Farmers and food gardeners use regenerative practices recognising that they can get more support with growing food by improving their soil and other growing conditions.

Usually, regenerative practices are used to improve biodiversity, nutrient availability, organic matter, soil carbon, water infiltration and storage in soil, etc. However, at Learning from Nature our focus is repairing the ecosystems supporting our home and commercial food production realising that all these indicators of our growing conditions are the products and services of functioning ecosystems.[1] We get better results regenerating the systems producing these products and services.

Tackling the root causes of our poor growing conditions we create resilient production systems, incomes improve, as does the economics of growing food for home consumption by reducing our dependence on external inputs and global supply chains.

As a society, we value productivity and benchmark supply chains, manufacturing and service industries, and organisational structures on their ability to create goods and services resource efficiently. Yet, in our farms and gardens we have mostly ignored, neglected and reduced to bare bones the sophisticated, locally adapted, complex eco-systems underpinning our home and commercial food production.

The production systems we use to grow food are no different in principle from those that manufacture big-screen TVs, chocolate biscuits and make espresso coffee – except they require ecological systems to function!

Diagram showing ecological producton systems

Production Systems in Farms and Gardens

Like any production system with poorly maintained parts, our operating costs have increased. We’re cultivating soil, applying pest controls, fertilisers, compost and other organic and biological inputs, substituting for the free services ecosystems would otherwise provide. Virtually everybody does it! It has become the norm whether we use chemical or organic inputs.

Our home and commercial food production systems are more likely to break down when under extra strain from the impacts of drought, floods, extreme heat, and unusual pest and disease outbreaks.

Getting our Ecosystems Functioning Again

Ecosystems are complex, but understanding what to regenerate isn’t complicated. Nutrient cycles, water cycles and energy flows are the three key ecological functions that drive the action in our farms and gardens.[2] Getting these ecological functions working again, we tackle the root causes for virtually all of the natural resource issues holding us back.[3]

By way of example, by maximising plant growth for human consumption and livestock, we’ve overlooked maintaining the food supply to the invertebrates and microbes managing our soil ecosystems. Our soil organisms haven’t had the resources to maintain the soil infrastructure and recycle nutrients for plants to reuse, tasks for which they’ve had billions of years of on-the-job training. When we manage farms and gardens to maintain the food supply to our soil ecosystem, our plants get silver service catering directly from our soil rather than via the intermittent and inadequate inputs we supply.[4]

Learning how to apply eco-logical approaches we combine our ingenuity with billions of years of research and development, carried out in every climate and soil type on the planet, including our own! We gain the skills to develop place-based practical solutions that work well for our unique circumstances, build our capacity to trial techniques, learn and share our experiences, and respond constructively to emerging issues and threats.

Using eco-logical approaches to regenerative farming and gardening, we get off the treadmill of substituting for Nature’s free ecological services and create ecosystems capable of bouncing back from the impacts of extreme weather.

The practical act of growing food becomes a solution rather than a cause of climate change. We have the joy of producing nutritious food and bringing Nature back into our farms and gardens.Image showing the joy of regenerative farming and gardening- Learning from Nature

Getting help with using this Eco-logical Approach to Regenerative Farming and Gardening

Recommended articles –

  1. How to do Regenerative Farming and Gardening – Ecologically
  2. How to choose Regenerative Practices – that Work!
  3. Principles of Regenerative Farming and Gardening

Or get everything you need to know with our Eco-logical Farming or Eco-logical Gardening Handbooks.

Front cover Ecological Farming Handbook

Front cover Eco-logical Gardening Handbook

References – What is Regenerative Farming and Gardening?

[1] Wendy Seabrook, 2022, How to Choose Regenerative Practices – that Work, Learning from Nature

[2]Wendy Seabrook, 2020, Grow Food that looks after Itself!, Learning from Nature

[3] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, Principles of Regenerative Farming and Gardening, Learning from Nature

[4] Eugine P. Odium, 1971, Fundamentals of Ecology. Publ W.B. Saunders Company

[5] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, How to Build Healthy Soil – Eco-logically, Learning from Nature

Featured image by Tom Fisk

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