Gathering of leaders in regenerative agriculture
The big, concrete, warehouse-like pavilion at the Chico State University Farm served as a blank slate where the leaders in the regenerative agriculture movement gathered to create the first sketches of a new marketplace for regenerative products. Sponsors, speakers and attendees shared a vision for a new marketplace–one that recognized value added products and rewarded producers for regenerating soil through their practices. Unlike traditional conferences where a few speak and the rest mostly listen, the stage at the Chico State Farm pavilion was shared by many–from Gero Leson at Dr. Bronner’s soap company to the family behind Alexandre Eco Dairy. The speakers and sponsors of the event made it a grassroots, local, innovative event. Check out the Flickr gallery below of images from the event.
There is no where else Spencer and I would rather be than working with the leaders who attended and supported this event. They are all doing great work for their communities, California and the world. We are proud to call them our friends. Brittany Cole Bush Shepherdess “human herded” the event as the MC and presented examples of young, regenerative ag businesses and the consumer values of millennials. Duane Massa shared the biological differences between conventional agriculture and regenerative agriculture as well as his story behind Massa Natural Meats. Lauren Tucker from Kiss the Ground shared their work to educate and empower people on the role soil plays in carbon sequestration. Alexis Koefoed built Soul Food Farm in Solano County, California where she sold directly from her farm to high-end chefs in San Francisco. She shared hard-won lessons from her own experiences. Attendees appreciated her candor in sharing both successes and failures. Gero Leson shared the story of Dr. Bronner’s soap company and their work to create regenerative communities and land globally through very intentional sourcing of raw materials. I shared the work of the Savory Global Network to create a grassroots movement throughout the world that advances Holistic Management and restores grasslands. Spencer explained the new Savory Land to Market program and how producers can get involved. We all were treated to a premier showing of the Savory Institutes’ short films about regenerative production of meat, dairy, wool and leather.
We were all nourished by delicious food and drink from our food sponsors. We tried camel milk, bone broth, brine shots, organic almonds, beef stew, braised veggies, kombucha, heirloom popcorn, bacon dogs and much more from our wonderful sponsors. Our event co-hosts, the Students for Sustainable Agriculture and the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative at Chico State made this event possible. We are so grateful to the students who kept the event running and to Dr. Cyndi Daley who made the event possible.
Creative Design Process
Beyond sharing the stage, the interactive afternoon session set the conference apart. KIDmob, a San Francisco-based non-profit, led all attendees through a creative design process to being laying the foundation for a regenerative value network in our region of California and Nevada. It included playful activities to build relationships like creating secret hand shakes and dance moves to deeper work to organize our thinking collaboratively around the new marketplace. We needed a new space and framework to expand our thinking and develop new solutions. Of course, this makes some people uncomfortable. It isn’t always pleasant, but how else do we create the outcomes we need? Many of the ideas shared were based on experiences and relationships. A regenerative marketplace will not likely be built on the tenants of efficiency and scale (at the cost of flavor and diversity). People said sharing in the full experience of creating a product and maintaining deep connections among producer, consumer and others involved in creating and distributing the product was important. Ideas were shared on how to create an economic model around this concept.
Grazing for Change is just the beginning of a new focus on regenerative products and the thriving, local communities they support. There are many ways to get involved. One way is to support the Savory Institute’s campaign to fund the Land to Market verification program. Another is to advance your own knowledge of and practice of Holistic Management. Begin with a one-day workshop or the online courses and advance to courses in Holistic Financial Planning, Holistic Planned Grazing, Land Planning and Ecological Monitoring. If you are interested in becoming part of the Land to Market program as a producer, and/or you want to sign up for courses please contact us. The program will launch in 2017.
If you do not have a land base to manage, but want to be an advocate for Holistic Management and regenerative agriculture, join a global network of Savory Champions working to shift public opinion toward the acceptance of Holistic Management as a framework for managing complex systems and livestock as a critical tool for managing healthy ecosystem processes.
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