6 Organizations Healing Our Planet With Sustainable & Regenerative Agriculture
A warming planet poses a direct threat to our food systems — a concern that is magnified as the global population increases. While farmers and other food and agriculture workers are on the frontlines of climate change, many are also working on solutions. These six organizations are taking to the soil, screen, and sea to ensure food security and a healthy planet for all.
U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action
There are climate goals surrounding energy, waste reduction, and carbon emissions, but what about agriculture? U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action (USFRA) has set a target to make agriculture net-positive over the next 30 harvests through collaboration, innovation, and education. The USFRA’s overall mission is to connect leaders in agriculture who are taking bold action to co-create sustainable U.S. food systems so that farmers and ranchers can enable sustainable food systems.
In episode 187 of the Bigger Than Us podcast, CEO Erin Fitzgerald explained why the USFRA is making this the #DecadeofAg. “The Decade of Ag is all about really creating a common vision or a North Star for the food and ag sector. We have the Sustainable Development Goals, if you will, that’s almost a Rosetta Stone for all leaders. But we wanted to translate that into what the food and ag sector [can] stand for.”
Not all farming happens on land. GreenWave is scaling regenerative ocean farms that cultivate carbon-sequestering shellfish and seaweed to build a farmer-built and led blue economy. After harvest, their ocean crops support a local fishery program, supply restaurants, and make their way into value-added products. The non-profit is focused on innovation and training to achieve its goal of supporting 10,000 regenerative ocean farmers and planting one million acres.
Co-founder Emily Stengel took a deeper dive into the extensive benefits of seaweed farming on episode 117 of the Bigger Than Us podcast. “The World Bank came out with a study a couple of years ago that said if we farm seaweed in just 5% of US waters, we can absorb the carbon equivalent to offset emissions of 97 million cars a year. It can create 50 million jobs. It can produce the protein equivalent of three trillion cheeseburgers. These are hugely powerful numbers. But they really highlight that this work isn’t just about food. It’s not just about climate mitigation. It’s not just jobs. It’s all of those things together. So we think of this as a climate solution with lots of cascading co-benefits.”
For farmers using sustainable methods, getting a loan through traditional channels can be challenging. Dan Miller founded Steward after hearing about farmers in his hometown who were facing this setback. Since 2017, Steward has provided private loans to regenerative farmers, ranchers, fishermen and producers. Qualified lenders can become stewards of regenerative agriculture by contributing to Steward regenerative Capital campaigns with $100-$1,000,000, providing a diverse range of producers with the funding they need to grow.
“Each of our farms has a story like that of a person who’s passionate about their work, who cares immensely about how they grow their products and who they’re selling to. And one after another just runs into barriers. Our job is to help remove some of those barriers,” shared Founder Dan Miller in his podcast interview.
Regenerate Oklahoma is a statewide soil health initiative that seeds to advance the practices of regenerative agriculture. The coalition educates through documentaries and media and works to support farmers in their regenerative efforts.
“The hope, the mission, and real intention is to bridge consumers to farmers. To create really unprecedented statewide media and education to consumers to understand why soil health matters, what the direct line is from soil health to human health, to hyperlocalize our food systems so that people have a direct link to knowing who their regenerative producers are, as well as building out really strong regenerative agribusiness in the state and direct markets.” Nicol Ragland, Regenerate Oklahoma founder and executive director said on Bigger Than Us.
American Resilience Project
Some frame climate change as a future issue, but many farmers are already uncomfortably familiar with its effects. In the documentary film Farm Free or Die, The American Resilience Project (ARP) casts light on the far-reaching environmental and economic challenges farmers are facing and what their struggle means for global food security.
ARP Founder and Executive Director Roger Sorkin elaborated on the importance of policy for agriculture in an interview, especially the Farm Bill, which is what Farm Free or Die focuses on. “Farmers who are on the frontlines of climate change, they know they’re experiencing severe economic hardship as a result of environmental changes. So there’s no need to debate climate change with them. They just need help. And that’s what the Farm Bill can be designed to do.”
All of ARP’s films are free to view for personal use, and licensing is accessible for non-profit organizations, small businesses, and educational institutions.
Primary Ocean’s large-scale kelp farms sequester carbon and restore oxygen while creating ocean habitat, but their sustainable efforts don’t end there. By turning kelp into organic fertilizer, bioplastics, and eco-friendly textiles, they’re making life on land more sustainable. Other uses for seaweed include fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, food, textiles, and biofuels.
“We’re leading the commercialization piece: how to turn this kelp farm’s kelp into valuable products that solve human problems. But our cultivation wing is very exciting because of the prospect of farming large amounts of the ocean in a clean and sustainable way,” said co-founder Brandon Barney on the Bigger Than Us podcast.
Hear interviews with leaders in the cleantech, green tech, and sustainability sectors every week on the Bigger Than Us podcast.
- #199 Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, CEO of Future Meat Technologies￼ - June 30, 2022
- #198 John O’Donnell, CEO of Rondo Energy - June 17, 2022
- #197 Paul Bunje, Co-founder & CSO of Conservation X Labs - June 2, 2022