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How Regenerative Agriculture Can Go Large-Scale, With the Help of Chickens

From ORGANIC CONSUMER:

Follow the link above for the video.

Poultry is a staple of most peoples' diet. It's one of the least expensive meats around, and a good source of high quality animal protein (provided it's non-CAFO and raised on pasture with a natural diet).

But while most are aware of the importance chicken plays in the diet, few are likely to be familiar with the ways poultry production can be optimized.

Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, an innovator in the field of regenerative agriculture, has developed an ingenious system that has the potential to transform the way food is grown.

You might be familiar with Joel Salatin and the way he raises pastured chickens. I visited him on his Polyface Farm in Virginia, but Reginaldo has massively improved the method of raising chickens naturally, without the use of any cages.

Reginaldo was born in poverty in Guatemala, just before the beginning of the 36-year long civil war that finally ended in 1996, and overcame tremendous struggles to obtain the finest agriculture education in Guatemala— at the Central National School of Agriculture—where conventional agriculture is the primary focus.

It’s a four-year educational system that is as challenging, if not more so, than medical school in the US, with hands-on fieldwork starting at 6:30 in the morning, classes from 1 to 5 every afternoon and mandatory study time until 10 at night.

“My story starts in Sanarate, El Progreso, where our family’s biggest concern was food, especially in the dry corridor,” Reginaldo says. “Of course, it’s a universal concern, but for us, it was a little different because not only was it dry, but the conditions were not exactly stable.

So, we moved to the rainforest in the northern part of the country. I grew up in that environment, surrounded by nature and a lot of natural systems. Lucky for me, [I was] also surrounded by people who deeply cared about the natural cycles.

Even though scientifically we didn’t quite understand those things, my curiosity grew out of those observations in that place.”

Poultry-Centered Regenerative Agriculture

While the Central National School of Agriculture teaches conventional agriculture, Reginaldo took a different path once he got out, focusing on natural systems rather than following the conventional model.

"It was very clear to me before I went to school that conventional, chemical, intensive monoculture systems were not an option. We had already learned to get out of poverty through the power of regenerative ecological management systems,' he says."

 The system he came up with is a blueprint for regenerative farming that can be applied on a larger scale, and with it, he hopes to structure a real, commercially viable, food revolution from the ground up that can be replicated and customized anywhere in the world.

According to Reginaldo, regenerative agriculture needs to be centered around livestock in order to be optimized, and adding chickens is an easy way to do that.

Reginaldo’s work is based out of the Main Street Project in Northfield, Minnesota, grounded on an ecological, social and economically integrated management system and centered on poultry.

Not only is poultry something that connects every community in the world, the meat and eggs are also a valuable source of animal protein (critical when dealing with hunger in a permanent way), and can be a solid economic platform to deal with poverty.

Poultry is also very accessible to small-scale farmers, who produce most of the food in the world — an important fact that many are unaware of. About 40 percent of the world's population — an estimated 2.6 billion people — are small farmers; a majority of them cultivating less than five acres.

In some areas that percentage is even higher. In Africa, for example, small farmers grow 90 percent of the available food

"The factory-farming, conventional system claims they feed the world. The actual facts are totally the opposite, but they have the power, and own and control that story," Reginaldo says.

That is actually one of the biggest travesties because it defines how we think and invest in a different system, not knowing that we’re actually shooting ourselves in the foot big time [by not supporting and investing in small farmers].”

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Eye-poppimg figures for the importance of small-scale agriculture.

I had to leave this morning before I could watch the video. I love the idea that someone has come up with a more humane way to farm animals.

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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

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