Carbon Farming Intensive: Science, Crops, Enterprises

Important Announcement: The 2015 Carbon Farming Course has been cancelled.  Please contact with any questions.  Thank you!

Eric Toensmeier will lead this special 5-day intensive workshop covering the many facets of Perennial Crop Agroforesty including carbon-sequestering perennial agriculture crops, participatory exercises designing regenerative enterprises, and strategies for implementation. Eric will draw from his substantial experience with perennial crops and agroforestry the wold over as well as from his recent cutting-edge research as he writes Carbon Farming: a Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices

Perennial crop agroforestry

Perennial Agriculture is at the core of Carbon Farming technology.  For nearly two million years, ecosystems of long-lived plants and animals sustained the gatherer-hunter ancestors of all human beings on earth — these perennial ecosystems provided food, fiber, fuel, and ecosystem services while constantly increasing the health and biodiversity of the planet.

Prices of fuel, agricultural inputs and labor are rising. Now is the time to re-create these long-lived, low-maintenance, food-producing ecosystems on our farms, around our homes, and in our communities.

Carbon-sequestering agriculture and perennial crops

To address climate change we must transform agriculture to reduce emissions and sequester carbon. Perennial crops sequester carbon, and are a critical resource in this effort. We will look at the global toolkit of practices that integrate perennial crops with annuals and livestock. Some of these agroforestry systems actually sequester more carbon than adjacent natural forest! Unlike risky and expensive geoengineering efforts, agroforestry can have multiple social and ecological benefits. Key to this effort are non-destructively harvested perennial crops – no-till species which provide harvests for many years. With an emphasis on crops for the range of climates found in the US and Canada, we’ll look at:

  • Perennial staple crops for protein, carbohydrates, and oils;
  • Perennial industrial crops for materials, chemicals, and energy; and
  • Agroforestry support species for fertility, fodder, slope protection and more.

Small group regenerative enterprise design exercises

Scaling up perennial farming systems in the US and Canada presents many challenges, including business model development. We’ll look at enterprise selection, marketing strategies, budgeting, and financing. Small groups will develop and present farm enterprise ideas that:

  • Work as effective polycultures providing fertility, pest control, and livestock integration;
  • Share processing and marketing infrastructure to minimize costs and stack functions; and
  • Provide income during establishment years as well as long-term profitability.

Implementation strategies

Transforming global agriculture is an enormous challenge. Perennial crop agroforestry has much to offer the “MAD challenge”: mitigation, adaptation and development. We’ll look at what’s being done and remains to be done regarding policy, research, activism, and farmer movements.

Eric Toensmeier Paradise LotEric Toensmeier perennial-vegetables