After a decade of working as a small farmer, Blackbird co-founder and Sylvanaqua Farms founder Chris Newman couldn't help but notice that regenerative agriculture seemed to be really bad to two important things:

  • Making food available at a price point affordable to most people
  • Getting first-generation farmers on the land and keeping them there

For all its hype about solving climate change and being a new way to feed the world, etc., regenerative agriculture seemed to be little more than a playground for rich consumers and well-off farmers.

Blackbird was conceived as an agricultural and agribusiness cooperative designed from the ground up to solve that problem, shifting the small-farming and regenerative agriculture narratives in several important ways:

  • Individual Enterprise -> Collective Enterprise
  • Thinking Small -> Thinking Big
  • Emergent Solutions -> Intentional Solutions
  • Audacious Claims -> Audacious Goals
  • Farms -> Agribusiness
  • Pulling Communities to Us -> Reaching Out Into Communities

After a successful pilot of the cooperative model in 2023, this year (2024) marks our first official year in operation!

Chris Newman

From: Washington, D.C.

Prior Career: Software engineer, consultant, founder of Sylvanaqua Farms, author of First Generation Farming.

Role at Blackbird: Strategy, Business Development, Marketing, Black Hobbit

Likes: Southeast Asian cooking, cigars, cocktails, espresso, interior decorating

Mason Lough

From: Mechanicsville, VA

Prior Career: Chemical distillation operator, chemical solution operator, construction management, retail management

Role at Blackbird: Plant and Equipment Chief, Pack Floor Foreman, Street Boss

Likes: Backcountry hiking/camping, traveling, working out, off-gridding

Brian Graff

From: Richmond, VA

Prior Career: Corporate restaurant serf, Founder of Intergalatic Tacos

Role at Blackbird: Food Manufacturing, Food Safety, White Chocolate Thunder

Likes: Garbage reality television, his wife Elizabeth, his cat (Henry) and dogs (Jupiter & Squirrel)

Dan Sweet

From: Marietta, OH

Prior Career: Ecological Restoration

Role at Blackbird: Farm and Landscape Chief

Likes: Farming, Family, Kombucha, Avoiding Crowds, Boardwalk Empire, Violent Spades Tournaments