The summer of 2020 was a season most Californians would like to forget. Wildfires raged throughout the state, smoke blocked out the sun and made the simple act of breathing hazardous.
But in BAGT’s latest Solutionaries Speak interview, regenerative rancher Doniga Markegard said the experience shouldn’t be something we block out.
“We need to remember [the fires] and put ourselves back there on a regular basis and remember how we felt...we couldn’t breathe the air...and take action to get into the right relationship with the land,” she shared in conversation with Anne Freiwald of Vital Cycles: Creating Personal & Planetary Resilience.
Markegard has been running her ranch, Markegard Family Grass-Fed, on the coastal prairie near Half Moon Bay for 16 years. She and her family practice regenerative agriculture, using methods that mimic nature to produce more nutrient-rich food.
In regenerative ranching animals are not confined and are moved over the landscape to prevent overgrazing and to allow native species, from bunch grasses to songbirds, to thrive.
“As regenerative ranchers, we move the animals across the land. There’s never stagnancy,” she said. Just like with the human body, “if we’re stagnant, our health declines.”
Not only does regenerative agriculture lessen the environmental impact of food production, it’s also a key way to draw down carbon in the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of natural disasters like fires.
In the conversation, Doniga pointed out that grazing animals are a key way to address seasonal fire danger, just like the practice of prescribed burning: “If they [the fires] started on land that had been grazed where the fuel load was reduced...where ranchers had relationships to that land and had knowledge of place, those fires would be able to be contained.”
How to be “regenetarian”
You don’t have to be in charge of 300 head of cattle to make regenerative choices. Doniga's recommendation? Just start with “doing small things and expand out from there.”
Here are some ways to be part of the regeneration movement:
Above all, she said, “It’s time for all of us to stop trying to tame the wild, whether it’s that wild within us or that wild outside our door. Let's tend that wild within and tend the wild outside as well and get into the “right” relationship with all life.”
For more on regenerative farming, helping kids connect with nature, Doniga’s experience tracking wolves in Idaho, and more, watch the full conversation on the BAGT YouTube channel. And don’t miss the next Solutionaries Speak event on May 13th with farmer Javier Zamora, owner of JSM Organics. Sign up now to attend.
The Solutionaries Speak webcast series shares the work of climate heroes who are promoting healthy living practices, tackling issues to halt the climate crisis, and finding positive solutions to urgent environmental problems.
Solutionaries Speak is a unique opportunity for participants to hear directly from environmental and social justice leaders about regeneration in action. Hear about sustainable strategies and practices we can all implement and advocate for in order to build a more resilient economy and vibrant future. Join the discussion with cutting edge thought leaders sharing their knowledge, experience, and passion.
Solutionary (n.): a person actively engaged in developing and implementing sustainable, regenerative, and just solutions for the urgent climate and social issues of our time that positively impact communities and our planet.