Regenerative Agriculture in 2020
Regenerative Agriculture is best described as a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. Regenerative Agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil and above ground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation.
Regenerative agriculture is something that will become more and more prevalent in our way of living, as we shift to more regenerative practices in farming, food production, food waste and biodiversity as a whole.
2020 has encouraged consumers to look beyond the supermarket giants as a means for food supply. Consumers have had to adapt to food shortages and changes in the "system" whereby they have grown comfortable with ordering direct from local, sustainable farms during the pandemic, the beginning of a shake-up of our food supply generally.
The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of our intricate global food system. Border closures have led to the loss of migrant labor, meaning unharvested crops have been dumped or fed to animals. Tougher border restrictions have disrupted supplies. For consumers, shopping trips are now characterised by uncertainty and lengthy queues.
In some countries, this is prompting shoppers to experiment with ordering direct from smaller local farms and food producers. In the United Kingdom, for example, YouGov research found that, since the pandemic began, 3 million people had ordered a vegetable box or ordered direct from a farm for the first time. Box scheme operators are reporting unprecedented demand.
A similar boom has been reported in Germany, according to Bavarian news outlet BR24, while in France, demand for “les drives fermiers,” a scheme that allows people to order direct from local farms, has reportedly quadrupled in some regions since the crisis.
Farms to Feed Us is a British not-for-profit organisation that is helping farmers, fishers and other food producers quickly pivot to a consumer-facing model, with the ultimate goal of establishing a more sustainable food supply chain. Founded by Cathy St Germans, a proponent of regenerative agriculture, the organisation lists more than 250 businesses around the United Kingdom, many of which use regenerative or biodynamic principles.
The same trend is evident in the United States, whereby there has been an increase in community farming projects and individuals who are investing directly in sustainable and regenerative farms.
Why it's interesting?
The pandemic is nudging us to consider how we can build greater resilience into our food system, reducing the miles from “farm to fork.” This could accelerate the growth of regenerative agriculture and food distribution. This much anticipated cultural and structural shift will continue to gather speed as consumers are becoming more comfortable with the direct to consumer model, helping to build a resilient, sustainable and distributed agricultural systems.
Over the next decade we will see a huge shift in consumer trends, not only in agriculture but also toward a more own able model whereby individuals will start taking food production into their own hands via home grown and urban farming practices. As new tech drives this change, using hydroponic and aquaponic methods, it's also driven by consumption, we cannot keep up with demand and consumption.
The ability to have a small farm at home to save on food costs for fruits and vegetables where they can be organically grown is priceless.