14 min

Muller Shepherding Regenerative and Restorative Agricultural Practices The Leading Voices in Food

    • Health & Fitness

Today's podcast is part of our Regenerative Agriculture series. I'm speaking with Mark Muller, Executive Director of the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation (RAF). The RAF seeks to foster the economic policy and knowledge conditions that support land stewardship, climate solutions, racial equity, adjust economy, and thriving rural communities.
Interview Summary
 
So Mark, your paths and mine have intersected over the years in very pleasant ways, and I've admired the work you do. And when you went to work with the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, I thought, "Boy, this is a perfect match." And I'm so happy that you and the Foundation are part of the same picture now. So I'd like to ask, first if you could tell our listeners about the Foundation, and what does the organization hope to accomplish? Because the Foundation itself says that regenerative Ag is not a new idea, that it's difficult to define, it's grounded in community, and it's a journey. So I'd love to hear you explain how all this comes together into a coherent idea.
 
So the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, we are an intermediary funder, which means that we received grants from RV Family Foundations. Our founding entity was the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation. And the idea is that we can utilize those funds more efficiently by having a solid knowledge-base of what's going on - on the ground in regenerative Agriculture. And so that we can re-grant those dollars to be more effectively used around the country. I was brought on about 18 months ago with the intention of trying to diversify our funding, to continue our great relationship with 11th Hour Project, and then to find other funders to step up in a bigger way. And I'm thrilled to have several that have joined. And what I really like for us to do is be the bridge between the nonprofit community, and the funder community. And trying to find different ways that we can all work together more effectively, to move advanced regenerative Agriculture.
 
Is the concept of regenerative agriculture nebulous and difficult to define? Does the field kind of agree now on what it is?
 
I noticed a couple of podcasts ago you had a great conversation with Samantha Mosier around this topic. In my mind, and the reason why on our website we talk about it being a journey, is because it is such a difficult to define concept. And there is a lot of pressure, from an industry and a marketing perspective. You really want to have a clear definition, like what we have for organic. In my mind, I am comfortable in the discomfort of not really having a clear definition. And what I feel like is it is a little presumptuous of us to think that we can define what a truly regenerative Agriculture is. It is a journey that we're going to continue learning about, and there are steps that we can take. And it appears that there are practices that we can document saying, "Yes, these appear to be pretty strong regenerative practices, but we have an awful lot to learn in terms of what a truly regenerative landscape is, and how agriculture fits into that. So I prefer to talk about it as a journey, and not like a specific destination that we know that we're going to.
 
We've recorded a number of podcasts thus far with some farmers and ranchers who are living this day-to-day, with some scientists who have been looking at it, some people who pay attention to the policy part of it. And I know your Foundation will incorporate people who do all those sort of things. So let me ask kind of a big picture question then. So how do you think the regenerative agriculture can become part of the solution for addressing the climate crisis?
 
Yes, great question. One of my motivations is to try to figure out how regenerative Agriculture can be recognized as a key part of the solutions that we need to have to address this climate crisis. And agriculture has come up quite a bit right now, the Glasgow COP meetings are going on. And

Today's podcast is part of our Regenerative Agriculture series. I'm speaking with Mark Muller, Executive Director of the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation (RAF). The RAF seeks to foster the economic policy and knowledge conditions that support land stewardship, climate solutions, racial equity, adjust economy, and thriving rural communities.
Interview Summary
 
So Mark, your paths and mine have intersected over the years in very pleasant ways, and I've admired the work you do. And when you went to work with the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, I thought, "Boy, this is a perfect match." And I'm so happy that you and the Foundation are part of the same picture now. So I'd like to ask, first if you could tell our listeners about the Foundation, and what does the organization hope to accomplish? Because the Foundation itself says that regenerative Ag is not a new idea, that it's difficult to define, it's grounded in community, and it's a journey. So I'd love to hear you explain how all this comes together into a coherent idea.
 
So the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation, we are an intermediary funder, which means that we received grants from RV Family Foundations. Our founding entity was the 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation. And the idea is that we can utilize those funds more efficiently by having a solid knowledge-base of what's going on - on the ground in regenerative Agriculture. And so that we can re-grant those dollars to be more effectively used around the country. I was brought on about 18 months ago with the intention of trying to diversify our funding, to continue our great relationship with 11th Hour Project, and then to find other funders to step up in a bigger way. And I'm thrilled to have several that have joined. And what I really like for us to do is be the bridge between the nonprofit community, and the funder community. And trying to find different ways that we can all work together more effectively, to move advanced regenerative Agriculture.
 
Is the concept of regenerative agriculture nebulous and difficult to define? Does the field kind of agree now on what it is?
 
I noticed a couple of podcasts ago you had a great conversation with Samantha Mosier around this topic. In my mind, and the reason why on our website we talk about it being a journey, is because it is such a difficult to define concept. And there is a lot of pressure, from an industry and a marketing perspective. You really want to have a clear definition, like what we have for organic. In my mind, I am comfortable in the discomfort of not really having a clear definition. And what I feel like is it is a little presumptuous of us to think that we can define what a truly regenerative Agriculture is. It is a journey that we're going to continue learning about, and there are steps that we can take. And it appears that there are practices that we can document saying, "Yes, these appear to be pretty strong regenerative practices, but we have an awful lot to learn in terms of what a truly regenerative landscape is, and how agriculture fits into that. So I prefer to talk about it as a journey, and not like a specific destination that we know that we're going to.
 
We've recorded a number of podcasts thus far with some farmers and ranchers who are living this day-to-day, with some scientists who have been looking at it, some people who pay attention to the policy part of it. And I know your Foundation will incorporate people who do all those sort of things. So let me ask kind of a big picture question then. So how do you think the regenerative agriculture can become part of the solution for addressing the climate crisis?
 
Yes, great question. One of my motivations is to try to figure out how regenerative Agriculture can be recognized as a key part of the solutions that we need to have to address this climate crisis. And agriculture has come up quite a bit right now, the Glasgow COP meetings are going on. And

14 min

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