January 23, 2017|By Jessica Lundberg| Partnerships

Since 1937, the Lundberg family has been dedicated to caring for the land responsibly and sustainably. Our organic and eco-farming methods produce healthful, delicious rice while respecting and protecting the Earth for future generations. Lundberg Family Farms started as a family farm in the 1930s and transitioned to a food production company in 1969 with the building of the smallest rice mill in California. It has since become the largest branded organic rice company in the United States, with over 200 different products being produced and marketed—from bagged specialty rice, to rice cakes, to boxed entrees.

Lundberg Rice Fields 06All of Lundberg Farmily Farms rice is grown with a concern for the environment. Photo provided by Lundberg Family Farms.

As the company has grown we have challenged ourselves to apply our core values of respect, integrity, continuous improvement and teamwork across the growing organization. This builds on the direction of our grandparents, who moved to California from Nebraska in the 1930s with the experience of the Dust Bowl behind them and resolved to “leave the land better than you found it.” This idea is straightforward in farming as we look to incorporate organic matter each year, practice rotation with cover crops, and resting of the ground. But is not so straightforward as you try to apply it to drying and storage systems, milling operations, warehousing, production lines and office operations.

As we transitioned from family farm to rice company to food company, we began questioning the use of resources outside of our farming systems. The first step was to identify the wide range of resources in the system, understand how we were using them and look for opportunities for improvement. Lundberg Family Farms reached out to other organic companies and industries to learn from others and share experiences. We started measuring, creating baselines and setting goals for resource use. We began reporting on our goals and our progress, both internally and externally. We looked for areas where we believed we could make the greatest impact. For example, one of our first steps was to evaluate our energy use, which was then followed by installation of solar onsite and purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) for the remaining energy that we relied on the California utility grid to supply. We have since built on these efforts through an internal Continuous Energy Improvement team that focuses on improved efficiencies and reduction of energy use.

Lundberg Solar panels on our warehousesLundberg Family Farms has three solar panel installations onsite: one ground mounted and two mounted on our warehouse roof. In total, these solar installations generate approximately 12% of the total electrical needs of the facility annually. Photo provided by Lundberg Family Farms.

As we have made progress towards our sustainability goals there are still many areas that we have not identified solutions for, but we continue to ask questions and to identify possible solutions. We are still working to understand the overall impact of our resource footprint and how as a growing company can lessen negative impacts.

Several years ago we made the choice to utilize carbon offsets to balance out our use of fuel in our drying and storage, farming and warehousing systems, and that is when we were introduced to the work of The Conservation Fund. Our goal for carbon offset purchase was to have a real and measurable impact on our community and our consumers’ communities, and The Conservation Fund offered projects that fit this need.

We chose to support The Conservation Fund's Garcia River Forest because of its impact on water quality and wildlife species protection in Northern California—all of which are shared values of our organic rice production just across the mountain range in the Sacramento Valley. Known for its redwoods, raw beauty, and rich wildlife, this sustainably-managed forest enables the storage of more than 77,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.

Lundberg Garcia groupThe Conservation Fund invited Lundberg Family Farms to visit the Garcia River Forest to see their investment at work. From left to right: Stephanie Brady (Director Business Partnerships, The Conservation Fund), Josh Burke (Graphic Coordinator, Lundberg Family Farms), Ashley Delorey (Consumer Outreach Manager, Lundberg Family Farms), Jessica Lundberg (Vice President of Administration, Lundberg Family Farms), Ashley Vega (Sustainability Specialist, Lundberg Family Farms), and Scott Kelly (Timberlands Manager, The Conservation Fund).  Photo provided by Ashley Vega.

Since starting support of the project we had the opportunity to visit the Garcia River Forest and see firsthand the critical conservation efforts of The Conservation Fund that our purchase supports. The experience added to our understanding and commitment to our purchase through transparency and connection to the people and the land. It was an awesome day where we saw real-life examples of selective logging, stream habitat restoration for salmon, and preservation of coastal forest habitat.  We even captured footage of our visit with the help of a drone – enjoy the view!

For more information on Lundberg Farmily Farms sustainability efforts, check out their Sustainability Report.

And look for their products being sold in your local market!Lundberg All Product Group Triangle 10 16