Regenerative Agriculture is about creating productive ecosystems that stabilize without constant input, making it financially profitable to grow food while rehabilitating soil. It is about creating abundance & resilience with diversity, while mimicking Nature’s pattern & working with natural forces. When something is out of balance (e.g. pest/ long grass), instead of killing it with insectide/ herbicide (whether organic or not), regenerative agriculture is about observing and seeking ways to harness this natural force as a resource (e.g. raise chickens to turn pests into eggs, allow time for wild birds to be attracted and control the pest population, have cows/sheep to mow down the grass for you). Like other regenerative farms, we design and operate our systems with permaculture, holistic management, agroforestry in mind.

At NFTI, animals are a main component and tool to our land regeneration work. We herd our sheep & goats across the forest to harvest brush foilage and turn it into milk that we harvest over the summer, meat and wool that we harvest in fall. We build controlled grazing paddocks for our pigs to move into throughout the summer and slowly convert our forest thickets into silvopasture. In Fall, our cows would be fed at the barren parts of the pasture to increase organic matter for pasture improvement at those spots.

Observation and timing are the key to working with Nature effectively: recognizing when vegetation is mature enough to be grazed/browsed, when to move the animals after sufficient disturbance made, what vegetation are preferred and consumed, etc. Aside from weather conditions, these observations include stages of vegetative growth, vegetation density, and much more. This ability to read Nature is a combination of knowing what to look for and interpreting the information appropriately, to allow us as land stewards to make decisions that will bring prosperity and abundance.

Follow our Holistic Animal Manager, Helane, and her research on her personal blog here: https://helanechan.wordpress.com/2019-2/

NFTI is a part of a global network of farm educators called the Savory Hubs. Learn more about the Savory Institute, and the Savory Hubs on our Savory page here.