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Pandemic sprouts “buy local” movement online

Facing market closures and labour shortages, small farms are turning to e-commerce to meet the demand for fresh food

Each spring, the tomatoes and cucumbers Lisa Cooper grows in greenhouses on her farm in Zephyr, Ontario, can be found at farmers’ markets in the province’s Durham region.

But in March, Ontario’s farmers’ markets were closed to slow the spread of COVID-19. With traditional outlets shut down, farmers had to adapt, and quickly. Instead of passing bags across crowded stalls and trading stories with customers, they went online, boxing orders and delivering them by truck to homes at an accelerated pace, conducting what’s typically a hands-on business with the addition of gloves, masks and six feet of distance.

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The farmer and the philanthropist

Finance titan André Desmarais teams up with rock-star farmer to invest in the future of small organic farming

In the first season of Les Fermiers, a hit French-Canadian TV show about vegetable farming in Hemmingford, Quebec, Dany Bouchard, a young trainee, tells his boss and the show’s star, Jean-Martin Fortier, that there won’t be enough turnips to bring to market that week. “We can’t fight the temperature,” Bouchard says. “We have to be patient.”

Later, Fortier demurs. “Our goal this year is to produce half a million dollars’ worth of vegetables. There needs to be pressure to produce.”

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Fashion industry fighting waste with circular economy trend

Apparel leaders push to trim fashion's outsized carbon and waste footprint with rentals, ocean plastics and jean redesigns

Earlier this month, 200 people gathered at the sixth annual World Ethical Apparel Roundtable (WEAR) in Toronto to talk about fixing fashion. The sector, now valued at over a trillion dollars, has an image problem. Human rights abuses, landfill-clogging fast fashion and ocean-polluting microplastics are all tied to an industry that’s expected to triple in size by 2050. Textiles production emits more greenhouse gas than all international flights and maritime shipping put together. And consumer behaviour isn’t helping. We’re buying more clothes than ever, but we’re wearing them less and less.

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Fixing chocolate’s troubled supply chain

One software company unwraps its solution to cocoa's child labour and deforestation with real-time satellite monitoring

About ten years ago, Leo Bonanni started thinking about seriously about cocoa. He’d already founded Sourcemap, a New York City-based software startup with a mission to map the world’s supply chains, and he’d seen its impact on industries as diverse as apparel, conflict minerals and healthcare.

His new goal?

Helping companies build a better chocolate bar.

Global cocoa demand is on the rise and its market value is expected to double by 2025 compared to 2015 levels. Over half of the world’s supply comes from West African countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana, where cocoa isn’t just one of the hardest supply chains to monitor and track, it’s also one of the most destructive.

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