What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word: sustainable? How about the word: regenerative? Do you view the two words as interchangeable?
For many, the word sustainable brings to mind the concepts of reusing, reducing, and recycling materials in household use. In some cases, businesses have adopted policies and procedures over the years that address these concepts as well. Is it enough? How do those practices create sustainability? They are worthy practices to consider and participate in, but do we need to do more?
I invite you to consider a paradigm shift in thinking. Close your eyes. Think about the word regenerative and what comes to mind?
Every time I hear the word regenerative, I think of the four seasons, the natural cycle of life, and the beginnings and endings of each day. The word POTENTIAL comes to mind. There is so much potential for positive change when we allow the natural order of things to occur. If you walk out into a forrest that has not seen human footprints in years, you will be able to see that older trees have died, fallen, and started to degrade into earthy material among their own leaves once again. You will see living things sprouting up in or near the fallen tree. Wildlife may have taken up residence within the hallows of the dead tree. That wildlife likely has reproduced several times over since the last human passed through. As the wildlife forages for food, it spreads seeds where more plant life will emerge. As the seasons change, the land and the wildlife change too. The end of each day brings with it a hope of the new day. This is such a gorgeous illustration that my mind paints when I think of regeneration.
Do you think about these things now that you are an adult? If not, did you think about these things when you were a child? If so, do you know the point in your life when that connection to the cycles of life faded? Can you pinpoint it?
What happens when we stop thinking about regeneration? What happens when we don't allow ourselves and our children time to just take it all in and learn from our surroundings? How are we, as humans, affected by regeneration?
When we stop thinking about, acknowledging, and making it a priority to validate and support regeneration, we allow ourselves the possibility of becoming disconnected with nature. It is my hope that reading that line causes you to pause for a moment. Is this an area of your life that could be improved? I am a work in progress, but have made a commitment to myself and my family to practice the art of noticing and paying attention to nature and its patterns.
Regenerative practices play a big role in our food system. Do your kids know where their food comes from? Is it a topic that is often discussed in a home? How about at school? Digging deeper, do you, as an adult, truly know where your food comes from? You may know that apples grow on trees and onions in the ground, but do you truly know where your food comes from? What would happen if you could meet the farmers and producers that grew your food and you could shake their hands and smile in person every time you picked up your food? Would that build community and trust? What would it mean to a small farmer if you offered a bit of your time and expertise to help them out with a project on occasion? And, can you imagine how beautiful of a gesture it would be if you invited a neighbor to take part as well. You could help regenerate a community by just one or two simple acts.
What has happened over the last 60+ years? Why the disconnect? So many adults and children do not truly know where their food comes from. Do you view this as a concern? If so, would you like to know why it happened and how to quickly turn the tide? Take part in workshops and events here on our farm, and buy farm fresh products from us and other small farmers. This is going to take an "all hands on deck" approach, but Hills of Milk and Honey family, we can do this together!
Our society, as a whole, has become very busy. Social media has replaced many human-to-human interactions. Online ordering has replaced chatting with local store owners. Curbside grocery pick-up has replaced us even picking out our own vegetables and fruits at the grocery store. Our society has moved in the direction of automation and efficiency for some time, and during this transition, we've drifted a bit away from reality. (Disclaimer: no judgement here, I have an Amazon account like most of the rest of you, too.) These practices are not, in and of themselves, unworthy practices. Striving for a balance is key here.
The reality is that farming has become big business. This means small farms that have tried to hang on, provide a sense of community, and produce high-quality, nutrient-dense foods, have been swallowed up. The average age of the American farmer is 58 years old. This should SCARE us all! For every 6 farmers over age 65, there is only one farmer under age 35 to take their place. This means that in the next 15 years, the majority of agricultural land will change ownership. Why should this scare us all? I am glad you asked! ;-) We need to grow farmers! Not just any farmers, though. We need to grow farmers committed to regenerative practices. And, here at Hills of Milk and Honey, we are committed to doing just that.
Monocropping, the method of growing just one crop on a large scale, over and over, and over on the same land, while tilling in-between harvests, robs the land of the ability to regenerate and build up healthy soils full of minerals needed to continue to produce nutrient-dense food. It does not allow the opportunity for deep roots from perennials to grow into the soil and draw down carbon. Nature does not do this!! Let me say that again. Nature does not do this!!!!!
If we take a few moments, to look at the natural order of life cycles in nature, we will see abundant diversity. This is because nature knows best to to remain healthy. Whoa! If you are local to the Dripping Springs area, go visit Hamilton Pool, Reimer's Ranch, or other nearby parks. Take a walk and look around. Are there rows upon rows of the same plants? Nope. This is because nature knows what nutrients are needed in each soil space, and it fills that space with what is needed at that time.
As we continue to build out and invite our community to learn more about regenerative agriculture here at Hills of Milk and Honey, we hope that you will arrive with an open heart and open mind to learn something new (that really is something very, very old). We focus on learning from each other here at the farm, as we all have valuable information and insights to share. We focus on practicing regenerative grazing and cropping methods. We feel polyculture practices allow us to align ourselves as closely as possible to the natural order of life.
We invite you to join us for various camps, workshops, tours, film screenings, events and more. We are just getting started over here folks, as we just celebrated our first year on the farm, but love building community and look forward to having you grow with us on the farm!