Our food and agriculture system is not working. Consumers are experiencing declining nutritional quality and increasing health risks, while soil quality is eroded by chemical inputs and toxic waste. A tough starting point for any initiative, but the Main Street Project has identified it as an opportunity as it aims to combine the needs of local communities with new thinking in farming, all while aiming to produce better quality food products at economically viable prices.

The founders of the Main Street Project started with the premise that an effective method of food production would not rely upon negating the negative impacts created by the current model, but rather would involve an entire redesign so that the problems did not arise in the first place.

Chickens are at the centre of the regenerative techniques that they have developed, working well with crops and providing weed-eating and bug-killing (for free), while also enhancing the soil’s nutritional content, replacing the need for chemical pesticides and fertilisers. All decisions must take the model’s entire ecosystem into account, and it is through the farm’s relationships that extra value is created. Looking beyond simply implementing poultry paddocks and cover crops, and incorporating a range of innovations into heating the chicken coops with solar power and integrating perennial crops onto their land, the whole cycle creates a variety of products – diversity that increases the overall resilience of the farm – and the model is initially targeted at empowering local Latino communities in the United States.

Since launching in 2010, and carrying out extensive testing in prototype facilities, Minnesota-based team is reportedly now ready to progress to the development of a 40-acre demonstration farm in the state, which will not only be an active farm, but will provide training facilities that enable other farmers to incorporate the practices.

Transitioning to a more regenerative farming vision can feel like a big picture, sometimes even inaccessible conversation, but an increasing number of successful first movers, including the Main Street Project, are proving the potential of practical applications. Holding these approaches together is the desire to create a better food system with favourable outcomes for the environment, economy and health, and a focus on holistic solutions, which is in opposition to the monocropping efficiency-driven practices that predominate today’s food production.

Lead image: Pixabay

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