Native Knowledge: What Ecologists Are Learning from Indigenous People

From Alaska to Australia, scientists are turning to the knowledge of traditional people for a deeper understanding of the natural world. What they are learning is helping them discover more about everything from melting Arctic ice, to protecting fish stocks, to controlling wildfires.

Author: Jim Robbins | Published: April 26, 2018

While he was interviewing Inuit elders in Alaska to find out more about their knowledge of beluga whales and how the mammals might respond to the changing Arctic, researcher Henry Huntington lost track of the conversation as the hunters suddenly switched from the subject of belugas to beavers.

It turned out though, that the hunters were still really talking about whales. There had been an increase in beaver populations, they explained, which had reduced spawning habitat for salmon and other fish, which meant less prey for the belugas and so fewer whales.

“It was a more holistic view of the ecosystem,” said Huntington. And an important tip for whale researchers. “It would be pretty rare for someone studying belugas to be thinking about freshwater ecology.”

Around the globe, researchers are turning to what is known as Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to fill out an understanding of the natural world. TEK is deep knowledge of a place that has been painstakingly discovered by those who have adapted to it over thousands of years. “People have relied on this detailed knowledge for their survival,” Huntington and a colleague wrote in an article on the subject. “They have literally staked their lives on its accuracy and repeatability.”


Savory Institute Offers Land to Market Pilot Program

Author: Kerry Halladay | Published: April 16, 2018

Are you a good steward of your land? Would you like to see that effort recognized in the market?

The Savory Institute is in the process of on-boarding producers in a pilot project to do just that. The “Land to Market” verification program is an attempt to market management practices that improve the landscape.

“Ranching has such an amazing story to tell that right now isn’t being shared,” Chris Kerston, Savory Institute’s director of public outreach, told WLJ.

“We have all these producers who are doing a good job—better than a good job, they’re doing amazing things on the land—and they don’t have a mechanism to share that with brands who will then share it with consumers. We really wanted to create a facilitation for that.”


Gotschall Shares at Conferences

Author: Michael Wunder | Published: April 9, 2018

RAYMOND – Ben Gotschall and his family aim to ensure their dairy farm operates in a way that’s cohesive with the natural order of things.

They don’t manage the land at Davey Road Ranch, he said, they manage the landscape.

That means their farm near Raymond may look a little more rustic or a bit more wild than larger-scale operations. A few more species of grasses popping up in the pastures, conservation corridors that maintain biodiversity and grazing practices that mimic the state of nature rather than the industrial efficiency of larger farms.

Like many other farmers aiming for sustainability, Gotschall wants to make sure his operation has as little impact as possible. At Lincoln’s RegeNErate conference last month, he told attendees that process starts by shifting your mindset.

“The instinct is to say, okay what can I just change about the things I’m doing so I can keep doing the exact same thing I’m doing now, only I just use a different tool or I use a different product,” he said. “Or I use a different silver bullet, so to speak.”


Land to Market: The World’s First Verified Regenerative Sourcing Solution

Author: Chris Kerston | Published: March 22, 2018

Every March in Anaheim, not far from the sound of crashing waves, under the rejuvenating rays of California sunshine and blessed by the sounds of squealing amusement park children and the nightly glow of a famous mouse, the largest natural food tradeshow in the world takes place. This year, the 38th annual Natural Products Expo West had over 85,000 attendees – the largest gathering to date. Over 3,500 different companies were represented in the tradeshow and we had a Savory Institute booth for the first time this year as well. The conference also features a robust education and networking program with a jam-packed schedule of lectures and panels taking place all 5 days. If you have never been to an Expo, check out this quick hyperlapse video, to get a sense of what it is like.

Regeneration Nation

Regenerative Agriculture has become a cinderella-story at Expo West, originally being something that those furthest on the fringe met to discuss hoping to one day have a larger voice, to now present day where it is openly acknowledged as one of the top trends in the natural foods industry.


Environmentally Friendly Cattle Production (Really)

Author: Michigan State University | Published: March 19, 2018

Three hundred years ago, enormous herds of bison, antelope and elk roamed North America, and the land was pristine and the water clean.

However, today when cattle congregate, they’re often cast as the poster animals for overgrazing, water pollution and an unsustainable industry. While some of the criticism is warranted, cattle production – even allowing herds to roam through grasslands and orchards – can be beneficial to the environment as well as sustainable.

In a study published in the journal Agricultural Systems, Michigan State University scientists evaluated adaptive multi-paddock, or AMP, grass fed operations as well as grain-fed, feedlot herds.

“Globally, beef production can be taxing on the environment, leading to high greenhouse gas emissions and land degradation,” said Jason Rowntree, MSU associate professor of animal science, who led the study. “Our four-year study suggests that AMP grazing can potentially offset greenhouse gas emissions, and the finishing phase of beef production could be a net carbon sink, with carbon levels staying in the green rather than in the red.”


Soil Science at Robert Stein

Author: Honor Elliott | Published: March 16, 2018

Nine students of Holistic Management (from as far abroad as Barraba, Willow Tree and Oberon) have spent two days setting up and learning to monitor the data the region’s first Environmental Outcomes Verification (EOV) monitoring site at Mudgee’s Robert Stein Winery.

Data from the site, measured annually over the long term, will be scientifically tabulated along with independently derived increases in soil health. These improvements, measured across three transects, will be verified by soil scientists at the University of Michigan in the United States.

This is a major forward move by the Savory Institute, of Boulder Colorado, to provide scientific understanding and acceptance of the role animals can play in regenerating depleted soils. The Environmental Outcomes Verification can, in future, be used as a visible brand on the land manager’s products – scientific proof that the land from which these products came – is regenerating.


EPIC Receives Savory Institute’s Frontier Founder Award

Founding brand partner of Land to Market™ program recognized for
commitment to verified regenerative sourcing

Published: March 12, 2018

BOULDER, Colo. (March 12, 2018) – EPIC Provisions™ was honored last weekend by the Savory Institute with its Frontier Founder Award in recognition of the pioneering company’s commitment to regenerative sourcing. The award was received during a news briefing for Savory’s Land to Market™ program, the world’s first verified regenerative sourcing solution, at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif. The award was accepted by Taylor Collins and Katie Forrest, EPIC Provisions co-founders, who have championed Savory and its Land to Market program since its inception.

“This is a huge honor,” said Collins, as he received a ceremonial spear, commemorating EPIC’s willingness to be ‘tip of the spear’ for responsible sourcing. “When my wife, Katie, and I founded EPIC, our mission was to fuel a food production system that fosters a healthier, more responsible relationship with our bodies, our animals, and our planet. Savory’s Land to Market program means we can formally integrate a net positive impact on the land into our sourcing practices.”

Collins added, “The Land to Market program will create a pathway for a new generation of farmers, companies and consumers to come together to regenerate grasslands and soils around the world. That’s a legacy we can all be proud of”.


Regenerative Organic Certification Launched in US

Author: Michelle Russell | Published: March 14, 2018

A new organic certification programme has been launched in the US, aimed at improving fairness for farmers and workers, as well as addressing animal welfare and ecological land management.

Launched at last week’s Natural Products Expo West show in California by the Regenerative Organic Alliance, the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) is a holistic agriculture certification encompassing “robust, high-bar standards”.

The Regenerative Organic Alliance is led by Rodale Institute, a US non-profit that supports research into organic farming.

In 2014, research by Rodale Institute estimated that if current crop acreage and pastureland shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions could be sequestered in the soil.

Founding members of the certification include Compassion in World Farming, Grain Place Foods, Maple Hill Creamery and White Oak Pastures.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standard is the bedrock of the new certification: only products certified under the USDA programme are eligible to meet the Regenerative Organic Certified criteria. With the requirement farms achieve organic certification as a baseline, the ROC standard addresses next-level soil health and also adds in requirements for animal welfare and farm labour.

“Regenerative Organic Certification does not aim to supplant current organic standards. Instead, this certification aims to support these standards while at the same time facilitate widespread adoption of holistic, regenerative practices throughout agriculture,” Rodale Institute said. “It builds upon the standards set forth by USDA Organic and similar programs internationally, particularly in the areas of animal welfare and farmer and worker fairness.


Note to USDA: The Time for Regenerative Agriculture Is Now

Lessons taught by a Kansas farmer continue to guide Blogger Ron Nichols years later about the importance of soil to agriculture.

Author: Ron Nichols | Published: March 12, 2018

It was Kansas farmer Gail Fuller who “took me to school.”

“You should be ashamed,” he told me bluntly.

As an employee (at the time) of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, I had assumed our 80-plus years of conservation work would insulate us (and me) from such a scathing rebuke. I assumed we were the ultimate “good guys” when it came to soil stewardship.

“Your agency came up with ‘T,’” Gail said in a tone that rang of indictment. (“T” is a concept developed by the Soil Conservation Service, now the NRCS, that established the minimum soil loss or erosion rate required to sufficiently reduce soil organic content and harm crop productivity. That rate, which is still used today, is measured in tons of soil per acre.)

“Tolerable loss of soil? Do you really think there’s such a thing as a ‘tolerable’ loss of soil?” he asked. “We should be rebuilding our soil.”.

After absorbing the initial impact of Gail’s candid reprimand, I realized he was right. “Okay,” I said, “but can soil regeneration be done profitably on a large scale without reducing productivity? “

“It can and it is. Right here on my farm,” he said.



Chris Kerston About Building the World’s First Regenerative Wool Supply Chain

Author: Elisabeth van Delden | Published: March 8, 2018

Chris Kerston is the Market Engagement and Public Outreach at the Savory Institute. In this episode, Chris introduces us to Allan Savory and the work of the Savory Institute. Chris explains how desertification happens and what role sheep and wool play to reverse desertification. You also get to learn details about the Land to Market certification scheme Chris and his team are working on to build a regenerative supply chain.