Model Farm Implementation
How does regenerative agriculture work for specific crops? reNature develops and implements Model Farms. Model Farms are small to medium-sized plots with a carefully crafted mix of species, which naturally support each other whilst creating the ideal ecosystem for the production of main cash crops. The goal is to showcase the benefits of Regenerative Agriculture and inspire local communities to join the transformation.
Why should you implement a regenerative ‘model’ farm?
There are good reasons for developing a Model Farm because these demonstration plots serve multiple goals:
- Developing a real-world example for the regenerative production of specific crops;
- Engaging local farmers by providing the examples, tools, and inspiration to join the transition to regenerative agriculture;
- Testing assumptions about impact on socioeconomic and ecological aspects, and continuously learning, innovating, and improving the approach based on field-level data;
- Giving essential insights into the incentives for change, the regenerative business model, and the pathways to scale up to the level of whole sourcing regions and supply chains;
- Offering an inspiring example of how nature and commerce can work in harmony to inspire and engage your stakeholders.
A fit-for-purpose demonstration plot
Every region is different, as is every farmer and every crop. For instance, our citrus project in Yucatán, Mexico, is incomparable with cocoa in Peru or white pepper in Indonesia. Therefore, all of our projects start with a detailed analysis of the local ecosystem, soil type, weather, market access, farming practices, socioeconomics, and cultural heritage. We center the design around the farmer and context, focusing on different objectives where we balance the local reality, the preferences of the beneficiaries, and the desires of our clients. This way, the demonstration Model Farm serves as a showcase for local farmers, highlighting the approach’s benefits, whilst providing a hands-on learning experience.
A step-by-step approach
Creating regenerative systems at scale requires the careful balance of research, design, implementation, continuous improvement, and replication. Our Model Farm approach does this through three stages;
- Designing a regenerative business model,
- Implementing the Model Farm, and
- Scaling the proven model.
Realizing the dream
Once the design has been validated with local stakeholders, our local expert team starts the implementation phase. This consists of planning & purchasing the required materials, preparing the ground, and –integral to our approach– building the capacity of the selected lead farmer(s) as well as local agrotechnicians, agronomy students, and other interested stakeholders.
This capacity building focuses on the theory and practice of regenerative agriculture design, planting, harvesting, farm maintenance, and management practices. Where possible, the capacity building is combined with the participants getting their hands dirty, supporting the actual implementation, and thus learning by doing.
During the implementation phase, which takes at least nine months due to our respect for natural processes and crop cycles, our experts have already fine-tuned the Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) approach, improve the design where needed, and identify the main opportunities for replication at other farms.
The importance of local knowledge and capacity
Our approach to regenerative agriculture recognizes and respects the need for context-specificity. This means that we always work with local experts and project managers; coming from the same area, they understand the local reality in ways that we never could. This not only provides better results for the design but also builds trust with local stakeholders, therefore increasing the willingness to change.
By employing local project managers and experts, we also increase local capacity and knowledge through our interactions and own experiences in regenerative agriculture across the globe. In the end, reNature strongly encourages farmers and local experts to apply the principles themselves, spreading the positive message of regenerative beyond our project.
Last but not least, reNature is here for the farmers. Many farmers are stuck in their annual routine of planting and harvesting. They need to keep the farm running in order to provide income for their families. Stepping into the insecurity of a new business model is sometimes a big decision to make. It takes serious guts to do so. Developing a Model Farm, therefore, always involves a visit to be eye to eye with the farmer and the community, to hear their story and their struggle in their agricultural reality. reNature works in a participatory fashion putting farmer interests at the center to obtain the best possible outcomes for everyone.