Sunday, July 1, 2018

Regenerative agrihoods and productive landscapes

I'm currently following a story (recently covered by NHPR) about a proposal and neighbors' reactions around small-scale cattle grazing as a practice of restorative agriculture. There's a piece of land in Peterborough, NH, down the road from me, that was conserved some time ago and has since declined in quality due to inactive management. Stan Fry has proposed introducing a small herd of Belted Galloways, which would actively improve soil quality, biodiversity, and carbon sequestration, as well as keep and enhance the cultural and aesthetic landscape that has always been so important to the people of the town. To me, Stan's proposal seems well-based in sound science and experience, and I am hopeful that residents will take the time to become informed about restorative agriculture, contemplate the potential benefits, and make reasonable efforts to move in that direction.

I'm especially interested in the possibilities for a regenerative agrihood, which is something I've been dreaming about for years - at least since my Master's experience, when I developed projects around intentional community, citizen participation, and farm- and garden-based education. Being involved in various capacities with local food systems over the years (community and workplace gardening, local food coalition leadership, service learning, participatory research) has deepened my appreciation for the complexity involved in decisions around land and local food systems. Socially and ecologically, there are so many factors to think about, as the debate in the Peterborough community demonstrates.

For most folks, agrihoods and regenerative agriculture are novel concepts. So, here are a few resources I suggest for moving the conversation forward:

Agrihoods: Development-Supported Agriculture
National Center for Appropriate Technology, 2016

Growing Local: A Community Guide to Planning for Agriculture and Food Systems
Julia Freedgood & Jessica Fydenkevez
American Farmland Trust & Growing Connections

Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers
Mark Shepard, 2018

How Agrihood Communities Are Taking The Farm-To-Table Trend To A Whole New Level
Cammy Pedroja, Healthyway, 2018

Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life
David Montgomery, 2017

Letters to a Young Farmer
Eliot Coleman, 2017

The Resilient Farm and Homestead
Ben Falk, 2013

Videos and webinars on grazing management by Sarah Flack

If you're local, what are your thoughts on the proposal? If you have experience with agrihoods or similar developments elsewhere, what questions or possibilities would you suggest for folks in Peterborough to consider? Connect with me.