Visiting regenerative farms in your area can allow you to learn more about sustainable farming practices, participate in field experiences, and strengthen your connection to the community.
One Planet Life recently visited with owner Lisa McCrory of Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel, Vermont. Before it was called regenerative farming or agriculture, which follows long-established, traditional farming practices of raising animals and growing crops in a way that supports life systems in soil and water systems, Lisa and her late partner Carl Russell created a small, regenerative homestead farm. Twenty years ago, they incorporated a relationship philosophy of earth, plants, and animals, coupled with passionate holistic living and a love for their children, farm, and community. Their mission is “to grow healthy, vibrant food and forest products for our customers and ourselves by following the principles of Holistic Management.” The farm is also certified by Vermont Organic Farmers and the Real Organic Project.
Sharing knowledge and experience builds relationships.
On her homestead, McCrory and her children happily engage and present their knowledge of small-scale agronomy and agroforestry by using regenerative organic old-world farming methods, growing trees and shrubs in combination with planting sustainable crops, raising farm animals, foraging, and building relationships in the community simultaneously.
Earthwise Farm and Forest uses a variety of farming practices to manage their farm.
- Practicing animal husbandry, where a small number of selective farm animals are raised for meat, milk, yogurt, and eggs in environmentally and humanely managed ways.
- Employing no-till or medium-till practices so the ground can retain biodiversity and healthy microbiome life.
- Rotating crop and farm animal grazing on the farm which involves mapping out a schedule where crops and animals are rotated on the land to help produce healthier and more fertile soils.
- Planting cover crops to fertilize and organically add nitrogen back into the soil, attract pollinators, and assist in pest control.
- Preserving, protecting, and sustaining clean water conservation from rain, melting snow, and agricultural runoff into nearby marshes, swamps, and watersheds.
- Composting waste to divert organic matter from going into overcrowded landfills. Composted materials break down through decomposition and oxidation, turning waste into nutrient-rich mulch.
- Understanding how soil is the foundation connecting life systems together, including bacteria, fungi, worms, nematodes, insects, and root systems. This includes management and minimization of the soil, such as adding mulch, an organic process that helps improve the soil’s ability to absorb and retain moisture and increases the soil’s nutrients to develop strong, vibrant, and tasteful plants. Mulch also increases nitrogen in the soil, which helps to capture carbon and retain it in the earth, which in turn helps to reduce harmful carbon in our atmosphere.
- Interacting with the community in a positive way, and sharing essential resources, skills, and hard work. When the community learns about the benefits of small regenerative farming and supports farming efforts, they can joyfully celebrate the fruits of their labor by consuming fresh meat and locally sourced produce, which is packed with nutrients that more effectively nurtures our bodies in mind, body, and spirit. A win-win for all!
The outcome of an idea formed the non-profit Draft Animal Power organization.
Years ago, McCrory and Russell hosted a roundtable discussion with highly skilled individuals, sharing and exchanging knowledge on using draft animal power with modifications. That roundtable discussion has grown over the past four years to an event where 800 to 1000 individuals participate at a nearby fairground each fall.
Experts in the field gather and hold panel discussions and exchange their knowledge, experiences, and best practices in caring for and using horses, oxen, and mules in horse logging as a power source on the farm and forest. In this way, farmers have been able to balance old-fashioned farming techniques used for over 150 years by the Amish/Mennonite communities with more modern technology. The Amish and Mennonites have very innovative equipment for today’s time, and there is much farmers can learn from them.
McCrory and her family inspire hope, creativity, and love in sustainable farming methods.
Passing sustainable farming practices to our younger generations helps them to understand land degradation and soil eradication, water shortages, contamination of pollutants in the water and air, loss of biodiversity, extreme weather, and how an increasingly warming climate is harming our food, water resources, and health.
Visiting regenerative farms in your area can allow you to learn more about sustainable farming practices, participate in field experiences, and strengthen your farm’s connection to the community. As concerned caretakers for our planet, we can incorporate regenerative practices in our lives to reduce our carbon footprint through traditional principles and technology and share the benefits of regenerative farming with others.
If you are interested in learning more about ecological farming practices, you can connect with a host in the United States at World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA or join in AgriTourism. Earthwise Farm and Forest also offers workshops and consulting on their website.
To keep the conversation going, check out our One Planet Life app to get started on your journey; together, we can make a difference by finding and sharing small ways to change and reduce our footprint.