What is Regenerative Ag?
The National Resources Defense Council defines regenerative agriculture as an approach to land management that “asks us to think about how all aspects of agriculture are connected through a web – a network of entities who grow, enhance, exchange, distribute and consume goods and services –instead of a linear supply chain. It’s about farming and ranching in a style that nourishes people while restoring the soil and ecosystem health, addressing inequality, and leaving our land, water and climate in better shape for future generations.”
Why is this approach necessary?
Over time, as farming has become more industrialized, large-scale commodity and monoculture farming have taken the place of smaller-scale, subsistence farming that once produced the variety of foods that farmers put on their tables and provided for their communities. The drive for greater crop yields to produce bigger profit margins and efficiencies, despite their long-term consequences, has changed the face of American farming and has undermined the survival prospects of the small farmer in Kansas and around the world.
We are out of balance, and our collective action and inaction is a detriment to the health of our entire ecosphere – the land, the water, the air, and all the living beings on our planet – and has devastating effects on our human resilience on local, state, national, and global scales.
We want to help farmers who have worked the land for generations and new farmers just starting out to be able to continue working the land for more generations to come. CRH firmly believes that the future of agriculture is sustainable, regenerative practices. Together, with farmers across Kansas, we hope to reach sustainable solutions that benefit the soil, the people, and the future of agriculture.
It all starts with the soil.
Sustainable agriculture focuses on the health of the soil in which we grow and produce the food that we eat – fruit, vegetables, wheat, corn – even the feed that our animals consume, which we then consume. What grows on our land feeds all living creatures. The health of our soil is essential to our own health and to our ability to feed ourselves. As world events expose the weaknesses in our supply chains, we should all be concerned and focus on how we feed ourselves and rely less on others to do it for us. Did you know that 90% of the fresh produce available in Kansas is imported from other states and countries? We need to ensure that we can provide the essentials for ourselves right here in Kansas.
The land has been degraded by overuse, monoculture practices, industrialized farming, and by relying heavily on chemical inputs (fertilizers, pesticides). This has not only had a devastating impact on our land, it has also degraded the environment and on human health along with it. There is not enough information, few incentives, and only a few organizations offering training and support for farmers to make the transition to regenerative farming.
Degradation of the land is concerning, but what is disturbing is that we are affecting the long-term sustainability of our food systems. Could there be an expiration date on food security right here in Salina, Kansas? Our food security is at risk if we don’t change the way we think about food systems and soil health.
We equip farmers with tools and knowledge.
Turning this situation around with significant impact will require returning to practices that restore and enhance biodiversity in our soils and our biome and reduce the negative outputs that damage our ecosphere and negatively impact climate. The Community Resilience Hub will equip farmers with the tools and knowledge they need to transition to farm systems that support soil health and resilient food systems, which is sustainable agriculture.
Our focus is on building food security in north central Kansas, increasing food access by building a network of farmers growing for local markets, and connecting them with organizations working to get the produce to all, creating a holistic solution with community resilience at the center. Common Ground Producers and Growers in Wichita, St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Salina, and the Kansas Rural Center are working together to accelerate a transition to a more sustainable future with the Central Kansas Food Corridor project.
We don’t have all of the answers.
The Community Resilience Hub does not represent a claim that we are experts. We are conveners and recognize that each of us has a role to play. Taking individual and collective action for some will mean big, bold, visible action; and for others it will mean making small changes in daily behavior and practice that may go unnoticed by the masses but will contribute to a more universal, collective and bold vision that is food security and climate stability.
The CRH is working with faculty to develop and incorporate the educational and advocacy supports that farmers need and that we need to provide our future farmers. This is being implemented through the creation of new academic programming showcasing regenerative agriculture in the sciences, business, communication, and social work fields. We’re also opening spaces to the community for civil discourse training that will enhance understanding across differences, so we can make needed changes, including in agricultural practice, according to the values and principles we all hold dear. We’re convening experts, seeking funds to support research and initiatives that reduce consumption and increase resilience.
Sustainable agriculture is a big part of our vision, and we firmly believe it is a viable option for the sake of the people, the planet and our future.