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Spring’s Regenerative Lessons

written by guest blogger: Sara Harper of Global Food and Farm Network and Tasting Terroir Podcast


Depending on where you are in the world, you may or may not have been enjoying some great weather recently. I’m writing this from central Virginia (USA) and we have been basking in the warmer weather and new life that comes along with it for a few weeks now.

But even if Spring has not yet sprung for you, fear not – it will soon! The renewal of life we see – from our backyards to the fields that feed us – is a reminder that we are so lucky to live in a world that regenerates itself each year.

It’s worth really stopping for a moment and taking that in. Nature regenerates itself each year – and many times within a year. We don’t have to DO anything for that to happen…..but we can, sadly, do things that get in the way of this powerful life force as it works to rebuild its resources after a much needed rest.

This cycle of renewal – which is most easily seen by everyone in the arrival of Spring, is a great way to understand the idea behind regenerative agriculture.

You may have heard of this term – it’s being used a lot these days. But what does regenerative agriculture mean? At it’s core, regenerative agriculture is all about restoring life – focusing on what to grow rather than what to kill. This clip from our interview with Gail Fuller, one of the farmers in our network, explains it quite well.

Gail Fuller explains here

Gail and many of the farmers in our network can help us understand at a broad level, what regenerative agriculture is – but how does it play out on a practical level? What does it look like in the wheat fields of North Dakota or the multi-species pastures of Alberta, Canada? How can regenerative practices differ so dramatically from one place to the next, yet share the same mindset – the same guiding principles?

This topic - and the need to define regenerative agriculture for the purposes of marketing it – is increasingly leading to confusion, anger and often, accusations of greenwashing. These charges often come from those who have invested a lot in believing that standards – like the organic standard – are the only way of knowing if something is actually providing benefits to people and the planet.

This may have been true in the past, but increasingly, we are able to test the OUTCOMES of the farm system that created food. This provides a much more powerful way of evaluating the food and the process that created it.

If our goal is better food for people and the planet, we must embrace the fact that there is no simple checklist that creates that outcome in every soil type, moisture and weather region on the earth. We must accept the complex reality of the system that we are part of if we are going to enable this process of working WITH life – WITH nature across all parts of this very diverse planet.

In the following month, we will be exploring more about these themes to help you get a sense of what it means to practice regenerative farming so differently and yet be part of a verifiable, beneficial outcome that can be believed in and celebrated.

We believe it is critical to get this part right – to get agreement on the need to focus on outcomes and on encouraging all who are on the regenerative journey to keep going – if we are to ever fully realize the powerful potential of regenerative agriculture.

Thanks for being on the journey with us! We look forward to building a better world together!

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