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Askov Finlayson Giving 110% to Fight Climate Change

Publication: The Growler Magazine

Author: Brian Kaufenberg

To jumpstart their giving while the first measurement is calculated, Askov is pledging to donate $1 million in the next five years to the most innovative and effective efforts to address climate change they can find.

One of the first efforts this new Give 110% initiative will fund is the development and commercialization of perennial grains.

Dayton explains their decision to fund perennial grain research: “We’re a relatively small company. What gives us the biggest bang for our buck? How do we really punch above our weight on this issue [of climate change]? We were open to all ideas and all options, really focusing on what has the potential for the greatest impact ROI, and that led us to agriculture and Kernza.”

Kernza is a wheatgrass currently being grown and researched by The Land Institute. Kernza’s extremely-deep root system can help retain organic matter in the ground, decrease erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife.

“Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, period, in terms of industries,” Fetcher says. “[…] Perennial grains, which Kernza is one, represents a way, not just to limit the impact of agriculture, but actually to reverse climate change.”

However, the potential for perennial grains, like Kernza, perennial wheat, perennial rice, perennial sorghum, and wild sunflower, will remain unrealized unless they become commercially viable crops for farmers to grow. Companies including Patagonia, Minneapolis’ Birchwood Cafe and St. Paul’s Bang Brewing are some of the first to make commercially-available products using Kernza, creating the beginnings of a market for the grain. Organizations like Green Lands Blue Waters are working to build supply chains to widen Kernza’s availability and fill the growing demand for the grain.

To support these efforts, Askov Finlayson is not only providing funding through Give 110%, but also teaming up with Northeast Minneapolis’ Fair State Brewing Cooperative to release a Kernza beer called “Keep the North Cold.” The beer will be on tap at Fair State’s taproom and at The Bachelor Farmer starting January 18, and a portion of the sales will be donated to further Kernza research.


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