By Sam Grant
Miguel Altieri (1995), one of our great bioneers in agroecology, has done much to demonstrate that we can feed the world with bottom up resilient, local agriculture based on sound ecological principles. Similarly, the work of La Via Campesina (2010) – the global peasants movement organization – is demonstrating the cooperative power of many agro-ecologies from diverse cultures of the world combining with one message to the rest of us to respect and support full food sovereignty. Everywhere we look, whether in the Global North or Global South, we see people reclaiming an integral relationship with nature and each other through regenerative agriculture and regenerative community building strategies. Looking forward, there are many exciting intersections of regenerative agriculture and sustainability education to amplify.
When we look back on this part of the twenty first century, I hope enough of us will be able to look back and smile, reflecting on the contributions we made to address climate change with a climate justice approach. This would allow us to face the biggest challenge of the twenty first century, with what W.E.B. DuBois recognized as the biggest problem of the twentieth century – racism. I bridge these two major problems in my theorizing by recognizing that the whole period of Modernity has been founded in a pattern of ecological apartheid – divisions of people from the earth and from each other.
I write this article from Minnesota, a state that is at once among the best places in the world to live, and yet, if you are African American it is statistically the worst on a composite index of racial inequality. So, what has this got to do with regenerative agriculture you ask? I will tell you. When we combine regenerative agriculture and sustainability education through a climate justice orientation, we heal ecosystems and people simultaneously. It is because I recognize regenerative agriculture as vehicle that helps us co-create healthy soil, healthy food and healthy people on a healthy planet that I want to do my part to connect people to their own possible contributions.
This essay aims to share two examples of work being done to bridge sustainability education and regenerative agriculture. One is set in a mixed income urban community in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. The second is set in a network of very poor rural villages in Sierra Leone.