The demand for regenerative agricultural design and practices is growing in Maine and across our region. What if, in the process of producing food and making a living, farms could leave their soil deeper, healthier, more fertile and more able to withstand drought and flooding, year after year? What if the act of producing food for the markets of our region resulted in cleaner water and air and less reliance on fossil fuels? What if running those farms represented a more-than-ample living wage and quality of life for the farmers and workers?
From August 4-14 of this year, staff from The Resilience Hub in Portland, Maine as well as collaborators from other parts of the Maine permaculture network, participated in the final North American version of the 10-day Regenerative Agriculture Design Course (aka “REX” training) offered by Regrarians Ltd. Regrarians is an Australia-based firm led by Lisa Heenan, Isabella Doherty and Darren Doherty. They have performed farm and ranch-scale land planning services for well over a thousand farms around the world. The training provided a quantum leap in our local knowledge about how to design (or redesign) farm enterprises for much greater resilience into an uncertain future.
“For over 20 years our family have travelled the world helping to regenerate communities, landscapes, farms & most importantly soils. Having helped develop 1000’s of projects with nearly 2000 clients we have broad expertise & knowledge in our field. Since 2001 we’ve trained over 15,000 people in a broad range of methodologies drawing on the practical wisdom that comes from knowing what we’re doing, not just talking about it.” (from the Regrarians website).
The Regrarians design platform and training draws on Holistic Management, permaculture and a modified version of P.A. Yeomans “Scale of Permanence” framework (as well as our trainers’ 25+ years of experience of course!) Each of the ten days of the training focused on a different “data layer” of this framework, starting with Climate and working through Economy and Energy. Read more about the platform here.
For this course, Megan Giroux of Vermont Edible Landscapes offered up her newly acquired property in Essex, New York as the design canvas: Interlace Agroforestry Farm. It was a blank slate and day after day we worked through the Regrarians platform to design layers of her new enterprise on this land.
Apart from the invaluable design practice and learning we experienced through the training, many of us forged professional connections and bonds that will last well into the future. Over the course of 2016, Darren and family will have conducted more than a dozen REX trainings around the world and our extended international “community of practice” is already in action via online shared resources and collaborative forums for REX graduates.