What it means to be regenerative
We arrived at the farm November 1st – at the stunning time of year when the leaves are changing, the weather is perfect, and God’s glory is tangible. The change in leaf color is not just a show God puts on for us. The leaves change when they are at the end of their life cycle. They become a beautiful orange, gold, or red when it is time to die. Through their death comes new life.
God has a plan. At the end of each year leaves fall to the ground. They break down, decompose, and become food for the abundant life in the soil. In time, the fallen leaves become nutrients for the surrounding plant life. And new growth begins in the spring. It is amazing how it works.
“Its surface he covered with all manner of life which must return into it again.” (Sirach 16:28)
God filled the earth with his blessings, but we must return life to the soil.
Back to the leaves. First, I admire God’s handiwork. Then I plot ways to use this resource in my spring garden. This involves lots of raking and hauling leaves in a wheelbarrow from one place to another.
Not only do I have an abundance of leaves on the farm, but also a butt-load of chicken manure in the coop. Ha! See what I did there?
While not as idyllic as falling leaves, this manure is also a resource to be utilized on a regenerative homestead. Leaves provide a source of carbon and manure is a source of nitrogen. Layer the two together and you have the beginnings of a compost pile.
A Compost Pile:
There is a science to building a compost pile, but it is not rocket science. With a little research anyone can do it. After reviewing the basics in a wikiHow article, I set my 17 year old son to the task. All resources came from the farm – leaves, manure, even T-posts and chicken wire were recycled to make the frame. Alternately adding layers of leaves and manure he created a pile that was approximately 3x3x3. We will let that sit for a few months before seeing if the compost is ready for the garden. I am lazy when it comes to compost and tend to not turn my piles even though that would make them break down faster. I prefer to let the worms and insects do the work for me. Given time I will be rewarded with a rich compost, black gold to the avid gardener. This compost will be applied to my garden beds and provide the nutrients needed to grow veggies for my family.
The chickens provide more than just their manure to help on the farm. On a homestead all the animals have a role to play. Their busy feet can help generate compost in a different way. Raking piles of leaves into the coop and run keeps them entertained as they scratch and peck looking for food. The chickens are happy, their manure (nitrogen) gets added directly to the leaves (carbon), and their labor speeds along the composting process. I call that a win for everyone. This mixture will also be added to the spring garden.
How is this regenerative?
We are returning to the soil the abundance that came from it. That nourished soil will generate new life. And the cycle will continue.
As a regenerative farm, our goal is to return nutrients to the soil, steward the resources on our land, and use animals holistically in the process. We seek to follow God’s plan for his creation and pray that our faithfulness will be Blessed.
New American Bible, https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PMI.HTM