The Basics of Regenerative Agriculture and Why you Should Support it
It’s easy to look at the world these days and think “yeesh, that escalated quickly!” For most of us, life has changed so much over the past couple of years that it can be difficult to remember what things were like before the world was turned upside down. We all have our own ways to deal with the ways life has changed, but one way that we can collectively share a bit of optimism about the future is by supporting initiatives that focus on making the world a better place.
Regenerative agriculture is one such initiative. To put it simply, regenerative agriculture is getting back to basics and using practices that were commonplace a couple hundred years ago, when farming was more concerned with producing healthy food, and not merely healthy profits. Before industrial agriculture became a thing, a farmer who didn’t farm in harmony with nature just wasn’t doing it right. Working in tandem with the land so that the land fosters the crops and the crops foster the land was just smart farming. Nowadays, regenerative agriculture is seen as an emerging and eco-conscious way to farm - back then, it was just the way things were done. Indigenous communities have been farming this way for thousands of years, and it’s important to note that while regenerative agriculture is enjoying a resurgence, there is nothing “new” about this philosophy.
The Basics of Regenerative Agriculture, and Why You Should Support It
Regenerative agriculture has four basic principles:
- Promote biodiversity: Soil biodiversity is crucial to growing healthy crops for human or livestock consumption. Cover crops are a great way to reduce soil erosion and foster biodiversity in the soil, keeping crucial nutrients contained in the microbiome rather than eroding away from wind and water.
- Decrease/eliminate tillage: Another way to promote soil biodiversity and reduce erosion is to reduce the amount of disturbance in the soil. Soil that is minimally tilled also retains carbon more efficiently rather than releasing it into the atmosphere - which in turn helps to reduce global warming and climate change.
- Reduce use of synthetic fertilizers: While artificial fertilizers seemed like a boon to conventional agriculture, where the faster crops are produced the more profit is gained. Proponents of regenerative agriculture realize that the use of synthetic fertilizers disturbs the microbiome of the soil and interferes with the soil’s ability to absorb nutrients. Quite simply, soil that is used to synthetic fertilizer becomes dependent on the synthetic fertilizer, rather than working with the surrounding ecosystem to maintain soil biodiversity. The more synthetic fertilizers are used, the more of it that winds up in the atmosphere and water supply, creating a host of other ecological problems in its wake.
- Use regenerative practices when grazing livestock: Conventional livestock pastures, where the land is grazed again and again until it becomes barren and eroded contribute to water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and low nutrients in new forage. When regenerative agriculture practices are used in livestock grazing, the animals are moved to new pastureland more frequently and the land is allowed to regenerate before being used again, contributing to increased water retention, healthier pastureland, and plant and insect biodiversity.
Support Local Farms on a Mission
When you support regenerative agriculture, you’re not only supporting the valuable core principles, but you’re also supporting the farmers that make these philosophies the mission statement of what they do. Regenerative agriculture’s main focus is on lowering the negative impact of industrial agriculture and getting back to farming in harmony with nature, rather than crop yield and profit margin. In fact, according to Lara Bryant with the National Resources Defense Council:
“When we speak with farmers and ranchers focused on regenerative agriculture, they tell us that their notion of ‘success’ goes beyond yield and farm size…It includes things like joy and happiness, the number of families they feed, watching how the land regenerates and flourishes, the money saved from not purchasing chemical inputs, the debt avoided by repurposing old equipment, and the relationships built with community members.”
Contrary to the focus of industrial agriculture, regenerative agriculture puts as much emphasis on reducing the negative impact of farming and fostering a beneficial relationship with the land as it does with turning a profit. Because of this, regenerative agriculture operations are usually maintained on a smaller and more local scale, and by supporting regenerative agriculture, you’re supporting a network of local farmers whose mission is to give back to the land as much as we take from it.
Pasturebird’s Commitment to Regenerative Agriculture
As of 2019, 99% of farm animals in the United States were raised on a factory farm. At Pasturebird, we believe there’s a better way, and we exist to show that it’s possible to be a profitable working farm while still working in tandem with our land and nature. Our mission is to leave agriculture better than we found it, and to make our pasture raised chicken available and accessible to all. By shipping our products nationwide, we’re able to provide responsibly produced pasture raised chicken to consumers all over the country, even those who may not otherwise have access to a local regenerative farm.
Regenerative agriculture has always been at the core of our mission statement. We started this company as a way to ensure that the products we purchased for our family were sustainably produced and that we had access to wholesome and high quality pasture raised meat, without having to wonder whether we could trust the greenwashed labels in the grocery store. Conscious consumerism has come a long way since we started our farm several years ago, and these days more and more consumers are looking to support companies who focus on making a difference rather than just making a profit. In furtherance of that initial mission, we’ve joined Land to Market, a verified sourcing solution to put consumers in contact with businesses who focus on regenerative agriculture and responsible procurement practices, making it easier than ever for consumers to be conscious about their buying choices and give them the confidence of knowing that their dollars are supporting verified outcome processes that regenerate our World.