While there is no universally accepted standard for regenerative agriculture, companies ranging from Cargill to Patagonia are touting commitments to regenerative production. Philosophically, regenerative agriculture improves soil health, rather than just maintaining it, so can be thought of as a bar above sustainable. Regenerative agricultural practices include cover cropping, intensifying and lengthening crop rotations, and reducing tillage. These practices generally function to build up soil by 1) increasing the amount of living plant cover and photosynthesis (atmospheric carbon capture) and 2) decreasing soil disturbance which increases soil carbon loss via microbial respiration. These practices can help improve the carbon balance of row crop agriculture, relative to the prevailing systems where one-or two-crop grain systems dominate and cover crop adoption, while increasing, is still quite limited (less than 5% of cropland acres nationally). Building soil health isn't just about carbon though, ancillary benefits include improving crop resilience to drought, extreme rainfall, and mitigating pest pressure, in some cases. Together this approach to growing holds much promise for cannabis and other crop producers interested in nurturing a more resilient production system for plants, people, and the planet.
Pathways towards Regenerative Cannabis
Alison Grantham, PhD is an agroecologist and biogeochemist who works to improve our food system from farm to fork. She led research at organic agriculture pioneer, the Rodale Institute, advancing regenerative practices including cover crops, no till, and organic pest management. At Penn State, first with Extension and then through her doctoral research, she continued to support expansion of resilient practices to manage and maintain production in the face of increasingly frequent extreme weather events. From 2015 through 2019, she designed and directed Blue Apron’s regenerative agriculture, food waste, and non-meat procurement programs and departments. She and her team implemented a suite of prevention, reduction, and diversion strategies, which drove a more than 50% reduction in food waste across its network of fulfillment centers. Now, through her firm Grow Well Consulting, Dr. Grantham shares her expertise with a variety of food and agriculture companies, research organizations, and foundations, helping each develop data-driven tools and programs to define and achieve its goals for better impacts on people and the planet through food and agriculture.
Suehiko Ono, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of EOS Farm LLC, was born in Pittsfield, MA. He moved back to Massachusetts in June of 2018 and settled back in Pittsfield, MA in June of 2019 in order to connect the fledgling MA Adult Use industry to existing small farms. Under the subsidiary, EOS-Bittersweet, EOS Farm partnered in 2019 with Bittersweet Farm in Pittsfield, MA to become one of the first and largest outdoor Adult Use cultivation operations in MA.Suehiko received his training in ecological farming and horticulture first as a farm apprentice at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center, Mill Valley, CA (May 1999- November 2001). He then went on to further his training at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at U.C.S.C., Santa Cruz, CA (April – October 2001). Suehiko was the Farm Director at Cliffdale Farm at Teatown Lake Reservation, Ossining, NY (June 2002-June 2004). From 2007-2009, Suehiko worked briefly as an Associate Attorney in the New York office of the Chicago-based law firm, Winston & Strawn LLC with a focus on corporate taxation. In 2009, Suehiko moved to Sedona, Arizona to pursue studies in traditional Japanese martial arts. He worked as the business manager and an instructor for Exemplar LLC, which is an Arizona-based limited liability company providing training in combat and performance to professionals in law enforcement and the armed services. From November of 2009 through March of 2018, while living in Arizona studying martial arts, Suehiko worked as a real estate professional selling at Diamond Resorts International in Sedona, AZ. Suehiko graduated from the Columbia University School of Law, NYC, JD (May 2007), and the State University of New York at Albany, B.A., Philosophy, summa cum laude (May 1999), Phi Beta Kappa.
Jacob has committed his career to learning about sustainable cultivation systems worldwide. He has worked on farms and research projects on six continents, specializing in permaculture, ecosystem management, eco-village design, and natural building. Jacob is the co-founder and Director of Science for The Cannabis Conservancy as well as the Board Chair of Sun+Earth Certified. Jacob received a B.Sc. in Environmental Studies at Emory University and a M.Sc. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management through the MESPOM consortium focusing on Urban Agriculture Sustainability and Environmental Justice. He is a member of the Denver Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, NCIA's Cannabis Cultivation Committee, and the Southern Colorado Cannabis Alliance. Throughout his career, Jacob has strived to find innovative and pragmatic solutions to the world’s complex environmental problems and is now applying his knowledge and experience to address the environmental issues pertaining to the cannabis industry.