Doing regenerative farming and gardening eco-logically, we use practices designed to get our ecosystems functioning again, thereby realising the potential for our land to provide more support with growing food.[1]

You will often see listed as regenerative goals – increasing biodiversity, improving organic matter and soil carbon levels, water infiltration and storage in the soil, keeping water in our landscapes, and improving soil health. While these are helpful measures to track our progress, they are all products of functioning ecosystems.[1] We need ecosystems that work for these to improve.

In most farms and gardens, our ecosystems haven’t worked well for so long, we’ve largely forgotten about the free ecological services they naturally provide. Our fertiliser, pest control and other input costs have gone up as underlying problems have mounted up. Our production systems are more likely to break down when impacted by droughts, flooding rains, extreme heat, unusual pests, and disease outbreaks.[1]

Most soils, for example, may not show the customary signs of soil degradation – erosion and compaction, but no longer work well. They have lost the capacity to naturally feed plants by recycling sufficient nutrients from organic waste materials and the minerals in the soil. We apply fertilisers as substitutes for these ecological services.[2][3]

Getting our ecosystems functioning again, we:

  1. Grow nutritious food less reliant on organic, biological and synthetic inputs
  2. Have the joy of bringing Nature back into our farms and gardens, and
  3. Make the practical act of growing food a solution rather than a cause of climate change.

How to do Regenerative Farming and Gardening

Achieve the best outcomes for the time, effort and money you put in using regenerative principles.

Applying well-designed and thought-through principles you:

  1. Benefit from the collective wisdom distilled from the research and development undertaken by Nature together with the experiences of food growers.
  2. Focus your efforts on what will make a real difference – principles concentrate on what’s quintessential.
  3. Develop effective practical solutions for your unique circumstances – principles can be applied regardless of your climate, other growing conditions, and the food you grow.

Empowered to make informed decisions, our focus becomes “Am I using effective practices to solve the issues holding me back?” We gain the know-how to trial techniques, learn and share our experiences, and respond constructively to uncertainty, emerging issues and threats.[4]

Here are the principles we recommend to get ecosystems functioning again.[5]

Getting Practical

Understanding what we need to regenerate and how to apply the principles, we Learn from Nature, combining our ingenuity with 400 million years of research and development, carried out in every climate and soil type on the planet, including our own!

There are many regenerative practices to choose from. A comprehensive inventory is included in the Eco-logical Farming and Gardening Handbooks.

Gabe Brown, a world-renown regenerative farmer from North Dakota in the United States uses using ecological principles to repair his nutrient and water cycles and capture more solar energy.

He mimics Nature using the Prairie grasslands and the grazing behaviour of native Bison in the design of his crop production and grazing management. Like the Prairies, he maintains a continuous diverse cover of vegetation and maximises the recycling of vegetation in his soil using mob grazing.

For his multi-species cropping and diverse cover crops, he chooses plants that thrive in his growing conditions and build connections that provide beneficial relationships like fixing nitrogen and deep roots.

On our farm, in northern Australia, we’re developing production systems mimicking the architecture of the forest communities that would naturally grow on our land. We’re co-creating with succession creating multi-layered production systems focusing on perennial plants producing carbohydrates like Breadfruit and Plaintain bananas, and using ecological support plants to create functional biodiversity.

Remember that when starting anything new, it’s generally not a good idea to try and change everything at once. Trial techniques and species, see what works best, and be aware that what you do may not work. That’s how we learn!Image showing Action Learning Cycle for Regenerative Farming and Gardening

Additional Support from Learning from Nature

  1.  What is Regenerative Farming and Gardening
  2. Principles of Regenerative Farming and Gardening
  3. How to choose Regenerative Practices
  4. Library of videos on the supporting science and stories from leading farmers and gardeners on the Learning from Nature YouTube Channel
  5. Publications from Learning from Nature – Get help with growing from your strengths creating a GrowMap for your land, fixing your nutrient cycling with Feed your Plants without Fertilisers, and your water cycle with Drought-Proof your farm or garden. Or better still the Eco-logical Farming and Gardening Handbooks.

References

[1] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, What is Regenerative Farming and Gardening. Learning from Nature

[2] Wendy Seabrook, 2019, Eco-logical Farming Handbook, Publ Learning from Nature

[3] Wendy Seabrook, 2019, Eco-logical Gardening Handbook, Publ Learning from Nature

[4] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, How to choose Regenerative Practices, Learning from Nature

[5] Learn about the eco-logic rationale for these principles here

Featured image Tom Fisk

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