Designing Regenerative Food Systems

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Designing Regenerative Food Systems: And Why We Need Them Now

“We’ve got climate change in real time now and I think farmers are also aware the weather is changing. The increase in nitrogen fertilizers has just woken up everybody to the urgency of it. So, what was a transition that was going to happen over maybe ten years has suddenly been accelerated.” —Marina O’Connell

This book offers a unique toolkit for designing regenerative food-growing systems through tried and tested agroecological methods for transforming industrial food growing into a resilient agricultural revolution. This is a system that grows good food from healthy soil in a low-input, closed-loop system. Marina O’Connell identifies and addresses the four challenges of climate-change, mitigation and adaptation, offsetting biodiversity loss, and producing enough good food for a growing population.

Using the case study of her Huxhams Cross Farm in Devon, England, O’Connell shows how dead soil was transformed into thriving, fertile land while drawing on a toolkit comprising the methods of biodynamics, organic agriculture, agroforestry, regeneration, agroecology, and permaculture. The principles, methods, and techniques of each approach are explained concisely, with illustrative case studies of successful endeavors and follow-up resources such as film references.

Marina O’Connell concludes with the Huxhams Cross Farm case study and research evidence. She reviews the extent to which the four challenges are tackled successfully by the “toolkit,” how a resilient farming revolution can be brought about through food choices and policy that tackles barriers such as land access and the psychology of scarcity, and showing how to build farmer capacity for a resilient food-growing transition.

About the Author

Marina O’Connell is a successful grower, farmer, and educator. Born of seven generations of Dutch nurserymen from Boskoop in Holland, which is famous for fruit trees, she celebrates the professional women now pioneering the transition to resilient food production and to re-localizing the food economy.

O’Connell, the Apricot team, and her family have turned the bare land at Huxhams Cross Farm, Totnes, Devon, UK, from being “a miserable bit of land,” as a local farm contractor called it in 2015, into a productive, beautiful, community-connected, and profitable farm.

She has action-researched the use of biodynamic, organic, permacultural, agroecological, regenerative, and agroforestry methods in her work. She leads by example. People from around the world visit her farm and join her courses and her Devon apprenticeship program for regenerative food systems She is consulted by farmers, who ask her to help redesign their farms away from industrial farming, and by farm estates needing help to make a successful transition to resilient food systems by 2030.

Additional information

Weight 19 oz
Dimensions 6 × 1 × 9 in




June 2022






Hawthorn Press


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