and high vibration of next wave agroecological and nutrient dense farmers. Outside music, but still following the creative industries, CRS acts somewhat like an author's agency, or a studio, or music label -- the goal being to serve these creators and create the quality, the curation, and the economics for their talent to thrive.
We plan to eventually broadcast from several areas on the map, but Coast Range Seed has its identity as a West Coast US region business -- an agricultural geography that we know and love.
Core to our agricultural politics is the explicit aim of being a "pie expanding" company, in the majority of our activity. At best, we see ourselves as a market making and education business, in equal measure and in integrity with our ag-operations and product businesses. Eric's roots are in cooperatives, collaborative seed, food hubs, and peasant studies, and he has sensed since his college days in Berkeley that inherent problems and contradictions will arise within a purely capitalist agricultural development.
CRS acts both as a quality production group and as an agency and platform for plant breeders and other product developers. We do all this by, above all, being artful about market development spearheads for newly developed products. As a commercialization house, CRS is founded on live intel and proactive steering of product programs once they are in play and unfolding in the markets and on-farm. Eric started off in international agricultural development, and our company will always aim to be both a vehicle for producer prosperity (parity economics), along with its many-bottom-line benefits.
Bringing these values to the work, we start to see how breeders, ecological growers, organic produce and food companies all have specific needs. They are complementary, and synergistic, yet distinct.
One commonality are the dynamics of innovation and competition. Left un-managed, a common phenomenon in developed markets is diminishing surplus for an adopted innovation (new product, new brand claim, new production technology). Michael Porter reveals these levers of industry structure as his Five Forces, and agricultural historian Willard Cochrane names this damning, inexorable phenomenon as the "treadmill" effect. In both of their models, profitability is seen as an opening being held, a bulwark against profit-diminishing forces.
In this light, CRS is a specialized product developer and stewardship service designed to create profitability wedges against Cochrane's treadmill and Porters forces. The strategies we use, we hope, also are enabling for more vibrant farmer to farmer collaboration, and to energetic communication and coordination between market makers in different parts of the value chain.
Our programs are known for attentive integration of all sides of the equations of quality: crop genetics and environment; hardware and software; instruments/speakers and songs. They are a boots-on-the-ground company assuring the biophysical dimensions of quality and the human layers of a positive reception, too. From pre-seed and pre-soil to post-delivery follow-up and after-action analysis, CRS professionals express their passion in the work. CRS excels at reverently stewarding and joyfully sharing the fruits of cutting-edge nutrient dense agriculture.
We operate our own in-house small farm network -- it's own skin in the game, walking its talk. It creates new opportunities for farmers in our regions, and our sister regions, while growing and selling them ourselves as demonstration and proof. CRS farmer partners share our convictions about quality, health, and ecology. Their crops help us collectively scale up successful categories, and our farmers can even themselves invest in emerging product brands to become co-owners. We bring creative finance to the table to help cash flow our farming network and the upstart growers we attempt to support.
CRS in its current form gravitates towards B2B partnerships over direct to consumer distribution. However, we still takes responsibility for the final user experience, and maintains a presence at multiple levels of the supply chain. Our full-chain 'Communicating quality' approach is captained by personable CRS Rangers, all of who have dedicated most of their professional lives to truly "living" ecological agriculture and food. Ranger work bridges food and seed system sectors and spans the rural-urban divide. Rangers embody the CRS credo and are the area leaders who integrate our CRS teams and platform.
We devote ourselves whole-heartedly to in-house teaching and training programs. These, first, assure consistency of "highest quality sound" in nutrient-dense agriculture. And secondly, they also prime our teammates and other stakeholders to move onwards as principals themselves (if they desire) and build wealth in achievable ways. The most obvious way of how to do this is leveraging our marketing umbrella and support staff. This build new startup pathways for new entrants and, over time, cultivates greater solidarity and social capital between more farms.
The long-range missions that we offers ourselves to are to:
- re-build producer protagonism
- invigorate farmer-to-farmer cooperation
- inspire and fund seeds innovation
- facilitate generational transfer of knowledge in breeding
- inspire genetics contributions to abundant ecological health
- support deep and remarkable human healing
- prevent chronic disease;
- and celebrate rural thriving.