Randa Solick interviews Ellen Farmer about regenerative agriculture and how citizens and farmers can help solve the climate crisis.
Ellen and I talked about how farmers can help solve the climate chaos. Ellen has been a technical assistant for the California Dept of Food and Ag Healthy Soils Program, and has been working on regenerative agriculture for quite a while. She has a wealth of wisdom and practical knowledge for all of us to lean us as we seek to set right our global ecology.
She told us that farmers growing fruits, vegetables, grasses, forage correctly can fix a huge amount of carbon in the soil, thus taking it out of the atmosphere. Increasing the fertility of the soil by using compost and cover crops, by planting hedgerows, by valuing the contribution of grazing herds on pastures and rangelands, and using good organic procedures – all this can increase the productivity of the soil tremendously. That means farmers can increase their yields substantially, meaning all those plants take carbon out of the air and fix it in the soil for decades. This also dramatically increases the water-carrying capacity of the soil – making more of a profit for farmers in increased yields, at less cost – all the while sequestering carbon. This regenerative agriculture is being taught and done all over the world, among small-hold farmers in Mexico, Vietnam, Africa, India, southeast Asia, many other places.
There is an organization called Regeneration International dedicated to this kind of agriculture, and you can find their website for more information. In San Francisco in the beginning of September there will be the fifth annual Soil Not Oil conference, which will also cover some of these same topics. Ellen sometimes gives classes and workshops here, and has written about it for the magazine Edible Monterey Bay. And the UCSC Agroecology Program has lots of information about this hopeful technique.