What is regenerative agriculture?
The term “regenerative” refers to a process – the process of improving one’s state. With regenerative agriculture, the journey improves the state of the soil, of the ecosystem overall, of the climate, and of human health.
Regenerative agriculture is based on principles of land management which reverse current trends of degradation in soil, water and air quality by enhancing the soil ecosystem and restoring its biology. Principles of regenerative agriculture aim to draw down atmospheric carbon into soil and the aboveground biomass, helping to reverse climate change.
At the same time, they increase climate resilience in the face of drought, floods, and extreme weather events. Rebuilding soil organic matter reduces dependence on chemicals and pesticides, results in more nutrient dense food, and generates greater economic viability for farmers.
Regenerative agriculture is also about improving animal welfare, providing fairness for farmers, ranchers, and workers, and growing resilient regional ecosystems and communities.
Regenerative farming practices are guided by key regenerative principles. There are many different regenerative practices, which are distinctive and vary from one bioregion and climate to another.
Regenerative principles can be defined in many ways and generally revolve around these main foundations:
- Reduced tillage
- Soil cover
- Agroforestry and perennials
- Organic inputs
- Integrating livestock
- Water management
- Animal welfare
- Worker welfare
Why this map?
- Linking farmers and citizens
Regenerative agriculture’s benefits are far-reaching. However, at this stage, it is still challenging for consumers to know where and how to purchase regenerative products, given the available certification programs for regenerative are not yet widespread. With this map, we seek to link citizens and farmers who implement regenerative practices, in order to facilitate the search for regenerative products in a given area. By enabling the search for product categories or for specific products, and by providing transparency on which certifications the farms might have and on which practices they implement, we hope this map will be a useful search tool for citizens and will help create demand for regenerative products.
- Peer-to-peer learning
Moreover, given that regenerative practices are numerous and will vary greatly depending on many contextual factors, that many farmers are currently undergoing a transition, and that resources to facilitate knowledge-transfer on regenerative practices are often lacking depending on the area, having a tool to help farmers learn from one another on best practices can be a great help to facilitate the transition. Our map therefore also seeks to facilitate peer-to-peer learning between farmers. By facilitating the search per type of regenerative practice, farmers will be able to see which other farmers are implementing similar practices in Canada or in their area, and to get in touch with one another to exchange tips.
- Storytelling and awareness
Lastly, through this storytelling about Canadian regenerative farmers’ practices and observations, and by showcasing them as humans and displaying photos of their life on the farm, we hope to draw attention to the important work that farmers are doing on the ground. In other words, we wish to showcase success stories of regenerative agriculture in Canada, and to put to light the human beings who are behind this movement, in order to raise awareness about the concept of regenerative agriculture and the great work they do.
- Accelerating adoption
All these objectives contribute to the overarching objective of this map, which is to accelerate adoption of regenerative practices in Canada, in order to mitigate climate change, enhance resilience, improve the quality of waterways, and increase nutritional quality of foods.
Our map features two layers that can each be active or inactive when using the map. These layers graphically represent Indigenous and colonial geographical and socio-political understandings of Turtle Island/Canada.
The first layer, which is automatically selected upon arriving on the map, is a visual representation of the Indigenous Territories across the country. This important addition to the project has been made possible thanks to our friends at Native-Land.ca. Indigenous peoples in Canada have been stewarding and regenerating these lands since time immemorial. Regenerative practices are grounded in these Indigenous stewardship customs. Regeneration Canada feels it is essential that any graphical representation of regenerative farming also include representation of the original regenerators.
The second layer is a representation of watersheds and waterways flowing across the continent. Soil and water are inextricably linked. Water gives life to soil, and soil gives structure to water. Water traverses socio-political boundaries, connecting the land and consequently, the peoples of those lands.
How does it work?
This map is not meant to be an agricultural certification of regenerative farming. The information displayed is information shared by our farmers, according to their journey of regenerating the land.
Each farmer who would like to be on the map fills in a detailed form explaining what products they offer, and which regenerative practices are used on their farm. Before signing up, all farmers are invited to adhere to regenerative principles and to commit to improving and protecting the land on which they farm.
Our team then connects with each farmer to review all the details submitted and have a conversation on what it means for them to be regenerative.