Carlo Mondavi of Monarch Tractor: “There is never a perfect time”

Talk to them about technologies and ideas that can help sustain us as a planet in unison with nature and make sure that they know they are a major part of the solution. That we will need to continue to innovate and that they are going to be a major part of minimizing our footprint […]

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Talk to them about technologies and ideas that can help sustain us as a planet in unison with nature and make sure that they know they are a major part of the solution. That we will need to continue to innovate and that they are going to be a major part of minimizing our footprint and maximizing our longevity here on this planet.

As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carlo Mondavi.

Carlo Mondavi is Chief Farming Officer of Monarch Tractors. Carlo is an expert viticulturist with experience in Organic, Biodynamic, and Permaculture Farming. He is a fourth generation winegrower from the world-renowned Mondavi family and is co-founder of Raen Winery, as well as a partner at Continuum Estate.

Thank you for joining us in this interview series. What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

Monarch Tractor is working to utilize 21st-century technology to empower farmers and generations of farmers to come. This technology enables farmers to have profitable implementation of sustainable technologies that are organic, efficient, and economically viable solutions. Being in California we are at the intersection of tech and agriculture and have assembled a world class team to deliver the world’s smartest, fully electric, autonomous tractor

Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

These are such important questions. Monarch Tractor addresses climate change by being all electric and significantly more powerful than any diesel equivalent. On the flip side, it addresses sustainability by being drivable and autonomous, and giving farmers greater value for the extra passes without the carbon footprint. Being light years ahead of diesel tractors is what will allow us to achieve the most important aspect of Monarch: making farming more profitable, cleaner, healthier, and safer.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

This is the key to our success. Being all electric, we cut over 60% of the farm’s expense on fuel and service while addressing climate change. Being autonomous, we cut the costs of the extra passes, enabling farms to get rid of all herbicides and use natural non-synthetic pesticides, creating a healthier environment. With our data collection, we help articulate the farming story and history digitally, allowing farms to tell their story while also giving the needed data farms desire for different certifications.

This overall technology allows for greater value to the farmer with less expenses on each step from the farm to the market ultimately giving the farmer greater profits. The consumer also benefits.

The youth led climate strikes of September2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

I couldn’t agree more and I am incredibly impressed by the youth who joined in this movement and are continuing it on. My initial thoughts would be to:

Make sure they get outside and get connected to nature. The more they understand nature the more they will want to protect it. Ask them questions like “what are some little things that we can do to help protect nature?”

When you are outside, talk about biology and how nature has coded in its DNA the ability to self-balance, but in order to do this it needs a healthy ecosystem. Talk about how all animals have a mom and dad and begin their life as a family just like our lives begin. Connect the story of nature back to our story as we are ever intertwined and have so many similarities.

Share with them the story of climate change and how we must find balance between how much greenhouse gasses we emit and how much Mother Nature is able to metabolize.

Talk about a future of renewable energy from solar, wind, geothermal, and hydro energy that can power our planet far cleaner than fossil fuel.

Talk to them about technologies like Monarch, Tesla and ideas that can help sustain us as a planet in unison with nature and make sure that they know they are a major part of the solution. That we will need to continue to innovate and that they are going to be a major part of minimizing our footprint and maximizing our longevity here on this planet.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Monarch Tractor and why?

The importance of a good coffee machine 😉

Keep a journal — there are so many incredible things happening every day at Monarch and I wish I had kept better track of all the massive milestones and all the incredible feats we tackle on a regular basis.

There is never a perfect time. While launching Monarch, I have also been managing intercontinental farm operations for my two vineyards: RAEN in CA and Sori della Sorba in Italy. Finding the time to launch Monarch while balancing harvest as well as the growing troubles brought by COVID, fires and more — there is never a perfect time, but the right time is when you set the date.

Be thankful for in-person meetings and working outdoors. I feel like everyone has had a feeling of Zoom fatigue, luckily working in the field gives us more flexibility, but I do miss days in the office with our whole team.

Not necessarily something I wish I had been told, but something I remind myself of everyday: how thankful I am to have the support, partnership and shared wisdom of my fiancée, my co-founders and friends who challenge me each day as we endeavor to bring innovative technology to those around us and make global impact.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My grandfather, Robert Mondavi. We were very close and he taught me all the simple things in life like “common sense is uncommon.” Or that “the biggest risk you can take in life, is not taking a risk at all.” He taught me to pour your heart and soul into whatever you do if you want to excel. He lived by these words and they help me each day.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The Monarch Challenge: an effort to get rid of all herbicides, systemics and neonicotinoids to help protect our farmers, farms community and the biology and nature in and around the farm. This is an actual challenge I started back in 2016 and is being met by Monarch Tractor. Monarch’s technology isn’t just the key to solving the Monarch Challenge, but the key to solving many more of the challenges we face as farmers.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

“Who thought that the wind generated from the flap of a butterfly wing could change the world… that this motion from such a delicate creature could create waves that travel oceans and the breeze that fills the mountains with fresh air. We are ever connected… trees, bees, plants, and nature all talk to each other and serve a sacred purpose. The Monarch Challenge is set to enlighten, encourage and connect our communities to farm and live in unison with nature and give back to the delicate circle of life.”

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