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Black Woman Owned Business Makes Mark on Agriculture Industry at Grow-NY

By: Beonca Louis

Leslie Woodward is the founder of Edenesque is making her mark on the food and ag industry, just like Harriet Tubman did selling apples from her land right here in New York.

The Black-owned, Kingston, New York-based business is in the running to win $1 million at the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit in November with her plant-based milks.

The Grow-NY food and agriculture business competition is focused on enhancing the emerging food, beverage, and agriculture innovation cluster in Central New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier.

Since we are celebrating the bicentennial of Harriet Tubman in Auburn, New York, this story on Edenesque is an inspiring piece to share with the Tour Cayuga community!

As a Black woman on a mission, Woodward is a living example of Tubman’s legacy. After 20 years as a chef, she knew it was time to tackle diet-related illnesses in communities of color with her clean, simple, delicious plant-based milks. 

Woodward sources from sustainable farmers who build soil health and support biodiversity across their landscapes. These values resonate with our beloved Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail where local eateries use local ingredients to create delicious desserts.

Upstate, NY has an innovative and thriving ecosystem around food and agriculture and we are grateful to be diligently contributing to the expansion!

Woodward will pitch her business live, along with 19 other finalists, on Tuesday, November 15th, and Wednesday, November 16th for her chance at $1 million in startup funding.

Almost 400 startups applied across 52 countries, yet only 20 made it to the final round! All 20 finalists participated in a 10-week business accelerator program where they received mentorship to prepare for the culminating event. 

You can view the exciting live pitches; as well as live panel discussions on entrepreneurship in the food and ag-tech space, potential solutions to the most pressing issues facing our planet, and the critical work that is en route to make substantial differences in the agrifood system at the Summit,

There will also be an ecosystem expo featuring organizations that support the thriving food and ag innovation ecosystem in New York State.

If you are interested in attending the Grow-NY Food and Ag Summit in person at The Oncenter Convention Center in Syracuse, New York, on Tuesday, November 15th, and Wednesday, November 16th. Register here! (Virtual Options are available)

The Grow-NY award ceremony will be hosted virtually on November 17th and is free of charge to attend. Learn more!

Cornell University’s Center for Regional Economic Advancement is administering the competition and Empire State Development is providing funding for the Grow-NY competition through its Upstate Revitalization Initiative connected with the three regions – Central New York Rising, Finger Lakes Forward, and Southern Tier Soaring.