ZERI Certified Practitioner since 2003, Green Entrepreneur of the Year, Brandon Pitcher, is the genius behind Blue Circle Farms (BCF) of Kokomo, Indiana. They specialize in hemp production for consumption and white label products. Rebecca Minna, owner of Skokomish Ridge Farm, pointed me in Brandon’s direction. She described Brandon as an expert in the agricultural business – the mentor of all mentors. Honestly, I was optimistic prior to meeting him. Though he far exceeded my expectations.
Blue Circle is a solution-based company focused on driving Circular and Blue Economy concepts. They are all about sustainable development, an approach to end waste and pollution, circulating used products and materials, and regenerating nature. BCF is pushing for hemp to be a part of re-establishing a healthy economy. They even use hemp biomass to grow mushrooms!
“We started hemp farming back in 2014 when it first went legal in Colorado — we were some of the first USDA-certified organic hemp farms in the country. We had the first USDA-certified extract from our farm with the documentation. All of that was pretty cool. And then I’ve been involved in the USA with hemp since before it was first legal consulting for companies’ life cycle assessments and advocating for businesses to utilize hemp in their supply chain. Currently, we are more focused on the mushroom business. It is developing rapidly across the nation, so we have pivoted into that space a little more. Although I was into mushrooms 20 years ago. I invested back then in a small farm that didn’t survive. I’ve been around it (mushrooms) most of my life. I have traveled the world and over 50 countries researching sustainability practices. (I’ve) invested in development and implementation, from anything for food production, to wastewater treatment, to energy generation, to healthy buildings, and then education. I’ve done over 600 lectures in my life on sustainability.”
Mostly in his 20s, Brandon accepted any speaking engagement request. He spoke at MIT, Yale, United Nations University, the Royal Academy of Sciences in Sweden, and other universities worldwide. Pitcher did not care about pay. Instead, he stepped into his calling because he felt strongly about getting “the education out”. It started at age 19. “I first learned the term sustainable development and what that meant. I met some of the world leaders like William McDonough, Michael Braungart, Janine Benyus, and people at that time who had inspired me to think differently about development and our role on the planet. I got into the education side because nobody around here had even talked about this subject. I never heard about it. No politicians were talking about it. No businesses were talking about it. So, I thought I had to educate people. In hopes that one day I could have people that I could work with and understand the vision.” Pitcher presented at Ball State and Purdue Universities and numerous other schools.
This began when he was around 19 to 20 years old. Educating young kids and getting them involved helped to start several sustainability clubs and organizations that are still functioning today. “I’m not much of an academic, but I have an academic mind. I think academically, but I am not really a school person”. Young Pitcher went to college, got busy saving minds, dropped out, and traveled the world. And without even getting a bachelors degree Brandon was invited to complete the System Design Masters program at Politecnico di Torino by Dr. Gunter Pauli. What a remarkable individual.
Now the work that Brandon and his colleagues started seems to be taking off all over the world. Things like mushrooms, algae, cannabis, bio-based products, climate change, carbon emissions, and all the things that he was very adamant about as a young man that needed serious attention, in fact, are being focused on today. Especially after going through this pandemic, the world is really waking up to change. He hopes that soon people will understand even more about the planet. Pitcher urges the population “to think as a part of the earth instead of separate from it.” He hopes society will “figure out a way for humanity to survive here for a long time before we have to leave.” He thinks we should take care of our home before going to another planet. First, we should figure out how to run this planet properly.
Brandon’s travels to over 50 countries and doing hundreds of lectures led him to lock arms with a vast network that can help people who understand investing in this direction. “We’ve got people who understand (how to) implement and operate. Rebecca (owner of Skokomish Ridge Mushrooms) is working on a mushroom farm. I was their consultant and (am) now part-owner of the business. They are following the plan pretty much to a tee, and it’s working. Their Shiitake mushrooms are delicious. I am very proud of Jacob (Rebecca’s son, aka the Lab Guy) and what they are doing. They’re building a life with mushrooms out there, and I’m hoping to see more and more mushroom farms around the country too”
“Mushrooms are probably the most important kingdoms on earth when it comes to our survival and functionality of nature. We just don’t pay much attention to them in this country.” The irrational fear of mushrooms, mycophobia, has held the United States back from exploring fungi. Whereas other countries, especially in Asia, revere the mushroom, and they look at it as a life source. They build temples and villages for mushrooms and praise fungi. Instead, we over here in the States tend to think they are either poisonous, hallucinogenic, or not nutritious. This is because we have been exposed to the wrong types of mushrooms.
Champignon, the white button mushroom, is hardly nutritious and barely has any calories. It is like iceberg lettuce, yet that is our most popular mushroom. Typical grocery store mushrooms, like crimini, most people have experienced as a little slimy and not the best tasting. But that is what took over the markets because it is the ‘French mushroom.’ The rest of them are better! “The shiitake, the lion’s mane, the oyster, all have functional benefits beyond just edibility. They make your life better. They can control things like cholesterol, and regulate your blood, your hormones, and your temperament. Mushrooms can rejoin brain connections and all these amazing things we are learning about now. We need to spend more energy and time researching the fungal kingdom, figuring out ways to protect it, and enhancing its ability to help human survival.”
Mushrooms are not only a nutrient-dense food source; they are also excellent building materials. “We now know of many mushrooms that can be used to replace packaging, remake leathers, textiles, and all this stuff. But we are just now figuring out how to commercialize it on a larger scale, which is very important. We are trying to talk about the scale aspect of a lot of this—the sustainability of 8 to 10 billion people on this planet. We have to scale rapidly and fast. It can’t just be a lot of one-off projects.”