I was able to visit Soil Born Farms for their Regenerative Ag Farm Tour yesterday and it was amazing to see the diversity of techniques and habitats they are creating. In their plans are agroforestry with native oaks and elderberry, and native grasslands with grazing. Soil Born is abuzz with activity and you can see the volunteers weeding the garlic beds and different groups mulching and attending other classes – I recommend a visit and using their classes to learn how to best grow food in your own yardscape.
Founder Shawn Harrison explained how they are converting weedy fields to permanent annual beds by limiting disturbance, cycling cover crops with solarization, and adding biology such as compost full of microorganisms and mycorrhizae. They are regenerating the soil so it continues to improve and become more productive as they add the biological inputs. It’s a huge contrast to the conventional agriculture you see where plowed fields kill all the microorganisms along with the plantlife and expose the soil to the elements, then add chemical fertilizers to get crops to grow in the sterile medium. Kiss the Ground movie is a great primer.
There’s a parallel in our urban fabric. Most of our region is auto-based suburbs and strip malls that lack life and vibrancy, just like those empty fields you see exposed to the sun. Our task with Sacramento National Park City is to regenerate the region by adding nature and life. It means planting trees and adding gardens, reducing paving and making opportunities for walking and biking, and adding art and creativity. It’s incremental and everyone can play a part, and in the end we can live in a place filled with diverse nature and art where exploring is a joy – just like that rich soil Soil Born is growing delicious veggies in. Our first big initiative is starting up in April with a Festival to celebrate all the great things to explore in the region and we’ll regenerate from there. Stay tuned!