Judges said they liked [Re]Produce’s plans to create great quality product while keeping their market on the community scale, and that the business founders want to be connected to their community and have relationships with the businesses they are selling to.

“Which is a really great concept,” said judge Nicola Morris, senior vice president of WEX, “that idea of taking a business model and taking something local and regional and then just replicating that in other markets – so it’s very interesting, and, I think, could be a very successful model.”

[Re]Produce, a <a href="/about/environmental-commitment/sustainability-in-the-curriculum/">sustainable</a> business venture conceived by College of the Atlantic students Grace Burchard ’17, left, and Anita van Dam ’19, took first-place at the 2017 University of Maine Business Challenge Finals.[Re]Produce, a sustainable business venture conceived by College of the Atlantic students Grace Burchard ’17, left, and Anita van Dam ’19, took first-place at the 2017 University of Maine Business Challenge Finals. Credit: Maine Startups InsiderOther judges on [Re]Produce’s December 2017 episode of Greenlight Maine included Angela McCue, Innovation Outreach Manager at University of Maine, and Emily Brackett, the founder of Branding Compass, developers of an online branding tool. WEX Inc., headquartered in Maine, is a global provider of payment processing and information management services to the United States commercial and government vehicle fleet industry. This is the third season of the show.

Van Dam said that she was incredibly excited by the win, and that she has already traveled to Portland to film the next episode.

“I am ecstatic and so proud that we have gotten into the next round,” van Dam said. “I’m also nervous, but ready to power through with my best abilities, and, hopefully, keep advancing through Greenlight Maine.”

[Re]Produce aims to freeze and sell pre-cut fruits and vegetables from excess and cosmetically imperfect produce from Maine farms. The business focuses on increasing local food access, addressing food waste, and creating extra revenue streams for Maine farmers, van Dam said.

Van Dam cultivated the idea for [Re]Produce in COA’s Sustainable Strategies course and worked on it with Burchard in Transforming Food Systems. The pair honed the idea in COA’s Diana Davis Spencer Hatchery sustainable enterprise accelerator, which is run by COA Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business Jay Friedlander.

“[Re]Produce really exemplifies what’s possible when students are able to pursue their passions as part of their education” - COA Sharpe-McNally Chair of Green and Socially Responsible Business Jay Friedlander.

“[Re]Produce really exemplifies what’s possible when students are able to pursue their passions as part of their education,” Friedlander said. “Grace and Anita’s venture demonstrates how approaching a problem from an interdisciplinary perspective could produce effective, positive change in the real world. And their success so far shows that the time is right for this idea.”

COA’s Hatchery provides students with experts in business, PR, and other disciplines to inform their business, $5,000 in seed funding, office resources, and an opportunity to develop a working business prototype. It allows students to follow their desire to solve thorny problems in the world – in this case, the fact that up to 50 percent of fresh foods can go to waste along the modern food chain, Burchard said.

“Food systems stand at the intersection of almost all sciences, human interactions, and cultures,” Burchard said. “This is about taking our passions into the real world.”

[Re]Produce aims to alleviate the waste of cosmetically unsaleable produce by freezing and selling it. Anita van Dam '19, right, and Grace Burchard '17, left, have spent many hours and used the <a href="/our-community/dining/">COA dining hall </a>kitchen to perfect their ideas.[Re]Produce aims to alleviate the waste of cosmetically unsaleable produce by freezing and selling it. Anita van Dam '19, right, and Grace Burchard '17, left, have spent many hours and used the COA dining hall kitchen to perfect their ideas.

A total of 26 Maine businesses are competing in the head-to-head semifinals of Greenlight Maine this fall and early winter. 13 teams are moving on to the mentor round of the show, where they will receive guidance from three distinguished people from the Maine community. A winner will be chosen at the finale in July.

Via all forms of media and live events, Greenlight Maine highlights the unique, creative, and inspirational activity that is being generated by small businesses as well as encourage investments for - “Growing Maine…One Dream At A Time”.Via all forms of media and live events, Greenlight Maine highlights the unique, creative, and inspirational activity that is being generated by small businesses as well as encourage investments for - “Growing Maine…One Dream At A Time”.Greenlight Maine is a statewide collaboration of entrepreneurial catalysts and corporate leaders, designed to promote and mentor the development and growth of business in our great state. Seasons 1 and 2 of the show were a great success, according to greenlightmaine.com. Season winners walked away with $100,000 each, while $1,250,000 in additional funds were received by other presenters in the series, who were discovered by angel investors watching the show.

[Re]Produce has already taken two titles in Maine – winning the Maine Food Systems Innovation Challenge in November 2016 and the UMaine Business Challenge in June 2017.

College of the Atlantic is the first college in the U.S. to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in human ecology – the study of how humans interact with our natural, social and technological environments. Each student develops their own course of study in human ecology, collaborating and innovating across multiple disciplines. Both The Sierra Club and The Princeton Review named College of the Atlantic the #1 Green College in the United States in 2016 and 2017.