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What is Regenerative Agriculture?

By Gabriel Merithew


There is no future in harming our beautiful planet. To take without consideration as to how, what, and where we’re taking is a practice that will eventually lead to an inhospitable environment for humans. A solution to this is a shifted way of thinking and acting, known as regenerative practices. Regenerative practices enable us to give back whenever we take, not only to preserve the production vessel, but to heal it. This can apply to many things, many ways of doing, but today we’re focusing on regenerative agriculture because it is crucial in saving the world.


An inefficient, and much too common farming practice is to keep extracting from the land on which we live until degradation occurs through decarbonization, erosion, desertification, and chemical pollution. When soil degrades, crops become less and less nutrient rich, and important trace minerals are lost. Our bodies rely on these things to stay healthy, and without them, we degrade along with the earth. This reality, here and now, is a serious threat to humanity, but luckily combatting it isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think. The shift begins with the understanding that, like with any relationship, the key to prosperity is to achieve balance, and achieving balance with the earth can be accomplished through our intentional replenishing of the resources we take from the planet.


Image: Kiss the Ground


By replenishing/rebuilding soil health, we as humans can grow and harvest the highest quality crops at the same (or even higher) capacity, all the while not only ‘sustaining’ our already human-scarred planet, but actively healing those scars. The earth has had millions of years to develop systems that self-correct, and are constantly seeking equilibrium when the balance is off. If we can observe, understand, and implement the same systems into our land-tending and people-tending, then we can support this natural system, instead of pulling it further out of balance. The answers to the how lies in nature’s efficiently structured biodiversity that achieves the balance we’re seeking.


You may know that we recently established a Silvopasture here at Yellow Barn Farm. This is one of our first big steps towards re-initiating efficient biodiversity on what used to be land stripped bear. Despite the technically-intimidating sounding name, a Silvopasture is simply a biodiverse ecosystem of plants and animals designed to work together for a mutual benefit for humans and the earth. We planted several rows of Colorado friendly nitrogen sequestering trees and shrubs that provide the structure of the pasture, not only strengthening the soil with their nutrients, but also preventing erosion with their root structures. The fruit that grows on these trees and the berries borne on the shrubs are the nutrient and trace mineral rich food for various free-range livestock that will contribute to soil fertilization as well.


Silvopastures are only one of the potential structures that combat degenerative systems, and they are best used in tandem throughout a farm. Another that we employ on our farm is to establish cover crops, such as buckwheat and radish that allows for easy low-maintenance protection against soil erosion and improves soil health so that when the cover crop is harvested and new crops are planted, the soil will be prepared to produce quality goods. We currently have a thriving cover crop protecting what will be one of two market gardens on the farm, the goal of which is to produce healthy food to feed our core team throughout the entire yearly cycle.


Image: Kiss the Ground


If we used regenerative soil practices on our 4 billion acres of cultivated farmland, 8 billion acres of pastureland, and 10 billion acres of forest land around the globe, not only could we still feed the world in abundance, but we would also be able to halt (and REVERSE) climate change, all while maintaining the biodiversity that nature has shown is the most efficient form of agricultural production.


What can you do as an individual to support and employ regenerative practices? Good question! One crucial component that is easy to contribute to, is to establish an efficient compost system. The Yellow Barn Farm has established a local compost pickup service, where your food scraps can go straight to feeding our pigs, who fertilize our gardens, so that we can bring fresh bio-regionally resilient produce straight to your door.



Another outlet for contribution is to volunteer your time at a farm employing these practices (check out our Knowledge Network or Foothills Farm Collective Volunteer Sign Up). Use this opportunity to continue learning about how humans can ensure our own survival and continue to thrive, even beyond where we are today. In addition to these invaluable practices, simply spreading the word is equally essential. Education leads to understanding, and if done right, understanding can lead to active change. If you would like to see these practices being actively implemented, check out our monthly Farm Fest event series. The next event is on 9/25!


From the forefront of the regenerative agriculture revolution, we thank you for your efforts in these areas! We are incredibly proud of our community’s progress towards establishing innovative regenerative practices that without a doubt will cause a ripple effect of efficient abundance, stemming from human-earth harmony, a state of being that holds benefits for all and allows us to continue evolving in other areas. We’ll be well fed, and so will our beautiful planet.


Thank you for reading!


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