Ep. 102: Fred Kirschenmann || Land Use Adaptation series: Regenerative Soil Health
Fred Kirschenmann has been an agent-of-change in agriculture for five decades. His work at the Leopold Center at Iowa State University has introduced resilient farming practices to diverse stakeholders, and advanced the adoption of regenerative land management through building an awareness for soil health in the US breadbasket.
As President of the board at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY, Fred has worked with leaders from cuisine, food systems and production agriculture to establish a globally recognized epicenter of research and enrichment for food. As a whole, Fred’s collective efforts to reconnect us with nature through food and its production elevates him to an iconic stature in a time of ecological enlightenment. Tune in to hear what this true-action-hero icon has to say about the movement in 2022 and beyond.
A statesman for a just and stable tomorrow. Every-time I sit down with Fred I learn something new. He’s a philosopher and master craftsman of storytelling that has inspired many of us in the movement to take next steps in our own journeys. Despite holding multiple jobs, overseeing hundreds acres of farmland, and shouldering the weight of the world well into his 80s, Fred remains current on advancements and bleeding-edge research. Leveraging an impressive compendium of readings and on-going discussions with other iconic thought-leaders – Fred is a wealth of knowledge who continues to mold and sway new mindsets. This type of inspiration from action heroes like Fred serves up quality nourishment for the movement, and fuels deeper engagement.
When I first stewed over the startup idea to coax food values through the supply chain, Fred coached me to think systematically and to adapt my focus to incorporate different stakeholders in the equation. He challenged me to include soil health, regenerative land management practice and regional food systems into a single frame that would focus on the betterment for all parties involved. A decade later, we have a long way to go to reach betterment, but after sitting down and chatting with Fred in this latest end-of-2021 chapter, it’s clear that the revolution has begun. IMO – what Fred has helped kindle over the last half century will reach a fever pitch within this next generation. I’ve seen first hand the inertia and passion of this generation to come. It’s real and it’s going to happen. Considering all of that, I’ve come to appreciate that how we produce our food and manage the living soil will ultimately determine the stability of the planet.
Folks don’t follow new ideas alone. It’s the leaders of these ideas that motivates others to act, and it is people that drive movements of change.
One thing is for sure, to stabilize this planet under threat we need to be do a better job listening to more of our iconic leaders – like Fred. Folks who’ve lived-it; folks with real chops in delivering “betterment” to more. For a more just and prosperous tomorrow, we need to listen to folks that know about instituting nature-based solutions. The folks worth their salt; the ones with unique wisdom worthy of leading they movement are the action heroes who bring real solutions to the table.
An infomercial for Regenerative Agriculture & Soil Health, after hearing from an icon of food system and ecological change – be inspired to take the next step in your journey.
Key Take Aways…
- LAND USE: regenerative agriculture is proper on-farm natural resource management
- HUMAN HEALTH: soil health harmonizes with gut health: microflora not too much different than soil
- CIRCULAR ECONOMY: investing in soil health results in positive human & public health, planetary stability
- LABOR: the future farming workforce wants to grow food for each other, and not commodities
WHAT GOOD SOIL OFFERS:
Soil is the lifeblood of every successful civilization. The positive results and impact of good soil health from regenerative land management practices include:
- Perpetual food production
- Carbon Banking & Planetary Stability
- No chemical and synthetic runoffs
- Cleaner / health living environment for all stakeholders
- Enhances nature and biodiversity
- Sweet water Storage and clarity
GABE BROWN’S 5 PRINCIPLES OF REGENERATIVE:
To get us there we need a new operating model to land management. Especially when it comes to the way we produce our food, we need a new operating model to land management. Here are the pillars to support change our relationship with nature and each other.
- No disturbance (no-till, no-synthetics)
- Bolstering Soil’s Natural Defense (the outer-layer protecting all that life)
- Bio-diversity (marrying nature’s way keeps the system healthy)
- A living root in the ground as long as possible (cover-crops & seasonal diversity)
- Animal & Insect integration (nature relies on the entire system working together)
Sometimes you get lucky in life and come across truly inspirational people. Pioneers of a new way of thinking that within their lifetime will impact the world.
I’ve come to realize that the factor that makes these individuals similar and yet so unique is that they’ve been through-it. That despite what they encounter in their journey they demonstrate a dogged perseverance in their efforts of change.
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor an individual perfected without trials.”
Overcoming the pain, the failures, and the self-doubt gained in reaching key waypoints of change is what gives them capacity and the right to don a moniker of being an influencer worth their salt. After all the hits, every-time they get-up to keep driving change forward.
When this kind of elbow grease bumps up against something that’s bigger than yourself; when influencers don’t become too salty in their pursuit of a mission to improve the human condition or that of the living planet; when these leaders instigate a movement – that’s when we see the icons arise. True Action Heroes that break-down parochial mindsets and evolve behaviors for the betterment of tomorrow actually exist. don’t breathe some kind of rarified air. Despite being hard to find, these icons of environmental and social change live amongst us – in our times. Influencers that we should follow, and real action heroes to be idolized. The Icon series profiles these unique folks who inspire and influence change of mindset and behavior to re-chart more journeys ahead.
photo credit: Connie Fualk & Iowa Informer