Regenerative agriculture is an ideology and farming practice based on many years of scientific research and agroecological farming practices such as organic, biodynamic and permaculture. Regenerative agriculture works in harmony with nature, valuing wildlife and ecology. It increases biodiversity, builds and enlivens soils, protects the land from erosion and improves our ecosystems. It also aims to sequester carbon below and above ground in soil, plants and trees, reversing current trends of accelerating carbon emissions. Good practice creates competitive yields, provides jobs – safer working environments for farming communities – and importantly healthier, better tasting food.
Learning about food and sustainability has naturally led me to learn more about agriculture, visiting farms, gardening and seed collecting. Our garden at home has transformed because of it. The lawn has become a meadow, inspired by permaculture principles, attracting pollinators and a greater diversity of invertebrates. We have a ‘no-dig’ veg patch, meaning that the plants do a lot of the work so we don’t have to. This traps carbon into the soil, whilst enriching it with bacteria, fungi, earthworms and insects. I’ve grown fond of perennials, like rhubarb, kale, artichokes and berries as they need little tending and grow back year on year, keeping the gardening simple and leaving it undisturbed so that Nature can do her thing. It looks like a jungle, (which in regenerative agriculture speak would be called agroforestry) with plum trees, vegetables, edible flowers, wild plants and weeds (such as dandelions and goose grass which we eat too) all growing together, fertile and productive.
Over the last two decades there has been a resurgence in regenerative agriculture. Many small farmers and market gardens rely on this knowledge to manage productive businesses with a passion for the Earth. And now with the climate emergency, some agricultural corporations and big farms are learning how to make their farms more sustainable from the same methodologies.
For this month’s recipes I’ve picked hemp, an ingredient that I’d highly recommend you add to your shopping list as it helps regenerate soil and biodiversity, even when grown within the conventional farming system.