Regenerative Agriculture - First Steps
Regenerative agriculture is an approach to land management which enhances life above and below the soil surface in a way that is self-perpetuating far into the future. These 4 workshops offer a chance to learn in a hands-on environment, some of the ways that we can reshape our thinking when managing incredibly complex relationships which touch all of our lives.
Participate with on-the-ground learning about Regenerative Agriculture at the beautiful Varian Arabians site in rural Arroyo Grande. The 4 one-day workshops touch on topics related to management which will enhance the bounty of life.
Social distancing will be practiced.
Register early as seats are going fast! Registration closes the Friday before each workshop. No onsite registration is currently available.
DATES: Saturdays, October 17 - November 7, 2020
INSTRUCTORS: Timmothy LaSalle, Robert Rutherford, Cristy Christie, and guest presenters
This workshop will provide an introduction to holistic management, a process of management that is central in regenerative agriculture. Holistic Management takes into account the situational complexity, context and whole under management of any farm, enterprise, organization or even family and is therefore an invaluable tool in managing successfully the economic, environmental and social impacts inherent in all decision making. In this workshop time will be spent both inside (in safe and spacious conditions) and outside of the built environment with active participation anticipated and welcome.
Agriculture is an extremely complex set of relationships. Regenerative agriculture requires management that is holistic due to this complexity. This workshop will acquaint attendees with a way to perceive and react to complexity. Our lives are an entanglement of social interaction, economic priorities, and environmental balance. For the past decades, agriculture has relied heavily on chemistry and technology in order to feed people. This and the other three workshops will show the power of using biology as well in order to restore balance to our food web.
This workshop is intended to show how we can use domestic ungulates (grazing and browsing livestock) to create the vegetative landscape that we desire. Traditionally, we have relied heavily on the tools of chemistry, rest, fire, and technology when managing our landscapes. There are other tools available- biology, grazing and animal impact- that we can utilize which restore balance and are self-regenerating. In this workshop time will be spent both inside (in safe and spacious conditions) and outside of the built environment with active participation anticipated and welcome.
It has been said that Mother Nature never tries to farm without livestock. This implies that livestock are critical to the balance of biology which defines a landscape. Wild ungulates numbered in the 100’s of millions across the California landscape centuries ago. Their role helped to shape our ecosystem. We currently have a landscape that requires billions of dollars each year to put out fires, destroy unwanted plants, artificially manipulate water cycles, add imported nutrients, deal with insect and pest invasions and more. If we desire a landscape that is self-regenerating and supporting massive numbers of species, livestock must play a critical role.
Building the Life of the Soil: Part 1— Soil Microbiology through Vermicomposting with Cristy Christie, owner of Black Diamond VermiCompost in Paso Robles and Tim LaSalle
The past 2 workshops have set the stage for understanding Regenerative Agriculture and its importance to our lives and our land.
By focusing on regenerative practices, we fundamentally focus on improving soil health through increased soil carbon and life in the soil. Industrial agriculture, be it on 100 sq ft or 100 square miles, has been depleting the soil of minerals, fertility and life for the last several decades. Regenerative agriculture, on the other hand, is about growing and feeding soil life.
Of the many tools available to use in soil building processes, this workshop will be centered around earthworms and the cultivation of the most important soil component - soil microbiology. We will discuss compost tea with a brewing system in the works. This is a rapid and efficient method of adding huge quantities of soil microbiology to an environment, as well as stimulating the existing communities.
A simple, low-tech, yet powerfully effective vermicomposting method will be demonstrated that is easily scalable. Using readily available resources, you can create a closed-loop system that invites diversity, is economical and easy to manage. You will learn the how and why, as well as what not to do when managing a worm environment, no matter the size. Join the underground movement!
Building the Life of the Soil: Part 2—Building regenerated soils that are self-fertilizing through improved soil microbiology with Tim LaSalle
The history of agricultural practices that has tilled and fertilized continued to degrade the life of the soil. At our current rate of degradation FAO makes a case that we have only 55 years of topsoil left. Regenerative agriculture takes on the challenge of restoring a healthy biome (biological complexity) at a rapid pace reducing, if not eliminating, the need for most costly inputs. With the help of a fungal dominant soil inoculant, soil health, crop yield, water percolation and retention, nutrient cycling, reduced rates of carbon respiration can regenerate soils immediately and reverse this long destructive history of our past management practices.
This workshop will demonstrate how to make the complex soil biome inoculant in your own backyard with your own resources for your garden or large-scale farming operation. This Johnson-Su methodology is created in an aerobic maturing process in a simple self-constructed bioreactor (a name utilized to represent a structure that permits the development of fungal dominant communities of microbes). When all of these natural microbes are available to the root when it emerges from the seed an immediate co-relationship is developed with the plant that will show immediate results in plant performance and in well managed soils it continues year after year. Regenerative agriculture is not only the new paradigm for building healthy soils and is being embraced by many large food companies and consumers, it rebuilds ecosystems creating a more resilient future.