ROA Components

41 Technical Components of Regenerative Organic Agriculture (ROA) Training and Research Farms in Santa Clara County

This model can be used to develop a training program called RAFT (Regenerative Agriculture Farm Training) and a research institute called SULRI (Sustainable Urban Land-Use Research Institute).

This method of urban farming can simultaneously reduce CO2 emissions by 30-50% depending how transportation and wastes costs are calculated, while simultaneously holding carbon in the soil and rebuilding soil organic content.

In order to stop climate change, it is not enough to reduce emissions. We must utilize the soil, globally, to sequester more carbon. This can be accomplished by transitioning out of Agro-petro-chemical farming to an ecological farming method. Here are some components of the model:

1. ROA farms are designed and constructed on 1-10 acres in urban environments, primarily. But components of ROA can be incorporated in organic, Big Ag and permaculture, including larger, industrial farms.

2. Tatura trellis systems are used for fruit and nut tree orchards. This planting system can result in three times more production per acre.

3. Dwarf and genetic dwarf mixed fruit and nut orchards are selected according to soils and climate factors, utilizing Tatura systems.

4. Native wildflower seeds that were the superfood diet of California’s indigenous people are co-planted with a perennial native grass understory beneath mixed fruit and nut orchards. These varieties of harvested seeds can be used in new food products like Native California nutrition bars. There are at least 30 species of native grasses and annual flower seeds planted in the wildflower grassland understory of our orchards.

5. Restored local valley, foothill and riparian grasslands are also used as hedgerows with maximum historical species biodiversity. The more botanical biodiversity, the easier the organic pest management of the food crops.

6. Insectary plants like regionally native milkweed, buckwheat, phacelia, yarrow, gum weed and regional native sunflowers are integrated in food rows.

7. Composting and vermicomposting production is ongoing. The only thing that leaves the farm is food. Working with engineering schools, we will continually develop new technologies to mechanize and maximize on site composting and vermicomposting.

8. Polyculture plantings with up to 225 species of food plants can be utilized both within the food crop rows and native hedgerows. Microbial networks function optimally with increased biodiversity.

9. No till methods are used exclusively. Larger farms use special equipment like crimpers and rollers instead of plows and disks.

10. Heirloom seed saving is standard for all ROA farms. GMO seeds require the constant use of petro chemicals through each stage of their life cycle, therefore, GMO’s reliance on fossil fuel is contributing to co2 emissions. ROA farms do not use GMO seeds. Only organic seeds are planted. We encourage seed saving and seed collecting. There is a great shortage of seeds worldwide. This reduction in natural biodiversity is the greatest threat to life on the planet. Systems begin to weaken and collapse when biodiversity is not protected and encouraged. If we ignore biodiversity, we risk collapse. History has proven this over and over.

11. Drip and subterranean irrigation is connected to rain/storm water reserves. Grey water harvesting is directed toward deep watering of trees and other perennial food plants. New cost savings engineered solutions are developed for storing and dispersing rainwater, so storm water can be used efficiently as an alternative to pumping water long distances. This reduces electricity use. The greatest use of electricity in California is to pump water.

12. Native edibles are one of six plant categories of food plants grown. Plants like Indian potato, huckleberry, elderberry, acorns, miners lettuce and locally farmed native mushrooms can become an important part of California cuisine.

13. Perennial edibles is an important food category. Some of our selected perennials can produce food for 20-200 years from one seed. Many of these plants can be harvested each day of the year for food. Perennial food plants are many times more sustainable than annual foods like corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers which can only be harvested once and then die. The whole process of planting, tending, harvesting and distributing must be repeated each year with our current diet. This is also a very fossil fuel dependent diet. Annual foods are the most expensive and least efficient foods to grow.

14. Drought tolerant food plants are an important third group. There are hundreds of drought tolerant foods from other drought prone areas of the world that can be grown in our ROA farm.

15. Nitrogen fixing plants (NFP) is the fourth one. In addition to providing amino acids as food plants, (NFP) are used in two ways as a source of nitrogen in the ROA farm. Soil microbial networks assist in transferring nitrogen from the nodules on the roots of (NFP) to the soils and plants. The foliage of (NFP) can also be used as fertilizer on the beds. (NFP) can be grown as a cover crop and/ or a food crop or both. Communities whose diet includes NFP daily are the oldest living communities, with more people living to be over 100.

16. Superfoods are the number five category. We prefer that as many plants as possible in the five categories are also superfoods. Superfoods are typically higher in nutrients, phytonutrients, minerals and proteins than other foods. They are nutrient dense.

17. Comfort foods is the last category of food plants. These are the food plants that most people are familiar with. We will continue to grow these plants, but our farm will add more species of food plants from the other plant groups that are more sustainable to grow, provide more nutritional benefit, promote biodiversity and reduce fossil fuel use. For example, of the more than 500,000 plant species found on our planet, more than half of these species will have a part of the plant that may be edible. Having a diet of many plants will create healthier human beings and will greatly reduce our dependence on fossil fuel worldwide because many of these plants are found locally in the natural ecosystems of the areas where the farms are located.

18. Plant rows are planted using companion plantings in raised wide rows, at least 4” above the soil line, at least 4’ across, accommodating 7 species of food plants. Plants are arranged according to harvest dates and complimentary groupings. All 6 categories of foods can be laid out in the planting rows. On larger farms, large perennial plants can occupy several rows with understory perennial plants and shade loving annual plants being rotated out several times a year.

19. Green house and propagating facilities are able to support a constant planting and harvesting schedule with fully automated systems as the goal. Every time a plant is harvested, it is replaced with a new seedling.

20. Aquaponics Farm design will typically utilize rain or storm water capture, with fish effluent connected to an onsite Biogas system for heat and organic fertilizer byproducts.

21. Storm water capture systems, including filters, storage and pumping supply most of the water for all systems to function optimally.

22. An equipment/tool shed of all sustainable construction will also collect, clean and divert rain/storm water.

23. A Biogas system in an integral part of this model, supplying the renewable energy to produce food that is ten times more than big ag or organic farms.

24. Chicken and rabbit hutches are important, possibly pigmy goats production for biodynamic farming if your model includes animal waste.

25. Nitrogen fixings trees and shrubs are planted in hedgerows and adjacent to farm for organic fertilizer sources.

26. Outdoor/indoor kitchen and CSA prep area, walk-in refrigeration, storage are key components in the ROA model utilizing renewable energy systems to produce and distribute food nearby without transportation or food waste costs.

27. Covered Gathering and teaching area that is is attached to rain/storm water capture and dispersal is necessary for teaching and social events.

28. Habitat garden for educational purposes and class field trips helps educate the youth about pollination and biodiversity.

29. Local riparian habitat and native grassland hedgerows are significant components of each farm. Much attention should be paid to assure biodiversity and historical accuracy of plant selections.

30. Solar and/or wind power, and geothermal drive all systems for each farm. Alternative energy is sustainable energy management.

31. Research lab and office with WiFi for sustainable urban land use research institute (SULRI) is on site for gathering and recording data.

32. If possible, it is preferred to drill a well on site with water supplied from two sources: An onsite well and rain water collection. This reduces the need to pump water long distances which greatly reduces fossil fuel use.

33. Greywater systems from sinks that don’t handle foods or chemicals, as well as other fresh water uses are connected to subterranean irrigation.

34. Storage tanks for storm water can be utilized but other engineering solutions are encouraged to replace expensive large holding tanks above or below ground.

35. Educational signage for Regenerative agriculture Farm Training (RAFT) is necessary for eco literacy education.

36. Biofuel systems can be integrated with water, waste and food systems as long as they do not disrupt or hamper food plants harvests.

37. No chemical pest control or phosphate fertilizers are used.

38. All soils are covered with mulch, farm waste or other carbon sources at all times, at least two layers. This is a continuous process. Careful attention must be paid at harvest and planting times that soils are never exposed to the light.

39. Planting beds are never left fallow but are continually harvested and planted daily and weekly year-round.

40. A minimum of 225 food plants are grown and harvested on a daily/weekly basis year-round.

41. When you harvest a plant, you plant another seedling in its place. On a typical day, the consumer will eat 30 different food plants selected from six categories of foods.

Alrie Middlebrook
Sept 1, 2018
San Jose, CA
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