Farm Focus: Carbon Sequestration

Global warming is a hot topic, both literally and figuratively. It is complex and impacts each one of us. Though complex, most climate scientists agree that human activity has caused certain gases, such as carbon, to be released into our atmosphere. These gases form a barrier in the atmosphere that block heat from escaping. Carbon is a building block of life. Everything in our world contains carbon including the food we eat and the cells of our body. Scientists in California recognize the connection between the carbon in the air and the carbon that make up crucial components in our food system and they have come up with some exciting ideas!

Farmer Al recently participated with a non-profit called CalCAN or the California Climate and Agriculture Network. CalCAN’s mission is to help educate state regulators, Senators, Legislators, and stakeholders about the value in fighting climate change that agriculture could provide to the people of California. They believe that through good soil and agriculture management, California could begin to take carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back into the soil where it belongs. This would thereby reduce greenhouse gasses and possibly begin to reverse climate change. This connection has yet to be understood in the mind of many citizens and the people that create legislations that affect the lives of citizens. Educating these regulators on the benefits of supporting, or incentivizing, these carbon sequestering practices could change how we manage the environment, economy, and our society entirely!

To understand how this might work, we need to understand current legislations that are in place and the exciting ones that are in the works. The state currently uses carbon trading to incentivize big industries that pollute. Big companies in these industries have to pay a tax before they can produce large amounts of carbon emissions. A New State of California Regulation called the Healthy Soils Initiative is in the works that would use these taxes from big carbon producers (around $7.5 million) to educate and incentivize farmers. The Healthy Soils initiative hopes to demonstrate and encourage adoption of agricultural practices that take carbon out of the atmosphere to help fight climate change. At Frog Hollow, we are already way ahead of the curve through our compost and cover crop programs (both of which add carbon back into the soil and allow for more carbon to develop) and we recognize that what we are doing produces better quality food. We want to serve as a leader in demonstrating what can be done if you adhere to these healthy soil practices.

Currently, the majority of Californian farmers are doing the opposite of adding carbon back into the soil. They are using chemicals that break down carbon in the soil and kill the microbes that help to produce carbon. By putting carbon into the soil, you are empowering the soil to grow healthier fruits and vegetables. You are giving the soil life to produce more life. If we can incentivize these farmers to grow their produce using these practices, we will have healthier food and, in turn, healthier people. In the long run, all stakeholders win! Farmers can make all this happen, but they must be incentivized to turn from their cheaper, carbon depleting practices to practices that could be the example to the entire world. The details of these programs are still in the works and we will keep you updated on their progress. We are very hopeful for what is to come and for how Frog Hollow could become a leading example to farmers around the globe!

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