We’re a B Corp!
Smallhold has officially become a B Corp. This is a huge step in our journey as a company and furthers our mission to connect people with their food, environment, and farmers. By reincorporating as a benefit corporation, Smallhold has joined the community of more than 6,000 Certified B Corporations hailing from 150 industries across 80 countries, including beloved brands such as Patagonia, Tony’s Chocolonely, and Ben & Jerry’s.
What even is a B Corp??
First things first: the “B” stands for Benefit for all. B Corporations are part of a growing movement of companies using business as a force for good.
In order to get certified, our team went through a rigorous assessment conducted by a completely unbiased, external third party nonprofit known as B Lab. The assessment centers around 5 categories: Environment, Governance, Community, Workers, Customers. Points in each category total up to our score of 91.6!
This score is out of 200 total points, which of course means there is room for improvement (always). For context, of all the companies that have taken the B-Corp assessment, the global average is 55.
B Corp Facts + Stats:
- There are over 6,300 Certified B Corporations in over 80 countries, across 150 industries (v exclusive, love that)
- B Lab’s core pillars are: not only limiting negative impact, but proactively improving your industry, holistically aiming to do good, and viewing money as the means, not the end.
- Certification is rigorous and takes a long time. Our team has been working towards this for nearly 2 years!
- This isn’t a one and done deal - we get reviewed every three years. A key tenant of the B Corp system is that we need to demonstrate continued improvement over time. It’s a journey, not a destination.
This is a big deal and we are REALLY proud. It formalizes our efforts over the past 7 years to build a truly sustainable business into our DNA.
On that note, sustainable is a word that gets thrown around a lot. When we use it, we mean sustainable for human beings, the planet, and financially. To us, it means Smallhold will be around in 5, 10, 100+ years. To do that we need to not only run a successful business (aka turn a profit), we need to make sure there’s a planet suitable enough to run a business on. This means keeping things, well, habitable – for people and fungi.
Here are just a few of the ways we live our values:
- Mushrooms: Mushrooms are the world's digesters, essential for human and planetary health. Mushrooms are (obviously) core to everything we do at Smallhold. Not only are they one of the most sustainable foods you can eat, but making them more accessible and better understood has the potential to have a huge ripple effect. It’s corny, but also science – an underground mycelial network really does bring living things together in many ways.
- Distributed Farming Network: We operate highly sophisticated indoor farms powered by our own technology in Brooklyn, Austin, and Los Angeles. Not only does our proprietary technology (known as FarmLinc, an homage to the late mycologist Gary Lincoff) produce higher yields and quality as compared to conventional practices, it enables our farms to be extremely resource efficient, most notably in terms of water, energy, labor usage. FarmLinc is also the key to helping us mitigate crop loss and overproduction, cutting off the potential for waste from the get-go. The fact that our farms are “distributed,” meaning located all over the country near big cities, is a highly strategic decision that allows us to supply regionally, thus lowering overall food miles traveled as compared to a single, mega farm located in one part of the country.
- Compostable Packaging: All of our fresh mushrooms have been packed in home compostable materials since day one. As compared to conventional mushroom packaging, this has avoided over 50,000 lbs of plastic and the equivalent of more than 300 miles of plastic wrap in just the last 2.5 years. Also, by simply opting for post consumer recycled material, our packaging has helped upcycle 48,000 lbs of paper.
- Substrate to Soil: We compost or donate 100% of Spent Mushroom Substrate (SMS). By repurposing this waste, we contribute to the circular economy, reduce landfill volume, and provide a resource for local community members to build soil and/or grow mushrooms of their own. Our farms in Austin have diverted over 50,000 SMS blocks to home mycologists, local gardeners, and farmers in partnership with the Central Texas Mycological Society. Additionally, Smallhold works with an extensive network of composting partners to upcycle substrate into valuable material for soil building. For instance, our partnership with Break It Down Organics and Brothers Worm Farm has converted 350,000 lbs of mushroom substrate and 150,000 lbs of fruit and vegetable scraps into rich organic vermicompost, a coveted soil amendment for organic farmers to increase soil health.
- Renewable Energy: Our commitment to powering our farms with renewable energy sources wherever possible has led to a significant reduction of 30% in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to conventional-grade practices, avoiding 981,873 lbs of CO2 equivalent. Currently, Smallhold’s energy portfolio is 80% renewable energy. We are working with our municipal power providers to push for further sourcing of renewables or offsets, something we don’t have complete control over. We hope to be 100% renewable by 2025 and are actively encouraging our city government’s leaders to further advance renewable energy for their citizens.
- Bioremediation: From our Los Angeles farm, we provided base material for UC Davis PHD candidate Danielle Stevenson to pursue a study in using spent mushroom substrate to remediate former industrial brownfield sites throughout the city to decontaminate soil, increase organic matter, and improve air and water quality. The results of this study will be published for peer review in the coming year.
Employees, Community, and Customers:
- Living Wage: We believe that if your business can’t pay a living wage they shouldn’t be in business in the first place. Full stop.
- Community Engagement: We engage with our communities in many ways, including through public block pickup events at our farms and educational events. In 2022, we participated in over 50 community events (that we kept track of)! Our community also extends to other small farms, too, such as Brother's Worm Farm, Farm Share in East Austin, and Harlem Grown all in the name of promoting sustainable farming practices and supporting local food initiatives.
- Education: We have established partnerships with mycology groups in all of our cities and organize educational events to raise awareness about the incredible world of fungi. We partner with Central Texas Mycological Society on free public workshops, invite school tours through our farms, and have even installed a Minifarm at The Lower East Side Girls Club.
- To demonstrate our unwavering commitment to our mission and values, we have gone beyond being B Corp certified. We have reincorporated as a Public Benefit Corporation, incorporating a public benefit statement into our legal structure. This commitment holds us accountable to prioritize social and environmental objectives alongside financial goals. This piece is critically important because it evaluates our ability to protect our mission when being met with financial pressure as well as consider stakeholders in our decision making process.
As a B Corp, our journey does not end here. We are committed to continued improvement and pledge to keep getting better each year. By constantly striving to meet higher standards, we aim to be at the forefront of the sustainable business movement and lead by example.
Becoming a B Corp is a major milestone, and it solidifies our commitment to making a positive impact on the environment, people, community, and governance. We believe that through our collective efforts, we can create a better, more sustainable future. We invite you to join us.