Happy Hour with Sandi Kronick




Please join us Friday, April 20th for Happy Hour at Vert & Vogue, as part of Third Friday Durham. This month V&V is pleased to host the Triangle B Corp community with special guest, Sandi Kronick. Sandi will share with us her take on the state of sustainable agriculture in NC and discuss what it means to be a B Corp. Join us and lets celebrate Earth Day together!

PS- As always, drinks are on the house




What is the Eastern Carolina Organics origin story?


ECO was launched through a $48,000 grant from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission granted to the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association. We help cultivate a sustainable food system by providing a viable production and distribution network to our customers and farmers. It was and will always be a project for the organic farmers and consumers of NC!
A deeper origin story is buried in this loving tribute we just posted on our facebook page about the recent passing of ECO's co-owner and co-founder, Tony Kleese.


What does a sustainable food system mean to you and how are you working towards achieving it?


A sustainable food system is regenerative for the planet, healing to human health, and levels the playing field for people’s ability to access clean, fresh food and to grow clean, fresh food. This vision will only exists when consumers know that their food choices make an impact on their individual, community and planetary health, and are empowered to be able to access the food of their choosing.  ECO works every day to bridge produce buyers and farmers together, helping them to not only understand new opportunities but also to better understand one another’s challenges.  A sustainable economy thrives off of an economy of connection, rather than simply commerce. 


Can you tell us about one of ECO's farm partnerships that exemplifies your mission and values?


Well, I’d like to think nearly all of our farming relationships exemplify our core values and mission!  We work usually with 100 farms in any given year, but we have 17 that are actually part owners in the company with me, so they literally are my partners.  Partnership is in the blood of the business, and it’s a key to our success. No matter how sustainable our products or our trucks are, our relationships have to be a core focus of our sustainability, or else we wouldn’t be waking up and coming to work hard every day.  Our whole team is passionate because they are reviving a food system and a culture of gratitude in an otherwise “thankless” system of food handlers, from the farm workers, farmers, truck drivers to the restaurant employees.  We’re in this for the relationships and won’t stop because of those relationships.





ECO has been a B-Corp since 2016, what did the certification process look like for you? How has being a B-Corp changed how you do business?


Others on the ECO team worked to achieve this important milestone for ECO, so I have to give them full credit for that work. We were probably eligible since our founding in 2004, but ran off instinctive values and ethics, and lacked some of the internal trackers to join the club, per se.  Setting up these systems and monitoring our growth since we got certified has been incredibly rewarding, and participating in a global movement of organizations to usher in change at the speed at which this planet needs it is very comforting and empowering.  Most entrepreneurs aren’t as inclined to sit around and talk about the work that needs to get done; we’d rather jump in and get down to work!  So the B-Corp model is very helpful in that sense as it’s not just about passing a certain grade.  Rather, we are always striving to improve our own sustainability qualifications along that spectrum of corporate stewards, and we are part of a larger community and movement that can propel significant change in access to working with like-minded, shared-values vendors, etc.  Since our business is basically formed on the question of whether people would “put their money with their mouth is” and “vote with their dollars” for a more sustainable food system, it’s critical that we as a business do the same.  In the past I’ve used the term “ethically paranoid” to describe how intentionally we wanted to make business decisions in line with our values of sustainability.  Now we just get to refer to all this against a backdrop of our growth in the B Corp spectrum!


Can you give a little preview of what you’ll be discussing at the Happy Hour event?


I'll dig into the origin of ECO and share my viewpoint of the state of sustainable agriculture in NC today. I'm also looking forward to sharing a few stories about the small organic farmers we partner with and highlighting how work with organizations like B Corp and SEEDS have been critical to our growth and impact.


What do you love most abut Durham?


Well, I think we all love Durham for the diverse, strong, unique and community-based people it is home to.  I always thought that Durham had to be THE place to raise awesome, well-adjusted future leaders because it has such a rich history, such a community of empowered, huge-hearted activists, such a vibrant arts and music soul, and such awesome access to some pretty remote woods and rivers.  What more could I want?  A stronger public transportation and pedestrian-friendly system. 





What is your biggest hope for our community?


A strong local organic food system that is accessible to all and builds opportunity for all.  That Durhams’ youth all come to feel a part of the growth here, and feel universal support from this community to make excellent choices for their health and future.  I hope that Durham’s amazing Black Wall Street history is more widely recognized as a critical and underlying reason for our city's growth, not an anecdotal piece of it.  Durham should become a model food town too. Making good food choices should be understood as an essential part of creating health and well-being for the kids in our public schools, enabling their success.  Having a vibrant, fully operational, school garden program at every school would be a great start to this. I would also advocate for promoting mindfulness in the schools through yoga, meditation and a strong celebration of Durham's rich history, every month!



Finally, what's your favorite mixed drink, wine or beer?


You’ll usually find me with a nub of ginger root in my pocket, it’s definitely what I crave and rely on.  Any good ginger ale with any good bourbon is my default!  And if it’s Schwepps with Maker’s Mark I’m a happy girl, too.