Climate Farming Practices

The key to reversing climate change could be right under our feet.


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In regenerative agriculture, animals can help with crop cultivation.
Photo by Charles Gooden and Mikael Maynard

Conventional methods of modern agriculture and gardening can create a host of environmental hazards. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, agricultural activity is responsible for 10 percent of atmospheric carbon emissions worldwide, and excess nitrogen runoff from conventional and organic fertilizers — combined with the poor contouring of most farmland — upsets the natural ecosystems in lakes, rivers, and oceans, suffocating fish and other plant life.

These practices strip vital nutrients from topsoil, decreasing both the availability of farmable land and the nutritional quality of the food grown on it. Soil erosion is a progressively worsening situation that the United Nations says could reduce worldwide crop yields by 10 percent over the next 30 years.

Modern agriculture’s single-minded focus on yield leads most traditional and organic farmers to plant vast, single-crop fields, a practice referred to as “monoculture.” Monoculture farming requires more importation of nutrients, further degrades the soil, and can result in poorer long-term yield.

Organic farming isn’t always easy on the environment either. Many large-scale organic farms do little to control the leaching of water and plant nutrients from their land, and the resulting runoff can have a negative impact on nearby ecosystems.




5 Principles of Climate Farming

  1. Integration of animals into growing operations.
  2. Stratified, adjacent planting of multiple species.
  3. Minimal topsoil disturbance.
  4. Erosion and water management techniques, such as earthworks and appropriate irrigation.
  5. Ongoing soil improvement through cover crops and composting.

Given the issues with both traditional and organic farming, we can’t afford to continue ignoring the industry’s environmental impact. It’s time for organic consumers, farmers, and gardeners to take on Big Agriculture and go beyond organic. Climate Farming is the next step in the organic farming and climate-conscious revolutions. The purpose of Climate Farming is to produce delicious, nutritious fruits and vegetables while improving topsoil health, reducing or eliminating harmful agricultural runoff, sequestering carbon, and fixing nitrogen.

The combination of practices that make up Climate Farming isn’t new. Rather, it links together proven strategies from regenerative farming, permaculture, and syntropic agroforestry, many drawing on Indigenous practices, in a unique way. We put these methodologies into practice every day at the Johnny Appleseed Organic Village, a sustainable living development near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Georgia. We’re constantly observing and fine-tuning the principles (see “5 Principles of Climate Farming,” above) with some of the leading experts in permaculture and environmental sciences, and we’re proud to report that Climate Farming is not only doable, but it’s also transforming our land into a carbon-capturing oasis.






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