In early September, a group of 18 headed out to Stuart and Megan Andrews’ Forage Farms, for the Regenerative Pasture Management workshop. Regenerative agriculture might be the catch phrase of the moment, but the ideas behind it are grounded in common sense principles that our grandparents always knew, but which have somehow pushed aside in favour of industrialised agriculture. As it finally begins to dawn on us that we are not, in fact, in charge of nature, and must work with it rather than try to bend it to our will, the information that Stuart and others like him have to share becomes as precious as the water our drying landscapes need to survive and thrive.
There are various valid farming approaches which fall under the banner of Regenerative agriculture, and Stuart is an excellent teacher of the Natural Sequence Farming method, developed by his father Peter Andrews, described in Peter’s books- Beyond the Brink, and Back from the Brink. The method focuses upon restoring the movement of water through the landscape to as close as possible to the way it once was. The movement of water across the land is slowed to give it time to absorb into the soil, rather than rush across it, taking your topsoil to the nearest waterway. Soil carbon (and therefore water holding capacity) is built by a combination of rotational grazing with mixed species, multi-species cover cropping , and wait for it – letting the weeds grow ! It does take some getting your head around, but those plants we deem undesirable and call weeds actually serve an important purpose in the landscape. The subject is both complex, and ridiculously simple at the same time. The proof, as the saying goes, is in the pudding – and Forage Farms is a terrific exemplar of the efficacy of the Natural Sequence Farming method.
For those that are interested, Forage Farms conducts regular tours (you can find them on Facebook), and for the readers, the books mentioned above are well worth your time.
Thanks Stuart and Family, for an excellent day of learning.
Maree Gillott | President