S5E55: Leveraging Technology to Achieve Revolutionary Results in AgTech with Vonnie Estes
Vertical Farming PodcastMay 16, 2022x
51:0046.69 MB

S5E55: Leveraging Technology to Achieve Revolutionary Results in AgTech with Vonnie Estes

Episode Summary

Vice President of Innovation at Produce Marketing Association, Vonnie Estes is driven by a passion for agriculture, sustainability and wanting to make an impact on serious issues such as climate change and broken supply chains. Today, Vonnie and Harry engage in a rich discussion on Plant Pathology, educating consumers on vertical farming, and promoting diversity in the AgTech industry. Vonnie shares lessons she’s learned from working at big corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont, and her mission to immerse others into the produce industry.

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Key Takeaways

07:13 – Harry welcomes Vice President of Innovation at Produce Marketing Association, Vonnie Estes, to discuss the work she’s doing in Produce and some of the recent vertical farming conferences she’s attended

11:08 – Genetic Engineering & Plant Pathology

13:55 – Lessons Vonnie learned from working at Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont

17:52 – Vonnie’s vertical farming origin story

23:43 – What drives and motivates Vonnie

26:16 – The importance of promoting diversity in the AgTech industry and immersing others into the produce industry

32:25 – Vonnie goes into detail about ongoing projects at Produce Marketing Association

45:00 – The importance of educating consumers on AgTech and vertical farming

48:14 – A tough question Vonnie has asked herself recently and what excites her most about the future of AgTech

50:08 – Harry thanks Vonnie for joining the show and lets listeners know where they can learn more about Fresh Produce

Tweetable Quotes

“I think for big companies like that, being willing to let people try new things and let it fail, and try different technologies, and keep it a little bit separate from your ongoing revenue-generating business is a really smart way to do it.” (15:35) (Vonnie)

“In part of my work with Caribou when I was looking at spinning out this Ag group, what I really wanted to focus on was what breeding could we do for vertical farms? If you’re growing something inside, does the architecture of the plant need to be different? What are some of the traits you can work with? And so, I was really thinking about breeding for vertical farms.” (20:43) (Vonnie)

“I’ve always been driving by [wanting to make an impact]. I think, especially at this time looking at some of the scary macro-drivers around supply chain, and climate change, and some of the other issues we’re facing. And looking at human health and how people need to eat, we can have a big impact on that, on how we grow our food and what food we grow and what food people eat.” (23:51) (Vonnie)

“One thing I would say - just to plug some of the work I’m doing currently - is I just started this Accelerator. It’s not an Accelerator in the typical sense where we’re not taking any equity, there’s no big prize or pitch day. But what we’re trying to do is bring in technology from either different industries or from different countries into the produce industry.” (26:52) (Vonnie)

“I am thinking a lot about what I can do, from a technology and innovation point of view, to help that part of the industry. And some of the early-stage issues are different.” (38:00) (Vonnie)

“With climate change and some of the health issues, the way we grow our food and the food we grow is so important right now. I feel like we’re at this amazing time where on one side we’ve got all these different technologies that we can bring in that can be a solution to these huge problems that we’re facing as a world.” (49:34) (Vonnie)

Resources Mentioned

Vertical Farming Show – https://verticalfarmingshow.com/

Produce Marketing Association Website – https://www.freshproduce.com/

Vonnie’s LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/vonnieestes/

Vonnie’s Podcast – https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-future-of-ag-technology-with-vonnie-estes/id1382453777?i=1000468083379

Link to Fresh Produce Technology – https://www.freshproduce.com/resources/technology/

Sponsor Info

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Cultivatd’s Twitter – https://twitter.com/cultivatd

Cultivatd’s Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cultivatd/


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