WHAT IS RESTORATIVE & REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?
For us, restorative farming means observing our local, natural ecosystems and utilizing permaculture principles to replicate those systems so that we can have agriculturally productive land that mimics nature and works with nature instead of against her.
We are continually learning, adapting, and adjusting our processes to work towards this goal. For example, we have re-wilded our back pasture, allowing native species of plants and trees to grow and flourish.
Without any inputs from us, within a few short years we have a true American savanna system that has established itself. Once fully grown out, we will have:
A canopy of 80-100' trees (pecan, black walnut, pine, sweetgum, tulip poplar, oak, red maple)
Followed by a canopy of 30-50 foot trees (black cherry, persimmon, and elder)
Followed by vining plants and brambles (wild muscadine grapes, honeysuckle, passionflower, Virginia creeper and American blackberry)
Finally, the smaller medicinal broad-leaf herbs and grasses (goldenrod, vervain, poke, wood sorrel, wild lettuce, yellow dock, clover, speedwell, chickweed, cleavers, plantain, daisy fleabane, frost aster, shepherd's purse, purple dead-nettle, dandelion, henbit, wild oats, reeds, and orchard grass)
Within these wild areas we have riparian zones and naturally occurring vernal pools and an abundance of wildlife, including deer, rabbit, voles, field mice, rat snakes, corn snakes, tree frogs, southern toads, skinks, anole lizards, hawks, red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, bluebirds, barn swallows, mockingbirds, a Cooper's hawk and an abundance of insects including native bees and butterflies.
Throughout this re-wilded area we have maintained pathways where we are able to walk, teach, forage, and strategically graze certain groups of animals without damaging the natural ecosystem, instead becoming part of that system. For example, in the evenings our goats walk the trails with us. They are allowed to graze and browse certain areas without causing lasting damage, they enrich the area with their manure, and after a couple of hours return to their barn and paddock. We can rotate our small herd of 3 cows through these areas for short periods of time and they will graze on grasses and clear some of the small plants beneath the trees without causing damage or consuming everything in the area, they can then be followed by a small group of chickens who will scratch and spread the cow manure, eat bugs, and seeds. We harvest certain wild plants to make our herbal medicines and to eat as food, always taking care to practice sustainable harvesting practices, not to over-harvest, and to encourage the flourishing of these species so that we will have lasting abundance.