The Recorder – My Turn: benefits of regenerative agriculture

It’s a beautiful spring morning, I am sitting on the back porch with a cup of tea listening to and watching the many birds in our yard. I’m taking in joy … finding the little things in life that I am grateful for, like the tail flitter and flap of wings as the birds come and go with their beautiful songs.

I am trying to find some sort of solace in this weary world that we are living in, I tend to find it on the land. How do I have hope for our future and our children’s future in the face of climate change, pandemics, gun violence, and political strife that pits us against each other? It’s a daily task to find some sort of glimmer of hope in it all.

This is where regenerative agriculture comes in, this is one of the few things that give me hope for our future. Farmers doing the right thing to save our soil, which in turn will help to save our pollinators, birds, community and planet.

I have been an organic gardener/homesteader for the past 30 years or so. When I was in my mid-20s I did a week-long intensive hands-on permaculture course at an environmental learning center/farm. Permaculture is all about garden/farm practices that mimic the forest. The word “permaculture” didn’t seem to catch on in this part of the world, but the practice is used all over the states and the globe. Catchier phrases have found their way instead of “permaculture”, like “food forest”, “regenerative agriculture,” and “carbon capture farming.”

Regenerative agriculture is the practice of not disturbing the soil, letting the microbes, worms, and mycelium do the work they do in the soil to capture carbon. Regenerative farming does not till the land, and does not use pesticides or herbicides. Regenerative farming keeps the soil covered with cover crops and or hay/mulch/leaves, (think forest floor, nature knows how to take care of itself with its blanket of leaves each winter).

Regenerative agriculture transforms packed soil from years of chemical use, to soil that is filled with organic matter which absorbs water, rather than creating run-off. The combination of run-off from farms combined with climate change flooding is something we are all too familiar with. Conventional chemical farming creates desert-like conditions, devoid of life, which adds to global warming and flooding. It causes algae blooms in ponds and lakes, which kill our fish and aquatic creatures, and creates dead zones in oceans.

So what can we do if we are not farmers? Here are a few ideas:

Don’t use herbicides, this includes any type of glyphosate and for the home garden this means RoundUp. It kills pollinators and is a known carcinogen which is banned in many countries.

Don’t use nitrogen fixing chemicals for your lawn, it pollutes our water creating nitrogen blooms in our ponds, lakes and streams. Make your lawn a pollinator friendly garden instead.

If you use a lawn service provider, tell them not to use chemicals/herbicides/pesticides on your lawn.

Ask your local farmer if they are using regenerative and organic practices on their farm.

Ask for local grocer to carry food from regenerative and organic farms.

Call your senators now, to ask them to support PACTPA, a strong pesticide protection bill to stop deadly pesticides use.

Plant a vegetable/flower garden that is no till and pesticide free. Use mulch hay/leaves, and cover crops. If you use this regenerative method after your garden or lawn previously used chemicals, nature will take care of itself and the soil will balance out. In 2 to 3 years healthy soil will return. You will begin to see more worms, frogs, butterflies, bees, and birds!

Watch the documentary movie, “Kiss the Ground,” it might just make you feel a little more hopeful for our planet.

Watch the PBS show, “Growing a Greener World,” to learn what farmers and home gardeners are doing with regenerative organic practices in our country.

Buy items that are made locally not just food, but handmade items. Support the local downtown shops, restaurants, theater and music, which all create community, which can uplift your spirits and lower your carbon footprint.

Lucy Fagella is a full time potter who lives and works in Greenfield. When she is not working in her studio you will find her on the land, growing lots of food for family and friends.


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