One year ago, the regenerative-land-design model for Yellow Barn Farm was created in partnership with our friends at Drylands Agroecology Research, to visualize an actionable plan that would enable us to maximize positive change with our resources, while remaining firmly within our zone of influence. To be ‘sustainable’ was never an option for us, because by definition, processes that ‘sustain’ don’t further progress. We are a regenerative farm. To be regenerative instead of sustainable, is a delicate process - the goal being to balance give and take within land, business, and people systems. Regenerative design enables us to simultaneously strengthen each of these three pillars that make up our purpose for establishing this farm.
Let’s take a closer look at how we’re putting these systems into practice:
Silvopastures and irrigation swales are two of the regenerative land systems that we employ, each designed to improve upon farming practices that have been used for years.
In time, our silvopasture will become a natural ecosystem with fruit-bearing trees and shrubs that enrich the soil while feeding livestock. In-turn, the livestock heals and fertilizes the soil so that the plants can produce even more efficiently. Leftover fruit will be harvested to feed our community, producing food scraps that we compost and put right back into the soil. Check out our Compost Service.
Irrigation swales, similar to roadside ditches, capture water for crop-irrigation within our silvopasture, while treating runoff to prevent pollutants by filtering the water before it reaches the plants. This way we use less water and can use natural water from rainfall in a more efficient way.
We take pride in providing a healthy space for local artisans and farmers to cultivate relationships with community members through our Farm Fest events.
By curating a quality selection of local goods and services that are owned and operated by community members, we encourage supporting other regenerative/sustainable small businesses to keep resources within the ecosystem.
On-site, we own and operate 2 small businesses that employ all our farm help throughout the year: compost pickup and small moves and deliveries. These businesses create circular economies within our farm ecosystem that allow us to provide income to our workers and the farm.
Internally and externally, the people within our farm’s area of influence must be considered within the regenerative plan as well. We address this by employing team-building and community-engagement systems to create closed feedback loops.
When it comes to our internal team, we believe in placing individuals in the right seats. If a team member gets to focus on something that they’re passionate about while in a position where they have ‘skin in the game’, then the quality of work increases as need for management decreases. Each member of our team took an initial personality test to determine their compatibility, and got to define the structure of their role within the needs of the farm, the results of which have been highly encouraging as we have four dedicated team members living on the farm year-round. To offset this cost of living for our team, we’ve partnered with Small Haul, and besides additional employment and therefore income opportunity for our team, Small Haul is also what enables us to conduct our compost service at a desirable scale.
But our farm wouldn’t be where it is today without the strategic support of the community. Whether community members engage with our project by signing up for our Compost Service, by donation, or by simply showing up to events, the economic support on a small scale leads to mutual benefit through utilization of farm products. Many of these farm products produce waste that - because of our close proximity to consumers - goes right back into our soil as compost for increased production efficiency.
These are just some of the ways that we maximize operational capacity in accordance with regenerative design. There is a sweet spot we aim to maintain within our zone of influence so that we’re not taking too much from any one area and leaving it deficient. After all, if the goal is to regenerate, every one of the three pillars needs to be strengthened as a result of each closed-loop system.
As our first year in operation comes to a close, we’ve had time to reflect on the results of the systems that we’ve employed. Of course, we’ve made mistakes - many of them - but the successes far outweigh the failures, and even the failures are fantastic lessons that we get to take into the new year for an even better 2022. Our exploration of the regenerative continues! If you’d like to see it in action, we welcome you to book a farm tour.
Join us in 2022 as we continue our journey into regenerative everything!