What is ‘regenerative’ farming? Simply put, it is farming that heals the land. It is the opposite end of the spectrum from industrialized, ‘extractive’ agriculture, that continually taxes the soil and water supply, and requires continual artificial inputs to sustain itself, mostly fossil fuel based and chemical inputs with all sorts of problematic side effects to our health and the health of the environment. It is also not the same thing as ‘organic’ agriculture. Where as ‘organic farming’ is defined largely by what it is not (it’s not full of chemicals, it’s not genetically modified, etc.), regenerative agriculture defies any specific definitions, mostly because what may be healthy for the soil on one farm is not going to be good for the soil on another farm.
We like to joke that we are actually dirt farmers and the pigs are our army of minions, because what we are effectively doing is taking urban and industrial waste, along with local wood waste, and turning it into living soil. When we think about regeneration, the major factors we consider are inputs and outputs. Your average hog farm has one main input (corn/soy based commercial feed), and two main outputs (corn and soy dressed as pork, and carbon into the atmosphere ). Every week we collect thousands (and some times tens of thousands) of pounds of commercial and industrial food waste or bi-product and feed it to our pigs. Our primary sources are breweries (malted barley, stupidly high in protein), whole sale grocers (pallets of fresh produce: salad, fruit, vegetables, milk, herbs, and insane amounts of bread), a local flower mill (wheat bran, which is the nutrient protein dense outer hull of wheat that gets removed to make the flower white), and distilleries (local corn, cooked, fermented and distilled; yes there is still alcohol in it, and yes it is absolutely hilarious to get a bunch of pigs drunk; also helps with internal parasite control).