B is for Benefit, Brooklyn Style. Smallhold earns B Corp Certification

CEA innovator Smallhold, the nation's leading network of organic mushroom farms, attains B Corporation Certification

by CEA inSight
smallhold mushroom varieties in sustainable packaging

Named one of Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative Companies in Agriculture of 2023, controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) and specialty mushroom pioneer Smallhold has another title to add to its expanding collection: It’s now officially a Certified B Corporation. The designation represents a remarkable achievement for the company, well known for its longstanding commitment to social and environmental accountability and transparency.

“I am incredibly proud of our team for working tirelessly since Smallhold began in 2017 to develop our values and actually hold ourselves accountable in increasingly rigorous ways,” said Smallhold CEO and Co-founder Andrew Carter. “I also couldn’t be more proud that we scored a 91.6 on our first-ever B Lab assessment. We will be doing everything in our power to continue to increase our score in the realms of Environment, Governance, Community, Workers and Customers.”

Since Smallhold’s sustainably grown specialty mushroom production launched in 2017, the company has grown from a transformed Brooklyn, New York, shipping container farm with a handful of innovative, on-site grocery store and restaurant minifarms to an expansive farming network with operations in Brooklyn, Austin, Los Angeles and beyond.

“We are thrilled to welcome Smallhold into our community of Certified B Corporations,” said Lindsey Wilson, Associate Director of Growth at B Lab U.S. & Canada. “Their commitment to transparency and sustainability is a significant milestone in the food and farming landscape. Smallhold’s dedication to social and environmental impact is an exciting indication of a new era in food production. Their innovation is reimagining a more responsible future for food and farming, and we look forward to their continued leadership and impact as part of the B Corp movement.”

Smallhold Impact Manager Travis Breihan added, “Smallhold brings a unique set of skills and values to the B Corp movement. We’ve been collaborating with hundreds of chefs, grocers and home cooks to bring the joy of mushrooms to homes and kitchens across the country since the beginning. We’ve been building networks with local composters and farmers to build soil health. At Smallhold, we’ve created nearly 100 full-time jobs in sustainable agriculture. All powered by the mushroom kingdom!”

The newly Certified B Corporation shares the following highlights as evidence of its values:

  • Spent Mushroom Substrate Circularity: Smallhold composts or donates 100% of spent mushroom substrate. Repurposing this waste product contributes to a circular economy, reduces landfill waste and provides a resource for local community members to build soil and grow mushrooms of their own. To date, Smallhold has diverted 50,000 mushroom blocks from Smallhold farms in Austin, Texas, to home mycologists, local gardeners and farmers. (Smallhold encourages local organizations interested in spent mushroom substrate to reach out to hello@smallhold.com.)
  • Compostable Packaging: From Day One, Smallhold has packed its fresh mushrooms in home-compostable materials. In the last 2.5 years alone, compared to conventional mushroom packaging, Smallhold packaging choices have averted the use of more than 50,000 pounds of plastic and the equivalent of more than 300 miles of plastic wrap. The packaging has also helped upcycle 48,000 pounds of paper.
  • Distributed Farming Network: Smallhold operates highly sophisticated indoor farms powered by proprietary technology in Brooklyn, Austin and Los Angeles. Not only does their CEA technology produce higher yields and quality as compared to conventional practices, it also mitigates crop loss and overproduction, minimizing the potential for waste from the start.
  • Renewable Energy: Smallhold’s commitment to powering farms with renewable energy sources has led to a significant reduction of 30% in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to conventional practices.
  • Living Wage: Smallhold compensates all team members with a living wage, ensuring that they can thrive both personally and professionally.
  • Community Engagement: Smallhold engages with their communities through public block pickup events at their farms and educational events. Its community also extends to its small, partner farms — including Brother’s Worm Farm, Farm Share Austin and Harlem Grown — all in the name of promoting sustainable farming practices and supporting local food initiatives.
  • Education: Smallhold partners with mycology groups to organize educational events to raise awareness about the world of fungi. For example, Smallhold partnered with Central Texas Mycological Society on DIY grow bucket workshops that were free and open to the public.
  • Public Benefit Corporation: To further demonstrate Smallhold’s commitment to its mission and values, the company has gone beyond B Corp Certification to reincorporate as a Public Benefit Corporation and include a public benefit statement into its legal structure.

B Corp Certification encompasses a comprehensive approach to “being a force for good” that addresses various social and environmental issues. Achieving and maintaining this certification involves rigorous processes that engage teams and departments across entire organizations. To achieve B Corp status, companies must score a minimum B Impact Assessment score of 80 points on a scale of 200.

In achieving B Corp designation, Smallhold joins more than 7,000 companies across 91 countries, including CEA producer NatureSweet, which announced its B Corp Certification last month. To discover more about B Corp certification, visit bcorporation.net.

Image courtesy of Smallhold

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