By Christine Kramer
Haven’t heard of regenerative agriculture? Let me walk you through my awareness of this important effort to combat climate change and ways you can support it.
I recently opened our fridge for milk and noticed a label:
“We are going carbon positive by 2025. We’re on a mission to become the first national brand to be carbon positive. Here’s how we are taking action . . . Supporting our family farmer partners through our farmer investment fund. Caring for our cows with rotational grazing & lots of TLC. Building healthy soil to capture & store carbon. Find out more at horizon.com/carbonpositive.”
As members of Citizens’ Climate Education, my family supports putting a price on carbon to reduce our diet of fossil fuels, but this is not a ‘silver bullet’—we need to do more. That led me to look at the practice of RA.
This movement looks at reducing tilling to save the microbes in our soil to prevent it from becoming just dirt or worse still—dust. But desertification, the process of land turning to desert, is now claiming about two-thirds of the Earth.
Drawdown.org looks at biosequestration, in which plants capture carbon and store it safely in the soil. The RA movement aims to repair the damage we have done to our soil.
Kiss the Ground, a documentary on Netflix, looks at farmers who are thriving. No mention is made of giving up meat. Livestock can be used to reverse desertification if we reduce our use of feedlots. Check out markegardfamily.com for a look at a ranch in the Bay Area that provides grass-fed beef and lamb and pasture-raised chicken and pork. They describe their cows as “mobile microbe tanks.”
Here are four practices of regenerative agriculture:
- Use of cover crops
- Use of perennials and trees
- No tilling (John Deere makes a ‘no till’ drill)
- Composting and mob grazing (having many animals in a small area for short periods of time)
Where do you fit in the picture? You can further regenerative agriculture with some actions:
1. Collect food waste. We collect table scraps in a container in our sink. When we empty it, we either feed the worms in our worm bin or put it in our green waste container.
2. Choose regenerative foods so more farmers will grow them. Eat meat from pasture-raised animals.
3. Explore community garden options and certainly support our amazing Ecology Center, which is a leader in RA.
As your awareness grows, increased evidence of RA influence will be everywhere. For example, I just got a text from Patagonia that links to farmtocrag.org. Here’s its mission statement:
“Whether traveling to your local crag or a far-flung climbing area, seeking out locally grown food provides better fuel for your adventure and helps sustain the passionate growers and communities that support our favorite pastime. It’s a joyful way to make positive environmental change. You are what you eat. But did you also know that our soils are only as good as the foods they support—our earth only as healthy as the soil it cultivates?”
Aren’t we all the stewards of this beautiful planet? Let’s not limit our love to just Earth Day, but be conscious of all we can do to make a difference every day!
On a bright note, in one of the climate-action bills just signed by Gov. Newsom, California is committing $1.1 billion over two years to support sustainable agriculture and create a resilient and equitable food system. These efforts include investments to promote healthy soil management, support for livestock methane reduction efforts, funding for the replacement of agricultural equipment to reduce emissions and technical assistance, and incentives for the development of farm conservation management plans.
Chris Kramer is a longtime resident of San Juan Capistrano and a member of the South Orange County chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby/Education.
She and her husband, Larry, have moved 26 times in their married life, including to India (Andhra Pradesh) and Africa (Ghana). She has a MLIS from University of Hawaii and a BA from University of Michigan (Go Blue).