Much of the land we currently manage sustainably can give us more support with growing food. We realise this potential using regenerative farming and gardening practices to improve our growing conditions, making it easier, cheaper, and more environmentally sustainable to produce food.

Improving soil health, biodiversity, organic matter, water infiltration, and storage in our soil, often get listed as the goals of regenerative farming and gardening. While they are useful indicators to track our progress with improving our growing conditions, they are the products of functioning ecosystems. We need ecosystems that work for these to improve.[1]

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

Eco-logical Rationale

The production systems we use in our farms and gardens to grow veggies, grains, pulses, fruit and nut trees and to produce meat and dairy products are no different in principle from the systems that manufacture big-screen TVs and make espresso coffee! Except they also require ecological parts to function.Model showing standard production systems

Production Systems in Manufacturing and Service Industries

Model showing food production systemsProduction Systems in Farms and Gardens

In most farms and gardens, these ecological components haven’t worked well for so long that we’ve largely forgotten about the services they naturally provide.

We are seeing the consequences of this now.

Like any production system with poorly maintained parts, our costs have gone up as the underlying problems have built up. We’re busy cultivating soil, applying fertilisers and pest controls. Trapped on a treadmill, substituting for processes the ecological components would otherwise perform. Virtually everybody does it! It has become the norm.

By way of example, by maximising plant growth for human consumption and livestock, we’ve overlooked maintaining the food supply to 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 experience. When we maintain the food supply to our soil ecosystem, our plants get ‘silver service‘ catering directly from our soil rather than our intermittent and inadequate inputs.[4]

We have also reduced our capacity to produce food when our farms and gardens are under extra strain from drought, flooding rains, extreme heat, and unusual pest and disease outbreaks, having neglected the crucial ecological components that would otherwise provide some protection.

Getting our Ecosystems Functioning Again

Understanding what we need to regenerate and how to do it eco-logically, 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! We gain the skills to develop 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.

We grow nutritious food, create ecosystems that quickly bounce back from the impacts of extreme weather, and get off the treadmill of substituting for Nature’s free ecological services. The practical act of growing food becomes a solution rather than a cause of climate change and, we have the joy of bringing Nature back into our farms and gardens.Image showing the joy of regenerative farming and gardening- Learning from Nature

Support provided by Learning from Nature in Regenerative Farming and Gardening

Suggested 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

Check out our library of videos, the ‘how-tos,’ supporting science and stories from leading farmers and gardeners.

Or get help to regenerate your garden or farm using these resources.

Image showing Learning from Nature Publications

References

[1] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, How to choose Regenerative Practices – that Work!, Learning from Nature

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

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

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

Featured image by Tom Fisk

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