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.


Nature Can Reduce Pesticide Use, Environment Impact

Author: Michigan State University | Published: March 1, 2018

Farmers around the world are turning to nature to help them reduce pesticide use, environmental impact and, subsequently, and in some cases, increasing yields.

Specifically, they’re attracting birds and other vertebrates, which keep pests and other invasive species away from their crops. The study, led by Michigan State University and appearing in the current issue of the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, showcases some of the best global examples.

“Our review of research shows that vertebrates consume numerous crop pests and reduce crop damage, which is a key ecosystem service,” said Catherine Lindell, MSU integrative biologist who led the study. “These pest-consuming vertebrates can be attracted to agricultural areas through several landscape enhancements.”

For example, Lindell and graduate student Megan Shave led earlier research to bring more American kestrels to Michigan orchards. Installing nest boxes attracted the small falcons, the most-common predatory bird in the U.S., to cherry orchards and blueberry fields. The feathered hunters consume many species that cause damage to crops, including grasshoppers, rodents and European starlings. In cherry orchards, kestrels significantly reduced the abundance of birds that eat fruit. (Results from blueberry fields are pending.)


Regenerative Farming Starts Here—with Chickens

Are you ready to say goodbye to the monocrop industrial approach to agriculture and hello to regenerative farming?

Check out this Main Street Project video which tells a story about restoring our land and our relationship with plants and animals, and valuing the power of small farmers—all while deploying a small-scale system that is “accessible, productive and economically viable.”

How does the Main Street Project do all that? As the makers of this video explain, “the path to healing our food and agriculture system is a path walked on by chickens.” That’s right. Main Street Project has developed a poultry-centered regenerative agriculture system that can change how food is produced around the world.

Well-managed paddocks and rotational grazing—practices that regenerate soil, eliminate erosion and increase production—play a big role in Main Street’s well-planned 100-acre farm ecosystem in Northfield, Minnesota.

According to the video, chickens “contribute to the farm ecosystem by providing an affordable entry point for long-term economic investment and help transform that investment into a wide array of marketable products,” all while contributing to a “vibrant farm economy.”

Main Street Project’s goal is to provide a “revolutionary approach to eliminating harmful practices in the poultry industry while healing the land and relationship to the labor force.” The project’s founders want to solve the nation’s food crisis by equipping and uplifting the “next generation of consumers, farmers and investors in regenerative agriculture practices.”

Main Street Project’s Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin describes the project’s approach:

“We are advocating for a farming approach that brings back ancient knowledge, wisdom and techniques that farmers have survived on for a long time. What we are doing is restructuring those techniques so we can meet current demands in a way that the farming system that we deploy is good for the people, good for the landscape and the ecology, and is good for the economy.”

It’s part of the project’s “ecological, economic and social triple bottom line.” And the beauty of it is that the regenerative-poultry and grain model can be adapted to different climates in different parts of the U.S and the world. And it can operate on a small scale, or can be scaled up to meet the growing demand  for organic, regenerative poultry.

If a lot of this sounds familiar, it’s because of the steady drumbeat led by Regeneration International (RI), which works to build a “healthy global ecosystem in which regenerative agriculture and land-use practices cool the planet, feed the world, and promote public health, prosperity and peace.”

As Organic Consumers Association’s International Director Ronnie Cummins explains in a recent blog post, the regeneration movement is “the one movement that we believe has the power to address all our individual and collective concerns, the movement that holds the most hope for resolving the multiple and deepening global crises of hunger, poverty, crumbling political systems and climate change. The movement that begins with healing our most critical resources—soil, water, air—through better farming and land management practices. And ends with healing our local communities and global societies and restoring climate stability.”

Want to get involved? Help us rapidly scale up the signatories of Regeneration International’s 4 per 1000 initiative, which calls for countries to draw down more carbon than they emit, and to store it in the soil. Connect us with your local farmers, NGOs, agencies and companies that would be interested in signing on.

Increasing the number of those committed to healthy soil is the first step toward building a regeneration movement in your community.

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Biodynamics: Where Regenerative Agriculture Meets Regenerative Capital

Author: John Bloom | Published: January 25, 2018

Biodynamic farming, a “beyond organic” approach to agriculture long respected in Europe, may finally be poised for a breakthrough in the U.S. It has growing cachet in the wine industry, where biodynamic wines earn both high scores and high price points. Prince Charles speaks of its ecological, spiritual, and cultural importance. And the unimpeachably mainstream Today show recently aired a segment by Maria Shriver touting biodynamic produce’s flavor and benefits to health and soil quality.

With its emphasis on approaching the farm as an integrated living organism and the farmer as a deeply knowledgeable orchestrator, biodynamics is a natural path to regenerative agriculture—a real corrective to the negative effects of our dominant food system. Realizing the potential of biodynamics, however, will require an investment strategy that is also regenerative.

The industrialized agriculture system we have today—including industrialized organic agriculture—grew out of a particular capital approach: extractive, impatient, and designed to maximize profit rather than value for the community. We’re not going to create a different kind of agriculture with the same kind of capital.

Now, while the biodynamic market is where the organic movement was about 20 years ago, is the perfect time to look at how we can build a biodynamic farming movement with long-term integrity in mind. The central question is, can we grow the biodynamics market with capital that is consistent with the farming philosophy?

Building a balanced farm ecosystem

Similar to organic farming, biodynamic agriculture eschews synthetic pesticides and herbicides, GMOs, and hormones and other pharmaceutical growth promoters for livestock. But biodynamic farming goes well beyond that. It stands out for its system-level approach. Farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility from within the farm as much as possible. Accordingly, the biodynamic certifier, Demeter, certifies whole farms rather than individual crops, ingredients, or parcels of land.

Biodynamic farmers build rich soil using integrated livestock, cover crops, farm-generated compost, and crop rotation. Biologically diverse habitat controls pests and disease. At least half of livestock feed must be grown on the farm. (Many organic farmers also follow these practices, but the USDA’s organic certification does not require them to.) Biodynamics also recognizes farmers and farm workers as vital actors whose health is essential to the health of the system, rather than seeing them as simply managers or processors. Biodynamics is more than a method—it’s a coherent philosophy.