Regenerative Food Systems2
projects

Regenerative Food Systems

Nationwide, United Kingdom

'From a planetary perspective, much of our food production, in its broadest sense, is contributing to biodiversity loss, global warming, deforestation, water scarcity, flooding, soil degradation, obesity, malnutrition, poverty, disease, and poor human health. In short, our planet is not in good shape.'

Founded by a group of sankalpa changemakers in the summer of 2019, regenerative food systems is a sankalpa funded research group, working on a diverse range of issues that have been further highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Themes include regenerative and ethical terrestrial agricultural practices (which are presently gaining rapid traction in the UK and beyond); what constitutes a regenerative society; rethinking the way we presently harvest and farm fish and other food from the seas; engaging proactively with the veterinary profession to champion regenerative principles; understanding some of the barriers to uptake of non-conventional farming ideas; and educating consumers about food production in its broadest sense, and enabling them to source food from more regenerative systems.

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THE EVOLUTION OF REGENERATIVE FOOD SYSTEMS

In 2013 Alex began working with FAI Farms characterising the interactions between a farm and its local wildlife. Elements of the work explored the positive and negative interactions; the drivers behind them; and the methods deployed to manage those interactions. Widening the application, sankalpa then funded a study to assess the usage patterns of anticoagulant rodenticides to control rodent populations on UK farms. The findings of widepsread year-round use were presented at an international conference in 2018 and published in the International Journal of Pest Management. The study established a platform from which to challenge perceptions about our on-farm relationships with wildlife.

‘Since the beginning of ‘agriculture’, and particularly so in the last 50 years, we have been simplifying landscapes, losing biodiversity and creating a set of conditions that favour plants or animals that we then categorise as pests.
Regenerative systems-based approaches allow us to work more respectfully with the natural world, increasing biodiversity and complexity, and creating resilient land and sea-scapes; from which we are able to provide ourselves with nutritionally dense food; and in which plant or animal species are unable to dominate in a negative manner.’

In 2017, based on her knowledge of wildlife health and ecosystem functioning, and further research into land management practices, Alex was part of the foundations of Wilderculture — a consultancy that takes an integrated approach to ecological restoration and food production in the British uplands.

‘With an clearer understanding of how all life-forms above and below ground interact we are applying new approaches to upland management — that aim to revitalise soils and kick-start enhanced ecosystem functioning. We are focussing on increasing the complexity in the landscape, optimising nutrient and water cycling for the benefit of livestock, the land, the wildlife and the people.’

Alongside her role at Wilderculture, Alex coordinated the operational aspects of sankalpa up until August 2019 — helping us to evolve, while also supporting and coordinating our many different changemakers.

'Regenerative food systems may appear to be quite unrelated to some of the more spiritual aspects of our work at sankalpa. But reconnecting ourselves to our ecosystems through the food that we eat dovetails beautifully with many of the changemakers, and the projects they are involved with. It is by combining respect, complexity, dynamism, regeneration and diversity that we create sustainability.'

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REGENERATIVE FOOD SYSTEMS TODAY

Today Alex is applying her knowledge of regenerative systems to a number of projects, most of which involve partnership working with other sankalpa changemakers.

Recent and forthcoming sankalpa funded activities include: 

  • Working with several other individuals and organisations, characterising the sustainability (in human, animal and environmental terms) of the Ethical Dairy — a true ‘early adopter’ of a commercial ‘cow with calf’ method.
  • Working alongside the team at Vet Sustain to co-produce a book chapter ‘Sustainability: the role of the vet in aligning animal, human and environmental well-being’.
  • Chairing the Food and Farming Working Group of Vet Sustain to develop and deliver a suite of products tailored to livestock veterinarians, veterinary technicians, veterinary students, and livestock producers, that successfully drives effective change to more sustainable food production practices, by appealing to the motivation(s) of both veterinarians and farmers.
  • Production of a webinar An introduction to regenerative agriculture for vets, available via Webinar Vet.
  • Coproduction of a podcast Regen agriculture for kids, available via Farm Gate.
  • Co-production of a podcastRegenerative Oceans available via Farm Gate.
  • New research into the regeneration of marine ecosystems and food in association with World Cetacean Alliance (WCA).
  • New research into regenerative food systems in Asia, Africa and South America.

sankalpa has supported my personal development, it has been an assisting enabler — support, networks, finance, everything. sankalpa is a family of like-minded people with an aligned goal of seeking to create a better planet.

Alex Tomlinson, Regenerative Food Systems
Regenerative Food Systems1

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