How I would structure a regenerative agriculture beginners course.
There are many different types of courses. There are free email courses. There are YouTube courses uploaded in one video or many. There are Skill Share courses uploaded in snippets. There are live online courses. There are live in-person courses. The goal of these courses is to educate people. In looking at a few different kinds of courses and, admittedly, seeing how much passive income they can generate, I began to think about what subject I could run a short course about. Regenerative agriculture is certainly one of these subjects. Politics, complex systems and personal development are others, but I’ll focus on regenerative agriculture in this piece.
Let’s first talk about structure. We would need a beginning, middle, and end. An introduction, the meat, and the closing remarks. Introductions and closing remarks are synonymous and self-explanatory, but what would the meat of the course entail? Let’s brainstorm. Regenerative grazing, infrastructure (water and wire), integration of trees, nutrient cycling (local and global), biodiversity. At the beginning, I would like to outline a vision for what an ideal regenerative farm looks like. Then, moving through the course, we would elaborate on the different parts of this vision.
The vision. The ideal regenerative farm is whatever you make of it. A childless, full-time farmer is going to have a very different ideal farm than someone working a day-job who has three kids under the age of 10. It also depends on how much land you have, what kind of land you have, what your community is like, what your family thinks of what you’re doing. Some will only be able to make little progress because their dad runs the farm in a conventional way and thinks regenerative farming is wacky, while others may have just bought a farm and can do whatever they want. The principle here is to move towards, at whatever pace you can or want to, towards this ideal that you have in your mind. To my thinking, this is how monotheistic religions work: God is the ideal, and we all ought to work towards being more like God, at whatever pace we are able to. Where the problems come in is how different people start to define God.
Let’s get into the nuts and bolts. To me, an ideal regenerative farm is one which gives paddocks a rest time of between 30 and 60 days for my area, and stock aren’t in one paddock for more than a day or two. The paddocks and water infrastructure are suited to this kind of grazing, with high quality water and a high flow rate. Soils are covered all year round, either by lush grass or by trampled dry matter. There is a diverse mix of species in the perennial pastures. The soil itself is dark and rich in organic matter. It just feels right. We have trees planted on the ridges to advance local nutrient cycling from both stock and native wildlife. This is my vision of an ideal regenerative farm. I’d invite you to now write out your vision of a regenerative farm. Use the key concepts discussed in paragraph two of this piece to break it down (that’s what I did).
I’d also encourage you to add in other aspects of the farm that you would love to incorporate. At our farm, we are building an eco-tourism business. We have ambitions of taking eco-tours and farm tours, building accommodation, an education centre and restaurant. We would also love to use reclaimed timber to build furniture and create a nursery using only the seed stock from our native bush. Depending on how big you would like to dream, you can build something extraordinary from your regenerative farm.
This “vision” section isn’t really an introduction, is it? This is more of a second section. The introduction, to my thinking, ought to cover the simple “why” of regenerative agriculture. It should cover the climate change context, the animal health and human health context, the connection to the land and the potential for building a place worthy for future generations. I don’t think I quite anticipated how much I would have to say on each of these subjects. This could be a longer course than I imagined.
Why regenerative agriculture?
- Climate change context. We often think in terms of stopping carbon emissions, but there is a way of storing carbon in a way that benefits everyone. A true win-win-win.
- Regenerative agriculture focuses on soil health which creates plant health which creates animal health which creates human health which creates family health which creates community health which creates global health
- The technological context. Artificial intelligence appears to be taking jobs everywhere. Those jobs which are genuinely creative will be the last to be taken. Working with a complex system such as we do in regenerative agriculture is among the most genuinely creative endeavours you could imagine. Spend a year working in this context and you will understand the difficulty in designing an artificial intelligence that could solve these problems.
These three dot-points ought to be the skeleton of the first module. I’ll work on this as we go. Subscribe to the newsletter if you’re interested in how this course will be created.