Regenerative Agriculture is the quickest solution to reverse climate change


Bee and borage flowerA bee foraging on borage flowers

Regenerative Agriculture is the quickest solution to reverse climate change

We can’t deny the reality of climate change anymore. Proof is everywhere around us: weeks of bush fires in Tasmania ended up by snow in February, massive floods in Queensland inducing the death of 500,000 heads of cattle and undetermined number of wildlife, new heat records beaten almost every year, ice melting in the North Pole, ocean levels rising, pollinator insects going extinct, biodiversity disappearing… It is happening fast and it is accelerating. The only chance we have to reverse this as fast as possible is to heal our land through regenerative agriculture.

Advance regenerative agriculture

It is urgent to stop producing food like an industry and turn towards regenerative practices (permaculture, biodynamics, agroecology, holistic management). We need to stop producing in mass and go local with small-scale ethical farming practices that benefit both the environment and the community.

Pasture flowers foraged by pollinators with monoculture crop in the background 
Diversity in the pasture attracts different pollinators

Monoculture vs biodiversity

Monoculture is a no through road. It first contributes massively to deforestation around the world, which takes the planet’s lungs away from us and therefore disarm us from a precious tool to fight against atmospheric pollution. Then, it attracts pests and weeds that need to be removed by insecticides and herbicides. The use of big machinery compacts the soil that end up being ploughed to get oxygen back in, but doing so kills the remaining biology that hasn’t been killed yet by the chemicals. This releases additional carbon from the soil. Salinity of soils is increased with flooding irrigation practices which ultimately decreases the production and kills the land.

The myth that the big agroindustry (monoculture) is the only way to feed the world is completely false. Many examples of chemical free small- scale diversified farms are showing that we can produce food ethically and restore damaged land at the same time:

- A 4 years study1 from INRA (National Institute for Agricultural Research in France) shows that permaculture is profitable, producing intensively on a small surface and without the use of nasty chemicals or big machinery

- In RetroSurburbia2, case studies show how people managed successfully to retrofit their house, grow food in their garden and change their habits, reducing their impact on their environment

Promoting biodiversity is the key to successful chemical free farming practices. Alternating species of plants and trees create ecosystems that can fight diseases and pests by themselves. Some plants will attract beneficial insects and predators (birds, lizards, frogs) that feed on pests while others will release smells that confuses pests or compounds from their roots that repel nasty underground microbiology. Avoiding compaction of the land and adding biology and biomass create balance and habitat for billions of microorganisms. It is vital that we create habitat for insects and birds as many of them are the pollinators we need to grow food.

Creating resilience with a diverse food systemBuilding resilience by creating a diverse food system which doesn't need the use of nasty chemicals

Industrial meat vs ethical meat

The meat industry is a disgusting system that doesn’t consider the animal welfare and uses the animals as products and not beings. Generally, their life conditions are terrible: they live packed in sheds, or worst, in cages, without seeing sunlight and/or pasture their whole life; they’re fed with processed food only and are given antibiotics to grow faster; they are packed in big trucks that transport them to their inhumane death. All this for a very bad quality meat that we find served in plastic in the supermarkets.

It is necessary to radically change these horrible practices and choose to farm with understanding and respect for the environment and the beings living in it. It is urgent to reconnect with Nature and comprehend the cycles of life again.

Like described in the book Farming Democracy3, ethical farming practices exist and are the solution to conscious omnivores. Animals can be well treated and fed on pasture when grazing them on a quick rotational basis. This allows a necessary resting period for the pasture that provides good pasture all year round.

Happy grass fed cowHappy pasture fed cow at Abundance Farm

There are solutions

We have to stop burning the carbon and release it into our atmosphere. We can’t talk about sustainability anymore. We’ve passed that point. We need to go beyond and regenerate! The only way to do so is to put back the carbon in the ground as fast as we can.

Rotational grazing

Sequestering carbon can be done through rotational grazing. When herbivores are managed in a biodiverse rotational grazing system, they help us to cycle the carbon and the nitrogen back into the soil that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere through the oxidation of the grasses. The top soil quickly builds up and is in constant improvement. This farming system reproduces what would occur naturally in the wild with big predators pushing herbivores to graze in different places, avoiding overgrazing and desertification.

Happy cows and chooks in a diverse regenerative agriculture systemHappy cows and chooks in a diverse regenerative agriculture system
(Photo by Marianne Khol)

Agroforestry

Planting trees is the most effective way to sequester carbon and create a better future. Trees are essential to our survival as they sequester carbon and release oxygen into the atmosphere. When they are integrated into a diverse farming system like agroforestry, they help us fight erosion, create wildlife habitat and increase biomass as well as food, fodder and timber production. Trees also retain water in their roots and their trunk and act as water reserve. This kind of farm gives us resilience against drought and climate change. Well managed, it also provides what we need to live in harmony with our environment, as custodians of the Earth and not just consumers.

Alex and Kali just after they planted a native forestAlex and Kali after planting a native  forest in 2016

CSA

CSA stands for Community Supportive Agriculture. It is a collaborating system between the farmers and their community. Farmers share the risks and the rewards of their yield by offering memberships. The idea is to minimize the impact of fertility problems and variations in sizes of carcass throughout the year (when it is about meat production) or climate issues (when it is an orchard or a market garden). It also guarantees a great quality of produce to the members for a fair price. All parts of the animals are used, avoiding waste, and the members get to know and cook cuts they’ve probably never heard before. It’s the same with fruits and veggies: members get seasonal produce, sometimes discover heirloom varieties they didn’t know existed, and have to preserve some of it when it comes in abundance for the times it’s not in season anymore.  This sharing system provides to the members a direct connection to the farm and a better understanding of the food production.

CSA has been created in Japan in the 1970’s and follow the 10 principles of Teikei4. Basically, as a CSA member you choose to support regenerative farming practices and animal welfare and we, farmers, are directly accountable to our consumers. CSA allows the reduction of our carbon footprint by sequestering carbon with diversified farming systems as well as delivering farm produce locally. CSA provides with very appreciated regular income to growers, increasing their quality of life, earning a living from their work. CSA helps to give back food sovereignty to farmers and consumers instead of agrobusiness corporations. Finally, CSA encourages and supports emergent farmers like us.

Alex in the paddock with a day old calfAlex in the paddock with a day old calf born in December 2018

Be the change you want to see in the world5

Be conscious and picky about your food

It is vital to change our food habits and to know where our food comes from. The only way to stop the terrible practices of the big agroindustry is to stop buying their horrible products. We vote with our wallets. Meet your farmers at the farmers markets for example, and talk to them. Become a member of a CSA. Encourage small local businesses and buy from your local grocer, wholefoods collective or a delivery business that get their produce from local farmers. Eat local and of season. Eat better meat, less.

Become an Abundance Farm CSA member

We are very excited to announce that we’re finally launching our CSA at Abundance Farm! It has been in our plans since we started our ambitious project but it took us time to develop it. We needed this time to learn the strings of our work: taking care of our animals and run our business. Now we’re ready to start a new adventure and to share it with you.

Becoming a CSA member at Abundance Farm means that you will be delivered our farm produce monthly, directly to your home. You will also receive prior notice and discounts for any limited farm produce and special events or workshops organised at the farm. You will be invited once a year to our annual ‘members only farm day’ where you’ll get the opportunity to give us feedback, meet our feathery and furry friends, visit the farm and share a feast together.

How CSA works?

Our CSA is open to a very limited number of households located in Victoria (Beaufort, Ballarat, Ballan, Castlemaine, Kyneton, Daylesford, Woodend and Melbourne).

At the moment we propose two different kinds of shares based on our present production and the size of your household:

- Small Abundance Share: 4kg of beef in average + 2 dozen eggs every month for a household of 2 to 3 persons

- Large Abundance Share: 8kg of beef in average + 4 dozen eggs every month for a household of 4 and more persons (or shared between two households)

In the future, we’ll have more variety of products as we’ll extend our production to fruits and veggies which means that the content of the shares will evolve with time. That is the beauty of CSA. You get what your farmer produces.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of our CSA, you can get more information on our website.

 

1 If you are interested to read the complete study in French, you can download it here.

2 Retrosuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, David Holmgren, Melliodora Publications

3 Farming Democracy: Radically Transforming the Food System from the Ground Up, Paula Fernandez Arias, Tammi Jonas & Katarina Munksgaard, Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance

4 You can get more information about the principles of Teikei on our website

5 Quote from Gandhi


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