Regenerative Agroforestry is one way forward into the future that can support small scale and larger scale farmers on the path of regeneration of production landscapes and at the same time create socially flourishing and economic abundant bioregional communities. Already practiced in many countries worldwide by 1000s of small scale farmers in tropical climates and in recent years in Temperate Climates. Also some mechanized , larger scale farm trails have been implemented all around the world.(ex. Montpellier France Trails, Fazenda de Toca in Brazil , Freddys Plantation in Ivory Coast)
This Regenerative Agroforestry course aims to trigger behavioural changes in the way we practice food production and wants to stimulate and facilitated a transformation of our degraded agriculture systems back onto a path of creating gardens of Eden and abundance for all. One of the fundamental educational principles of this transformational process is to apply regenerative agricultural practices developed from the understanding of the processes that govern nature!
We Humans are co-creators and our role as co-creators is no more important than that of all other co-creators of for example the animal, plant or mineral world. Humans have responsibilities to their co-creators, and vice versa. Unless one understands his/her place in the whole, there is always a tendency to move beyond, to glorify, to be driven by greed, exploitation and self-importance.
We will have to regain a sense of humility and realize that we are just one part of an intelligent system and are not the intelligent once! Through working and collaborating again with nature and her planetary principles we will be able to address deep root causes of the environmental crisis we find ourselves in and together will be able to find long term solutions instead of fighting symptoms. At the core is the awareness of interdependence and the respect for plants, animals, and the ecosystems we live in, and for those behaviors that have assisted long term human survival and evolution within the natural world.
The concept of Syntropic Agroforestry was devised by the Swiss/Brazilian researcher and botanist Ernst Gotsch from what is broadly known in Brazil as Successional Agroforestry (SAF). Syntropic Agroforestry aims to produce food, timber and fibre through a process based agriculture with minimal external inputs and without chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The aim is to build resources such as water, topsoil and biodiversity as we produce our food. Syntropic Agriculture has been proving to be financially viable and effective in many climates and biomes. In the rural development sector and working with small scale farmers the word “Syntropy” was often confusing to people and therefore many organizations working in the field with small scale farmers in the less privileged areas of this planet use the term Dynamic Agroforestry (DAF) or Successional Agroforestry (SAF). In the end terminology doesn’t really matter what counts is the success and benefit of such systems on the ground out in the fields!
Just to clarify what “Syntropy” means it can be understood as the opposite force of “Entropy” (the second law of thermodynamics, or the pervasive tendency for organized forms of matter to gradually disintegrate into lower and lower levels of organization) which many might be more familiar with. However in the life process we commonly find what seems to be a decrease of entropy occurring. Living organisms cause increased organization, both in their own world and sometimes even in the world around them, reducing diffusion and in essence working to oppose the universal tendency toward energy and matter equilibrium. Syntropy is the further complexification of systems, the increase of quality and quantity of life via natural processes. A force which causes living things to reach “higher and higher levels of organization, order and dynamic harmony. The term was first coined by Italian mathematician Luigi Fantappiè (1901-1956), In the same year, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger (1887- 1961) published also an essay, What is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell, Cambridge University Press (U.K.), in which he used the expression “negative entropy”, also giving its formal definition.
Origins and Initial Inspirations for Regenerative Agroforestry Systems:
Most forest communities in the tropics practiced traditional agriculture utilizing agroforestry systems or forest gardens with the integration of non-timber forest products (ex. Sri Lanka Kandy Forest Gardens, Indonesia Java Forest Gardens, Amazon Rainforest Communities). These communities often combined the cultivation of agricultural crops and timber species. They also frequently use perennial tree crops such as palms, fruit trees, coffee, and cocoa, in combination with annual crops such as cassava, plantains, corn, and beans. Sun loving trees and food crops where usually cultivated early in the cycle, while shade crops such as coffee and cocoa are cultivated underneath a forest canopy. These practices have been observed by Ernst Goetsch during his time in South and Central America and Ernst afterwards experimented for many years to evolve these traditional Agroforestry systems further and systematize them. We are in big admiration and incredibly grateful to Ernst for his lifelong dedication to the Agroforesty practice, evolution and research.
What Participants will learn:
• The Philosophy of Regenerative Agroforestry (Categorical Imperative, Unconditional Love and Cooperation, All species have a role and function, We are just one part of an Intelligent system, etc.)
• The history and principles of Regenerative agroforestry,
• Understanding some of natures principles to create more quality and quantity of life through the driving force of succession, unconditional love and cooperation
• How to implement and manage Regenerative Agroforestry systems,
• How to choose where to implement these systems in our properties,
• How to harmonise these systems with nature’s patterns (sun, winds, topography, local flora, etc.),
• How to choose appropriate plant consortiums to each stage of succession and soil conditions,
• How to choose and plan the production of main cash crops and start considering to do value added produce. Integration of sustainable Bee keeping Practices and Mushroom Production
Introduction of the Agroforestry Principles: Theoretical lectures of the essential concepts of implementation and management of a Regenerative Agroforestry production system. Exchange of knowledge in the field during practical experiences. The following Regenerative Agroforestry principles will be addressed during the classes:
• Stratification: How plants behave in their environment. Considering the quantity and quality of light that the plants need to be healthy.
• Natural succession: How plants behave across time. How long it takes them to reach their full life cycle or how long it takes until they reach maturity in their stratum.
• Mulching: The importance of keeping the soil covered with organic matter and how to plant a system whilst always keeping the soil covered.
• Species Consortiums: How to combine plants in an Regenerative Agroforestry System: explanation and exemplification on how to design and plant the species combinations. A Regenerative agroforestry system permits a high diversity and high density of crops with different life cycles and different light requirements to grow together without much competition but in mutual cooperation. All species have a role and a function.
• Management: pruning, stratification, selective weeding and synchronization
Soil covering: We will understand what type of mulch is most suitable for specific situations and species (more or less crushed, higher or lower Nitrogen to Carbon ratios,etc.), how to plan for short term, medium term and long term sustainable Biomass Production and obtain the organic matter to cover the soil at the beginning stages of the Agroforestry system, how to cover the planting beds with mulch in an energy (water&nutrients) accumulating shape.
Mulching: We will learn about the benefits of mulching and the use of high amounts of biomass in our Agroforestry systems. We will explore how to prepare the soil for the species to be planted according to the soil conditions on site and how to cover the wound we have created through working the soil with living or dead mulches
Design and Planning of Regenerative Agroforestry Systems: The students will get instructions on how to design and plan Regenerative Agroforestry Systems and species consortiums while applying Regenerative Agroforestry principles – stratification, succession and mulching. Together we will do some practical Regenerative Agroforesty System planning exercise in groups. We will consider and discuss about different Maincrop/Cash crop options and their different design considerations. We will discuss different types of ecosystems and their differences considering all variables of different properties: climate, soil quality, slopes, altitude, aspect, access to water, etc.
Observation and Analysis of local Ecosystem: As we experience the world, so we are also experienced by the world. world. The starting point of the creation of successful Regenerative Agroforestry Systems is always the observation observation of the local ecosystem we are based in. Observation with all our senses, based on the perception gained from using the entire body of our senses in direct participation with the natural world. ! Intimate and creative creative participation heightens awareness of the subtle qualities of a place. A direct physical and perceptual experience experience of the earth, a sustained relationship with the natural world, as to know yourself you must first know the the earth. Understanding the dynamics and species compositions found in nature is a crucial part along the path of path of creating sustainable and regenerative production systems. It is fundamental to understand the complex interrelationships and interactions of any given ecosystem we find ourselves in and that if everything is interrelated that all creation is related. Understanding, maintaining, and restoring harmonious relationships with the natural world is the main goal of our interventions in the living landscape we work and live in. We aim that our Regenerative Agroforestry Systems work in harmony with the local ecosystem and natural principles instead of against them. The Regenerative Agroforestry Principles remain the same universally but the local conditions of specific situations we find might differ and therefore a certain skill of observation and analysis is necessary to find they way back to Paradise with the support of nature and the principles of life. We have to regain a certain type of humility and realize that we cant understand it all with our rationality and work on reconnecting ourselves with nature to find again the spirit of an agriculture that is the foundation of an healthy and thriving humanity and planet.
Paradigm Shift and Deep Behavioral Changes: In recent years it has become clear that deep behavioral changes will be necessary to transform our wasteful and destructive monoculture production landscapes into Regenerative Agroforestry System. To develop and practice a holistic and systems thinking approach to work within and manage complex systems of high diversity and density is very much needed and necessary. This is one of the hardest parts to realize we have to first change ourselves to make a change in the world! A open Mind and Open Heart is required in this transformational process.
Soil: Understanding of the different types and characteristics of the soil where the Regenerative Agroforestry system can be implemented through simple soil tests and field observations. How and when it is necessary to prepare the soil, and how to use the Regenerative Agroforestry system to regenerate and improve degraded soils over time.
Planting – practical planting exercise of different annual and perennial species in the field
Management: Theoretical explanation, demonstration and practical application of pruning and management techniques of Regenerative Agroforestry Systems in the different phases of succession. Also we will discuss tools like Biochar, Compost Teas, Indigenous Microorganisms, Earthworm Farms and Juices
Integration of Animals into Regenerative Agroforestry Systems:
Introduction to Silvopasture Systems and Holistically Management High Density Rotational Grazing
Social Landscapes within Regenerative Agroforestry
Exploring tools to manage our Regenerative Agroforestry Systems holistically and make the social landscape thrive through ethical behaviour, clear honest communication, transparency , inclusive decision making and fair share of income.
Come and join us to support and be part of the Agroforestry (R)EVOLUTION !!!