Practicing regenerative organic agriculture

Here at Common Good, we’ve spent ten years focusing on sustainable agriculture techniques that can be used in both home and commercial food production. Thanks to support from Patagonia, we’re focusing more than ever on implementing and sharing techniques that regenerate the soil, reduce waste, and help maintain fertile soils for future generations.

Topsoil is being depleted rapidly by unsustainable agriculture practices, clear cutting, and deforestation. The Rodale Institute estimates that we only have about 60 years worth of topsoil remaining, unless we do something to counteract this trend. Regenerative organic agriculture aims to rebuild the topsoil, and sequester carbon emissions in the soil in the process.

What are some techniques of regenerative organic agriculture, and how can I use them?

That’s a great question! Regenerative organic agriculture doesn’t need to be costly or difficult. Here are some basic principles to get you started:

  • Build soil organic matter, primarily through composting.

  • Reduce tillage. Tillage is the practice of digging and overturning the soil, which leads to erosion and loss of topsoil, as well as disrupting biological structures in the soil.

  • Practice crop rotation, to avoid depleting the same nutrients season after season.

  • Plant cover crops, to replenish nutrients and prevent erosion.

All of these are things you can do in your home garden, whether it’s in your backyard, in planters, or in a community garden. You can get involved in a compost co-op, or start a worm bin under your sink. You can practice no-till or light aeration techniques in your soil. You can rotate crops and work cover crops into your garden planning.

But wait, there’s more! Regenerative organic agriculture isn’t just about building soil health. In order for a farm to be certified as practicing regenerative organic agriculture, a farm must also meet criteria for animal welfare and social fairness, including equitable wages and safe working conditions for farm workers.  

And if you want to learn more about regenerative organic agriculture, you can check out the Rodale Institute  and join us on the farm! Become a City Farmer, or participate in Seed-to-Table Workshops. Become a youth programs volunteer and help us to teach the next generation of climate leaders!

Photo Credit: Lyndsey Warner Caulkins

Photo Credit: Lyndsey Warner Caulkins

Samantha Wetzel