The Big Dry: Feeding The Future - National Regenerative Agriculture Day is on February 14

GRASSLAND: Gulgong farmer Colin Seis at his farm in February 2017 before the dry weather began (right) and his farm in July (left). He is one of the state's regenerative farmers.
GRASSLAND: Gulgong farmer Colin Seis at his farm in February 2017 before the dry weather began (right) and his farm in July (left). He is one of the state's regenerative farmers.

A nationwide challenge has begun to spend Valentine’s Day sending love to farmers with a regenerative twist. 

It’s called National Regenerative Agriculture Day and it’s hijacking February 14 – a day of love and affection, to edge the country toward a future where farming is sustainable, foodies are cooking with nutrient-rich ingredients and shoppers are reaping the health benefits.

Regenerative farmers Helen and Michael McCosker and graphic designer Kelly Jones coined the day in December through the McCoskers’ charity, What Would Love Do Now.

They want everyone to dip their toes into the regenerative pool so they can see how it can rejuvenate the soil and create flow-on effects such as improving biodiversity and ecosystems.

Farmers are doing it so tough, and there’s been a lot of criticism of farmers. If we can bring all of our farmers on a journey to regenerative agriculture in a really supportive way, so it’s not critical, we felt the week of Valentine's Day was really important.

Helen McCosker

The key principle is carbon, which is considered a diamond when it is in the soil.

The carbon to soil story in a nutshell:

Carbon massively increases the amount of water that can be stored in the ground and this helps pastures and crops to tolerate drought. 

The carbon solution – in very simple terms, goes like this. Carbon dioxide in the air is bad, but when it is brought into the ground it binds to the soil and allows it to hold a lot more water. 

For example, Australia studies have shown one hectare of land, with a reading of 8 per cent carbon, could hold up to three average-sized swimming pools of water. As the carbon percentage increases so does the soil’s water-holding capacity. 

A diverse range of plants in the soil allows large amounts of carbon to be transferred from the air to the ground. This process also helps to produce more nutrient-rich food.

It’s not just farms that can benefit from this. 

Backyard growers, and even gardeners, can also use this method to create more drought-tolerant crops. 

What will happen on National Regenerative Agriculture Day?

A taste test at The Farm Byron Bay – which will compare cheap no-brand chocolate with an organic variety – is one of the events already in the pipeline.

This delicious tasting will help to show the differences between conventional agriculture and regenerative agriculture. 

Mrs McCosker said the cheap chocolate symbolised conventional agriculture with the use of chemical fertiliser to get fast results even though the product lacked long-term benefits.

The organic one represents a product made with regenerative agriculture methods.

“You smell and you touch and feel … The no-brand chocolate is dull and tastes really sweet, it’s a quick fix but it doesn’t satisfy you,” Mrs McCosker said. 

“Then we’ve got the organic chocolate that is rich, has come from regenerative farmers, and has been made with love.”

Mrs McCosker said she had received a lot of interest from people living in the city.

“There are so many foodies who are signing up and wanting information and the big secret is learning how important carbon in the soil actually is.”

Our city cousins are really wanting to know what’s happening, they want to do something to help but they don’t know what that is.

Helen McCosker

WANT TO HELP?

Click here to find out more about the day and register an event.