Regenerative agriculture is not new, it is how indigenous cultures farmed in harmony with nature centuries ago. It is the combination of two land use practices: permaculture and organic standards. These two practices are used to progressively improve whole agroecosystems: including soil, water, air and biodiversity.
The first land use practice, permaculture, is the idea of creating a closed loop system with as little reliance on outside inputs as possible. To achieve this, the land, water, and biodiversity of the ecosystems must create mutually beneficial relationships. Forests, wetlands, prairies, and bodies of water are perfect permacultures.
On our ranch, we take advantage of the existing permacultures of our forests, brush, and wetlands. Their inclusion in our operation attracts a diversity of wildlife, fungi, bacteria, and minerals; and it provides wild forage for our animals. Woodland and wetland wildlife aerate the soil and water, create habitats for insects and pollinators, disperse new and wild seed varieties, and attract more and diverse wildlife. This diversity also brings unique fungi and bacteria that aid in decomposition. The decomposing plant and animal life deposit minerals into the soil where the fungi, bacteria, and other microorganisms then extract and provide those minerals directly to the roots of the living plants for their use. Grazing animals in these permacultures results in healthier ecosystems, healthier animals, and nutrient dense food for us.
The second land use practice, National Organic Standards, is designed to promote soil regeneration, improve water and air quality, and ensure the ethical treatment of animals. To achieve these goals, organic farmers are prohibited from using harmful chemicals and are encouraged to plant diverse pastures and cover crops, to input minerals to the soil, to utilize no-till or low-till practices, and to retain, protect, and improve forests and wetlands.
The elimination of harmful chemicals results in cleaner air, a cleaner and more abundant water supply, rising water tables, replenishing aquifers, and eliminating toxic algae blooms.
Our organic practices are helping to protect and enhance the water, air, and permacultures on our land. As we increase organic matter and rare and ultra-rare minerals in our soil, we improve drought resilience, increase the water holding capacity of the soil, and protect the water quality and wildlife. These practices also eliminate soil destruction, erosion, desertification, the loss of arable topsoil, and decarbonization.
The loss of arable topsoil is a growing concern for agriculture. Topsoil protects our water supply, improves our air quality, and is needed for good crop yields and for plants to reach their full genetic potential. Not to mention, it lessens the impacts of drought and pests.
Decarbonization is the loss of carbon from the soil, resulting in more carbon in the air. Permacultures and organic practices sequester the carbon, pulling carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it back into the soil as organic matter. Improving and increasing our woodlands and wetlands also reverse decarbonization. Photosynthesis is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere through the leaves with solar energy and then releasing oxygen into the atmosphere and providing sugar for the plant to grow.
In addition to the 120-day National Organic Standard for pasturing animals, we pasture our animals 365 days a year and eliminate the need for grain. It also eliminates the construction and upkeep of barns and the energy to run them. And it allows us to utilize their waste to build organic matter in the soil right in our pastures and woodlands. Allowing our animals to live year-round in a natural habitat and eat their natural diet increases the health of all our animals and make us less reliant on outside inputs for their health.
Our choice to practice regenerative agriculture is so that our land will be a reserve for wildlife, our soil will be regenerated, our water will be free of chemicals, our air quality will improve, our animals and plants will be heathier, and we can provide healthy, sustainable food to our community.
We are committed to getting the most nutrition out of our products (-or- grass-fed beef, lamb, chicken, pork, eggs, and produce): from soil testing in our pastures, greenhouses, and gardens, to the health and well-being of our animals. We are constantly researching the latest information, having the experts out to our ranch to evaluate our operation, and implementing what we have learned.
We are also involved with the Real Food Campaign and their efforts to make food as healing as medicine.
What we are doing:
To the Soil
Differing from grain-fed beef in several ways, grass-fed beef has:
Beef contains Oleic acid, the same “heart-healthy” fatty acid in olive oil
Beef contains the highest amounts of Coenzyme Q10
Beef is one of the most complete dietary sources of protein, the amino acid profile being almost identical to that of our own muscles, containing all 8 essential amino acids needed for the growth and maintenance of our bodies. It also contains Carnosine, a dipeptide important for muscle function
Beef is an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals. These include vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, iron, niacin, and vitamin B6.
Beef contains contains a number of bioactive substances, such as creatine and taurine
We believe organic farming is two-fold: the animals and the soil; what we don’t put into it and what we do put into it.
Organic standards for the animals are all about the ethical treatment and care of them. It is to create a natural environment, not raising them indoors. It is to make sure that they are on soil and have natural habitats, like chickens dust bathing and perching. It is to prohibit anti-biotics, unless to save the life of the animal*. It is also to prohibit pesticides and hormones and create strict standards for their food. It is to feed them natural food: all of their food must be non-GMO, organic, and free from petroleum-based seed coatings, fertilizers, and herbicides.
Makes sense. Healthy animal food equals healthy animals, equals healthy human food supply and healthy consumers.
The other, and possibly the most important, is the soil. Soil is where the minerals come from to grow the healthy pastures for the animals to graze. The health of the soil is also the health of the whole ecosystem and water supply. That is why one of the standards in organic is to maintain or create diverse environments like woodlands, wetlands, and other natural habitats for wildlife and wild forage. Our land has over 100 acres of woodlands and natural forage, and we have 4 wetland areas teaming with diverse wildlife. Our pastures are designed to utilize the natural habitats and to protect them.
Healthy soil needs to be built as a result of over-grazing and conventional mono-plantings. But crop rotation and cover crops are only a small part of soil health and vitality. We have extensive soil testing done to find out the micronutrient, bacterial, and mycorrhizal activity as well**. These are where the nutrition comes from and it is also where the flavor comes from. Based on our soil tests, we purchase the missing or low nutrients or microbiology and spread them onto our fields. The result is better tasting and healthier beef, chicken, lamb, eggs, and produce.
*animals given antibiotics become organic ineligible
** soil building is scalable to home gardening without soil testing