Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011 Episode 22: Sustainability at a Small Business: Emory Knoll Farms

May 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

Today we have the pleasure to air John Shepley’s video presentation “Sustainability at a Small Business: Emory Knoll Farms” from our inaugural  2011 Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit on and our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube.

John has been a colleague for several years now and last year he became an  editorial contributor to as the  Green Business Editor where he writes his column “Sustainable Business Insights.”  As co-owner of Emory Knoll Farms, we had known him for a long time but finally got to meet him and his lovely wife, Trish, in Baltimore for the 6th annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference (now called CitiesAlive).  We found out first hand what a wonderful human being he is and what a great outlook on life he and his family have.

John Shepley has worked as an engineer, technical manager, business manager, and management consultant.  He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from West Virginia University, 1984.  Since then he has lived and worked in Baltimore and surrounding areas, with a couple of years in Copenhagen Denmark building a new metro system there.

In 2004, John co-founded Emory Knoll Farms, Inc. in Harford County.  Emory Knoll Farms grows plants exclusively for green roofs, and in addition to serving the green building industry, they operate a socially just and sustainable business.  John is a founding board member of the Baltimore Biodiesel Cooperative (2004-2009), and has served on the board of the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Alliance since 2006, where he has been chairman since 2009.  John is passionate about renewable energy, sustainable living and business, and promoting a living local economy.  He drives a vegetable-powered truck, and has an electric Mazda RX-7.  John is also a contributing editor on (2011): the Green Business Editor (2011) and contributes Sustainable Business Insights.  Currently, John is living and working near Milan, Italy with his wife Trish.

In  “Sustainability at a Small Business: Emory Knoll Farms” John  says that even when a business owner has a clear intention of operating sustainably, when faced with limited resources there are many choices and compromises to be made.

John Shepley walks with you down the path towards sustainability that he and Ed Snodgrass have taken at Emory Knoll Farms; from the initial concept of operating a sustainable business to the realities of social and environmental responsibility, and making a living at the same time.  This case study includes opportunities that were realized and a discussion of why some are yet to be.

Since Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants had an exhibitor booth in the North American Expo Pavilion, participants of the Virtual Summit were able to visit with John during the two live days to further discuss some of the challenges faced by us all in our quest to operate a sustainable business.

By the way, last year John and Ed were included in’s yearly profile of 25 ventures  of America’s most promising social entrepreneurs  selected from reader suggestions.  Read my blog post,  Ed Snodgrass & John Shepley Voted Two of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs 2011, to learn more.

Enjoy!  Visit to see “Sustainability at a Small Business: Emory Knoll Farms” or click below:

Watch earlier videos on our exclusive Virtual Summit play list, or see the following Virtual Summit videos now available on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

If you’re looking for an overview, make sure to see our 2011 Virtual Summit Highlights video (6:18) and our 2011 Virtual Summit Trailer (2:59).

Check back next week on GreenroofsTV for our 23rd installment from the Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2011!

~ Linda V.

Ed Snodgrass & John Shepley Voted Two of America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs 2011

June 26, 2011 at 10:23 pm profiles 25 ventures selected from reader suggestions in their third annual roundup of America’s most promising social entrepreneurs. Guess who made into this year’s list?  Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants co-owners Ed Snodgrass & John Shepley – also two of our contributing editors!

“…Socially minded entrepreneurs and investors are still building the infrastructure to start and expand companies that exist between the purely for-profit and the purely philanthropic…Investors are beginning to consider social ventures more seriously…” ~ excerpt from of June 22, 2011

Funny – Ed, our Plant Editor, has been with us the longest (since 2004) and writes the “Ask Ed” column, and John is our newest contributing editor, the Green Business Editor,  having just come on board earlier this year with his column “Sustainable Business Insights.”   Corporate sustainable  responsibility and has been their motto from their beginning in 2004; in 2010, Emory Knoll Farms  became one of the first benefit corporations under a Maryland law that creates a new legal designation for social enterprises. is asking us to “read through the profiles of these social ventures””then vote for the most promising before July 12 (the voting page is also available at the end of the slide show).  We’ll announce the top five vote-getters on July 19.” Everyone can vote once for their favorite.

How about we greenroofers unite and let’s all vote for Ed and John, and in the process highlight Emory Knoll Farms and our greenroof & wall industry!  A little self promotion never hurts, you know.

Read “America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs 2011” by John Tozzi, and the accompanying article “For-Profits Fixing Social Ills” by Nick Leiber, Joel Stonington, John Tozzi, and Venessa Wong which includes  the slide show of 2011’s 25 private, for-profit social enterprises  here – and specifically the one about Ed and John here.

For some background on Ed and Emory Knoll Farms, you can review my 2009 “From Llamas to Greenroofs: An Interview with Ed Snodgrass.”  Visit the Emory Knoll Farms/Green Roof Plants  website here.

Congratulations, Ed & John – way to go!

~ Linda V.