Regenerative Agriculture in Action
What does regenerative agriculture look like? On a sunny Friday morning, half a dozen Regenerative Recovery Coalition members stand surrounded by 1,200 fruiting or useful trees or shrubs. An Australian Shepherd puppy named Pablo scampers after them. The ducks and chickens have been fed, the eggs have been collected and the sheep have been watered. A shy ten day old lamb, Theo, stands by the trough with his mama, near a shelter that was built entirely out of wood and clay from the land.
The Coalition members move on to pick chamomile and calendula flowers. Like every other plant in the farm’s exotic forest garden, these flowers serve a purpose. They attract pollinators, deter pests and will later be dried in a solar-powered dehydrator to make teas and medicines. This land has been intentionally shaped to capture and distribute water effectively, leaving no need for irrigation. It produces drought resistant crops and is home to a variety of wildlife.
Welcome to Elk Run Farm, a project of Drylands Agroecology Research (DAR). DAR is one of the 370+ Regenerative Recovery Coalition members banding together to create a regenerative future. At The Alliance Center, we are often asked what the word regenerative means and why we sometimes use it over the word sustainable. To understand the difference, look no further than Elk Run Farm. The farm’s previously dry and barren landscape has not been sustained, it has been regenerated. It has been restored, renewed and transformed into a lush and self-sustaining ecosystem through holistic land management practices.
Efforts to Support the Movement
Regenerative agriculture is an important solution to the climate crisis, because it draws carbon out of the atmosphere and helps restore the carbon cycle. But it can often be out of reach for many farmers and ranchers. The Coalition’s Regenerative Agriculture Working Group aims to change that. From field work to policy work, the Coalition has several initiatives dedicated to uplifting the regenerative agriculture movement in Colorado.
In addition to hosting volunteer days with Elk Run Farm, the Coalition has partnered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Zero Foodprint to develop a statewide Healthy Soils Challenge. This challenge will generate funding from the private sector to support farmers as they implement practices such as composting, cover cropping and no-till farming.
The Coalition is also working to foster a sense of community among regenerative agriculture proponents. To do so, the Coalition will host an annual series of farm tours. These will build a network of climate smart practitioners in Colorado, connect people to the food they eat and help bridge the urban/rural divide.
Are you a farmer, rancher or otherwise involved in the regenerative agriculture movement? Please join the Coalition and reach out to our Coalition Director, Jolie Brawner, to explore opportunities for partnering with us. Are you interested in learning more about regenerative agriculture? We encourage you to join the Coalition, participate in the Regenerative Agriculture Working Group and/or keep your eyes peeled for our next Elk Run Farm volunteer day!