In her new book, Healing Grounds, Liz Carlisle highlights the stories of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian American farmers who are practicing traditional, regenerative agricultural practices. When practiced correctly, Carlisle argues these agricultural techniques can act as tools to combat the climate crisis.
“I came out of this book with a deep realization that, yes, regenerative agriculture is a really powerful potential climate solution,” Carlisle tells Food Tank, “but only if we take leadership from the Indigenous communities and communities of color.”
Carlisle, an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, points out that the communities her book highlights are the source of regenerative agriculture techniques now gaining popularity. And, she adds, “they actually embed those individual techniques in this much more holistic understanding of how to have a reciprocal relationship with land.”
Through Carlisle’s narrative, Healing Grounds starts to “unfurl the other stories of agriculture that we haven’t heard enough of,” Neil Thapar, Co-director of the land justice project Minnow, which is featured in the book, tells Food Tank.
While some people may assume that advocating for a return to ancestral farming techniques is also a demand to return to the past, Carlisle pushes back against this idea. “It’s not about imagining that Indigenous practice or ancestral practice is the opposite of technology,” she says. “It’s much, much more about who has the power to make decisions about what technologies [are used], how they’re used, and for whose benefit and for what purpose?”
But to truly benefit from these practices, engage more deeply with the land, and improve the food system Thapar calls for a collective effort. “From my perspective, individual action to address structural challenges is always going to be inadequate,” he tells Food Tank. He encourages everyone to find a community pushing for a better future. “I think collective action is what’s actually going to make the changes that we’re calling for.”
Listen to the full conversation with Liz Carlisle and Neil Thapar on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear more about the regenerative agriculture practices farmers are employing to heal the land, why there cannot be climate justice without land justice, and how Healing Grounds is intended to serve as both invitation and affirmation.
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Photo courtesy of Gabriel Jimenez, Unsplash