As the conversation around climate issues intensifies, it has become more and more apparent that responsible farming practices play a major role in drawing down carbon and slowing climate change. The phrase “Regenerative Agriculture” has been used to describe some of these agricultural practices and while the phrase has garnered a lot of attention in the natural products industry recently, we’ve also seen it generate some confusion.
A simple internet search provides a good, general definition of what it means to be regenerative: “Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services.”
At Good Earth, we believe that any system claiming to be regenerative must have the ongoing health of the soil as a core practice and priority, and must begin with the removal of chemical pesticide/herbicide inputs.
We view the following systems as regenerative:
Organic Certification- The standards detailed in our National Organic Program (NOP) were largely developed by farmers and certifiers who strived to create an agricultural system that not only limited chemical inputs that affected our foods, but also accounted for the health of the soil. The NOP details a number of soil-building requirements including the use of cover crops, crop rotations, manure, and compost additions. As the body of research around organic grows, it reveals ways in which we can utilize the organic system to do even more good. Through their interactions with organic farmers and producers, organic certifiers are in the unique position to push organic standards even further. Additionally, if we could improve the availability and affordability of beneficial organic inputs, like compost, it would greatly improve organic farmers’ ability to sequester more carbon through agriculture.
Biodynamic Certification- Biodynamic farmers are organic farmers that view their farm as one integrated, living organism and take a holistic approach to managing the individual elements of their farm like soil, plants, and animals. In day-to-day practice, the goal of biodynamic farming is to create a farm system that is minimally dependant on imported materials and instead meets its needs from the living dynamics of the farm itself.
Regenerative Organic Certification- Before qualifying for Regenerative Organic Certification, a product must first be certified organic consistent with U.S. NOP requirements. Regenerative Organic Certification also includes provisions for pasture-based animal welfare, fairness to farmers and workers, and robust requirements for soil health and land management. Regenerative Organic Certification recently launched a pilot certification program.
While the practices outlined in these certifications are all viable solutions to improving the sustainability of our food system, Good Earth has and will continue to be focused on organic certification as our fundamental quality standard.