Benefits of Learning from Nature

Whether your interest is regenerative agriculture, organic, ecological, or sustainable gardening, understanding the ecological principles underpinning regenerative practices, you'll have the know-how to benefit from learning from Nature.

You develop the best practical solutions for your growing conditions and respond constructively to emerging issues and threats. Established 'regenerative' practices become sources and inspiration for ideas, rather than recipes to follow.

Here's a collection of stories from gardeners and farmers around the world showing the benefits of learning from Nature.

Broadacre farmers getting their nutrient cycles working again

Gabe Brown and family found the answer to their degraded soil was “to imitate a healthy, native rangeland ecosystem“.

They changed from a production model of fixed grazing, tillage, monocultures, synthetic chemicals, to zero tillage, diverse crop rotations, with diverse cover crops between cropping cycles, and Holistic Planned Grazing. “I needed to farm and ranch in nature’s image. To work with nature instead of against it. Then we can get regeneration, and get back to supplying healthy foods.” “We average approximately 30% higher production than the conventional farmers do in the county. We have more lbs of saleable products. Our products are more nutrient dense. We have a higher quality of life…. and we are storing a lot more carbon. Our profits are higher and most importantly we are regenerating the resource for future generations.”

North Dakota, USA

Gardeners getting their nutrient cycles working again

Have you ever visited a garden where the vegetables look extraordinarily healthy? Carol Laing’s veggies are like that.

The wonderful thing is that her soil tests demonstrate the benefits of learning from Nature. Carol has transformed bleached white sandy soil into a dark, rich matrix of soil aggregates with 6.8% organic matter. By comparison most growers aspire to have 4%! She achieved this amazing transformation using an initial 'kick-start' application of rock minerals, blood and bone, and biochar, by growing layers of biomass accumulating food and ecological support plants,composting all her household and garden waste.

Cairns, Queensland, Australia

No more mulching …

At Hill Top Farm, the 'Learning from Nature' demonstration site, we've gone from using 80 - 120 round bales each year to only one or two!

We've replaced the introduced, competitive grasses in our orchard with a diverse ground cover of living mulch.

Growing living mulch we get the benefits of organic materials from roots, root exudates and mulch! By including  ecological support plants in our species mix we get additional soil-building and ecological services for our fruit trees and bananas.                       

Hill Top Farm, Cooktown, Australia

Less mowing

Sometimes the solution can be very simple. In orchards where a diversity of grasses and other ground plants are allowed to grow, flower and set seed, beneficial insects are attracted to the flowering plants and abundant alternative prey.

We need to 'grow-up'!

A forest garden on the cold edge of Europe produces over one tonne of food on one-fifth of an acre (0.08 ha), with less that two days work a week. Graham Bell and his family started the forest garden 25 years ago, by adding layers of vegetation.

“We have one chest freezer full of soft fruit by July, dry apple rings, and store marrows and pumpkins until May,” Graham said. “Jams, jellies, chutneys, pickles and fruit cheeses go into jars. We feed visitors on open days and are reminded daily that it is not the number of species that make the garden successful, but the web of complex relationships between all the elements in the system."

The Red Shed, Scotland

Benefits of learning from Nature

For the owners of Knepp Castle in England, conventional agriculture is a liability. Instead they have embarked on a ‘re-wilding’ project across the 3,500-acre estate.

“We took on board the theory that grazing animals are key drivers of habitat generation and biodiversity in this landscape, and introduced Red deer, Fallow deer, Longhorn cattle, Exmore ponies and Tamworth pigs. These animals are proxies of some of the fauna that would have been present in the landscape. Roaming freely with minimal interference they have brought back biodiversity and we are proud to have 2% of the UKs Nightingale population.”

Culling livestock provides a new income stream, and they sell the ‘wild meat’ for top dollars.  Safaris and Glamping (glamorous camping), provide further income. Isabell Tree says “the joy of a project like Knepp is that Nature is teaching us, rather than us imposing our will on Nature and then wondering why it isn’t working."

Sussex, England

Find out more about this remarkable way to grow