On February 14th, the EPICentre welcomed its first cohort of EPIC VentureWomen, a program specifically designed with special attention to the identification and elimination of systemic barriers to progress for women in entrepreneurship; especially in emerging technologies. We caught up with our first cohort and had them fill out a questionnaire to help you get to know them a little better.
Company: Ground Culture
Members: Brandi Bechard and Vanessa Carducci
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself
Brandi is the founder of Ground Culture. She has a background in Ecosystem Management and has worked across Canada honing her skills and understanding of the natural world. Her mission is to help others connect with their food and the land from where it comes, by growing food at home and caring for the planet in a positive way.
Vanessa is the Head Gardener for residential garden projects, and Farm Manager when we run our CSA program. She is a current Ontario Certified Teacher, has a background in science, education, and organic farming, and has formal training with a Permaculture Design Certificate.
2. Tell us about your company
Ground Culture is an edible landscaping and organic vegetable gardening company. We specialize in designing regenerative landscapes that build soil, capture and store water, create wildlife and pollinator habitat, and produce food! We love to teach people how to use the resources they have to grow their own food at home and aim to nourish a connection between people and their environment.
3. How do you feel the EPIC Venture Women program was beneficial to growing your company?
The EPIC Venture Women program helped us refine some of the processes that were new to us, but essential for our business. Neither of us has a background in business or anything technology related; our strengths lie primarily in education and nature/outdoor-based skills. This program guided us through the unique challenges and obstacles of running a business as women, but went beyond covering the basics by providing us with meaningful, personalized mentorship, especially on the tech side of things!!
4. You’ve had the unique situation of having a pandemic hit while completing the program, as an entrepreneur what lessons, if any, did you learn from this?
We speak a lot about building resiliency when designing our landscapes and gardens. We found that we as business owners had to be resilient ourselves in how we kept going, and what we could offer during these challenging times. We swiftly decided to make a major pivot in our operations to be able to offer a product that we knew people wanted but had limited access when the world went sideways. Instead of building custom gardens, offering group workshops, and offering one-on-one consultations (which all came to a screaming halt), we launched our
Ground Culture Garden Club -a garden kit delivery program- and continued to safely help people grow food at home when they needed it the most.
5. What’s next for your company?
We will continue to offer virtual consultations and online gardening classes, and we will be adding new features to our Ground Culture Garden Club as the season progresses. We are always coming up with fun and creative ways to get people outside and bring back the edible garden! Stay tuned for exciting new offerings by following us on social media at @ground.culture.gardens, or by visiting our website at www.groundculture.ca.