There are a lot of labels for farms these days, which has led to a lot of confusion and misunderstandings. Conventional… Sustainable… Regenerative… what do they all mean?
First and foremost, Willow Farm is a regenerative farm and always has been. Since the beginning we have been committed to doing things in a way that is best for the land, the animals, and for the people around us. So what is a regenerative farm? Here’s some definitions:
Rodale Institute says that “Regenerative agriculture improves the resources it uses, rather than destroying or depleting them. It has a holistic systems approach to agriculture that encourages continual on-farm innovation for environmental, social, economic and spiritual well being.”
Another definition, this one from the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, “Regenerative agriculture is a practice, process or management technique which serves to enhance the functioning of the core ecosystem cycles of water, energy or mineral by enhancing biological function. In other words, anything that makes the land healthier year after year.”
Both of these definitions fit in well with our mission to grow good food that nourishes you and your family while simultaneously working to heal the Earth.
So why is this so important? Where do I even start with this one?
There are benefits to human health, livestock health and welfare and perhaps most important benefits are to the Earth itself.
The majority of farmers in America practice conventional agriculture (practices include synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, heavy tillage and many other harmful methods). These methods leave the soil bare- vulnerable to both wind and water erosion, depleted of nutrients, and food so altered and covered in pesticides that it’s no wonder that 45% of the American population has a chronic disease, and quite often multiple illnesses.
Now, before you start hating on me for dissing the conventional farmer, I’m not. I am pointing out that their methods are flawed. That they have been taught wrong by our educational institutions and the industry itself. I also understand the importance of doing your own research and when you know better you do better. Gabe Bown, regenerative agriculture spokesman, started as a conventional farmer. Now he is leading the charge and revolutionizing farming. When you know better, you do better.
Over time we are working to rebuild the soil and get it teaming with a vibrant diversity of insects, fungi, microbes and protozoa.To do this we are employing a variety of methods like adding manure and compost to fields to return nutrients and organic matter; using different plants to break up tough and compacted soils, so roots can go deep for water, nutrients and stability; and planting a variety of plants to increase diversity. When was the last time you only saw a monoculture in nature? Nature always has variety.
Once the soil has been rebuilt we can finally start to grow crops, forages and livestock that are full of nutrition.
Here’s some statistics for you:
“A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Franklin Delanor Rosevelt
And that is what the United States is working towards. We treat soil like dirt. Like it doesn't matter. But it does! Soil is the start of it all. Because when you have healthy, flourishing soil then you have crops and plants that grow and thrive. And when humans and animals eat those healthy plants, then they flourish and thrive.
Here at Willow Farm we practice regenerative farming by implementing the following:
While there have always been people that have practiced regenerative agriculture, it is just beginning to become more known. Now that you have a better understanding on what regenerative agriculture is and just why it is so important for farmers to practice, you can take steps to support regenerative farms.
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Welcome to Willow Farm's blog! I'm Kyle, farm manager and all things marketing