It's a most welcome time a year when spring is around the corner and we get a first thaw from winter. On those first warm days this week, Dan and I were turbo-ing outside creating a new, homemade table for the Copia Farm Store and pruning the strawberries. Wanting to shed heavy, winter garb early, I recently switched from boots to barefoot shoes. Although this is not how most people would wear them I'm sure, it's been exhilarating to trek around the farm with wet, nearly barefoot feet. Sun shining above, hands deep in the still resting earth, feet bouncing in puddles and around curvy terrain.
"Regenerative Spring" is what comes to mind. "Regenerative," meaning to regrow new tissue to replace lost or injured tissue; reformed or reborn; or in the case of farming: practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.
Regenerative is a term we often use here, but is not one that I ever hear come up in passing conversations. I wonder why, since it is all connected; what we eat, the season we're in; our physical health and mental wellbeing.
Spring - the return of longer sunny days, new growth, production, energy, freshness
Ourselves in Spring - stirring after winter's rest, getting more energy, the desire to get outdoors more, wanting to do more, optimism for the year. Being recharged and up for adventure, work, and happy times spent with loved ones
Our Regenerative Farm System - What has been fertilized last year by all the animals has mostly been decomposed over winter and is now brightening up with new life. There is more carbon in our soils that has been pulled down from the atmosphere since last year. The life in our farm soil has also grown: trillions and trillions of microscopic healthy organisms in a dance with the root systems of countless plants feeding plants nutrients and receiving sugars from the plants' root systems. Green grass is already growing in areas the animals have tended.
Chickens ate, scraped, played and pooped on the right. New grass is growing early, old dead thatch has been removed, and the area on the right has been regenerated via healthy farm practices.
These little blades popping up will turn into massive fields of greens for our chickens. The chickens will voraciously feed off the grasses and bugs, leaving feathers, manure, and dust in their wake, further regenerating the fields for next year's growing cycle.
Walking about we can also see the effects of pigs in the forest. They have knocked small trees down, making way for strong big trees to grow long lives. They've pruned creeping vines that otherwise often choke trees. They've let in sunlight, eating/killing off understory brush, and allowed fresh, green fertilized grass to pop up as well, stitching up otherwise bare soil that would otherwise erode.
Do you feel connected to spring this year? This special time of recharge, health, and growth? "Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are" is a quote I come back to again and again, first reading it years ago in Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma. Eating from a regenerative system feeds and informs your internal system. It took so long for me to eat from a regenerative system - "I eat the best from the health food stores, what else is there? I have this or that diet, isn't that the best? I don't want to cook all my meals!" All of these ideas were understandable, given the food landscape in today's world. However, now years into this, I can feel how even one meal out sets my internal systems back for days at a time.
If a degenerative food system enters a restaurant meal or packaged food at every point - from industrial seed oils that wreck the gut lining, GMO's that wreck the gut lining, pesticides and herbicides that wreck the gut lining, sugar that feeds destructive flora in the gut, how can our systems regenerate health? How does our mind feel peace, clarity, and energy for meaningful work?
What else do we have in these uncertain times but to eat well, enjoy simplicity, connect with loved ones and the land? Cheers to fortifying all systems - food, health, land, family, community, and beyond!