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Regenerators 2024

What is the potential when a critical mass of humans begin truly giving their gifts to the regeneration of life? How do we make this happen on the ground? This writing aims to explore the push and the pull needed for the regeneration of our biosphere and communities. We need a push and an active resistance to the injustices on Earth, but this alone is not enough; we need to rejoin this with its polarity, in the form of a pull towards the beautiful world we wish to live and dance towards together. The push and the pull create the dynamic tension of action, playing with forces of convergence and divergence to create beautiful emergence beyond our imaginations, yet informed by our unfolding vision and hope force. This year we have launched the Regenerators course at Middle Ground Growers, motivated by the question:

 

What is the potential when a critical mass of humans begin truly giving their gifts to the regeneration of life?

 

We need to undergo a radical and empowering shift in our identity as humans, no small task! A shift in identity from consumers and parasites on earth towards a identity of regenerators and participants in life’s unfolding process. We exist in cycles not lines, we operate in relationship not separation, and we are here for a reason not some cosmic accident. We are here for the healing of life, for the evolution of conscious participation in this, and for the expression of nature’s bounty – through our song, dance, creativity, gratitude, stewardship, planting, harvesting, caring and tending to Earth’s garden (including her rivers, ecosystems and all species). To reclaim this identity and purpose will perhaps take generations, and start with the way we cultivate, educate and care for the next generation. Part of this care is to ensure there is hope and scope for a liveable biosphere for the next 7 generations and beyond.

 

The potential of Humans as Regenerators is huge. Imagine a global web of healing biotopes and communities of both resistance and regeneration – all aligning in a global force for healing and life flourishing. Anthropological studies have shown how indigenous communities have built soil, regenerated rivers and cleaned pollution through their ecosystem stewardship and partnership with nature. Many traditional and modern communities have also shown us models of how not to do this (its never black and white!) and we can hold and harvest all of these lessons, with compassion and without polarising the human identity as either saviours or parasites. Its never black and white, and we must hold both realities to move forward into the new holistic paradigm. We must hold both the lessons and wisdom of our ancestors and the grief for the mistakes of humanity and their ongoing consequences. This is about accountability and reparation. Humbly listening in to the wisdom of the past whispers whilst also keeping a keen eye on tomorrow’s possibility. Hope for regeneration does not just dance round the corner but is part of our very memory and ancestral practice. The potential of a critical mass of regenerators across the planet is already unfolding, millions are catching the waves of action and itch of relentless regeneration. And these projects are becoming more globally entwined, championed and recognised as we wake up to the urgency of our predicament.

 

We must actively engage with the push (stopping the degeneration) and the pull (embarking upon the regeneration on the ground, now). Part of this is finding our unique role, gift and passion in this work that will drive us towards fulfilling earthly and personal responsibilities that we are born with. We are given the gift of life from birth and then every day with breath, food, water - daily miracles that not all have and not to be taken for granted. Our lives, rooted in the gift, must be lived in the gift, to joyfully give back to our maternal and eternal ‘debt’, and yet this reciprocity is not out of disgruntled obligation but of consensual necessity and joy – living with this alignment effectively removes the inner tensions, mental log jams and stuck energy in our own ways of being and doing, and allow an abundant flow of life force energy. There are several barriers to humans adopting the regenerator, healer and custodian identities which we so urgently need. The barriers are internal (e.g. overcoming grief, guilt, shadows, relearning intuition and overcoming low confidence) and external (such as land access, training, ecosystem knowledge and resources). We can begin unblocking and overcoming these barriers collectively and open doorways to inner and outer regeneration. One way in which we are focusing in this work is the Regenerators course, launching from 1st May 2024 we are offering 12 months of regenerative part time learning on a range of topics from Soil Health to Bioregional Food Systems. We have some amazing on-farm spaces, lunches from the land, learning communities and range of guest speakers and trainers to provide a truly holistic and restorative learning environment to empower and inspire. We offer bursaries and discounts for new entrant growers and those on low incomes. We aim to co-create an inspiring learning community and sow the seeds of regeneration for many people over the coming years, in collaboration with other regenerative learning hubs such as the Apricot Centre. We will focus pragmatically on the skills, knowledge and resources needed to spark and catalyse the regenerative journey of individuals and communities, whilst also keeping a focus on the Heart and Head – the feeling and thinking that is required to ensure projects are grounded, motivated, well-functioning and organised. We cant afford to get this wrong at this late stage of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. And we also cant afford to get paralysed in doom and gloom or inaction. So we need the push and the pull to answer the second part of our question.

 

What is the potential when a critical mass of humans begin truly giving their gifts to the regeneration of life? How do we make this happen?

 

The scale and pace of destruction and degeneration can feel so vast and gigantic that it feels overwhelming or paralysing to do anything against the tide. But we too often forget that the real tidal force is nature, and this force is unstoppable once unblocked and allowed to flow. From this perspective, to reverse the degeneration we must begin a process of unblocking a log jam, taking out one by one the barriers to natural flow and allowing the river of life to step back into the drivers seat. We are all part of this river of life and also part of its blockages currently, all caught up and to some extent complicit in the systems of destruction, and yet we also all have ther seeds of potential for spirals of regeneration. The unblocking of the log jam has also been identified as a root of many mental health challenges as Ian Siddons Hegingworth describes beautifully in ‘Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life:’

 

“The only way to shift it [depression] would be to work loose one log at a time. Then slowly, things would start to flow again”… “I would say that depression is always a symptom of stuck grief. Because we as a culture do not willingly embrace grief and mourn the deaths, both small and momentous, in our lives, these logs stack up within us until nothing can flow. Grief for the things we could not have, the love that was not given us, for the dreams we never realised or the expectations we could not fulfil” (chapter 2, Heginworth 2016).

 

This is one tributary where grief work intersects regeneration, we must feel into the predicament of our current log jam, and to feel into all the collective injustice, personal loss, and systemic harm that has been done, in order to transform this fuel into a drive for healing. At the root of grief is love, as with many emotions once the layer of the onion skin are peeled back. Artists and cultural creatives speak of flow and unblocking the resistances to this as a core to their work.

 

Just as we must broaden the identity of Humans in the modern era, beyond consumption and workers in a destructive system, we must also broaden the identity of activists, stewards and regenerators. We are all activists, stewards and regenerators. The regenerative era must not be watered down by the hero story or saviour mentality. Many regenerative farming films are portrayed essentially as one white man saving America, and the media and imagery has also been dominated by this. In a similar vein, the corporatisation and co-option of regeneration by destructive companies such as Nestle is a huge concern for our time, for it may mean that we miss the opportunity for truly transformative solutions and instead fall into business as usual but call it regenerative and make a few tweaks (e.g. replace tillage for more chemicals, or swap one commodity monoculture crop for another). So it is up to us to take regeneration into the peoples hands, and not the top down hierarchies of control. The balance of power will determine whether the regenerative era is true and deep or greenwashed and shallow. This could and should be a wake up call for communities, everyday people, farmers and activists to act now and begin their regenerative journeys, hence reclaiming this healing from co-option and corporate capture. We cant buy our healing, just like we cant buy regeneration through carbon offset programmes. This is not to dismiss the necessary shifts within big business or the important work of offsetting carbon (if it is done right). We do need everyone, and we do not have time to be split into camps or us and them. But we do need a rebalancing of power, and the best thing a Nestle or similar corporation could do is begin handing their land, assets and food system control back to the communities, ecosystems and stewards who can truly care for and regenerate from the ground up.  


For this grassroots regeneration, we all need to upskill, relearn ecosystem knowledge, and shift our careers and life focus towards healing and custodianship in all its forms. My focus here is on farming, land and food systems, but it does (and must) also include pretty much every sector and occupation. Regenerating finance, law (e.g. through Nature rights, ecocide), regenerative consultancy/design, communicating regeneration through the arts, community generated energy, co-housing and regenerative community, and a myriad of other forms that this movement takes. This si the hope and potential of holistic regeneration for me, and the shift towards humans as regenerators, which could see even greater waves of action and renewal in so many of our lives, workplaces and communities. Once a critical mass is reached, this energy becomes infectious, snowballing and inevitable. A crisis or a shock is not enough for us to wait for or kick start this wake up – Regeneration needs a push and a pull. We need to consciously choose to move towards the world we want and dream of, together.

 

If you would like to join our learning community and catalyse your regenerative journey, you can explore our workshop and course offerings here: Regenerators course 2024

 

Early Bird gets the worm offer 5% off, and get in touch if you require a bursary or are a new entrant grower wishing to upskill and join our learning community!

 

 

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