CIEE Thailand Alums Create Urban Farm Companies for Communities in Colorado & California
Bryant Mason and Kamila Lambert are alumni of the 2010 CIEE Khon Kaen study abroad program in Thailand. Today, they have utilized their knowledge of sustainability and agriculture to found their own urban farm companies: in 2010, Bryant founded the Urban Farm Company of Colorado, and in 2013, Kamila began her own venture, The Edible Urban Farm, based in Silicon Valley.
Bryant discovered his passion for the food system while pursuing a degree in economics and environmental studies as an undergrad at the University of Colorado Boulder. He describes using food as a tool to learn basic economics. “There are all kinds of environmental issues connected to our food system, from carbon emissions, resource depletion, and resource management. In a lot of ways, everything comes back to the food we eat,” says Bryant. While at CU-Boulder, he started a sustainable food student group called CU Going Local, and began gardening around Boulder.
Kamila began her undergraduate career at Santa Clara University on the pre-med track, but discovered that she preferred to help people through food and gardening. “In general, food is the great equalizer – it’s the common thing that everyone has to do,” she says. She began gardening on Santa Clara campus, and then left to go abroad during her junior year with the CIEE Khon Kaen program in Thailand.
Kamila Lambert, founder of the Edible Urban Farm.
For her final project of her study abroad semester, Kamila shared best practices in organic farming with nearby farming communities. “It was interesting to see that there was a market for the organic food movement, which feels very western,” says Kamila. Bryant had a similar experience with the Development & Globalization program, which is focused on sustainability and agriculture in the developing world. “The only similarity I had with rural Thai villagers was an interest in growing and eating good food,” Bryant says, “and I really got to see agriculture – rice paddies and bizarre vegetables I had never seen.”
Urban Edible Farm Co. founder Kamila Lambert. Photo: Palo Alto Online.
Soon after returning from Thailand, Bryant began the Urban Farm Company of Colorado, which has now been in business for almost 4 years. For Bryant, The Urban Farm Co. was a way to combine his passion for entrepreneurship, food, and economics.
“One of my guiding principles for entrepreneurship and business is that if you can create a scalable business model, you can have the power to make a lot of change in areas you care about.”
Photo credit: The Urban Farm Company of Colorado.
Kamila began The Edible Urban Farm Company in California a few years after her CIEE program, and reached out to Bryant for advice. “Bryant was super helpful, because he had a year and a half head start on me – he was the impetus for getting started,” she explains.
Today, Kamila and Bryant’s businesses have grown and expanded within their cities. Kamila has installed over 120 raised beds in the past year, and Bryant aspires to scale the Urban Farm Co. to different cities around the U.S.
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