Planted Places offers organic container gardening subscriptions for growing leafy greens, herbs and seasonal veggies. We’re also the makers of the innovative Planted Wall, a vertical gardening system on wheels! One of the best parts of growing with Planted Places is incorporating Regenerative Agriculture practices at home. Keep reading to learn why this principle is essential for growing healthy food and fighting climate change.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative Agriculture focuses on restoring the soil. In 2017, a hundred experts from around the world, including professionals in food production, manufacturing, retailing and soil science, agreed on a definition of Regenerative Agriculture. Researchers at The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative at California State University (CSU), Chico and The Carbon Underground co-authored the definition.
“Regenerative Agriculture is an approach to farm and ranch management that aims to reverse climate change through practices that restore degraded soils. By rebuilding soil organic matter and soil biodiversity we significantly increase the amount of carbon that can be drawn down from the atmosphere while greatly improving soil fertility and the water cycle. Practices involved in Regenerative Agriculture include no-till/minimum tillage techniques, the use of cover crops, crop rotations, compost, and animal manures, the inoculation of soils with composts or compost extracts to restore soil microbial activity, and managed grazing.
Regenerative Agriculture isn’t new—indigenous people have used regenerative farming practices for hundreds of years. But it’s critical now because it can help mitigate climate change.
Why is Restoring Soil Important?
Much of the planet’s topsoil, which is necessary for growing food, has been destroyed by industrial farming methods, and we can’t grow food in unhealthy soil. Experts say that we have 60 harvests left. But wait a minute. Isn’t dirt all around us? It sure is, but you can only grow plants in the right kind of dirt (i.e., soil). Soil can sustain life because it contains living organisms, including microbes, bacteria and fungi.
Those organisms are what provide plants with the nutrients they need to grow. The microbes break down organic matter and, in the process, release nutrients into the soil in a form that plants can use. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are key plant nutrients. In other words, to grow healthy food, we need loads of healthy soil.
How Regenerative Agriculture Curbs Climate Change
Regenerative Agriculture practices improve soil health and curb climate change. How? Plants use sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to create oxygen and energy, During this process, also known as photosynthesis, plants remove carbon from the atmosphere by storing it in the soil, Excess carbon from burning fossil fuels heats the earth, so sequestering it in the soil through Regenerative Agriculture will help cool our planet.
Protecting Land from Desertification
Another important thing about healthy soil is that it retains water. Drought, deforestation, mismanaged farmlands and climate change can cause previously fertile land to become desert that's uninhabitable. According to the United Nations, "desertification affected one-third of the earth’s surface and about 1.5 billion people globally." Millions of the world's most vulnerable have been displaced because their land turned to dust.
What About Growing Food Hydroponically?
Growing food hydroponically has become more prevalent in recent years. This way of gardening involves growing plants in a nutrient solution. However, many people don’t know that most hydroponic solutions are derived from fossil fuels.
We asked Dr. Thomas Wilson, a soil scientist, to provide more information about hydroponic nutrient solutions. He mentioned that hydroponic solutions primarily use inorganic fertilizers.
“Inorganic fertilizer is not derived from organic material. It's actually commercially produced, mined or extracted from the ground... What a lot of people don't appreciate or realize is that the industrial process for generating nitrogen inorganically is directly connected to fossil fuels. So, you need fossil fuels to be able to take atmospheric nitrogen in the atmosphere and convert it to a form that the plants can take up… There's a connection there directly between fossil fuels and hydroponics,” Dr. Wilson said.
You can learn more about the importance of living soil by watching the full interview with Dr. Wilson.
Food as Medicine
Planted Places also care about the nutrient density of our food and how it directly impacts health. Industrial farming focuses on high-yield crops with low nutritional value, while regenerative methods prioritize producing nutritious food.
A 2019 study by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and investigators at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University found that poor diets cost the United States $50 billion in healthcare costs.
How Planted Places Incorporates Regenerative Agriculture
At Planted Places, we’re all about growing in healthy living soil. Our Planted Wall system and gardening subscriptions send seasonal shipments with everything you need to grow food, including pre-grown organic seedlings, organic soil, organic fertilizer, organic soil amendments and more. The subscription comes with a membership, where you learn how to regenerate your soil in real-time with the organic ingredients we send you. We regenerate the soil because that’s the secret sauce to growing healthy food.
Most of our members grow food with our self-watering and self-fertilizing vertical garden system, the Planted Wall. It saves water and nutrients through its recirculating system, meaning the water doesn't drain away. The system recirculates water, and the nutrients it contains, back to the top of the system so the plants get the valuable minerals and trace elements that are usually lost when water flows away.
It's Regenerative Agriculture on a small scale! It gives consumers a way to make an impact on their health and provides a way to rebuild their small slice of the world.