“It’s serendipitous that with COVID, we’ve become more aware of food security, where our food is coming from, and really needing to put more into our supply system.”
— Emily Bland, Seed-EO of SucSeed
In this episode
Catch up with SheEO Venture SucSeed in this podcast minisode! Seed-EO Emily Bland talks the impact of COVID, farming, hydroponics, and producing local food production in Newfoundland & Labrador.
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The podcast is being transcribed by Otter.ai. (there may be errors, run-on sentences and misspellings).
Emily Bland 0:00
Hi, my name is Emily Bland. I’m the Seed-EO of SucSeed, based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. We’re on a mission to overcome food insecurity across Canada by empowering people to grow their own fresh produce. Four years ago when I came to the SheEO organization, the company was just me. Fast forward, we came up with a product, got our first investment round, and started working on the educational space on how we can empower kids to learn about sustainable agriculture, healthy eating, and waste reduction, had 20,000 students across Canada in our programming going into COVID. COVID was incredibly difficult. Our main customer was the educational space and teachers, school boards, everyone’s been so overwhelmed in the industry with changes, and safety, and putting the health of students and staff first. So it ended up being a bit of a pivot for us and working with a local organization, local farm, that’s 400 acres to start actually increasing food production right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Hannah Cree 1:01
Welcome to the SheEO.World podcast, where you will meet women who are transforming the world to be more equitable and sustainable. Your host for today’s podcast is the founder of SheEO, Vicki Saunders. Welcome to SheEO.World.
Vicki Saunders 1:19
So hey, what’s going on? What’s the latest?
Emily Bland 1:22
So things have been growing here at SucSeed, we got our B Corp status. So first in Newfoundland, which has been so exciting. We have new materials rolling out, just launched a new website for SucSeed, and launching a second one for Sustainable Superheroes next week, which is really exciting. And we’re getting involved with some large scale food production projects here in Newfoundland. So taking our two foot by three foot gardens and making them about 1000 times bigger.
Vicki Saunders 1:50
Oh, my gosh, that’s incredible. How did that happen?
Emily Bland 1:53
We teamed up with—actually one of our investors is putting together a 400 acre organic farm here in Newfoundland. So vertical farming, and hydroponics is going to be a big part of that to be able to provide fresh produce to the island and up in Labrador as well. So it’s serendipitous happened, I think, with COVID, just being aware of food security, where our food’s coming from and really needing to put more into our supply system of food. So it all started there and was kind of our, I’d say, silver lining with everything that’s unfortunately happened with COVID.
Vicki Saunders 2:29
Yeah. And how has COVID impacted you? Obviously, it’s created growth opportunities. But did your business get disrupted? Or not really?
Emily Bland 2:36
Massively disrupted. So about a year before COVID hit, we made the decision to be focused primarily in the education space. So changed a lot of our products, our marketing material to be very, very education-focused, and it was working very well. We were signing some deals with school boards, which was exciting. And then COVID hit and everything got pushed. So at first it was okay, it’s March, it’ll just get pushed to September, this is fine, we’ll have some more time to go into it. And the more and more it got pushed, there’s only so much R&D and bettering your product that you can do. So it really has put kind of our educational sales side of things on the standby, but we were not going to get rid of it. Because we know it’s important. And we know it’s what we need to do. And it’s just a timing piece right now and the unfortunate situation we’re in.
Vicki Saunders 3:28
And so with this pivot or growth in this new partnership, who’s the customer for this new line?
Emily Bland 3:35
So all of the fresh vegetables will be kept locally here in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is exciting. But we are looking at some secondary processed items which would be available across Canada. We’re probably a couple years out from it. But eventually there’ll be products across Canada as well.
Vicki Saunders 3:52
Who knew you’re going to be a farmer?
Emily Bland 3:54
Vicki Saunders 3:55
We knew this, didn’t we. We talked about this?
Emily Bland 3:57
Vicki Saunders 3:58
That’s so great.
Hannah Cree 4:03
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai