Land and Sandwiches: Urban Restaurants Fund Regenerative Agriculture in #Colorado – KUNC

Click on the link to read the article on KUNC website (Rae Solomon). Here is an exerpt :

Yellow Barn is a baby of a farm. The 100-acre operation at Longmont started a little over 2 years ago, on the grounds of a closed stable. Nick DiDomenico is the young farmer from Yellow Barn. DiDomenico practices regenerative agriculture, a holistic approach to farming and ranching. It rebuilds depleted soils, improves ecosystems and mitigates climate change by putting carbon back into the soil. Colorado farmers are increasingly experimenting with these techniques, to varying degrees. DiDomenico is among those leading the pack. The Yellow Barn fields are just getting started. DiDomenico worked to establish a silvopasture here – an integrated system of trees and livestock that work together to produce an overall regenerative benefit – including increased biodiversity on the land, leading to greater soil fertility and improved water retention. “We farm here, we manage our livestock,” Didomenico explained. “It’s this rotational grazing strategy that improves the land.”

On a recent afternoon, DiDomenico fixed a faulty pump on the water trough that hydrates his small herd of belted Galloway cows. “It’s really a niche thing that we do,” he said, “which is to convert completely decertified, degraded and marginalized land and redevelop it into viable farming systems.”

[…]

Conventional agriculture is very expensive. Farmers typically pay dearly for inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides and the fuel needed to apply them to the fields. Since the 1930s, the federal government has subsidized these fees strongly. But the Farm Bill subsidies are deliberately conservative. They are not equipped to encourage risk and experimentation. “They’re designed for medium to large-scale farming,” according to Clark Harshbarger, a regenerative agriculture expert with the NGO Mad Agriculture in Boulder, Colorado. “They’re deliberately trying to take the risk out of these practices because it’s taxpayers’ money already spent,” Harshbarger said. “And sometimes [the USDA] the verification process has not necessarily caught up with progressive regenerative agricultural systems. As a small regenerative farmer, DiDomenico falls through the cracks when it comes to federal subsidies. Yellow Barn’s agricultural technique is experimental and holistic. Harshbarger is familiar with the work of DiDomenicos. “It’s very creative and it’s complex,” he explained, but “the Farm Bill is designed to be very specific…very 1-to-1.”

[…]

The USDA does not subsidize this type of work. So DiDomenico finds financial support in unlikely places… Just off the highway, in the town of Boulder, there’s a mall with an Indian restaurant, a nail salon, and a locksmith. In a corner behind the Goodwill, a Subway sandwich shop does good business at lunchtime. But this Subway is special because in addition to classic steak and cheese, spicy Italian, and tuna subs, it offers customers the opportunity to support regenerative agriculture in nearby rural areas. This is because of a program called Restore Colorado, which takes a little extra — just 1% of the cost of your meal — from urban restaurants, like this Subway, and gives rural farmers, like DiDomenico, to invest in their soil. This is just a few cents more than the cost of each sandwich, which appears on the sales receipt as a 1% Restore Colorado fee.

About Keneth T. Graves

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