RAFT Class Information

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Overall Learning Objectives for RAFT Fall 2018

– Learn the principals, definition and key components of regenerative agriculture as it pertains to urban and peri-urban agriculture

– Identify how regenerative agriculture can increase food sovereignty, through community and environmental health in food deserts, both in major population zones, and rural areas (locally and globally)

– How can you connect this course to your specific needs?

– Master the necessary curriculum and practices to participate in our communities as regenerative gardeners and farmers

– Identify opportunities to make an impact in our communities in developing regenerative ag and gardening opportunities

Class Description

Week 1: What is regenerative agriculture. Comparing and contrasting these terms: Regenerative Agriculture, Agroecology, Climate Smart Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture, Organic Agriculture, and Conservation Agriculture, and new agricultural movements (eat local, eat seasonal, eat indigenous food sources, super food crazes) how they differ, relate and why they work together to attain similar goals.

Week 2: What are the major native plant communities in our area: field trips to some local areas, plant walks, discussion on anthropogenic landscapes, dominant species, successions species, and key stone species. Discuss native versus non-native, look at how our landscapes are changing.

Week 3: Soils and microbiology: soil & food web define soil, discuss soil ecology (microbial ecology, microbial networks), chemistry, and structure. Define soil food web in a natural landscape. Define soil food web in an agricultural landscape.

Week 4: How to implement and prepare the land on the following land types:
(Remember: regenerative is the act of regenerating our soils and environments, so we are not going to be starting with some lush acreage of high quality soil.)

1. On existing lawn or athletic field
2. An existing farm that is not growing food and has been left uncared for
3. A very weedy abandoned lot in an urban environment
4. An asphalt parking lot
5. A construction site with compacted soil

Week 5: Middlebrook’s version of the food pyramid: native edibles, perennial edibles, superfoods, nitrogen fixing foods and comfort foods, drought tolerant foods. Discuss this in depth. Discuss nutritional analysis, plant community of origin if it’s a native, and country of origin if it not a native. What part of the plant is eaten; how is it harvested and prepared; how is it propagated. Connect on ecological, economic/nutritious, and cultural use of pyramid.

Week 6: Diversity and ecology on the farm. Way of looking at diversification and how they help our agriculture landscape both environmentally, and economically: ecological services, divers marketing systems, methods of poly-cropping (successional planting, relay planting, companion planting).

Week 7: Field Trip: Singing Frogs Farm

Class 8: More ecology in the field: Native hedge rows, tree lines, other ecological designing and systems (ponds, streams, gray water systems, food forests, owl boxes, animals, native grasses and native plant communities). Why are they important? What ecological services do they provide the farm? (Use some farms and projects for pictures discussion and examples: i.e., Middlebrook’s gardens in Ghana, France, India, Singing Frogs, etc.)

Class 9: Controlled environment agriculture: aquaponics, aeroponics and hydroponics. Presentation of three forms of food production that can be incorporated into architecture or other surface areas where soils are not available or may be contaminated.

Class 10: Nursery and Propagation. In order to achieve the production numbers associated with regenerative organic agriculture, many species of food plants must be grown year-round. Plants, like lettuces, are continuously propagated and transplanted into soils when they are robust and large. In this method, the beds are used to finish the lettuce as opposed to nurture it and grow it up from seed.

Class 11: Tatura Trellis system, learn how to design and build Tatura trellis system, how to select appropriate fruit and nut trees for the site, how to plant and manage for production, health and conservation. Understory plantings and harvesting. Use Hester for an example.

Class 12: Field trip: Permaculture Center

Class 13: Stacking function we will explore options for food productivity utilizing vertical space, fencing, edges of buildings, food towers or the buildings themselves.

Class 14: Marketing systems, food deserts, decentralizing food markets, food sovereignty and its impact on social justice. How and why? What does this look like?  One 1,000-acre farm versus 1,000 1-acre farms.

Class 15: Adapting to local environments and cultures: how to take knowledge and implement it with respect to local environments and cultures. Components in a regen farm for Silicon Valley. Components in a regen farm for tropical Africa, India, France. Compare and contrast. How are they the same? How are they different? Connecting what you have learned to your own practice, community, and moving forward. Final presentation.