Soil health is the foundation of regenerative agriculture and one of the speakers for the upcoming Soil Health U relishes an opportunity to help producers understand that connection. Reginaldo “Regi” Haslett-Marroquin, a native of Guatemala and founder of the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, Northfield, Minnesota, will speak at Soil Health U, Jan. 22 and 23, in Salina, Kansas.
“The fundamental challenge I was trying to solve and that got me into this work is trying to find pathways out of poverty and into a more comfortable situation, and that begins with agriculture,” he said. "Soil never stops working; as a fully alive ecosystem of micro and macro-organisms, the results of healthy soil can be seen in the health of everything that grows from it. Listening to nature and seeking to understand this magnificent design, is essential to understanding how our own health is directly associated with soil health."
Soil is a living organism and Regi hopes to impart on Soil Health U attendees strategies designed to revert the way we see and treat the soil. More importantly, by unlocking the potential of the soil, farmers can also improve their bottom line. By doing so, they will have more control over their operation, and if working collectively, whole landscapes can come back alive again, increase productivity, reduce or eliminate manufactured inputs, and increase operating margins for farmers. The end result is a new supply-chain that regenerates the landscape, the health of consumers and the livelihoods of farmers. Regi stresses the importance of staying profitable. As a result, producers may need to experiment and start on a small scale to find their right formula in regenerative agriculture.
While he works in different agriculture sectors, Regi's focus is on regenerative poultry. The scalable regenerative poultry system he has developed and is currently helping farmers deploy across the U.S. and internationally is centered on culturally, economically and socially compatible methodology that a producer can embrace at any scale, he said.
Regi hopes to inspire attendees to adopt regenerative farming systems; he will take the audience deeper into the logic that generated the system he is currently working on--a logic centered on creation and the magnificent design that makes all things possible.
“I believe that God has a plan and He has provided us with all of the resources we need to feed the world, clean the water system, restore diversity to the landscape, grow wealth with integrity, and live a rewarding and honorable life,” he said.
Having a profitable plan is not only good for the farmer, it also helps to engage consumers who want to know more about how their food is produced. Food sustains our bodies, but it also sustains the spirit. Consumers are demanding that their food be grown in a socially, ecologically and economically responsible manner, Regi thinks that “farmers and consumers are waking up to the fact that food without integrity not only degenerates the land but also our physical health, creating a kind of spiritual poverty that renders us irrational and disconnected with the way we were created and the foundation of how we are intended to live. The soil is the foundation of our sustenance, all the way around.”
"Building partnerships with consumers is a win-win for consumers and farmers. Looking at the soil--a resource a farmer can control--with a long-term perspective is the best hope in feeding the world. Farmers, regardless of the size of their operation, are culture-setters and this is a major responsibility," Regi said.
Regi began working on economic development projects with indigenous Guatemalan communities in 1988 and served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program’s Bureau for Latin America as an advisor to the World Council of Indigenous Peoples. He was a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation in 1994 and he was named one of the Twin Cities International Citizens of the Year in 1996. He has an agronomy degree from the Central National School of Agriculture, studied at the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala and graduated from Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a major in international business administration and a minor in communications.
He recently authored a book, “In the Shadow of Green Man, My Journey from Poverty and Hunger to Food Security and Hope.” Farmers, ranchers and those interested in soil health will be able to hear Regi speak at Soil Health U, Jan. 22 and 23, at Tony’s Event Center in Salina. Registration is open at www.SoilHealthU.net.