Grow Ahead Joins 1% for the Planet


By Mackenzie Barrill


A CACAONICA workshop in collaboration with the Central America Cocoa Programme for young people near Waslala. Technical staff from the coop work in 28 communities with 184 producers of organic cocoa and 500 families.  Photo credit: Fairtrade America


Small-scale farmers feed 80% of the people in the developing world and when practicing regenerative organic agriculture can drawdown greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate global climate change. Unfortunately, the world’s small farms are under major threat due to the effects of climate change, unfair trade agreements, and land grabbing, jeopardizing the world food security and farmer livelihoods.

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis and the threat it poses to small-scale farmers, proven solutions for climate resiliency receive little government or market support and safeguards. Farmers need information and resources to create thriving, healthy and resilient farms that will continue to feed their communities.


That’s why we founded Grow Ahead, an online crowdfunding initiative geared towards supporting small-scale farmers address climate change in their communities by providing them with the resources needed to move away from conventional agriculture and towards regenerative organic agriculture. Communities that implement regenerative agriculture techniques improve the local ecosystem, farmer income, and food security, while creating climate resilient farms. In doing this, they regenerate the land, leaving it better for future generations to thrive.

Contrasting degenerative vs. regenerative organic agriculture.

We team up with local partners and farmer organizations  to support projects in the communities most vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change. We provide funding for initiatives struggling to find conventional donors, such as reforestation trainings taught by farmers for farmers, and scholarships to help women farm leaders spread the word  about regenerative organic agriculture. Each project we support is designed to have a strong multiplier effect in spreading the transition toward regenerative organic agriculture.


After just one year of operations our small coordination team has built partnerships with reputable local partners in six countries including Ghana, Honduras, India, Nicaragua, Peru, and Zimbabwe. Together we’ve crowdfunded 10 scholarships and one farmer-to-farmer training — with more to be announced soon!  

“These trainings amplify our vision. You learn new things, but they also allow you to understand others’ realities, to compare and to see what is working there and what you can do more of in your own country. […] It is imperative to make changes at the farm level, to change the mentality, and to continue to rehabilitate the forests and the water, because the impacts of climate change are global and do not stop for anyone.” – José Fernando Reyes of Norandino Cooperative in Peru, a participant of a farmer-to-farmer training funded by Grow Ahead in 2017.

In the fall of 2017, Grow Ahead and Cooperative Coffees successfully crowdfunded a farmer-to-farmer training in Nicaragua. The training brought together more than twenty farmers and participants from around the world, mostly coffee farmers from Central and South America.


We hope to garner support for our efforts by partnering with our like-minded friends at 1% for the Planet. Grow Ahead offers many ways to make a meaningful impact. Donations as little as $1 can help change the life of a farmer in Peru by financing a tree to be planted in an agroforestry system. Or, larger contributions could have a monumental impact, for instance, by providing start-up funds for an agricultural education center in Ghana that would see hundreds of farmers trained annually in regenerative agriculture. Supporting projects like these has the potential to spread regenerative agriculture to thousands of acres of farmland, providing climate change resiliency, increased income and food security to dozens of struggling communities.


The number of growing seasons for farmers using industrial agriculture is limited. The soil fertility is just too depleted to survive the consequences of our planet’s worsening climate.  This course has the potential to cause mass migration, poverty and starvation for small-scale farmers across the globe. We need to transition to a form of agriculture that revitalizes land and community. Join us on our  journey to make this transition possible through implementation of regenerative organic agriculture.




If you’re interested in getting involved please email us at [email protected]

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Mackenzie Barrill is an intern with Grow Ahead, helping to develop the Business Partnerships Program.