What Does “Regenerative Agriculture” Mean to You?

Women Workin in Fields - Coop Coffees

We asked that question to a handful of leaders, growers and thinkers from around the world. Here are a few of their thoughts.

“Regenerative agriculture, based on our Andean experience, is the direct relationship with life. It gives life back to Mother Earth, provides food that connects with every aspect of human beings and their communities, and changes human attitudes so they can be in harmony with Pachamama. Regenerative agriculture means complete sustainability of life under different names: ancestral natural agriculture, ecological, alternative, organic. It is growing diversity in small farms; it is building trust between producers and consumers in combination with ancestral knowledge and technology, all for the conservation of a natural balance.”
– Juan Patricio Pilco Hipo (Ecuador),
Founder and leader of Dressing the Mountains in Green


“Regenerative organic agriculture means that farming practices improve soil health, human health and the greater well-being of our communities and environment with each passing crop cycle. Instead of using the chemical treadmill of pesticides, genetically modified seeds and fossil fuel-derived fertilizers, regenerative agriculture increases beneficial fungi and microorganisms, sequesters carbon and organic matter underground, and results in more nutrient-dense, resilient and pest-, disease- and drought-resistant crops. The concept itself is rooted in modern organic farming but hearkens back to biodynamic methods developed a century ago by Rudolf Steiner and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer of Germany. It is the way forward for agriculture.”
– Errol Schweizer (U.S.),
board member of Demeter USA


“To me, regenerative agricultural systems are those that keep giving: to the soil, to our climate, to humans and to all forms of life. They do so with a continuous awareness that we do not have ‘Planet B,’ and therefore we cannot afford to sabotage the soil’s natural role as a resource base for climate wellness, all forms of life and human well-being.”
– Precious Phiri (Zimbabwe),
Training Coordinator at the Africa Center for Holistic Management (ACHM)


“While certified organic is a solid foundation, we know that the true gold standard is regenerative organic agriculture, the type of farming that can do more than produce food that meets a minimum standard; it can improve the resources it uses for generations to come. True regenerative organic agriculture unites soil health, carbon sequestration, animal welfare and farmworkers’ rights in a holistic system that encourages continual innovation for environmental, social, economic and spiritual well-being.”
– Jeff Moyer (U.S.),
Executive Director of the Rodale Institute


“Over the millions of years of our Earth’s evolution, a number of essential cycles were created: the water cycle, the energy cycle, the mineral cycle, the microbial cycle, the carbon cycle, and others. Over the last eighty years, however, we have industrialized, commoditized and centralized the production of our food. These changes were implemented to make our food cheap and abundant, and they were wildly successful in accomplishing these things. But the unintended consequences were the degradation of our land, air and water – and the erosion of the welfare of our livestock and the impoverishment of rural communities. Now, the unintended consequences are being noticed. Enlightened consumers have made the decision to pay farmers more for their food in an effort to change production practices to be more regenerative, humane and fair.”
– Will Harris (U.S.),
fourth-generation cattleman at White Oak Pastures


“Regenerative agriculture asks us how to evolve the capacity of all the members of an agro-ecosystem, from soil microbes to customers of a grocery store. As below, so above. What are the business relationships that mimic what we know builds soil and grows healthy foods?”
– Gregory Landua (U.S.),
CEO of Terra Genesis International


“We are all taught in school that energy flows downhill, toward greater entropy, a lower energy state and disintegration. But that is only true for dead systems. Modern agriculture is mainly based on dead systems that are killing the planet and us. Living systems and regenerative agriculture are the opposite. Regenerative farms are largely self-sufficient, using the sun to power the biological engine made up of the species on site – and pushing the energy uphill toward more productive, thriving systems where life begets more life.”
– David Gould (U.S.),
North American Representative and Program Facilitator at ‎International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)


“For me, regenerative agriculture is a model where we all have a place. That is, it is a way to recreate community with every living being around us, from the smallest microorganism to the largest tree. It is a conscientious production process, where we think through all of our decisions to give and to take. But above all, it is equitable and inclusive agriculture which embraces, which integrates, and which is, as the Zapatistas say, ‘para todos todo,’ everything for everyone. A world where we all have a place!”
– Azucena Cabrera (Mexico),
Farm School Director at Vía Orgánica


“Regenerative agriculture is farming with natural ways that has no adverse environmental effects. It promotes soil enrichment and conservation with ecological balance and self-supportive farming systems.”
– Sudarshan Chaudhary (Nepal),
Founder and Director of Spiral Farm House

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