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Growing food and fiber through industrial methods has devastated our soil and climate. Forecasts have predicted that global topsoils will deplete in 60 years at our current rate, while studies have proven that conventional, industrial agriculture contributes up to 25% of the emissions driving the climate crisis.

But there is hope.

With regenerative organic agriculture, we can rehabilitate soil, respect animal welfare, and improve the lives of farmers. We can sequester carbon, build healthier communities, and reap more nutritious and abundant yields.

What we do to the soil, we do to ourselves.

Soil is the bedrock of our food system and, ultimately, our culture and civilization. The extraordinary diversity of microorganisms in the soil mirrors the diversity of ecosystems around the world and the diversity of organisms in the human microbiome. Depleted soils endanger the complex balance of such natural systems, threatening everything from the productivity of our cropland, to the availability of foods we eat and materials used for clothing, building, and more.

Regenerative organic agriculture is a collection of practices that focus on regenerating soil health and the full farm ecosystem.

Vegetative Cover

Keep the land covered with living vegetative cover, crop residues or mulch year-round. Using diverse and nitrogen-fixing cover crops drawdown carbon, return nutrients to soil, control pests, prevent erosion, and decrease weeds.

Crop Rotation

Planting different crops sequentially on the same plot of land to improve soil health, optimize nutrients in the soil, and combat pest and weed pressure.

Minimal Soil Disturbance

Tillage equipment destroys the structure of the soil and the soil microbiome. Minimal soil disturbance maintains soil biology and structure, retains water, prevents erosion, and carbon loss.

Rotational Grazing

Grass-fed and grass-finished ruminants like cattle rotate through paddocked pastures, return nutrient-rich manure to topsoil, and give land time to rest between grazing cycles.

Compost

Adding compost to fields, forests and ranges boosts soil health and super-charges carbon sequestration. Microbe rich compost can improve soil structure, suppress diseases, increase water holding capacity, and support soil biodiversity.

No Synthetic Fertilizers or Pesticides

Land is spared from toxic chemicals and soil ecology is sustained; fertility and pest-control are achieved by composting and rotating in beneficial plants, animals, and insects.

Layered into these practices, depending on a farm’s needs, could be the addition of perennials, development of pollinator and wildlife habitats, incorporation of agroforestry systems, vegetative barriers, and other regenerative practices that are shown to contribute to the development of soil organic matter.

To be truly regenerative, a system must consider all players in the farm system — from the soil microbiome to the animals to the workers. After all, farmers are the stewards of our lands, and with the power of regenerative organic agriculture, can completely change the direction of our future.

Where does Regenerative Organic Agriculture come from?

Both the term “regenerative agriculture” and the practices that define it are not modern creations. As mentioned above, it is imperative to always note that regenerative agriculture practices draw from Indigenous wisdom and practices.

As Regenerative Organic Alliance Board Member A’dae Romero-Briones (Cochiti/Kiowa) puts it, “The indigenous universal connection is the idea that you absolutely need to be part of the natural cycles around you, whether they’re negative or positive. You need to adjust to them. You’re part of that system. You need to become embraced in that system in order to create not only a healthy food system, but also healthy people, a healthy environment, and a happy mental state.”

Watch this video of Bob Rodale describing the difference between sustainable and regenerative (start at 1:23) in an interview with the USDA in 1989. Source: Rodale Institute

The term regenerative agriculture was first introduced by Dr. George Washington Carver, and was popularized by Robert Rodale of the Rodale Institute, who coined the term “regenerative organic” to distinguish a kind of farming that goes beyond sustainable.

What is Regenerative Organic Certified™?

Regenerative Organic Certified (or ROC™ for short) is a revolutionary new certification for food, fiber, and personal care ingredients that represents the highest standard for organic agriculture in the world, with stringent requirements for soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness.

ROC uses the USDA Certified Organic standard as a baseline. From there, it adds important criteria and benchmarks that incorporate the three major pillars of regenerative organic agriculture into one certification.

ROC is overseen by us, the nonprofit Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA). The ROA is a group of experts in farming, ranching, soil health, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness. Founded by the Rodale Institute, Dr. Bronner’s, and Patagonia, other members of the alliance include Compassion in World Farming, Fair World Project, and the Textile Exchange. The ROA was established to continuously review and update the ROC Framework.

What Our Founders Say About Regenerative Organic:

Everyone who eats food (that includes you!) can play a role in the movement for regenerative organic agriculture by choosing foods, fibers, and personal care products with the ROC label. When you purchase ROC, you know at-a-glance that your purchase makes a positive impact on the farm at every level: environmentally, ethically, and socially.

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