Regenerative Farming: From Lofty Idea to Reality

Regenerative Farming: From Lofty Idea to Reality

Patagonia’s vice president for social & environmental responsibility, Cara Chacon, says that she has witnessed a “groundswell” in regenerative farming practices in recent months, on a scale unprecedented during her more than 10 years working across supply chains. 
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A New Line Of Sustainable Shirts
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Chacon gave an exclusive interview after Patagonia launched a new range of cotton t-shirts sourced from farms promoting sustainable agriculture methods. This is one step toward Patagonia’s goal of sourcing 100% regenerative cotton ( Learn more2030.
The cotton is sourced from a string of 150 different farms in India certified by the Regenerative Organic Alliance, a non-profit certification scheme with net-positive requirements for soil health, animal welfare, and human rights. 
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Regenerative Agriculture Opportunities 
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The farms covered by the scheme are all standalone smallholder businesses. However, Chacon believes that collaboration between smallholders will only grow in coming years, along with a shift toward regenerative practices at large farms. 
Chacon points out that most of the world’s farmers are smallholder farmers, and “if we could convert all of them to regenerative agriculture ( Learn moregame-changer.” 
Chacon says that big agriculture and large farms can be brought on board as well. “We can retrofit machinery to plant inter-crops and cover crops to address some of the challenges associated with these models.” 
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Major Companies Are Making Changes 
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Some major companies are already making these changes, perhaps an indication that regenerative agriculture could go from being a lofty idea and become a reality. 
Danone, for example, is allocating up to $20 million to help farms across North America implement regenerative practices. General Mills has a 2030 goal to advance regenerative practices on one million acres of land. 
And in the fashion sector, Timberland unveiled a goal of only sourcing regenerative leather, cotton, wool, and sugarcane by 2030. In that same week, Tommy Hilfiger said it would increase sourcing of these materials as well.
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Patagonia’s History
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Chacon admitted that in her experience, it is US-based businesses as opposed to European ones that invest in scaling up processes like inter-cropping, cover-cropping, rotational grazing, and low-till planting. This may be because the US has more farmland to experiment with. 
Still, Chacon, remains optimistic that regenerative agriculture will catch on and spread globally – out of necessity if nothing else. 
Patagonia has a long history of promoting sustainable practices, even helping farmers in its supply chain to transition to more sustainable practices. In the 1990s, the company pledged to switch to 100% organic cotton ( Learn moreneeds.
Now, production is growing exponentially: organic cotton ( Learn moreyear. 
Chacon was clear that scaling up regenerative agriculture is hard work, but Patagonia is committed to seeing it through. 
 

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