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Monday, June 17, 2024

Ei Tours Resume with 4Roots Farm Campus Tour

On May 17 an entourage of Elemental Impact (Ei) Advisors visited the 4Roots Farm Campus (4Roots) in Orlando for the first post-pandemic Ei Tour. In the Ei Era of Recycling Refinement (RR) (2010 Ei inception through June 2017,) Ei hosted a plethora of tours as educational vehicles with subsequent strategy sessions on potential initiatives, projects, and pilots. A variety of tours continued within the Ei Era of Regeneration (June 2017 to present.)

Importance of Tours

Ei Tour Group ready to tour the
Novelis aluminum-recycling plant
Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
At the foundation of Ei’s tagline Regeneration in ACTION is integrity. Ei Partners are committed to working as a team to develop flexible programs and practices that evolve along with shifts in technology, circumstances, and economic parameters. Education is essential to weave integrity within program and practice development. Tours are excellent vehicles to learn first-hand about industry practices and fellow-partner business expertise. 

During the Ei Era of RR, Ei hosted industry and partner tours designed for experiential education, strategic planning, and bonding among the Ei Team. Tour participation was open to Ei Partners, Strategic Allies, and Advisory Council Members.

Era of RR Tours
During the Era of RR, the plethora of Ei Tours were categorized as Industry, Sustainable Food Court Initiative (SFCI), and Ei Partner Tours.

Ei Industry Tours
Prior to embarking on program and practice development, Ei strived to understand current industry practices and baselines. Tours of industry-leader operations was an effective and efficient avenue for garnering education and support.

From the archives, a unique, interesting, and fun tour was the two-day 2013 Tennessee State-Prison Tour:

TRICOR Tour Group

Federal and state prison systems are a potential labor and facility resource for Recycling-Refinement systems in the development phase. A group of Ei Partners, Supporters, and pals converged on Tennessee in late September to meet Fred Roach of TRICOR (Tennessee’s prison-employment system), tour operations, and explore synergies and opportunities. 

The Regeneration in ACTION (RiA) Magazine article, Prisons: Valuable Resource for Recycling Refinement Systems?!, provides a brief history of Ei / TRICOR relationship and an overview of the impressive tours; the Ei FB album, 09-13 TRICOR TN Prison Tours, is a pictorial recap.

SFCI Tours
The SFCI Team toured pilot facilities to amass first-hand experience of baseline practices in-place. Tours were excellent vehicles to establish strong working relationships with the on-site managers responsible for operations and facility maintenance.

From the archives, the Atlanta International Airport – Int’l Concourse SFCI Tour was a high honor. The SFCI Team toured the then busiest airport in the world's International Concourse while it remained under construction:

SFCI-ATL Tour Group
The SFCI Team was treated to a tour of the near-complete Atlanta Airport International Concourse. In addition to gorgeous aesthetic design, the International Concourse layout included ample back-of-the-house space, including the loading-dock area, to integrate recycling and organics collection into standard-operating practices. 

The RiA Magazine article, SFCI Team Tours New ATL Airport Int’l Concourse, gives an overview of the tour, and the Ei FB album, 04-12-12 SFCI Team Tour of ATL Airport, is a pictorial recount of the exciting tour.

Ei Partner Tours
Annually, an Ei Partner, or group of Partners, hosted their fellow Partners at their headquarters for a series of tours over a two-day period. Partners traveled from across North America for the event and had fun while learning about their fellow Partner's business model, strategies, and operations.

Ei Partner Tour Group at the GWCC
Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
With few to no competitors among the Ei Partners, the synergies were tremendous along with an openness to share internal operations and programs. An added benefit of Ei Partner participation was the strong business potential among partners. Selling was not permitted within Ei introductions; yet, relationship development that segues naturally into business transactions was highly encouraged.

From the archives, the 2014 Atlanta Ei Partner Tours was the final tour and celebrated its ten-year anniversary within the timeframe of publishing this article:

In early June 2014 Ei Partners traveled from across North America to participate in the Atlanta Ei Partner Tours, hosted by Pratt Industries, Novelis, the Georgia World Congress Center, and the Atlanta Airport. Beyond the education inherent within the tours and presentations, Ei Partners used the time together to strategize on action points within the many Ei initiatives.

The IMPACT Magazine article, Atlanta Ei Partner Tours, is an overview of the two powerful days. For a pictorial recap visit the Ei FB Album, Atlanta Ei Partner Tours.

Era of Regeneration Tours
Though their focus shifted, tours remained integral to Ei's important work within the Era of Regeneration. Ei Farm Tours and Ei Explorations took center stage until the pandemic in 2020.

Ei Farm Tours
From a soil health perspective, farms may be harmful or extraordinarily beneficial to restoring the carbon-cycle balance. Ei Farm Tours focus on the many success stories where farms restore broken soil systems through regenerative agriculture.

From the archives, the 2019 Greenville Urban Farm Tours were inspiring:

Reedy River Farms
While in Greenville for the Healthy-Food School Programs meetings, Ei Strategic Ally Mary Hipp, Feed & Seed Chair, took Holly on tours of two prominent, impressive urban farms, Reedy River Farms and Horseshoe Farm.

The Greenville urban farm tours are chronicled in the RiA Magazine article, Greenville, #yeahthatgreenville, is a southern treasure; the Holly Elmore Images (HEI) FB album, Greenville, SC, is a pictorial recount of Holly’s May Greenville visit with sections on the farm tours.

Ei Explorations
Ei Explorations bring industry leaders and experts together to strategize on solutions for challenges facing humanity and life as we know it on our planet.

From the archives, the inaugural exploration, the 2018 Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health & World Hunger, was monumental and continues to influence current Ei focus areas and initiatives:

Part of the Ei Exploration Group

On October 16, 2018, Ei hosted the first Ei Exploration. A group of diverse, passionate industry leaders traveled from California, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to participate in the Ei Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, and World Hunger in Upstate South Carolina. The empowering day was in partnership with Ei Strategic Ally Feed & Seed.

The RiA Magazine article, An Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health, & World Hunger, chronicles the event; the Ei FB album, An Exploration of Fungi, Soil Health & World Hunger, gives a pictorial recap.

Ei Moves | Tours Resume
With the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, Ei tours ceased along with other in-person activities. Ei's 2021 move further delayed scheduling tours.

In 2021, Ei Founder & CEO Holly Elmore returned to her hometown, Sarasota, Florida, after residing in Atlanta for 40 years. Along with Holly, the Ei national and global headquarters moved to Florida.

Until fall 2022, Holly's primary focus was caregiving for her elderly mother, and Ei slipped into the chrysalis stage of a major metamorphosis. As documented in the Ei Milestones page, Ei built a strong foundation within Sarasota's environmental community while in the chrysalis stage.

By late 2023, impressive Sarasota-based environmental professionals served on the the Ei Advisory Council, and Holly joined the Table2Farms Team as a Principal and Industry Expert.

Ei Tours resumed with the May 17, 2024 4Roots Tour.

4 Roots Farm Campus

Unearthing the Power of Food to Build Healthy Communities

4Roots is an alliance of community stakeholders investing in a healthy, thriving, sustainable, food system.

Located on a donated 40-acre tract of urban land, the 4Roots campus is a well-planned community-based endeavor that is a work-in-progress. The campus is strategically located in the southern Packing District less than two miles from Downtown Orlando. 

February 2024 4Roots Meeting Group
Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
A refurbished orange-packing warehouse serves as the 4Roots offices along with workspace for several of their collaborative partners. The HUGE walk-in cooler is perfect for storing farm harvests and food donations as well as prepping food for the community.

According to the 4Roots Program Impact Statement:

4Roots is dedicated to unearthing the power of food to build healthy communities. By engaging the community to think more deeply about where and how food is grown, and why it matters, 4Roots aims to restore and maintain the delicate balance between people and planet.

4Roots is in the midst of a major evolution broken down into three phrases:

  1. Phase I - Education
  2. Phase II - Community
  3. Phase III - Innovation & Discovery

February 4Roots Visit
After the February 2024 U.S. Composting Council Conference hosted in Daytona Beach, Holly was treated to an amazing three-hour introductory meeting at 4Roots; Holly attended the meeting at the invitation of her close friend Kim Charick, EPA R4 Team Lead, Food Waste Prevention.

The RiA Magazine article, Life Spirals: long-time friends, new professional horizons, provides an overview of the 4Roots organization, mission, and current endeavors; the HEI-photo album, 4Roots Campus Tour, gives a pictorial recount of the amazing three hours spent at the campus.

Ei 4Roots Tour
Ei Advisors Bridgett Luther, Table2Farms Visionary & CEO, Steve Suau, Consultant at Carbon Life, and Tim Rumage, Planetary Ethicist and Professor of Environmental Studies at Ringling College of Art and Design, joined Holly for the May 17 Ei 4Roots Tour, the first formal Ei Tour since 2019. Dave Gwatney joined the entourage as Steve's guest.

Ei Tour Group at the Greenhouse
Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
4Roots Executive Director Tommy Ward welcomed the Ei group with an informative introductory meeting in the conference room. As the Ei Advisors were well versed via the RiA article's 4Roots synopsis and a 4Roots intro-PPT presentation, the meeting quickly segued into inquiries and intriguing conversation.

After the meeting, 4Roots Program Director Brianna Rodermal hosted the group on a tour of the warehouse followed by visits to the Education Center and the greenhouse. In the warehouse, Wrigglebrew Founder & CEO Sam Baker welcomed the group to the Wrigglebrew lab. Along with a product intro, Sam explained the technical process inherent within the worm-casting-based Plant Growth & Rescue liquid fertilizer. Holly and Bridgett purchased product for their home gardens.

Next O-Town Compost Founder Charlie Pioli educated the group on the food waste-collection-for- compost operations headquartered within the spacious 4Roots warehouse. O-Town offers residential-food waste-collection services for the Orlando-metro area. Custom commercial programs are available as well as office and event-collection services. O-Town Compost serves as a hauler and delivers the collected food waste to select farms who compost the material.

4Roots Greenhouse
4Roots Farm Manager Josh Taylor met the group at the recently opened seven-hoop greenhouse to showcase the impressive practices in place. Hydroponics, aquaponics, and in-soil farming techniques are incorporated within the seven hoops. Tilapia excrement fertilizes hydroponic-grown vegetables; the hydroponic cucumbers were robust from the natural fertilizer. 

Tilapia tank next to cucumbers
Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
As visitors are not permitted in the greenhouse due to contamination and food-safety concerns, Josh shared the greenhouse status via the viewing alcoves with large windows.

Crops grown in the greenhouse are destined for sale via the Fresh by 4Roots (their CSA - community supported agriculture - program,) and donations through their Meet the Need program. Additionally, the crops will be sold and/or donated to community partners. Ultimately, the greenhouse produce as well as tilapia harvests will service campus restaurants designated to open in Phase II.

The entire greenhouse project is currently funded through partner philanthropy and grants. 

Across the wetlands from the greenhouse are the flow hives for the campus bees. Introduced in 2015, the innovative flow hives allow honey extraction without opening the hive. Additionally, the 4Roots flow hives have clear windows, which are ideal for viewing and experiential learning.

As with all 4Roots endeavors, research and education are intertwined within the program purpose and operations. 

Culinary Health Institute
Beginning in July, the Culinary Health Institute (CHI) will assess the phytonutrient composition of the harvested fruits, vegetables and plants via rigorous testing. Construction of the CHI facility within the 4Roots campus is included in Phase II. Per the website, 

The Culinary Health Institute’s mission is to understand how different growing methods for food impact nutrient quality, and how that nutrient quality impacts chronic illness. We also aim to improve access to healthy foods for underserved communities. In collaboration with medical schools, we aim to educate the next generation of doctors and allied health professionals on the impact of whole food, plant-forward diets, and the importance of other lifestyle changes to heal the body.

The two-minute video featuring 4Roots Founder & CEO John Rivers and CHI Chief Medical Officer Dr. Monica Agarwal is an excellent CHI overview. Under Dr. Agarwal's leadership, the CHI will research the impact of nutrition on chronic illness; in partnership with the 4Roots Farm, the CHI intends to understand how improved food quality improves human health.

Education Center*
The multiple-award-winning Education Center (EC) is the first building in Florida to attain the energy-petal certification of the Living Building Challenge, a monumental achievement! With the EC slated for occupancy in late July, the 4Roots Farm Campus will complete Phase I - Education of the campus plan.

Back of the Education Center
Photo courtesy of Holly Elmore Images
As workers were busy within the EC, Brianna welcomed the Ei group into the impressive building. Glass walls and windows within the EC are Halio Smart Glass, the only dynamic glass that tints in real-time to optimal levels as daylight changes. Per Tommy, the smart glass deciphers weather conditions and communicates to the building operating system with commands such as turn on fans, turn up the air conditioning, open windows, etc.

Designed in a modular fashion as the first mass-timber commercial structure in Florida, the EC may be completely dismantled, moved, and reassembled in another location. As required by the Living Building Challenge, the majority of the building's structural components were sourced from within 400 miles of the 4Roots campus.

Beyond energy efficient, the EC solar panel system is expected to generate at least 105% of the building's electricity requirements. Excess electricity will be stored in an onsite microgrid for use in other facilities. Rainwater and air conditioning condensation are collected in four large citrines for use in toilet flushing and outdoor-farm irrigation. 

4Roots partnered with Valencia College for use of the EC state-of-the-art facilities. An estimated 400 students will take a total three courses hosted at the EC.

The HEI-photo gallery, 05-17-24 4Roots Farm Campus Tour, provides a pictorial recount of the 4Roots tour.

* the majority of the EC section copy was paraphrased or directly quoted from Tommy's answers to the author's questions.

Phase II
With the completion of Phase I slated for next month, 4Roots is preparing for Phase II - Community. According to John in a November 2023 press release:

4Roots Phase II Rendering
"The second phase of the Farm Campus shifts the focus from education to the community, it is designed to create a place to gather where guests, from children to grandparents, will “wander in wonder” learning about the beauty and importance of nature and the important role it plays in both planet and human health, It provides spaces for our community to come together to learn, listen and celebrate.

 Details of $28.1 million Phase II include:

  • Event Center: 7,500 sq. ft. with 300 seats
  • Community Green: ¾ acre with 4,300 sq. ft. stage
  • Café and retail space: 5,100 sq. ft.
  • Culinary Health Institute: 5,300 sq. ft.

From the press release:

As we near the completion of Phase I which focused on education, the board at Dr. Phillips was inspired to continue our investment into Phase II,” said Ken Robinson, President & CEO, Dr. Phillips Inc. “The new phase allows 4Roots to invite a broader community of students, farmers, scientists, and the public to the Farm Campus and build out its programmatic schedule beyond education. Dr. Phillips commitment of an additional $5,000,000 for the newest phase puts our total commitment to the 4Roots Farm Campus at $11,000,000. We applaud their efforts and are proud to continue our support of 4Roots.

As of publication of this article, Phase II funding efforts continue.

Fully settled in the new Sarasota-based headquarters and emerged from the chrysalis stage, Ei was honored to resume Ei Tours via the 4Roots Farm Campus Tour. Future tours will showcase 4Roots incredible vision and accomplishments to new audiences and potential funders.


Tax-deductible donations in any amount are greatly appreciated to support Ei's important work. 


About Elemental Impact:
Elemental Impact (Ei) is a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2010 as the home to the Zero Waste Zones, the forerunner in the nation for the commercial collection of food waste for compost. In June 2017, Ei announced the Era of Recycling Refinement was Mission Accomplished and entered the Era of Regeneration. Current focus areas include Nature PrevailsSoil Health | Regenerative Agriculture, and Water Use | Toxicity.

The Regeneration in ACTION Magazine articles, From Organic Certification to Regenerative Agriculture to Rewilding Landscapes: an evolution towards soil integrity and SOIL & WATER: the foundation of life, published to explain and substantiate the importance of Ei’s rewilding urban landscapes work within the Nature Prevails focus area. What We Eat Matters is an emerging platform that intertwines within the three focus areas.

The Holly Elmore Images Rewilding Urban Landscapes-album folder documents two active pilots: the Native-Plant Landscape Pilot and the Backyard Permaculture-Oriented Pilot.

To work with industry leaders to create best regenerative operating practices where the entire value-chain benefits, including corporate bottom lines, communities, and the environment. Through education and collaboration, establish best practices as standard practices.

Ei’s tagline – Regeneration in ACTION – is the foundation for Ei endeavors.

The following mantra is at the core of Ei work:

Ei is a creator, an incubator.
Ei determines what could be done that is not being done and gets it done.
Ei brings the possible out of impossible.
Ei identifies pioneers and creates heroes.

For additional information, contact Holly Elmore at 404-510-9336 | 

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