Sitting down to chat live with The Nature Conservancy's Michael Doane to talk about one of the hottest buzzwords -- regenerative agriculture -- gives us a lot of insight into how sustainability is shifting. Consumers, with the best intentions at heart, are presented with this idea that regenerative ag is "better than organic" without the context of knowing that there are 250+ definitions of what the term regenerative agriculture even is.
Michael works for The Nature Conservancy as their managing director of agriculture and food systems, but he came to that organization through farming. He grew up on a family farm, worked for the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, and spent years at Monsanto. Michael doesn't just know about farming, he's been a farmer and still joins his family in the operation when he can. And this gives him a unique perspective within environmental groups to help him bridge the gap and to help us understand the nuance of regenerative agriculture.
This session was riveting. Michael helped us understand the differences between conservation and regeneration and how that applies to different farms across the US and the world. He talked through the concepts of natural capital and social capital and why both are so important to the livelihoods of people living in farming communities. We also learned why maybe it's okay to have different definitions of what regenerative means on farms with vastly different climates, environments and needs, and why it's so important for farmers to share the steps they are taking to help their soil, watersheds, and more. Having people who really get it participating in the conversations with others matters too.
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