Sowing the Seeds of Regenerative Communities.
For the past quarter century, I’ve been on a journey to tend the soil and soul of communties by bringing community-supported agriculture and biodynamic farming to communities far and wide. It’s so clear to me that we should be more connected to the earth and each other and through those connections, we nourish ourselves, the land and society.
How is it that we have become so far removed from each other and the land? Why are communities not more diverse with people of different ages, ethnicities and income levels?
Communities can generally be categorized into urban, suburban and rural with each lacking a balance of the things so many of us want in the places where we live. Urban gives us culture and connectivity in close proximity where density creates a vibrant, walkable environment, however, what is often missing is the connection to nature, agriculture and rural landscapes.
Suburbia gives us the perception of having space and safety but we are disconnected from nature and agriculture and highly dependent on our cars for almost everything we do from grocery shopping, school, restaurants, cultural activities and more.
Rural living gives us the beautiful countryside but where like in the suburbs we depend heavily on automobiles to get anywhere and everywhere. The perception and to some extent experience of being more connected to nature and agriculture is there, however, often not integrated with agriculture in a meaningful way while also being exposed to the harmful chemicals commonly used in conventional farming. Access to natural areas for hiking, biking and being in nature is also often a drive away and not well integrated into rural communities.
Before the invention of the car, many people lived in multigenerational agrarian communities where village and farm were connected and interdependent. Now, what we are starting to see is a future where virtual work is here and autonomous cars are just around the corner. It seems we may be able to get back to this way of life with all the modern technologies to help make this life practical - WiFi, video conferencing, etc.
So what’s the solution?
Regenerative rural communities with village centers where good planning masterfully integrates people with nature, agriculture and each other.
By prioritizing the preservation and restoration of the most valuable natural and agricultural areas of a property and then nesting homes into that environment in a balanced and biophilic way, we can create regenerative, resilient communities where both people and the planet thrive.
In order to foster this preservation and nature and community connectivity, the housing is best clustered hamlets, villages and neighborhoods with the forest, fields and farms within walking and biking distance.
The farmers, artisans and entrepreneurs who steward the working farms and agrarian enterprises are a vital part of a healthy community. Providing pathways to affordable land and home ownership in an accessible way is paramount to fostering a diverse, healthy cultural ecosystem and food system.
For the past few decades, I’ve been designing and helping build farms in conservation villages. I actually now live in one I helped start 20 years ago called Serenbe just south of Atlanta. When I got the call from Chip, Jeff, and Christine to help him design a regenerative, farm-centered community in Baja last year I jumped at the opportunity.
During the recent conversation Chip and I had on the Citizen Farmers podcast, Chip shares his philosophy for how he and his amazing team are sowing the seeds of a new kind of regenerative community that will grow into a garden of soulful, purposeful and beautiful people living their best lives in community, both in Baja and Santa Fe.
Listen to Episode 7 of Season 2 of the Citizen Farmers Podcast to hear Daron and Chip discuss how to cultivate and grow regenerative communities.
Daron “Farmer D” Joffe is a nationally recognized biodyn amic farmer, consultant, entrepreneur and author of the acclaimed book “Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities and Give Back to the Earth.”. Learn more and connect at Farmerd.com and www.citizenfarmers.org