Lecture Series: How Can Food Systems Regenerate Our Earth?


Harmony Centre Owen Sound

Regenerative Agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.

The Earth’s climate system depends on the regulating function of the biosphere. While fossil fuel emissions must be reduced, Thorsten advocates that more attention must be given to these biosphere functions: the soil sponge, vegetation and animals, and the small water cycle. Humans can regenerate the biosphere and rebuild landscape resilience to climate change. A series of talks offer a hopeful message that is much needed in today’s world, with many intervention points for communities and planners. The talk series is divided into four lectures, and will be hosted at 1:30pm on four separate Sundays at the Harmony Centre in Owen Sound. Below is a more detailed look at what each talk explores.

1) How the biosphere self regulates its climate: March 15th 2020

Did you know that vegetation actively builds a soil “sponge” that regulates watershed functions? With a functioning soil sponge of a landscape, rainfall events hardly ever lead to flooding and drought. Also, plants cool their own environment by transpiring water – between 250 and 500 times stronger than the global greenhouse does, at least locally. Temperature, moisture, wind patterns, and rainfall are all influenced by how we manage our landscapes — an overlooked opportunity in the debate how we can confront the global climate crisis.

2) Regenerative agriculture for biosphere self regulation: April 5th 2020

Agriculture covers more landscape area than any other land use. How we do agriculture thus also defines our landscape’s biosphere functions and climate resilience. New findings in how the soil actually works are leading to a massive shift in understanding of how we can grow plants – with deep implications for how we farm and manage our lands. Learn about the mycorrhizal revolution, about regenerative farming principles for crops and livestock, and hear about local leaders in this regenerative revolution!

3) Food systems for biosphere regeneration: April 26th 2020

Farm businesses require markets, and the “rules of the game” of their markets define what farmers can do and what they cannot do. Biosphere regeneration through agriculture can only happen if food systems send the right signals to farmers, or at least do not pose market barriers. This talk discusses barriers, opportunities and steps for establishing a food system that works for regeneration, with considerations for regulators, citizens, small businesses, donors,and regional governance.

4) Transforming land management and ourselves for biosphere regeneration: May 3rd 2020

Humans are very effective in engineering and managing complicated systems – it took us one century form using a steam engine to setting foot onto the moon. At the same time, we struggle with managing complex systems that self-regulate at all scales, starting with our immune system and guts or soil, community and watersheds dynamics, up to the global climate. This talk highlights strategies how we can holistically manage complexity and how we may better align our personal impacts with the needs of our only planet.

Each lecture will take 90 minutes of talk, plus 30 minutes of discussion, questions, and brainstorming. All talks are providing in-depth knowledge in an accessible format. Talks build on each other. While there will be a repetition of core concepts as a refresher, regular attendance is recommended.

The event is Pay what you can, no one will be turned away due to a lack of funds. Please be in touch if you have any questions or access needs.

Who is apart of organizing the series: – Eat Local Grey Bruce – Climate Action Team Bruce Grey Owen Sound – Owen Sound Field Naturalists – St George’s Anglican Church Owen Sound

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About Thorsten: Thorsten Arnold has dedicated his work-life to promoting climate resilience in its various facets and seeks to build strong communities by sharing his learnings with others as writer, consultant, and educator. With his wife Kristine Hammel, they co-own Persephone Market Garden, an ecological vegetable farm that produces healthy, fair and simply good food. They have big goals of building the farm into a community hub and have already integrated a summer farm camp, farming workshops, and now a private farm & forest school that offers holistic education in sustainable living.

Thorsten received academic training in environmental engineering (BTU Cottbus) and Earth Systems sciences at the Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the sea (ICBM) in Oldenburg, Germany. He later pursued a dissertation in watershed sciences and agricultural economics (Uni. Hohenheim, Germany). His academic training uniquely bridges the two pillars of climate dynamics: the global greenhouse gas forcing and the role of regional land use and agriculture. Thorsten advocated against selling public water utilities to international investors and against some destructive aspects of global trade deregulations and worked with national and international development agencies around climate change and sustainable agriculture.

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