We will begin the Soil and Nutrition Conference centered, connected, and together. Tuning into our collective energy, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, (Salvatierra Farms in Minnesota, Founder and CEO of the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, and VP of the MOSES Board), and Luis Marcos (Mayan spiritual leader, Co-Director at Pixan Ixim Maya Community in Omaha, NE) will guide us in meditation and ceremony to begin the SNC weekly gatherings in spiritual grounding.
The opening ceremony will ask us to slow down and explore more deeply what we are entering into, what brought us together, and what binds us as indigenous people of the earth. We will take the time to reflect on our role in the colonizing systems that have affected the world so we may move forward humbled and ready to develop more wisdom. We will then reflect on beauty and interconnectedness, what we seek, what we are thankful for, and how we can be good stewards of the energy cycles on which all life on earth depends.
We will begin by adopting the indigenous origins and the role of Native people all over the earth in gifting the world with the concept of regenerative agriculture, one based not on reductionist concepts and land practices but a whole systems understanding of life and interdependence, a way of thinking, being, and interacting that when done right restores soil health, biology, climate, human health, all living systems.
This opening ceremony will enable us all to establish more permanent and lasting connections to this work and one another, and we are deeply grateful for the guidance and ancestral wisdom.
The Three Pillars of Eco-Agriculture
This four-part series will explore the foundational "three pillars" of biological agriculture – Minerals, Biology, and Bio-energetics. We begin with an overview of an emerging revolution in understanding and growing practices, with subsequent sessions digging deeper into each foundational pillar, as well as offering practical suggestions to help your farm or garden thrive.
Organic vs Conventional is a false dichotomy. Farmers adopt concepts and practices from many alternative farming systems, including organic, biodynamic, regenerative, natural farming, permaculture, etc. Eco-agriculture, which evolved from the Acres USA Conferences and Seminars in the 1970s onwards, in fact has far greater acreage in production than certified organic farming. The first of a four-part series, this workshop will provide an overview of the "three pillars of eco-agriculture" – minerals, biology, and bio-energetics – and provide examples of advanced growing and crop monitoring methods to raise the bar on food quality and optimize your growing practice.
In this second lecture on the three pillars of eco-agriculture, we will focus on mineral depletion in our food supply, mineralization vs remineralization, holistic soil tests, sea minerals and rock dusts, specialized leaf tests, food as medicine, and related concepts and practices that aim for nutrient dense food production. We will also review the pioneers of mineral balancing and nutritional food production – Dr. William A. Albrecht, Carey Reams, Dr. Viktor Tiedjens – and how this lineage has grown into a sophisticated approach to quality foods and non-toxic pest control.
In this third lecture on the three pillars of eco-agriculture, we will focus on soil biology and humus management, aka organic matter management or carbon farming. While the soil food web first gained traction in the 1990s, eco-agriculture and it's cousin biodynamic farming had already been pushing the integration of soil biology, mineralization, microbial inoculants, and humic acids for several decades. While pioneers like Elaine Ingham are well known, others including Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Selman Waksman, and Raul H. France and a host of eco-farming consultants and practitioners have made monumental contributions to microbial farming. From humus farming to regenerative agriculture, the basis of soil health is creation of good soil biota habitat through biological farming practices that include crop rotations, compost, cover crops, reduced tillage, organic mulches, integrated crop-livestock, and microbial and carbon soil amendments.
In this fourth lecture on the three pillars of eco-agriculture, we will focus on bio-energetics which is the lesser known part of the three-legged stool. Life evolved on planet earth amidst a myriad of mineral, biological, and electromagnetic influences. Cellular metabolism is intimately tied to electro-chemical and bio-energetic processes which influence redox, photosynthesis, DNA, mitochondria. Much like the influence of beneficial and pathogenic microorganisms on plant health, electro-magnetic frequencies or EMFs can – depending on the source – have both positive and negative effects on living organisms. Coherence, bioresonance, biophotons, scalar energy, structured water, agrohomeopathy, radionics – there are many concepts and practices in the bio-energetic toolbox.
Communicating With Plants and Nature
An opportunity for true partnership
Plants and nature want to communicate with us, with you!
Through this workshop, Pascal will share how learning and integrating this kind of communication has transformed his life, as an agronomist, but also as an individual. He will share some practical examples of his accumulated experiences communicating with plants, soils, insects and microorganisms.
You can imagine how it could benefit your life and work as a grower, consultant, researcher or anyone interested in the subject. Maybe, like Pascal, there was a time when you talked to plants or nature, but without expecting them to answer back because you didn’t imagine it was even possible. But it is. And Everybody can do it!
Based on his experience, plants are often surprised to "hear" humans trying to communicate with them, but once started, a relationship is created and it opens a new world of possibilities. During the workshop, you will have the opportunity to learn the basics, and have a glimpse of nature communication that you can take with you into your own growing practice, and even daily life.
Soil Testing for Soil Health
What we have done in the past, where we are now, and where we are going
Historically, soil tests have framed our mindset in chemistry, but the Haney Test is unique in that it identifies nutrient availability based on biological activity. Hear from the creator himself of this new approach to soil testing, and how it better aligns with quality agriculture and plant nutrition.
But to understand where we are, we must understand where we've come from. Rick will trace the origins of soil testing, and then look at what drove us toward adopting the methods we have used for the last 70 years. We will then discuss where we are now with some of the new testing along with talking about what is driving some of the soil health movement. Lastly, we will discuss where we are headed in the future with soil testing, and how this may impact the quality of the food that we eat.
Understanding the Water Cycle
And the potential for rapid global cooling
We understand that the health and regeneration of soil ecosystems, and by extension the plant and animal communities with which they are interdependent, are critical to the sequestration of carbon and foundational to any successful efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. But there is a vital part of the story of soil regeneration and global climate mitigation that hasn’t been as well covered as the carbon cycle – and that is the global water cycle.
Walter will explore how soil biology controls the water cycle, and how the water cycle regulates the planet’s heating and cooling processes. He will provide a deep look at the intersection of soil regeneration practices and the restoration of hydrological processes. Participants will gain insight and inspiration toward practices they can apply to their own farms and gardens, as well as a larger context of theory that integrates our knowledge of the water cycle and its role in regulating global temperature with current efforts toward conservation and regeneration of living soils.
Simple and Comprehensive Fertility Management for Market Gardens
In this presentation John will describe how to manage soil health and crop nutrition using a simple “broad brush strokes” approach that can be used when there are many diverse crops in a small space, without sap analysis, and with very limited use of soil analysis. It is possible to develop a systems based approach to soil fertility and plant health using a “one size fits all” approach in market gardens when we address the macro factors that determine nutrient availability such as paramagnetism, soil biology, and soil geology. This systems based approach is comprehensive and straightforward at the same time.
Microbial Plant Partnerships
Microbes play the central role in plant health and performance, from the uptake of minerals to inducing defense and lifting valuable plant metabolites to create resilient, nutrient-dense foods. In turn, some plant indicator species (aka weeds) alter microbial and mineral balances to slow succession and increase competition. In this session, we will delve into how we can optimize, or get out of the way of, these essential processes. We will also touch on the role of epigenetics and seed treatment options to set plants, and ourselves, up for success.
How Can We Learn to Be Better Pupils to the Land We Steward?
As regenerative farmers and land stewards, we all desire to leave the land better for the next generations that will inhabit it, but how do we know if we are doing this? A current or updated baseline is the place to start. From there, we can navigate to the goal. We will discuss simple in-field observational tools, DIY soil microbiological health assessments, and add-on laboratory tests to build this baseline. In doing this, we will peer into the story of the land we steward and perhaps receive an invitation for deepened learning.
The Rhizophagy Cycle
How plants get nutrients from microbes that alternate between soil and roots
The rhizophagy cycle involves bacteria and yeasts that are used by plants to obtain nutrients in soils. Plants cultivate microbes using root exudates (sugars, organic acids, amino acids, etc.) secreted into soils at root tips, then internalize microbes into root tip cells. Microbes internalized into root cells are subjected to root-produced reactive oxygen (superoxide) to extract nutrients from them. Superoxide causes microbes to lose cell walls and makes membranes leaky. Some of the microbes are completely degraded. Microbe cells that survive superoxide bombardment are replicated within root hairs and are ejected back into the soil from the tips of elongating root hairs. Once back in the soil, microbes obtain additional nutrients, then are attracted back to root tips by exudates. In the rhizophagy cycle plants 'farm' soil microbes to obtain nutrients. How the rhizophagy cycle functions and its significance for crop cultivation will be discussed in detail.
Food as Medicine Strategies to Revolutionize Health Care & Health Equity
A quiet revolution is brewing across the country that has the power to dramatically expand access to healthy food and transform how we think about health care. But ensuring that this revolution also leads to a healthier food system is not guaranteed. Learn how you can help leverage this transformation to create a healthy, just and sustainable food system for all.
A food-first approach to staying well
The famous quote attributed to Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” has transformed into the widely used phrase “food as medicine.” While the idea of resolving illness by changing our diet is tempting, we may be failing to see the challenges and complications with this mindset. When we turn to food as medicine and frame it as a solution to our illness, we separate it from celebration, history, culture, flavor, joy, and social connection. Our health becomes highly dependent on stressful dietary rules.
Nutrition is one of the most powerful and adjustable factors in maintaining health and food absolutely has the capacity to initiate healing and improve immunity. However, food and dietary patterns must be considered as a whole, through the sum of their parts (beyond micro- and macronutrients), as well as in concert with our microbiome which plays a critical role. Through reconnecting to nutrient-dense food, knowing functional ingredients that unify flavor and quality, and understanding what causes fluctuations in our microbiomes, we can support and nourish the inherent wisdom of the body, and regain trust in our food and ourselves.
Processes Governing the Biofertility of Our Soils, Food and Preventative Health
In this session, Walter will connect mycelia and gut flora, how they serve similar functions on different scales with almost poetic parallels, and how the fungal membrane uptake intelligences perform nearly the same in the soil ecosystem as in our gut biome. Walter will also look at the critical role that restoring the natural microbial processes that govern the availability of nutrients in our soils and food play in our preventative health and capacity to avoid external and internal disease vectors.
The Microbiome's Control of Immune Function
The world has lived through an unprecedented time with the pandemic spread of COVID-19. In an effort to decrease our susceptibility to other harmful viral infections, this is an opportunity to collectively educate your patients (the public) on the power of preventative healthcare and to get a better understanding of our natural defenses. The microbiome and the immune system are inextricably connected and the immune system would cease to function without the microbiome. The microbiome acts as the “Neighborhood Watch” for the immune system allowing for effective surveillance of a mucosal system that is over 3000 sq. ft. in surface area and inhabited by over 40 trillion microbes. This presentation will provide a review on the components of the immune system, the kinetics of our immune response and the critical support and check-points managed by the microbiome. One of our most powerful tools in fighting invading pathogens is having a healthy microbiome and this talk will illustrate what exactly that means.
Twenty Years of Bleu-Blanc-Coeur
From the first "One Health" clinical study to today's success
Hear from the founder the story of Bleu-Blanc-Coeur which started with the first "One Health" clinical trial twenty years ago, and is now a success story based on accessibility and measurement. Learn how scientists in France conducted clinical trials comparing the diets of people who ate eggs, meat, and butter from quality sources and those who did not, the results of which established the connection between soil health, crop nutrient variations, animal health, and human health.
Harnessing soil biodiversity to improve nutrient bioavailability
What is fermentation? And why is it practiced everywhere? Starting with these fundamental questions, fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz will walk us through simple techniques for fermenting vegetables at home, while exploring how the process relates to soil biodiversity and nutrient bioavailability. Learn about the healing qualities and nutritional importance of live-culture ferments, as well as their illustrious history and integral role in human cultural evolution. Empower yourself with simple techniques for fermenting these healthful foods in your home. Be part of the fermentation revival!
Decolonizing and Indigenizing Regenerative Agriculture
This is a three-part series, starting with 1) decolonization of the mind, 2) decolonization of science, methodology, processes and management, and 3) leading personal and collective transformation of governing and management structures, ownership and control systems as a foundation of an indigenization and decolonization process central to achieving regenerative agriculture outcomes.
We have lost our ways, but recovering and validating and adapting existing ancestral (indigenous) ways of being and knowing offers a path forward. We will review ideas for establishing the foundational mantras, doctrine, and patterns to reverse established colonizer thinking, organizing, and processing patterns so we can achieve regenerative system-level outcomes.
Science and the methods are not the problem, rather it is how and to what end they are used that needs to change. Establishing the core earth-based indigenous foundations that define the chemical, physical, and biological processes that generated the conditions for the diversity of life to exist is central to reframing current agriculture science and management. We will seek to apply this understanding and indigenous wisdom to the process by which we reconcile these resources and their use in building a regenerative agriculture system.
Utilizing ancestral organizational and governance structures designed to balance the innate colonizing nature in all of us we can collectively seek to build a framework for organizing legitimate representation and fully accountable systems to represent our collective interest and to initiate the process of building a Regenerative Agriculture System.
How Microbial Ecologies Govern the Earth's Soils, Climate, Biosystems and Our Future.
In this talk, Walter will explores how microbes, particularly fungi, have created and govern the Earth's biosystems and geo-chemical cycles and why we must respect and regenerate them urgently to secure our safe future.
Design for the seventh generation
Through the lens of mapping, we can regenerate our lost connections and enhance the way we interact with each other on the land. We can use ecological mapping and GIS data to support the healing of our connection to land and our bodies. Mycelia mapping highlights opportunity areas, connection points and organizing patterns at a landscape scale. It is an empowering strategy to support ecosystem and community health. When we begin to organize and interact with each other on the watershed, foodshed, fibershed, medicineshed scale we strengthen place-based agriculture and regenerative land use planning.
A Quantum Paradigm
Seven first principles of living systems
What principles run through and speak to all of life's processes. Human and Planetary health, the systems from fooding (we all eat and are eaten eventually) to spiritualizing existence. Let's explore the principles that are found universally in indigenous Iroquois ways of living, as I learned from my Mohawk grandfather on his farm, from wisdom spiritual teachings I experienced from 5 lineages that speak to the same truth, and from living systems sciences I still immerse myself in every day.
Economic Innovations in Regenerative Enterprises
Examples, patterns & discussion
Drawing on nearly 30 years experience organizing systems-focused environmental projects and initiatives with local communities, companies, citizen-sector organizations, David will offer his insights on how leading food and farming enterprises are growing their income from unconventional sources (from urban water supply to carbon to elephant conservation), based on the great value that nutrient-focused practices create across food, health and environment.
Having worked with 100+ Nourishment Economy enterprises globally, David will present five examples of successes and innovations in rural economies, what he has discovered watching and working with these enterprises around the world figure out how to grow and sustain economic models based on the many tangible benefits of aligning natural ecology, farming, food systems, and human healthcare in new ways. David will present five examples from his work with 100+ Nourishment Economy enterprises globally, and then host a 45-minute group discussion about the economics.
In Search of Integrity
As a freshman at Tufts University in 1967, I found myself engaged in a personal struggle to reconcile the goals of the civil rights and environmental movements. My African American colleagues considered the latter to be irrelevant at best, and downright counterproductive to the goals of Blacks in the eyes of many. Limited-growth slogans rang hollow, suggesting the door was closed to those still struggling to achieve economic equality. My formal education was of little use in helping me resolve this conundrum. Convinced that my frustrations in finding solutions to this apparent conflict between economic equality and environmental quality was the result of wrong-headed thinking about how the world works, I embarked upon what was to become a more-than-fifty-year journey in search of integrity – the overarching wholeness and underlying moral foundation of the world that has been consciously obscured by false narratives perpetrated by a host of bad actors motivated by ignorance, fear and greed. The connecting thread/creative tension that has pulled me along and served as my compass on this journey has been an evolving understanding and application of systems thinking inspired initially by the discoveries, insights, inventions and writings of Bucky Fuller.
Bionutrient Institute Series
A four-part series about the Bionutrient Institute, a BFA project to bring nutritional transparency to the food supply.
We will begin with an overview of the Bionutrient Institute and the work to empower consumers in the store to select for nutrient density, while also equipping growers to make real-time decisions in the field to produce the highest quality crops. This session will look at the objectives of the Bionutrient Institute, how it is structured, and how the food and soil quality data is collected. We will present the key findings from 2019 and 2020, and what we hope to learn in 2021, as well as exciting developments launching this year and how you can get involved.
The vision, question, and problem the Bionutrient Institute is trying to solve in defining quality, and why no one has defined it before, followed by an examination of the efforts of the Bionutrient Institute to decode the inherent complexities, including the successes and limitations of our process and methods to date. Join us to collectively explore paths to grow the Bionutrient Institute.
Dan Kittredge and Dr. Dan TerAvest, soil scientist at Bionutrient Institute partner, Our Sci, present 2020 data from the lab and explore the question: What causes variation in quality? This is the third in the series discussing the work of the Bionutrient Institute and our progress in bringing nutritional transparency to the food supply.
Over the past three years, thousands of food and soil samples have been analyzed from across the United States and Europe, with detailed information collected about how that food was grown and the soil that it was grown in:
- review the dramatic variations in nutrient levels across the board that were found in 2020 research year;
- review the connections between soil type, variety and management practices that correlate to these nutrient variations;
- review the connections between soil carbon, biological activity, management practices and nutrient variation.
Nutrient variation is massive across the board and soil health connects directly to nutrient levels in crops.
This session will look at how we are building a tool that can objectively predict nutrient density and help move the food supply beyond labels to transparency. We'll discuss how the data collected through the Bionutrient Institute and its partners can support on-farm and in-store prediction of quality measurements like antioxidants, polyphenols, and minerals. We will examine the technologies in play – spectroscopy as used in the Bionutrient Meter, what it can and cannot do, and the associated data we are able to collect – and we'll explore near-future technologies, and our vision for the next generation Bionutrient Meter.
Discovering, Analyzing, Recovering, and Rebuilding Nutrient Density in Food
As humans, we have always known how to find the foods we needed to nourish and heal our bodies. I remember in a presentation by Dr. Wade Davis from the National Geographic Society talking about living in the Amazon when he was doing his PhD at Harvard in Botany. He related the story of asking the Shaman how he knew plant A worked in a separate way from plant B (that actually looks identical to the first plant). He answered that the plants told him. Later in the lab at Harvard, they discovered that indeed Plant A and B were unique and did have different properties, although it was not possible to tell the plants apart physically.
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, we began to put names on the nutrients like Vitamins A and C. Then we became more interested in how small changes in what we fed livestock affected animal health. Nutrition was becoming a science! The increasing analytical capacity of chemistry laboratories revolutionized our understanding of human physiology and the nutrients we needed to fuel our engines. Technology continues to change the way we understand nutrition, food and health, especially for livestock. Only now are we seriously starting to again understand and think about how nutrition can nourish and heal our bodies.
When yield became a critical factor, cereals became the dominant crop. As cereals became the staple food in our diets the nutritional quality declined. The question is why?
Agriculture has not held nutrient output as an explicit goal of its production systems. Most adults in North America are deficient in the mineral magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. Yet, whole grains can provide these nutrients. What practices can we use to rebuild nutrient density in food and where is the evidence? Join me as I discover, analyze, recover and rebuild the path to nutrient dense food.
Panel: Engaging with the Bionutrient Institute
Meet and hear directly from a coalition of allies (organizations, companies, farmers, consumers) who have worked with the Bionutrient Institute. Learn about the various levels of engagement, and why and how you can get involved.