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Collaboration is Key to Scaling Regenerative Agriculture

It’s been almost a year since grocery shelves around the world emptied as coronavirus hit the news. These large-scale — and in some cases long-term — shortages revealed vulnerabilities in our centralized food systems and globalized supply chains. Gaining popularity in recent years, regenerative agriculture is one method that has the potential to increase food security by improving the health of the land and localizing food production. Practices such as integrating livestock, planting cover crops, foregoing tilling, and increasing crop diversity aim to restore soil organic matter and soil health, thus producing more nutritious food and sequestering more carbon from the atmosphere.

While regenerative agriculture can (and should) look different for every farm, locality and crop, it has a consistent principle of circularity: reducing losses where possible and restoring them to the soil, be it nutrients, water or carbon. The ultimate goal, after all, is to cut the environmental impacts of farming and raising livestock, such as greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion and water pollution. Part of this circular food economy often includes producing and supplying food regionally.

 

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The Importance of a Regenerative Food System for Sustainable Agriculture

A regenerative food system focuses on feeding humanity without depleting the Earth. It is a holistic systems approach, stressing the importance of finding solutions that address problems collectively.

There is no single definition of regenerative agriculture, but most people agree that regenerative farming includes things such as no-till farming, cover crops, perennial and native plants, integrated livestock and crop diversity. Building a regenerative food system is vital to feeding humanity while also repairing damaged ecosystems. In the face of climate change, a regenerative food system will create resiliency by localizing economies, sequestering carbon and building greater food security.

Carbon Sequestration

One of the main benefits of a regenerative food system is the ability to sequester carbon. Agriculture is a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and industrialized agriculture has a serious carbon footprint. Soil erosion and nutrient depletion are also two common side effects of conventional agriculture.

Utilizing techniques such as cover crops and no-till growing help sequester carbon, keeping carbon in the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

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In Nebraska, He’s Working to Break up Meat Monopolies

While most of us have recently witnessed empty shelves and higher price tags from the aisles of our local supermarkets, 2019 Fixer Graham Christensen has been fighting for solutions to our fractured food system from the fields. A fifth-generation farmer, Christensen founded the consulting company GC Resolve to help his home state of Nebraska establish more ethical and sustainable agricultural practices.

According to Christensen, corporate greed is to blame for major meatpacking-plant shutdowns — brought on by a surge of coronavirus cases among workers — that have led to nationwide shortages of pork and poultry. That greed is also to blame for the livestock sector’s emissions problem. “Under industrial control, under a plantation-economic scheme, there’s no way we can draw down carbon in enough time for the next generations,” Christensen says.

The antidote? Localized, independent, and resilient supply chains, for meat and more. To help promote these models, GC Resolve joined PReP Rural, a research-based pandemic response coalition that recently released a list of six policy-oriented action items to protect essential workers; support young, diverse farmers; and make climate-friendly livestock rearing the standard — all while keeping food on America’s tables.

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Waiter, There’s a Problem with My Paradigm!

This article is part of the #CuraDaTerra essay series, focused on Indigenous perspectives and alternatives to industrial capitalism.

Certain humans have plotted for centuries to kill the Amazon.  Photographic evidence confirms that this scheme is now reaching a flaming, thundering crescendo, with tens of thousands of intentional fires and bulldozers tearing through the Amazonian rainforest, destroying acres every second.

We hasten to add that other humans are innocent bystanders, while yet other humans go further and have a plan to save that vast ecosystem.

But we have gotten well ahead of our story; first let’s enjoy a delicious bowl of peach-palm soup. For us, the soup’s richness dominates the culinary experience.  In both aroma and color there is a suggestion of squash, but that hint of sweet flavor is secondary to the dense, opulent texture that coats one’s mouth like whipped butter.

Or when we’re ravenous and need survival calories, we just stew the fruits in salted water, peel them, and eat what seems like the world’s finest roasted chestnut.

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Alimentar a los pueblos y no a los negocios: una mirada colectiva

El sonido ambiente al otro lado del teléfono hace que me olvide por un rato del Coronavirus y el aislamiento para situarme mentalmente en las afueras de Saladillo, provincia de Buenos Aires. Desde ahí, Andrea y Gabriel (con vacas, pájaros y el viento a través de los árboles sonando de fondo) se pasan la palabra para empezar hablando de La Bonita, la chacra de 14 hectáreas a la que llegaron hace 25 años, y donde hoy siguen viviendo y produciendo: “tenemos un tambo de vacas donde se ordeña, y con esa leche hacemos quesos. Esa es nuestra principal actividad, aunque hay otras, menores en cuanto a la superficie que ocupan. Tenemos una huerta con algunas plantas aromáticas y con verduras que consumimos y vendemos. También tenemos frutales con los que hacemos dulces. Pero hoy la principal actividad de venta es la de los quesos”.

Se presentan como ingenierxs agrónomxs, productorxs y docentes de una escuela agropecuaria, y no escatiman palabras ni ejemplos para definir qué significa para ellos la agroecología: “llegamos acá buscando una forma de vida distinta; un lugar donde vivir y donde producir, porque no concebimos la idea de vivir fuera de donde estamos produciendo, y eso tiene que ver mucho con la concepción de agroecología. 

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4 per 1000 – Soils for Food Security and Climate

Author: Niel Ritchie

Main Street Project’s poultry-based regenerative agriculture system was featured at an April 18 conference to discuss the 4 per 1000 Initiative: “Soils for Food Security and Climate” in Mexico City. The meeting was hosted by SAGARPA (The Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food of Mexico), Regeneration International, and the Embassy of France in Mexico.

Chief Strategy Officer Reginaldo Haslett Marroquin presented an overview of our system and described our research work in Mexico, highlighting our partnership with Via Organica to establish a working model of our poultry-based system on its farm in San Miguel De Allende in the state of Guanajuato.

Regi challenged the group to consider Mexico’s potential to meet its targets for increased carbon sequestration by helping millions of existing small farms (under 5 hectares) transition to poultry-centered regenerative systems. Not only would a regenerative poultry system deliver on Mexico’s commitment for carbon sequestration under the 4 per 1000 Initiative, it would also improve the dire social and economic conditions that afflict over 2.9 million small farmers in the country.

At the end of the day, it’s the economic stability of farmers and their ability to be part of a new regenerative system that are the keys to building better soils, providing food security, and capturing and keeping carbon in the ground. Our triple-bottom line of social, ecological and economic sustainability begins with people, too often an afterthought in addressing environmental damage. Redressing social equity remains the most effective and ultimately the most comprehensive entry point towards reversing climate change.