Cortney Ahern Renton

Cortney Ahern Renton
Executive Director, CitySeed
Yale school of the Environment, Master of Environmental Management, 2019

Cortney is the Executive Director of CitySeed, a nonprofit organization based in New Haven, whose mission is to engage the community in growing an equitable, local food system that promotes economic development, community development, and sustainable agriculture.

Cortney brings a decade of multidisciplinary leadership within nonprofits, think tanks, and startups to this role. She led national programs and built strategic relationships with donors at Feeding America, the second-largest nonprofit in the United States. As President of Slow Food Chicago, she led the organization's strategy to promote good, clean, fair food for all. Cortney has also held research, fundraising, and sustainability roles with The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, The Greater Chicago Food Depository, and Sir Kensington's. Earlier, she apprenticed on a family farm and trained in organic farming practices from seed to harvest.

Cortney received her B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from Colgate University, focused on international social justice. She earned her Master of Environmental Management from the Yale school of the Environment where she co-founded the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative and was involved in entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives at CBEY and Tsai CITY.

Authored Articles
Markets for a range of grains can grow widely and quickly

Businesses big and small can drive growth for regenerative growth across a range of crops. 

Show Me the Money: Making a Downstream Market for Diverse Regenerative Crops

In the words of the great agricultural philosopher Liza Minnelli, “Money makes the world go round.” Most stakeholders RAI interviewed across agricultural supply chains, especially farmers, want to grow crops and raise livestock in a sustainable way. Yet this desire to minimize environmental harm is not feasible if it creates...
Cover Crops for All Day with RAI

Farmers' informal networks can drive progress for finance, food and the farming business. The RAI visited pioneers in Iowa in 2018. 

Farmers on the Frontlines of the Regenerative Agriculture Transition

Achieving the transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture will require a major shift in the strategy and behavior of many of America’s two million farmers. For a farmer, farming for healthy soils, ecosystems, communities and climate conflicts at many points with conventional agriculture practice. Wider success comes only from the...
Regenerative ag's open for business- and investment

This "beyond organic" farm in New York's Hudson Valley earned capital from a REIT that saw its growth potential. 

So, You're Thinking of Investing in Regenerative Food Systems...

The traditional landscape of farmland ownership and financing in the United States thwarts the adoption of regenerative agriculture. First, farmland is expensive. Farm real estate prices have doubled in the last decade. But models have emerged to power regenerative practices forward. These include concessionary capital, financing from real estate investment...
Is this the way to crop reform?

(Photo courtesy of Pexels.com) Farmers can deliver steeper returns to themselves, their ecosystem, and their economy when their insurance system makes more sense. 

The Case for Crop Insurance Reform

Across the political spectrum, most Americans have favorable opinions of farmers and are happy with the idea that the federal government provides financial assistance to help pay for crop insurance. If they knew crop insurance's full cost, that might change. This system, while well-intentioned, leaves out the majority of farmers...
Regenerative agriculture begins here

How deeply can regenerative farming affect the way societies value farming- and farmers build value? (Photo courtesy of Lukas via Pexels.) 

The State of Regenerative Agriculture: Growing With Room to Grow More

This article, by The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (RAI) team at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), is the first in a series on key opportunities to accelerate regenerative agriculture in the United States. At today’s rate of soil degradation, some scientists predict the world’s topsoil could be...