Our Philsophy & Regernative Agriculture
As you look around the property, you may notice a few owl boxes poking up there and there. The owl boxes are a part of our holistic approach to winegrape growing. We are utilizing regenerative growing techniques and hope to be certified regenerative growers in the future.
What is regenerative agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture is a new term that is still being defined and debated. We, and others, see regenerative agriculture as “an approach to agriculture which focuses on improving and revitalizing soil health”. Poor soil stewardship has led to a troubling decrease of topsoil available for food production. Because conventional farming practices have stripped so much carbon from the soil, regenerative ag now exists as a potential carbon sink to take in excess carbon contributing to climate change. The best way to enact this strategy is through sustainable agriculture practices like carbon farming.
Carbon farming is the practice of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into plant material and the organic matter that makes up soil. Carbon farming works through agricultural methods such as reduced tilling (or disturbing the soil), using organic mulch, composting (we develop our own compost using donkey and goat manure, plant trimmings and food scraps), rotating livestock, and cover cropping to allow carbon sequestration to occur in the soil. A growing number of sustainable farmers are adopting these regenerative practices and mitigating climate change while producing healthful and delicious food for their communities.
The core principles of regenerative agriculture include:
- Reduced tillage. Some like to say “no till”, but that is very difficult to accomplish and some feel not as beneficial as reduced tillage. Basically, you want to disturb the soil and all the micro root systems in the soil as little as possible.
- Cover the soil. Exposed, unprotected soil gets baked by the sun and all the beneficial microbes are killed off or removed when the soil is uncovered. Cover crops protect the soil, keeping it cooler, helping it retain moisture, providing an opportunity for beneficial insects to reside in the plants while the roots can feed the animals and microbes underground.
- Roots in the soil: Cover crops help with keeping roots in the soil and this is the one of the most common saying among regenerative ag proponents. Roots in the ground help aerate the soil and if the correct crops are putting down roots, they can provide need nutrients to improve the soil.
- Use of livestock. Sheep are the most common livestock used in vineyards. We hope to be integrating sheep in 2024.
- Diversity. Monocultures are not good for the soil when thinking about crops which are grown, harvested and replanted each year. Winegrape vines are a little different since they stay in the ground, but having a mixture of cover crops and then biodiversity throughout the property (citrus, native walnut, sycamore and olive trees, native plants such as milkweed and others).