Saturday, 31 October 2020
Regenerative FarmingWritten by Kelsey Scholer
Hello wonderful, curious reader! If you have found your way here, you are probably interested in regenerative farming, or are down a beautiful rabbit hole of exploring this conscious and creative community. Well, I am in the same boat, and have been ever since I discovered that there was a better life to be lived than the one that I was spoon-fed as a child. Specifically, though, I felt compelled to reach out to the Ode an die Freude Instagram account after I saw so many lovely manifestations with a common theme pulsing through them – farms! I, too, am manifesting a small, organic farm to one day live on, live from and live with.
COUNTRY♀WOMEN Published in the early 1970 ©
So, naturally, being the person I am, I dove into tons of research about this. I have collected many resources over the years about how to start a farmstead that is not just sustainable, but regenerative. Of course, there are thousands of resources beyond those I mention here. These mini lists are intended to support you in feeling like this is possible and exciting, and to give you a jumping off point. Use this not as a one-off read, but as a resource pool to come back to when you need it. I am so grateful to be able to share these with you on a platform with such intentional, awake creators and readers.
I hope you enjoy and can find something that suits your journey! Take a breath and jump in!
Real Quick – What is Regenerative Living?
The principle of sustainability has been served to us as a solution for our crisis-burdened world from all corners of life – media, schools, well-intentioned organizations and so on. However, in our current climate – literally – we cannot proceed on a simply ‘sustainable’ basis. Sustainability, by definition and connotation, means maintaining the existing rate or status for an extended period of time. Is this enough? I surely do not think so. Instead, this dire moment on Earth calls for regeneration. This concept challenges sustainability by urging us to, in fact, create new systems which are ever-changing, highly adaptable, and constantly producing more positive results. We cannot settle for simply preventing negative outcomes. Regeneration goes beyond this by bringing new life to old problems. Although oversimplified, this definition outlines a future we should strive for and is totally possible, especially when starting a farm!
This section refers to Regenerative Living rather than Regenerative Farming because I believe that the two are interchangeable. So, in this article, when I refer to one, I am also referring to the other. Farming is a lifestyle and all parts of the system from planting the plants, eating the eats and pooping the poops need to produce good results and be in a constant, flexible loop. Then, we need to build self-sufficient individuals and communities who can uphold and constantly transform the wonderful regenerative systems we create. Most of this work is done “on the inside” through spiritual practice, meditation, soul work, and so on. Then, by making authentic, lasting connections with those in our immediate community. A farm cannot survive without many helping hands. Hands which need to be attached to aware, loving and cooperative individuals who are in harmony with each other and the soil they tend to.
Some resources and examples about personal work and conscious communities:
An organization linking inner transformation and outer change, a key area of their work being food and farming,
They host workshops (online during Covid-19) on a variety of topics listed on their website!
The Empowerment Manual by Starhawk
- A book about understanding group dynamics, facilitating communication and collective decision-making, dealing effectively with difficult people.
- Likely more useful for people who are well on their way to building a community around a shared goal, or someone who has worked through the steps of where they will start their farm, who will live on it, etc.
- Also good for understanding how to build better communities in general!
- Online version
(Starhawk’s entire life and career is a catalyst of inspiration for intentional, Earth-minded living, so I also highly recommend researching her life! Her website is a good start.)
Example of Intentional Community:
- “This film follows a community in Australia who have come together to explore and demonstrate a simpler way to live in response to global crises. Throughout the year the group build tiny houses, plant veggie gardens, practice simple living and permaculture principles, and discover the challenges of living in community.”
- Honest about the challenges of living in community and gives good examples of how you can make money living this way
- Includes interviews with major thought-leaders on slow-living.
Soul Fire Farm:
- A farm and community committed to ending racism in the food system, and using ancestral and spiritual farming techniques to regenerate the land.
COUNTRY♀WOMEN. Published in the early 1970 ©
Visit a Farm, Change Your Life
My first look at organic, regenerative farming started with my visit to Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm. This farm, situated in North Carolina, is home to a family who bases their lifestyle on the principles of permaculture. The two women and their sons invite young people to live with them in exchange for helping out on the farm and supporting the growth of their dreams. Here, I enjoyed a week learning about the ways that the farm operates, not only for growing edible plants in their gardens, but also how they harvest animals, integrate their spirituality and activism, and run all of the farm’s facilities on an off-grid system. Needless to say, I feel that I gained much more than I gave which seems to be the shared sentiment of those who are lucky enough to share time and space at this farm.
I have revisited several times and would like to share some gems and aha! moments, which I will take with me when I start my own farm:
- Grey water system
Local, loving animal harvesting
- An article about conscious butchering and sacred sacrifice:
- A very simple and important process focused on being responsible for our waste
- $10 PDF handbook and tons of free information:
Natural building techniques
- Quick explanation of common techniques
- The Art of Natural Building: Design, Construction, Resources by Catherine Wanek, Joseph F. Kennedy, and Michael Smith
- This is an entire fascinating world in itself, so I highly recommend simply googling the topic to find out more!
4 Other, more abstract, but just as important lessons:
- 1) Building an authentic, loving community around shared values is at the heart of any farmstead.
- 2) Intergenerational knowledge sharing is extremely important so that we do not forget the ways and stories of the past, and so that ideas and open-mindedness of young people can permeate upwards in the age tree of life.
- 3) Everyone has something to give and should share their gifts with others – “each one teach one” .
- 4) PLAY is just as vital as work .
Interview with the Woodland Harvest Mountain Farm women.
To have your own in-person, likely life-changing time on a farm you can visit WWOOF to find organic farms WORLDWIDE that are keen for eager, interested people to help out and learn this lifestyle.
COUNTRY♀WOMEN Published in the early 1970 ©
Permaculture as an Avenue for Regenerative Living
As the organic farming movement continues to spread across the world, more people have turned to permaculture as a way to ensure their farm is prosperous and abundant in more facets beyond the all-important food production. This design process is about working with the cycles of nature and closing loops rather than having resources leaking out at the edges. As you will come to discover, it is more than a farming method; it is a culture to live by.
Resources ranging from basic outlines to in-depth tutorials:
A website explaining the ethics and principles:
- Really absorb this information! It’s how you can come to understand how holistic this system is without even seeing it in action yet!
- For those who learn better by video (6-minutes on the basics).
How Permaculture Can Change the World.
- Just a 5-minute video to get you in the revolution mindset
Inspiring and Informative videos.
- Browse this page and this website, in general, and you will find so much on where to begin!
A Manual and Manifesto for downshifting and living simply.
Retrosuburbia is a book which can be accessed online at a pay-what-you-can exchange
Highly recommended for those who may not dream of or have access to a huge piece of land, but still want to make these revolutionary changes in their lives
COUNTRY♀WOMEN Published in the early 1970 ©