355: Sowan Thai on Cultivating as Millennial Farmers.
Becoming the next generation of urban farmers.
Sowan was born and raised in Phoenix, leaving just long enough to earn a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona in Tucson. There he studied controlled environment agriculture, plant biochemistry, and genetics. He returned to Phoenix and did tissue culture research at a medical cannabis facility, where he would meet his future business partner Jourdain Beltran. After about a year, they decided to depart from the medical marijuana industry to start an urban farm together with their third partner.
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Beginning with only 2000 square feet, they were able to build a proof-of-concept urban farm and competed in ASU’s Venture Devils program, winning two rounds of substantial funding. Less than a year later, they have expanded their operation to an acre, supply several farmers markets, and share their knowledge and experience with the youth.
In This Podcast:
Raised by two farmers, Sowan Thai wanted to do anything in his life beside this. Yet pursuing a degree in science led him right back to his roots and now he’s proud to call himself a farmer. A post-college stint in a medical marijuana science lab, steered him into growing food with a new friend and partner. As new farmers, they participated in a couple ASU Venture Devils Pitch contests and won both times. Now they are building their urban farm and teaching young kids how to grow food.
Listen in and learn about:
- His path to his first Urban Farm
- An incubator competition that they won twice
- Trying to avoid his family heritage of being a farmer and going into science instead
- Studying the biology and science of cannabis
- Studying plant and bio chemistry and the microbiome in the soil – the science of growing
- Learning more about the controlled environment agriculture
- Why and how he got involved in studying about medical marijuana
- Why he left that industry
- The soil microbiome and the interaction in there
- Challenges as a new farmer
- Farming in Phoenix with high heat and flood irrigation
- Participating in the competition and being delightfully surprised to win!
- How they’ve invested in their business
- EPIC moments when they go into schools and talk to them about farming and agriculture
As well as:
- His failure – they’ve spent a huge amount of time learning about efficient watering in the desert
- His success – winning the ASU Venture Devils Pitch Playoffs – twice
- His drive – His love of science and exploration, his love of work and creating things
- His advice – Life is too valuable to waste time doing the bare minimum – find something to do that you can be passionate about. Find what that is for you.
Sowan’s Book recommendations:
by Buchannan and Jones
How to reach Sowan:
Facebook: Urban Farming Organics
Jourdain Beltran’s podcast episode is number 356
This episode was sponsored by The Seed Bank Box.Click HERE to support our show and learn more.