Growing To Go – Kelly Tiller & Sam Jackson



The pandemic has been a nightmare for restaurants but a dream come true for curb-side, carry out and delivery. We cheer the climate friendly effects of some of our forced changes but what about all those Styrofoam and other non-recyclable packages that our encasing all of that take-out food or home deliveries? What if the packaging is grown on a farm just like the food and could also be traced back to the farm it grew on? Well that’s happening now in Tennessee where farmers are growing switchgrass that is processed in to packaging for takeout containers for a regenerative cycle. Native grasses like switchgrass are perennials that can grow to 8-10 feet high every year, without replanting. The roots go as deep as the plant is tall, building the soil and requiring minimal water. Native grasses for packaging will not typically be more valuable than major cash crops but they help make full use of fringe and marginal land on many farms across the country and may have a future in California where new water pumping regulations are expected to cause many Central Valley farms to fallow as much as a third of their acreage. Farmers in East Tennessee are being recruited by Genera to grow ag-fiber pulp like switch grass to produce compostable, fully plant –based food service products like to-go containers. Genera CEO Kelly Tiller and Vice President Sam Jackson join us to connect the dots from fields of perennial renewable grasses to a guilt free packaging of our delivered lunch. I know who grew the food. Who grew the package?