ECOpreneuring: A Review and a Contest

First, a review:

When I was at the Mother Earth News Fair at the beginning of the month, I met John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist and chatted with them about their book, ECOpreneuring – Putting Purpose and the Planet before Profit. I read it a few months earlier and was interested in talking with them about it. For an average-sized book, it packs a lot of information. It talks about how, through small, sustainable, entrepreneurial businesses, (such as farming) you can make a living by solving the problems facing society. That’s ambitious, I know, but the steps and ideas described here are practical and pragmatic. You can have both purpose and profit.

It’s one of the first “how-to” manuals I’ve seen that addresses not only the steps to start, manage and grow a sustainable business, but also addresses the financial side of it, complete with real numbers. By tapping into the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) marketplace, estimated to be $227 billion in the United States alone, an enterprising entrepreneur can make a living and help create a better life for the customer at the same time. The new wave of small farmers, those growing healthy, wholesome food for all of us, fit well into this business model.

There are several other topics in the book I found intriguing:

  • Understanding and using the Global Commons: We have unprecedented access to information through the internet and new tools that can help us manage our business and market our products for very little cost.
  • Tapping burgeoning local economies: By focusing on growing the local business infrastructure and blurring the lines between career and personal life, we can strengthen our communities and build strong local customer bases.
  • Proclaiming your passion: Creating a business that incorporates what you most love will give you more than a living – it will give you a much better life.

These ideas, among many others in the book, present a different way of approaching the business of business. The authors know this from personal experience. They own Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast and Farm in Wisconsin and discuss their successes and challenges in creating this business, including the basics of funding, taxation, and legal logistics. If you want to be both inspired and informed about starting and maintaining a small, sustainable business, this is the book for you.

That’s the review; here’s the contest: I have a spare copy of this book that is just crying out for a new home. To throw your hat into the ring, and possibly claim this book for your very own, leave a comment on this blog posting describing a sustainable business you’d like to create or a new way to make an operation currently in business much more sustainable. I’ll choose the best one (completely subjectively, of course) and get the book, ECOpreneuring, into your hands. Let the games begin!


I’m so excited to have our Port Susan Farmers Market opening once again this summer. I really enjoy seeing all my neighbors and friends buying locally-produced foods from all my other neighbors and friends. In fact, I usually see more local people in one trip to the farmers market than I see the whole rest of the year. It makes me feel like I’m participating in the community.

The most tangible benefits of the farmers market are financial. It’s good for the producers but it’s great for businesses that are nearby. According to a report by a Cooperative Extension in Virginia:

“Increasing direct connections with producers and consumers is a sound, asset-based social and economic development strategy for rural and urban communities. From an economic perspective, encouraging the buying and consumption of local foods can have a positive impact on the local economy by recirculating and reinvesting dollars in local, independently owned businesses.”

When local producers sell at the farmers market, the whole community benefits. Local retail businesses reap the rewards of increased foot traffic, farmers retain more of the dollars they earn, and the social interaction created by visiting a farmers market increases everyone’s well being. Last year, I heard so many people comment, “I didn’t even know this was here”, when they stopped to see what the market was all about. This year, they’ll know to come back.

The market gives us the chance to get out of our workplaces, to park our cars, and to enjoy downtown Stanwood on a lovely Friday afternoon in the summer. The Port Susan Farmers Market opens July 5th. I’m looking forward to seeing you there!