Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Tyree's Green

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What is the name of your solution?

Indigenous Foliar Bio-Stimulant for Food Sovereignty

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Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

A family of patents for an indigenous-science based foliar formula to grow crops without the need for soil nutrients

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What specific problem are you solving?

Climatic events [e.g., storms, fires, etc.] of increasing unpredictability and strength, as well as climate change induced impacts on seasons [e.g., wider temperature swings, shorter growing seasons, etc.], place a heavy burden on the already vulnerable food supply of native peoples across the United States and beyond. A recent study by Berkeley University suggests that "92% of Native American households may suffer from food insecurity." Compounding these effects, the disruptions in the global supply change due to the COVID 19 have also negatively affected the native American population’s access to basic food staples further putting communities at risk. A nationwide study conducted during the pandemic period [March 2022 to April 2021] suggests that over forty-eight percent of native Americans’ household suffered from food shortages, much more so than during non-pandemic years. Building resilience of the food systems for native American communities is there at the heart of this proposal. 

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What is your solution?

We are proposing a solution for building community resilience to climate change and global economic shocks as outlined above. The solution is aimed at strengthening Native American community’s sovereignty in their localized climate-smart means of food production.  Our proposed solution utilizes research and advances in biotechnology, it aims to provide organic climate-smart nutrient inputs for enhanced food sovereignty; and in parallel, it aims to utilize the blockchain to securely and accurately enhance food traceability and verifying data and results [crop growth across seasons and across communities as well as socio economic impact/benefit for the right groups – i.e., minimize co-option and appropriation]. 

 

For this purpose and in order to support the creation, growth, and success of a Native-owned business and to promote workforce programs in tribal communities and in doing so address food deserts, community health, and a lack of arable lands in many of our communities, our team has developed a family of patents for organic foliar applicants based on traditional ecological knowledge principles, botanical research, and biotechnology. These organic foliar applicants have been proven to be a powerful nutrient compliment to accelerate healthy growth of cash crops, valuable nutrient-rich superfoods, as well as key traditional crops.

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Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

I am an enrolled member of the Federally Recognized Monacan Indian Nation in Virginia. I have worked in Indian Country all of my life and this innovation would not only benefit the seven tribes of Virginia, but also, and maybe more-so, the tribes of the South West. I have worked directly with the San Carlos Apache tribe's natural resources department as well as with the community at large. I have spent years living in Hawaiian Homelands, farming with the community in denuded soils, building them with organic amendments and with indigenous-invented foliar applicants which is now in its final stages of patent approval. Any indigenous community with limited arable land, and increased vulnerability to climate change and to disruptions in supply chains would benefit from this IP [i.e., indigenous-invented organic foliar applicant.


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How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

I am a member of the Native American community, myself, the inventor of this IP. For the past five years, we have Stern, Kessler, Goldstein, and Fox working pro-bono to see the completion of the patent defense and with the family of patents in-hand, could license this technology with proceeds supporting its use and application in Indian Country as well as in investment in native owned businesses. In my capacity as a BIA contractor working for a Native-Owned and operated company, I have made contacts across Indian Country and am well positioned to address the needs of these communities in their food sovereignty and employment struggles.

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Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Lexington, VA, USA
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Our solution's stage of development:

Growth
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How many people does your solution currently serve?

Currently looking for start-up funding and an industry partner

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Why are you applying to Solve?

We hope to overcome entry barriers that always seem to stop indigenous entrepreneurs from getting their IP patented and finding market partners and investors. We need a university partner to assist us in third party research of our foliar formula, we need access to market partners who can help us overcome the question of manufacturing, marketing, distribution, and licensing. It is always a cultural hurdle for indigenous entry into IP. Specifically, in my personal experience, I have found that being honest and direct, doesn't lead to finding willing partners. There is an "old boys club" in which, we just don't have membership. I was a first generation high school graduate and as I navigated my undergrad in Hawaii and eventually graduate school at Yale, I realized that no matter my traditional indigenous upbringing or chemistry knowledge, or proximity to those with connections, the actual connections needed to make meaningful change don't manifest to a significant degree. This designed system makes change from within our communities extremely difficult and, ultimately, makes us dependent upon outsiders who have their own visions and self-motivations. If we are to have true self-determination, we need to have opportunities for our entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors. This is what my team and I are trying to accomplish in applying to MIT Solve.


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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model (e.g. product-market fit, strategy & development)
  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
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Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Lucas Tyree - Managing Director

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Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.

Monacan Indian Nation

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Is the Team Lead a resident of the United States?

Yes

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Support the creation and growth of Native owned businesses and promote workforce programs in tribal communities.

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More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

As outline in previous questions, the increased vulnerability of Native American communities to climate change and to disruptions in supply chain are concerning factors affecting food security and nutrition. Additionally, there remains a key gap in the means of making solutions/innovation accessible directly to communities and in the means of verifying this information and managing data and enforcing agreements with different parties involved. Our solution is therefore innovative in two fronts: utilizing research and advances in biotechnology, it aims to provide organic climate-smart nutrient inputs for enhanced food sovereignty; and in parallel, it aims to utilize the blockchain to securely and accurately enhance food traceability and verifying data and results [crop growth across seasons and across communities as well as socio economic impact/benefit for the right groups – i.e., minimize co-option and appropriation]. 

Our solution could be considered the latest iteration of culturally passed along knowledge, manifested into a family of patents currently at the USPTO. The formula utilizes nearly all organic ingredients to grow plants without the need of a full complement of soil nutrients. Essentially, the implications are that, with this indigenous knowledge acknowledged as novel, we can disrupt a market while simultaneously demonstrating the relevancy and value of our ancestral and community knowledge. In application, this could be a catalyst for a revolutionary change in agriculture. Our formula will revolutionize how desert land is farmed, the very definition of "denuded soils", improve the profitability and therefore feasibility of mass hydroponics, and a usher in a new era of "river-ponics".

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What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

We hope for the next year to see growth in our resource network. We hope for the patent process to be completed and for us to have acquired a network of investors and corporate partners who can set the baseline for our business model to expand and develop.

Over the next five years, we seek to expand our business with our partners and to work within Indian Country to have our communities be at the forefront of the development of this green technology. Our business is indigenous owned and our team is all BIPOC, this is by design and we will continue to utilize the collective experiences of our community members to stay innovative and culturally relevant.


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How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Initially our indicators will be the number of corporate partners and investors that we acquire. Later we will focus on FTE (Full Time Employment) positions within Indian Country that are created as a result of our technology. Beyond the patent we will expand to include traditional sustainable organic agriculture practices on Reservations and the returns from this patent will fund these efforts. Our indicators are the amount of self-funded dollars we can utilize towards community supported agriculture plots in our target indigenous communities in Virginia. The number of acres under agricultural use will be another indicator. We seek to have the intellectual property that we have created, be the catalyst for a self-endowment for indigenous food system sovereignty, starting in Virginia, then radiating outward to our network of indigenous growers, ranchers, and fishermen.

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What is your theory of change?

Patent --> Licensing --> Blockchain integration --> Roll out including through indigenous owned/operated NonProfits [i.e., NDPonics 501C3] --> Strengthen food security and sovereignty.

The organic foliar applicants, once patented, will go through a licensing process with a large fertilizer company. In the agreement to license, will be a clause to engage with tribes for manufacturing and use on crop lands [this will be monitored and enforced using blockchain technology]. We will retain a residual and utilize this funding to support CSA’s and indigenous-led farming. Through our coordination with the indigenous-led NDPonics 501C3, we will assist indigenous communities to re-establish food trade systems so as to supply both indigenous communities as well as indigenous owned restaurants, casinos, and hotels. The aim is to more fully complete the supply chain so as to reduce dependence on outside commodities and to make healthy food more available and affordable in our indigenous communities. 

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The core technology that powers the proposed solution is two fold:

  1. A new biotechnology product – organic foliar applicants - which leverages research in botany, agricultural sciences, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge [TEK];
  2. To maximize impact, the Blockchain technology is also employed.  
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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology

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How do you know that this technology works?

The proposed organic foliar applicants are a product of years of research in biotechnology, botany, agricultural sciences, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. This is new ‘technology’ [biotechnology] has been undergoing the scrutinous patenting process by the U.S. government and it is now in the final stages of approval [expected approval summer 2022].  

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Biotechnology / Bioengineering
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 2. Zero Hunger
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 15. Life on Land
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • United States
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • United States
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In which states do you currently operate?

  • Virginia
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In which states will you be operating within the next year?

  • Virginia
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Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

Hybrid of for-profit and nonprofit

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How many people work on your solution team?

2

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How long have you been working on your solution?

6 years

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What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

The core value of the proposed solution is diversity, equity, and inclusion, not only of native American peoples but also other underrepresented and often disadvantage members of society, such as migrant communities, and African American communities among others. The solution is by Native Americans for Native Americans and, by extension, also for those that are in need and have been historically forgotten and pushed aside. The immediate team is composed of Mr. Lucas Tyree from the Monacan Indian Nation in Virginia; and Mr. Jorge Barbosa a refugee from Colombia [granted refugee status in 2001]. The envisioned growth of the team and the overall operation will continue supporting engagement with all peoples and with a zero-discrimination regardless of ethnicity, race, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation/identity, among others. 

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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

Our business model is to further develop the patent through research, eventually leading to licensing with a large fertilizer company. In the agreement to license, will be a clause to engage with tribes for manufacturing and use on crop lands [this will be monitored and enforced using blockchain technology]. We will retain a residual and utilize this funding to support CSA’s and indigenous-led farming. Through our coordination with the indigenous-led NDPonics 501C3, we will assist indigenous communities to re-establish food trade systems so as to supply both indigenous communities as well as indigenous owned restaurants, casinos, and hotels. The aim is to more fully complete the supply chain so as to reduce dependence on outside commodities and to make healthy food more available and affordable in our indigenous communities. Creating a baseline of income while also focusing on how we can change how we eat and how we see ourselves and our sovereignty, is the core principle we are following in creating a community supported endeavor.

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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)
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Solution Team

 
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