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Regenerative Farming

Regenerative Farming

As you know, all of our products are made from organically and regeneratively farmed merino wool from South America. However, there are also regenerative farmers here in North America. When I met Josh from Evermeadow at a local farmers market, I immediately noticed he was doing something unique. Touring Evermeadow, I saw firsthand the positive impact on the land. Evermeadow has continued to grow and evolve over the years. This spring, Courtney and I spent time with Josh learning about regenerative farming, his motivations and methods.

Part 1 - The Land

The New Farm (photo by Joshua Noiseux)

W&W: Thank you for giving us your time today. Could you tell us about yourself and what led you here?

Josh: I studied ecology and philosophy and I've always had a keen interest in ecology. We had a nice garden and were somewhat interested in food production. However, we didn't get into this primarily for food production. Paradoxically, we see the food products as incidental. The reason we started farming was that it was an easy way to get access to broad acreage that we could then manage sustainably.

W&W: Can you elaborate on what you mean by "sustainable land management" and how it differs from conventional farming practices?

Josh: Living in beautiful Northumberland County, a region dominated by farmland, we observe the typical mono-crop farming of corn and soybeans. We understand that this is not a long-term solution. In the face of ecological and climate change issues, we need a landscape that doesn't rely so much on outside inputs such as fertilizer and herbicides. We need a landscape that can support diverse forms of life. If you observe a soy or corn field, it is like an ecological desert. While soybean fields are necessary, we must be aware of the long-term outcomes of this kind of farming for the ecosystem.

W&W: What are the key goals you hope to achieve through your approach to land management?

Josh: Our hope is to manage large areas of land to create biodiversity, sequester carbon, and build resilience for ourselves, wildlife, and our community. We aim to meet conservation goals through commercial-scale agriculture. Farmers often see themselves as food producers, but I encourage them to view themselves as land managers. The most important thing a farmer does is not what they produce but how they leave the land. By adopting this mindset, we can create sustainable and resilient land management, integrating nature and farming. Without this approach, our efforts won't endure the coming challenges. Farmers are accustomed to traditional production-focused methods, and we want to show them that sustainable land management can be both environmentally beneficial and economically viable.

The First Years on the Leased Land (photo by Joshua Noiseux)

W&W: What challenges have you encountered along the way?

Josh: One significant challenge was convincing others of our vision. Initially, they were hesitant, especially considering our lack of farming experience. However, we persisted, emphasizing the importance of our integrated approach and the benefits it could bring. Over time, as they saw our dedication and the positive impact of our efforts, their support grew. Additionally, managing the transition from conventional farming practices to those aligned with our vision required a lot of adaptation and learning. We've been fortunate to have a supportive network and resources to navigate these challenges effectively.

W&W: Is there anything else that you feel is important on your land?

Josh: We're also passionate about preserving the native Tallgrass Prairie, which has ecological benefits like supporting pollinators, insects, and ground-nesting birds. Restoring this habitat is crucial, considering the cascade effect it can have on the ecosystem.

W&W: How do you plan to integrate the native Tallgrass Prairie into your farming practices?

Josh: So far, we've primarily been managing existing grasslands or transitioning crop fields back to grass. The challenge lies in dealing with the dominance of European and Eurasian seeds in the region's grasses. Historically, this area was home to native grasses. Our aim is to restore that habitat, not just for the sake of biodiversity but also for its ecological benefits. We're interested in the cascade effects, such as the resurgence of pollinators and ground-nesting birds, that come with restoring the native Tallgrass Prairie.

 Josh wearing one of our Engel Fleece Jacket

W&W: Walk us through the journey so far.

Josh: 2020 was a small trial year, and in 2021 we really launched into it. In Phase 1, we leased land, and now in Phase 2, we own this 97-acre farm and continue to lease the land we started on. The opportunity to purchase this farm came up last year, and through a number of miracles, it was made possible. This property has 45 acres of forest and around 50 acres of pasture land.

W&W: You still lease a piece of this to a neighbour, but that will be yours in a year or so?

Josh: Yes, this field next to us, will go into soy rotation this year.  After that it will give us an opportunity to do something we’ve always wanted to do, which is to restore the native Tallgrass Prairie. As we shared so far we've been managing the existing fields and grass with what we get from the seed bank, which is almost exclusively Eurasian seed. Historically, it was native warm-season grasses, which we’re really interested in restoring to certain parts of the farm. It restores the natural habitat for pollinators, insects, and ground-nesting birds. It’s a cascading effect of bringing the ecology back to the land.

W&W: Thank you, Josh, for sharing your valuable time, your wisdom and your passion for the land.  

Stay tuned for part two: The Animals.

To learn more about Evermeadow and where you can purchase their wonderful products click here.

The Sheep and the Chicken Tractors (photo by  Joshua Noiseux)

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