Achieving System-level Change Through Regenerative Poultry and a Diverse Foundation for the Regenerative Agriculture Industry.
A regenerative poultry system designed for scale, integration of disadvantaged producers, immigrant families and small and new farmers.
In Northfield, Minnesota the Regeneration Farms Team (www.regenerationfarms.com) leads a 20 county SE-Region deployment of regenerative poultry. Having already engaged beginning young and immigrant farm operations the team has secured the Tree-Range(TM) brand and has opened significant markets locally and nationally. Regeneration Farms is now anchoring the development of a regional regenerative branded light industrial park in partnership with regional Latino leaders and farmers.
At the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the first step to rebuilding local skills and capacity in regenerative agriculture included the construction of a prototype demonstration and training regenerative poultry system unit. Here, a new generation of farmers will be trained using the extensive background and expertise already built by the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance. This includes engaging other operating partners to coach and mentor folks at the Thunder Valley Community CDC in Pine Ridge.
The Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim is a displaced Guatemalan Maya Canjobal community now seeking to resettle and re-establish their roots in the Omaha Nebraska region. The RAA is the lead organization working with this community to secure land and establish a scalable regenerative poultry system. The spiritual, economic, ecological and social compatibility of the system with the community's aspirations centers a change strategy to develop this community's needed skills and capacity to move forward.
The foundation of the regenerative poultry system design is the restoration of forest systems as a foundation of returning the chicken to its natural geoevolutionary habitat. Including at least an overstory, an understory, and a ground-level management system. This picture shows poultry foraging during the day. This means protection from predators, cooler temperatures, higher quality forages, and scalable design. Behind the design, is a system curriculum streamlined for building capacity, skills
The Regenerative Agriculture Alliance has operating partners (organizations we partner with to scale-up the regenerative poultry system) in Minnesota, in the Pine Ridge Reservation South Dakota, in Nebraska (Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim and GCResolve), in Wisconsin, Guatemala (Cooperativa Productos del Bosque), in Mexico (Via Organica) and other regions. The photo shows "would-be migrants" working locally on the same system we are launching in the US. This allows full engagement in the new economy.
Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
April 28, 1967
Initiative’s representative gender
Which eligible market are you based in?
Where are you making a difference?
We are headquartered out of Northfield in SE-MN
Partners: SD, SW-WI, NE, Guatemala, Mexico, BC-CAN
Website or social media url(s)
@regenagalliance (twitter and facebook)
When was your organisation founded?
Helping people adapt to technologies of the future
Financial skills and capability
Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed
In my book "In the Shadow of Green Man", my journey from poverty and hunger to food security and hope, I outline my 20+ year journey from Guatemala to a farm in Belle Plaine, MN. I lost that farm mostly because of hate and bigotry from neighbors. There was also no system in place to support me. And I don't mean non-profit programs, but an alternative farming system that could have supported me with contracts, financing, operating manuals, support infrastructure, branding, markets, etc., my story would have been very different otherwise. After losing the farm and my home equity, I made it my life's mission to develop a theory of change, a focus, and actual system design. The system is now ready to scale and be an alternative for millions.
2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?
Historically, immigrant communities in the US traditionally struggle through the first generation and then move upward. This has not been true for millions of migrant Latino and other disadvantaged communities disproportionately working as cheap labor in the farming and food industry. This Regenerative Poultry System is a socially and economically compatible strategy to anchor scalable skills, capacity and system-level change for this sector.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Phase I: Select a sector of significance and complete a production design that showed the highest social, economic and ecological resilience and full compatibility with the workers in the food industry. This phase is now complete, poultry was selected based on this central criteria.
Phase II: Deploy the organizational, training systems (full financial and enterprise management) and national support infrastructure to see the system scale-up. This gave birth to the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance. This phase is currently half underway.
Phase III: Deploy the business management and national coordinating infrastructure to oversee the system at scale. This phase will start once regions have reached a level of organizing and initial market penetration sufficient to organize the next level of infrastructure, the "Tree-Range Trading Association." This association will consolidate national farmer-to-farmer coordination, online training, capital sourcing and management, certification and system validation structures, national branding, and dedicated and focused advocacy for the system, the farmers and their needs. This phase consolidates the system-level backbone support infrastructure.
4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?
Wilber de la Rosa, a Guatemalan agronomist and recent immigrant to Minnesota engaged in a conventional dairy farm right after his arrival. He became a victim of discrimination together with dozens of Latino workers at the farm. He learned about the regenerative poultry system and joined the team. After two years, he had learned the system and acquired knowledge and capacity to understand the power and the value of this alternative system. In partnership with the RAA, he has now secured land access and start-up capital. He is currently joining the Regeneration Farms producer pool in SE-MN. Wilber is not unique, there are communities already engaged and millions waiting. We know what a different system looks like, this enables scaled thinking
5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?
The Regenerative Agriculture sector is a new and emerging area of opportunity. The biggest challenge for rapid growth is establishing a focused and well-trained ecosystem of players. Through the regenerative supply chain, the most crucial area for these skills is on farming. Training programs available are generic in nature. The RAA focuses on regenerative poultry because of the rapidly emerging market, poultry's compatibility with immigrant communities and small farms, and the growing demand for regenerative poultry and eggs.
To achieve an inclusionary outcome, the RAA focuses on training curriculum and enterprise-centered ecosystems building. This curriculum includes 1) production system as illustrated in the pdf attached, technical and operations farming skills 2) Farm business management, 3) regional economic development 4) circular economic integration and 5) ecological services
5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress
We focus on training farming skills as energy management, instead of focusing on traditional labor-centered production skills. These new sets of skills represent a supply chain competitive advantage generated from minimizing or eliminating expensive farm inputs and focusing on regional wealth creation and the skills associated with managing both the individual farm and the regional collective wealth.
To measure, the RAA is launching a set of Ecological, Economic and Social set of Principles, Criteria, Indicators, and Verifiers and establishing data collection and monitoring partnerships.
7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?
Many farmers across the US have experimented with non-conventional ways of raising poultry. All of these efforts combined have not yet produced a single full system-level change proposition. This is central to the RAA's involvement in this sector. A few thousand farmers have launched a national "pastured" poultry association, yet poultry is not pasture animals, they are a jungle fowl. The RAA's regenerative poultry system differs primarily because it is centered on people first, whole system design and triple-bottom-line benefits. This is only possible through whole system integration/design.
8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Currently, the RAA has partnerships in Guatemala where two regions that supply significant number of immigrants to the US are engaging over 150 farmers and a team of professionals. In Mexico, Via Organica engages a team of 15 staff and over 100 small family farms. In Minnesota Regeneration Farms engages 6 family farms, two of them new Latino immigrants and distributes regenerative chicken to over 4,000 consumers. In the Pine Ridge reservation, a team of 6 engages in training residents, an installed Tree-Range egg prototype unit feeds eggs to around 250 families and is getting ready to engage a regional network of Native farmers. In Omaha, Nebraska the Pixan Ixim Maya Community is working with over 300 families to initiate the purchase of farmland and establish their own operation to benefit over 2,500 individuals, all indigenous Maya displaced by the war. Other regions are emerging.
9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
Operating partners raise their own capital (loans, grants, crowdsourcing). RAA also works to secure capital directly for partners ($350,000 Mobile Poultry Processing Facility delivered to Pine Ridge in 2019). Regeneration Farms started with private capital provided by its four founders and three investors. The RAA has secured start-up grant funding ($350,000) 2019-2020 so far. Roughly 25% of the RAA's income is from service contracts, the rest is raised from three core funders.
Long-term, the RAA will merge into the Tree-Range Trade Association which will collect fees from the sale of member products. The idea is to grow enough throughput within the 12 Midwestern states to fund the majority of the backbone support systems/infrastructure.
The RAA has a diverse 9 member board of directors. They are all highly qualified individuals directly engaged in the regenerative agriculture field.
The Core RAA team includes A part-time accountant and operations manager and a full-time executive director.
The RAA has a trained team of key consultants who work on system-level legal infrastructure, standards development, training new cluster teams and technical assistance.
Each core RAA partner has its own qualified team adding to over 50
Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)
Status as a migrant
If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?
I grew up in extreme poverty in Guatemala, yet relied on regenerative agriculture methods to move forward. As climate change worsens global food insecurity, this lifetime of learning and training has given me a high-level advantage to deliver results. Most importantly, my community had to be pragmatic, practical, solutions-driven and effective. As an immigrant in the US, my history is critical in engaging a diverse ecosystem of people and institutions to deliver/influence system-level change.
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