When we talk about the environmental impacts of food production, we are using global aggregate emission averages and the numbers are dizzying. But if the footprint looks large, so does the hope for remedy; globally, shifts in agricultural practices hold the potential to be our largest carbon sink, and the soils in our local food region are well matched for this purpose. 

The suite of practices known as Regenerative Agriculture – rebuilding soil health to increase GHG sequestration – are dynamic, sometimes offering different results in different fields. Because of the complexity, these solutions will require cooperation to effect meaningful change. 

Our Food Future began with a survey of farmers, methods, and funding in our region. We wanted to know who was already leading this change, whether there were best practices emerging, and where there were gaps in support. 

 “Our farmers are always innovating, and now are poised to be climate heroes,” said Justine Dainard, Smart Cities Project Manager at the County of Wellington. “Our job is to provide a system of support which enables easy uptake of these regenerative agriculture approaches.”

Building on this, we are launching the Experimental Acres, an on-farm pilot designed to protect farmers from risk as they learn what works for their soil. This pilot is designed as an ‘on ramp’ which builds layers of support over the growing season, and includes components such as soil assessment, verification tools, a community of practice, and identifies a path to future funding. 

As we learn from this pilot, the findings will be shared with both farmers and other municipalities so successes can be duplicated. As well, public events such as the upcoming Wellington Soil Symposium will further amplify and celebrate the regenerative agriculture in our foodshed.