Regenerative farming, also known as biological farming, describes a group of farming practices that focus on maintaining soil health and the amazing benefits that come from healthy soil. Generally, regeneration is usually associated with farming and as our environmental consciousness increases, more farmers worldwide have begun to turn their focus to regenerative farming methods.
Now on this note, the undeniable reality is that in our world today, not a lot of people can afford to own farms. In light of this fact, it is understandable for non-land owners to feel a little excluded from the conversation of regenerative farming practices. The crucial thing to remember here though is that though the concept of regeneration is based on making the soil and environment better than we found them, you don’t have to be a landowner to get on board as well.
That been said, here are 10 ways you can help regenerate the environment within which you live:
Have you ever given thought to what it might feel like to rewild your garden? No matter how big or small, there is always a place for rewilding – if you just get out of nature’s way. One of the easiest ways to regenerate the soil and environment is to let nature take its course and you can try this with your lawn every few months. Sure, lawns are tidy and can serve a function but we know they are usually planted for optics and don’t serve much use for many folks. On the other hand, plants and bushes are fun and spontaneous.
In some instances, it is even beneficial to simply lift the height of your mower, as you leave longer grass for insects and small creatures to wander in and roam around. You can go as far as letting it grow all out into a mini forest. Or you can simply specify some places that wild plants can grow and you do some pruning here and there. What’s more, if you have kids, the chances are high that they would love an outdoor mini forest to play in every now and then.
Can you already hear the birds chirping away in the early morning hours? Oh and don’t worry about your neighbors. If they complain, you can tell them that you are a budding witch and you need to grow your herbs. Kidding of course. Check your local council laws to ensure that you’re within regulations as some councils are strict with garden appearance and if so, you may wish to challenge it in the name of rewilding.
2. Plant diversity is key; gardens over lawns
Now, for whatever reason, if you can’t let your lawn grow into a forest the next best thing is to keep a garden and fill it in with as many species of plants as possible, preferably perennial natives and edibles. Everyone loves vegetable gardens; they are beautiful and more importantly, actually useful. For starters, you can grow and harvest food and in addition they create a diverse ecosystem of plants, insects and animals which all help to foster a healthy soil and environment.
From my experience though, the most important benefits of gardens over lawns is that the former creates a peculiar kind of love between you and the land. And as I wrote here, love is at the root of regeneration.
3. Avoid tilling
You might not know this but even though tilling is the most convenient and popular way of planting, it is not necessarily great for the soil. Tilling disrupts the composition of the soil . This means that organic matter in the soil often gets destroyed.
So, a better way is to drill your seeds into the soil whenever possible. This leaves the soil relatively undisturbed while ensuring that the soil maintains its integrity. It also affords the microbes a lot more chance to do their job, increases water and nutrient retention and creates more organic presence in the soil; all of which will keep building over time undisturbed.
4. Grow or buy organic
You may have heard the following: Stay away from chemical fertilisers and pesticides because even if they help your plants grow, their ‘assistance’ destroys the soil and the environment. Now even though this statement is 100% true, it’s really not realistic to expect that everyone will organically grow what they eat. What we advise is that if you can’t grow organic, make conscious efforts to buy organic. When you buy organic, you empower farmers who engage in sustainable and natural farming practices. This is very important because for instance, only about one percent of US farmlands are used for organic farming.
Buying organic makes the practice of regenerative farming more economically viable and this helps the farmers who grow organic and prioritise soil health further improve on their practices. And in most cases, these farmers have much more land than you do and so any increase in their regenerative practices will deliver a more beneficial impact to the environment. Your efforts will come full circle because through your organic shopping, you have encouraged farmers to keep growing organic all of which helps to protect the natural environment.
5. Introduce some water when you can
Be it a pond, a fountain or a bird bath, adding a water feature to your garden or yard will attract the attention of wildlife such as frogs, turtles, dragonflies, deer, birds and even insects. After all, without water there is no life.
You don’t even need to live near woodlands to experience living creatures at your watering hole. All you need to do is put a shallow pot of water outside in summer and see what happens. As a bonus, this can also be an excellent learning adventure for the little ones in your life.
6. Composting: Let the earth go back to the earth
Composting is probably the easiest and most popular action item on this list as it is simply the process of organic material decomposition. The resulting substance is called compost. Every garden benefits from the addition of compost because it supplies many of the nutrients plants need and also improves the soil’s physical characteristics.
Related Post: A Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide to Making Compost
Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
7. Cover cropping is bae
The key thing is to increase soil nutrients as much as possible and cover cropping is great at this. For starters, the plant roots of popular cover crops such as millet, sorghum, and rye, even in the off crop season, helps keep the soil aerated and prepares it for other plants.
Cover crops also protect the soil from erosion and other forms of nutrient loss. But most of all, cover crops are great at converting carbon from the atmosphere into organic matter in the soil. Cover crops in the legume family such cowpeas, alfalfa and clover are also great for converting nitrogen from the atmosphere into soil nitrogen which means reducing the need for fertilisers next crop season.
8. Plant a tree
Regeneration is about making the soil and the environment better for the future. Nothing represents this more than planting a tree. There’s a popular Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” From creating the very oxygen we breathe, to providing food and shade, to nourishing the soil, trees are the MVPs of the environment. The best practice here is to find the right tree that suits your location and environment.
Plant fruit trees and nut trees that not only serve to feed you, but offer a tempting plate to nature as well. If you don’t have the space for a tree, plant perennials. Those that provide shelter, such as raspberry and blackberry canes for birds. If you live in an urban environment and tree planting is inaccessible to you, then the next best is to donate to tree planting and other like-minded organisations in your region that will plant trees on your behalf.
9. Embrace animal integration
For as long as agriculture has been around, humankind raised animals for food in addition to growing crops. This is good practice and is even better for the soil when they are done together. Even if you don’t own a farm or ranch and just have a simple yard, adding bird houses, building ponds and simple bee hotels or just leaving hollow logs out will encourage animals to enter or live in your outdoor space.
The animals here can range from fish to chickens to cattle and the idea here is for the animals to graze on the farmland after the annual crop harvest. The animals will quicken the preparation of the soil for the next farming season through their droppings as fertiliser as well as aeration of the soil, and you can observe from a distance or up close and appreciate the work of other living beings.
10. Volunteer or join an environmental organisation
Finally, a great way to contribute to regeneration is to join an organisation that is focused on it. While it might be difficult for you to discover and sustain regenerative practices in your neighborhood, organisations often have such systems already in place.
Organisations such as Kiss the Ground and Regeneration International are examples of environmental organisations dedicated to regeneration. To find local organisations just do a quick online search to bring up a list of them and check out their websites. Go through their mission statements carefully. Reach out to them via email or social media with questions you have and if their mission aligns with yours, participate in their activities and take these learnings with you so that you may serve to inspire your family and networks to live more consciously.
Enjoyed this post? Share with your networks!
- 10 Ways to Style Your Indoor Space with Plants, Flowers and Greenery
- 18 Plastic-Free Gardening Tips for the Eco-Conscious Gardener
- Regenerative Sustainability: The New Frontier in the Sustainability Movement
- A Guide to Free Online Courses on Sustainability and Permaculture
- Gardening In A (Really) Tiny Apartment
- A Guide to the Best Dried Flowers and Plants to Decorate Your Sustainable Home
- How to Be a Fashion Activist During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- 10 Practical Tips for Zero Waste Gardening
Cover image by Ivan Bandura.