“You have to be blue before you’re green and black” meaning you need water before you can grow vegetation and get cash flow, and you need water before you can be profitable and put some carbon into storage in the soil.
Darren Doherty of Heenan Doherty & Regrarians.org joins me from Australia to talk about the regrarian philosophy that he has put together and how it can be used to regenerate landscapes and farming enterprises.
This is a system that borrows and includes tools from multiple disciplines like permaculture, keyline design, the transition movement, carbon farming, and the work of of people like Joel Salatin, Paul Stamets, and Dr. Elaine Ingham. These tools give you the ability to design a system that ultimately regenerates land while producing numerous agricultural products. The system deals with everything from the work done on the land to how you can synergistically stack multiple enterprises in the same system, and ultimately how to market and distribute those products to the people that actually want them. The system emphasizes participating in all 4 legs of the farm income stool – production, processing, marketing, and distribution. This allows you to be a market price setter, not a price receiver.
If you are involved in an agricultural enterprise, or if you want to be involved in an agricultural enterprise, then you need to pay attention to the regrarian system and learn this information. The current status quo of agriculture isn’t working; it isn’t sustainable, it’s degenerative. The regarian system IS regenerative. And it gives you the tools to produce the products that the consumers ultimately want, all while living the farming lifestyle that you want to live. It won’t be easy, and it will be hard work, but hey that’s farming. And I think farmers that farm in systems like this have fun and enjoy their life because they can make good living while restoring the land.
Get ready, this episode is dense. There is a lot of great, practical, actionable advice it this episode. I tried to keep the “Key Takeaways” list short, but I failed, there was just too much good information. So here is a snippet of that information, but it’s just a snippet, there is so much more in the audio.
Key Takeaways from this Episode:
- Focus on the needs of the consumer, cater to those needs, and then connect with the consumer.
- Produce a product that the consumer really wants. And then market that product to the customer base that really wants that product. It has never been easier with tools like social media.
- Start with a business plan, do market research, and begin by testing out enterprises.
- You don’t have to be a producer. Find an opportunity in the legs of the chair (processing, marketing, distribution) to support a producer. You can use mobile infrastructure to service multiple producers. Think mobile wine bottler or portable sawmill.
- Plan wisely in the beginning, giving yourself flexibility to adjust going forward. Don’t pigeon hole yourself and commit too much to one system.
- The time in the beginning is crucial. It is during this time that we start hydrating the landscape, storing carbon in the soil and build soil, and get perennials going.
- Focus on getting few key enterprises up and running smoothly in the beginning, while keeping an eye on the whole picture. It is those early enterprises that will create the cash flow that allow you to monetize the future resource base.
- Don’t push yourself too far beyond your capacity. Too many people try to take on too much. There is no sense of creating a project list that you will never complete even half of.
- Don’t spend beyond your means. Too many people blow a lot of money in the beginning on crap that they don’t need. Darren stresses David Holmgren’s philosophy of voluntary frugality.
- Consider pigs and chickens to start a system. They have a quick turn around to get cash flow going and they are omnivores which gives you more options for feed.
Darren’s Regen10 (THE LINK):
Concerns the various climates of an enterprise, be they Human or Biospheric. Effectively these climates create ‘the rules of the game’ in the application of the Regen10.
The ‘board game’ in the Regen10. The Geography of a place implies it place in the region along with the physical elements with which it interacts and includes topography, demography & geology.
The water an enterprise has available to it is relatively fixed. We should be concerned with how we make the best use of what’s available and use the Climate & Geography (& capital) as best we can in order to maximize the use of this critical resource.
Roads, Tracks & Lanes are very permanent features in landscapes. Their placement defines our movement and should integrate the all of the elements we use these connective pathways with.
Perennial woody plant systems are vital, productive and overarching elements in any landscape. Their assemblies can be complex in their outcomes & their placement is critical to support & provide for other systems.
An array of structures on any holding are necessary to make the artificial sedentary production systems that humans call agriculture possible. Placement and design should follow that of other elements especially Climate, Geography, Water & Access.
How we subdivide our landscapes should follow the lines of other more permanent elements. We should concentrate our efforts on using the most flexible of fencing infrastructure in order to accommodate the changing opportunities and yields that occur in the landscape.
Easily destroyed and fortunately easily created, soils are the foundation to the economy of life. Management is the critical to the development & maintenance of soils. The soil’s protection is enhanced by considering other elements, particularly Water, Forestry & Fences.
The analysis of the market & access to it has never been easier. The difficulty remains in the terms of trade, particularly with regards compliance, though slowly the tide is turning as humans are incredibly enterprising, adaptable & difficult to quell.
Nothing is as fleeting as a photon of light and the primary role of humanity must be to enhance photosynthesis at every opportunity & encourage its positive side-effects, with nearly all energy system that humans access originating from the sun.
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The Upcoming Books:
- Regrarian Handbook (2015)
- Regrarian Pocketbook (2015)
- Regrarian Manual (2016/2017)
More information about Darren Doherty, Regarians, and Heenan Doherty:
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