regenerative agriculture

Regenerative farming on the edge of the desert, with Yanniek Schoonhoven

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There are a few farms and organizations here in Spain that have been gaining international attention for their work and initiatives in the past few years. Partly through reaching out directly and partly through the Climate Farmers network I’ve been connecting with them to bring their inspiring stories and innovative knowledge to the farmers community that I help to manage.

One of the most established and accomplished of these farms is La Junquera, an 1100 hectare farm in one of the most environmentally challenging regions of Spain in the south eastern province of Murcia in the altiplano region.
Now some of you may remember previous interviews I’ve done with Alfonzo Chico de Guzman, the owner of the farm and one of the driving forces of the Alvelal cooperative that he helped to found, but today I’ll be speaking with his wife and co-owner of the farm to get a deeper look at all the projects that she has helped to lead simultaneously.
Yanniek Schoonhoven is also the co-founder of the Regeneration Academy, a physical learning hub and model farm in La Junquera, focused on building a space and community to help students become practitioners, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders in the field of regenerative agriculture and eco-system restoration, specialized in semi-arid climates.

Yanniek has built a reputation in the regen ag space as an expert connection builder, weaving partnerships from the local community around them in Spain all the way up to the European Union level along with universities and non-profits. All of these connections are fueling the positive change that The Regeneration Academy and the farm itself are having on the ecology as well as the human communities around them.
In this session we explore the journey that led Yanniek to southern Spain and the creation of all the projects that she now helps to coordinate. Yanniek talks about the unique challenges that they face in their remote rural area as well as the climate and ecological challenges of rebuilding the capacity for life on the land there.
We also dig into the connections that she’s helped to build and strengthen that have brought visibility, support, and recognition to their efforts on the ground while making it possible to include more people in their training and projects.
This is also a great opportunity to announce the collaboration that I’ll be doing with them as I’ll be co-facilitating a course in the upcoming year with them about water resource management.

At the end of the episode we give an overview of the curriculum that we’ll be teaching through a highly immersive project of gathering essential data, co creating a design for water retention on a micro watershed on their farm, and actually implementing the design on the site.

We’ll be training participants on a wide range of tools for site design and layout as well as building experience with everything from hand tools to guiding heavy machinery in order to install the design. You can find all the details about the course which will be from April 8th-11th in the show notes for this episode on the website, 

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