If you're following our socials you will have seen we've had quite a shift in the regenerative direction. Last month, Mum and I were fortunate enough to attend as guests to the Regionality Farm2Plate Exchange in Scenic Rim, Queensland. I was a speaker alongside Kay Tommerup of Tommersup's Dairy and Farm Stay and Laura Dalrymple of Feather and Bone Providore in Sydney, and we connected with some great minds including Charles Massey, Charlie Arnott (addicted and enlightened by his fabulous podcast by the way…) and Stuart Austin (Wilmot Cattle Co.), all leaders in the regenerative agriculture space. These connections alongside the drought we are still facing, COVID effects on our business and the increasingly alarming state of the changing environment and our planet all came together in a cumulative 'light bulb' moment and shift in my brain.
Whilst we have been pursuing the vital integrated connections in our own supply chain and processing requirements with the progression of the local micro-abattoir project, and our butchering facility in Barham, the farm has just been ticking along. A block stood between us, as drought kicked in and stayed we kept our herd strong, waiting for the right parcel of land to come along, surely soon enough we could secure more land and give our farm a rest but we were stuck in terms of how to move forward with the farm, access to farm equipment and capital has been (and is still) a real struggle to make any improvements with our management. Free range is one thing, our paddocks are large, but used often and gradually being flogged out as we wait for our break. This actually took us quite a few years to achieve, in the meantime we gathered stress, saw water pooling on our bare soil and recovery struggled. Thankfully however, in the past month we worked out a creative way to secure more land, next door to Mum and Dads place in the form of 130 dryland acres with no power and limited water access. Perfect.
With our new knowledge and inspiration from the speakers and connections we made at Farm2Plate, I all of a sudden had a very clear vision of where we needed to be heading, and what we can do to help not only the planets increasingly disturbing atmospheric carbon levels, but also helping our customers make better choices at the same time. The team at Regrarians have a great description of how regenerative agriculture can change the world:
Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming and grazing practices that can reverse climate change by building healthy, biologically-diverse and mineral-rich soils, all the while sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Global soils contain 2 to 3 times more carbon than the atmosphere. It is estimated that at least 50% of the carbon in the earth’s soils has been released into the atmosphere over the past few centuries, partly due to destructive agricultural practices.
Moving forward, regenerative farming practices presents an amazing opportunity to restore both carbon balance and the climate. This is because agriculture is the one sector that has the ability to transform from emitting CO2, to sequestering CO2. Sequestering carbon is key to halting the warming of our planet. Even if emissions dropped to zero the planet would still continue to warm because of all the greenhouse gasses already in our atmosphere. Stopping emissions isn’t enough. We need to take carbon out of the atmosphere. Project Drawdown, has estimated that regenerative agricultural could remove an astonishing 23.15 gigatons of CO2 from our atmosphere by 2050! All the while making our soils healthier and our food more nutritious. It’s a win-win for people and the planet!
I want to be a part of this. This helps me sleep at night, has enlivened my brain and vitality for what we do everyday and my core purpose in life. I love the land we care for and I love our planet. I want to make a difference.
Our plan going forward is to implement our farm plan with the help of Darren at Regrarians. Darren has helped farmers all over the world with his advice and resources, he's a clever clogs and has the runs on the board to help us achieve our goals. We have never used till, chemicals or fertilisers at our farm, but that's not what it's all about and we're on our way to doing more. Our first step, as we know we can't do everything at once, is to plant trees and break or paddocks up into smaller plots. The kids and Lachy and I planted 700 native trees and shrubs last week and have planned where and how our paddocks will be split up, this will enable us to move groups of pigs across the small paddocks every 10 days or so, depending on ground cover to create a disturbance and then that patch of land can be rested for up to 5 months. We really need some rain to get this happening but we are adding worm juice and castings to the soil in the meantime to liven it up. A cover crop will feed the soils microbes and enable them to feed root systems of a mixture of perennial plants. Eventually, we'll add meat birds and agist some cattle to help with the inoculation of some good microbes into the soil too. These will be slaughtered at the Barham micro-abattoir, which we are hopeful will be operating by Christmas (famous last words?!). Last year we had Land to Market come and measure our initial Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV), which to be honest were low but it gives us a starting point to improve on.
We want to be able to share our journey here with you as as consumers, you have the actual power to make a real difference to how farmers can contribute to reducing carbon in the atmosphere, which in effect will help our future generations enjoy the planet as we have. All you need to do is support people farming regeneratively, it's really that simple.