Local Gets Double Billing

Local organic vegetables for sale at The Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro
Local organic vegetables for sale at The Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro


The topic of “Local” is getting double billing at this Friday’s 3rd Annual Climate Adaptation Conference for Farmers, Gardeners, and Food Activists.

At 11am, professor and researcher, Laura Lengnick posits the question “Is Local Resilient?” Laura should know. A nationally-recognized researcher on sustainable farming systems, her new book on the subject, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate, will be released next month.

Following lunch Lyle Estill and I take up the question again, in our session titled “Running On Local.” We’ll champion local food, local fuel, local finance, local suppliers, local customers, local friends – you get the idea. And engage in a discussion on how this might result in more successful, resilient farms.

But in today’s world, is aiming for resilience even the right goal?

Resilient is defined as the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions, as in ‘adults are more resilient than infants to infections.’ Synonyms include: strong, tough, flexible, hardy.

In the face of our changing climate words like “difficult conditions,” “hardy,” and “flexible” are certainly relevant. But can we go beyond surviving difficult conditions to changing those conditions in a way that makes them less debilitating?

Regenerative Medicine

In general the medical field reacts to human injury, disease, and decline by treating the symptoms, or trying to ameliorate the pain. Surgically removing the ‘problem’ is also popular. Sometimes but not always, medical science has been able to identify the cause of the ailment so that it might be avoided in the future.

A new branch of medicine goes further, regenerating a proliferation of new undamaged human cells, tissues, or organs that can return a patient to complete health. Regeneration might someday replace mere repair, or surgery, or the use of pharmaceuticals – meaning lots less popping pills and carving up the human body. It holds the promise of stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms to functionally heal previously irreparable tissues or organs.

Healing from within a system, so it can return to complete functioning and vibrancy using its intrinsic resources, is the goal.

Mushrooms at the market stand of Fox Mushroom Patch, a Slow Money NC local food loan recipient.
Mushrooms at the market stand of Fox Mushroom Patch, a Slow Money NC local food loan recipient.


Regenerative Economy

Drawing on the model of regenerative medicine, what might a “regenerative society” look like? A regenerative farm? A regenerative community? What would our communities be like if we could heal all the problems we face from within, using our innate resources to become completely functioning, vibrant, and healthy?

In the current economic model we extract, use up, and discard, usually with little or no regard to the consequences on the earth’s ecosytem.

In a regenerative economy we use renewable energy and materials. We collaborate and share resources and upcycle our waste. We live in self-sufficient communities replete with adequate clean air, pure water, and nutritious food. We integrate life-long learning, mindfulness and movement into our daily lives, tapping our creativity and passion to ensure these life-enhancing amenities are available to everyone.

Our planet’s ecosystem is restored and enriched as a result of our interaction and interdependence with it.

Back to Local

The global economy starts here. It starts with every dollar in our wallets, and is shaped by how we spend them. It relies on the knowledge and sharing that can take place when we are in each other’s company.

This week’s Climate Adaptation Conference for Farmers, Gardeners, and Food Activists offers us a rare chance to get together – and to dream big. It’s a day to share our successes and our challenges, and to both learn and to get support from one another.

Let’s take this opportunity to create a regenerative society together, starting right here, right now in our local community.