LANSING, Mich. — Whitney Belprez and her family have been farming for 10 years. They built up Two Sparrows Farm in Eaton Rapids over the last four years specifically to practice what's known as regenerative farming.
According to a report by the U.S. natural food brokerage Presence, the popularity of regenerative farming has soared 138 percent since 2019.
"I think it's gaining a lot of popularity, and I think people are educating themselves more," said Belprez. "Honestly, I think farmers find it more profitable because your inputs are so much lower. You're not buying seed. You're not buying fertilizer. You're not dumping by phosphate over everything."
Regenerative farming is essentially a more holistic approach to agriculture where farmers work with the world's natural systems instead of using products against them.
"So all the practices that we do would be considered sustainable," Belprez said, "but really what we're doing is trying to restore the natural order back to the land."
The concept of regenerative farming is not new, but it's now re-emerging as our world is experiencing more problems due to water and air pollution as well as a decrease in biodiversity among plants and animals.
At Two Sparrows Farm they don't use any fertilizer besides their cows manure and they practice ecological grazing where they move their herd frequently and don't disturb their farm soil so that it builds organically.
Another way farmers practice regenerative farming is by low tilling, or zero tillage, as tilling releases significant amounts of stored carbon.
"Every time we're tilling the soil, we're releasing carbon into the atmosphere," said Belprez.
Research from the National Academy of Sciences has estimated that widespread adoption of regenerative farming would isolate 250 million tons of carbon dioxide in the U.S. annually, or about 4 percent of the country's emissions.
"It's taking those greenhouse gases and sequestering them where they need to go," Belprez said.
I looks like corporate America is beginning to see the benefits as well.
In recent years, Whole Foods has named regenerative farming as a top food trend in the United States and General Mills has announced it will be sourcing portions of their foods from farmers who practice regenerative farming.
More recently big names like Pepsico and Cargill are making similar pledges as well.
"What's really sustainable about it is that it's good for people profit and the planet," said Belprez. "So if it's good for the planet, that's where we want to do it. But it has to be good for us. And it has to be good for the animals as well."
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