Yes, you read that correctly. That’s how long it will take for all of the world’s topsoil to degrade, according to U.N. officials. To add a little salt to the wound—that was said back in 2014—so it’s likely to be in the range of 50 years now, which means we have less than 60 years left before all of the planet’s soil becomes useless for farming. “We are losing more or less 30 soccer fields of soil every minute, mostly due to intensive farming,” said Volkert Engelsman, a passionate activist working with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
The most important threats to our soil come from huge farms, including those that rely on chemical pesticides, large tillers, and other agricultural procedures that deplete the soil of nutrients. As the world’s population increases, more hungry mouths will require more of these environmentally hazardous farming practices.
However, there is hope. As the world wakes up to the importance of regenerative agriculture, more and more farmers are embracing sustainable practices that help to support the regenerative movement. Regenerative farming actually mimics nature to restore soil health by pumping nutrients back into the ground. Using natural methods like crop rotation and composting, regenerative farmers are significantly reducing their environmental impact and building healthier, richer soils. By supporting regenerative agriculture the 4.5 billion years of life on Earth may represent a very different future: one in which our land is thick with nutritious, nutrient-dense food and while acting as a built-in climate change shield (when it’s in top form, soil can actually absorb carbon and other pollutants from the ground up).
It is time to take action and make your voice heard. The regenerative movement has come a long way in the last five years—but there’s still lots more that need doing! Here is what industry insiders had to say on how YOU can help move it along:
If I could only support ventures that didn't deplete the world's soil, which ones would they be?
The idea that we should eat more regeneratively grown food is gaining momentum. A 2017 study found that 60% of people were on board with shifting their buying habits to support the food produced from regenerative agriculture. Currently, specifically in the US, some regenerative labels have been established such as nonprofit farm certifier, A Greener World (AGW), has created its Certified Regenerative label. The label seeks to provide whole-farm assurance of sustainability by carefully measuring a farm’s influence on different aspects such as water, soil, air, infrastructure, biodiversity, animal welfare, and social responsibility. AGW develops a five-year regenerative plan in collaboration with farmers that assesses risk, sets objectives, and tracks progress to maintain the credibility of the farmer.
Another well-known company, Patagonia, has helped in establishing the Regenerative Organic Certified™ program, a holistic agriculture certification that covers pastoral animal welfare, fairness for farmers and workers, and rigorous soil health and land management standards. What I really appreciate about the Regenerative Organic Certified™ program is that it is a groundbreaking new certification not just for materials, such as Patagonia’s, but also for food, textiles, and personal care products.
In 1996, Patagonia decided to use organic cotton exclusively for their clothing line. They’ve gone above and beyond by supporting, and now using, farmers in producing cotton using Regenerative Organic Certified™ farming methods.
So if you want your purchase to support sustainable practices, then make sure the first thing YOU look at when shopping isn’t just what flavor or type is available – consider whether or not it has been labeled ‘regenerative’ before purchasing!
It's not a one-size-fits-all model
Plant People’s co-founder Gabe Kennedy adds, “Regenerative agriculture is not linked to any one crop. It is a holistic approach to farming that puts soil health, animal welfare, and social justice ahead of profit for the purpose of improving the whole agricultural system.” a line of CBD products grown using regenerative practices,
This means every regenerative farm will be unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to success. To discover regeneratively grown in your region, you must get really familiar with your food source.
You will not only be supporting regenerative agriculture, but also boosting diversity
The Carbon Underground President, Larry Kopald, has announced that they will be partnering with The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), on the launch of the new Adopt-A-Meter Women in Farming program. The ASBC, a powerful force in aligning companies behind both regenerative agriculture initiatives and climate change, in collaboration with The Carbon Underground has introduced the program to the ASBC community in an effort to get companies to join. The ASBC has a union of more than 300,000 companies in the US, which means they can have a monumental impact on these types of programs. Adopt-A-Meter’s Women in Farming program will provide funding to organizations across the world supporting women-owned or run farms, as a result of the $5 a meter initiative.
Plant some supporting seeds in your area
Zach Wolf, the farm manager at Caney Fork Farms in Carthage, Tennessee, recommends trying to learn from and understand your area or the farmland nearest to you. He says that his region, Tennessee, often gets a lot of rain and substantial shade from trees. This makes it considerably easier for farms in their area to work with nature to plant crops and raise cattle than it would be for a farmer in the arid climate in a state like California.
If you don’t have a farmers market near you, you’ll probably need to talk with your local farmers or grocery store managers to get information on regenerative progress in your region.
“My best recommendation is to ask more questions and get closer to your food source,” says Lauren Tucker, executive director of Kiss the Ground, the incredibly popular Netflix documentary. The Kiss The Ground group is pushing hard for not only regenerative practices in the US, but global regeneration. Tucker and her staff put together a 30-page purchasing guide with sample questions to get you started in having these talks, which you may find here.
Even if the individual you’re speaking with isn’t familiar with regenerative practices, at least your inquiry has piqued their interest. “Tell them that the consumers are talking about regeneratively grown food because more and more farmers are starting to cultivate it,” advises Kopald. It can be your way of planting the “regenerative seeds” in your area.
While it may take a little more effort to locate regenerative food, and while it will likely cost you extra until it becomes more popular, David Karr, the co-founder of Guayakí Yerba Mate, another business that uses regenerative techniques, reminds us that “You pay now or you pay later.” If you’re able to help the regenerative sector grow, you’ll be supporting not just the planet but also your own health in the future.
“We now realize that the closer we get (literally) to biologically diverse soil, the better our immune and digestive health improves,” according to Wolf. “This would be the ultimate aim of the regenerative agricultural movement: to establish a link between land health and human health so that the final connection is made all along the chain, from soil to stomach.”
Make regenerative food a non-negotiable
So, if regenerative agriculture is so important for the planet and our health, why aren’t more people taking advantage of this regenerative movement? Many experts believe that regenerative efforts will only become mainstream when consumers demand it.
You can be one of the “demanders” of regenerative practices, contributing to a brighter future for all of us. By supporting regeneratively grown food in your area, you are taking an important step to instigate positive change and ensure that we have more than 50 years left of farming. The decisions we make can have a significant impact on the lives of generations to come. We need to start supporting the regenerative moment, immediately. Let’s start today!