Our Vision is of a healthy & robust food system in the Minnesota North Shore Bio-Region, comprised of a thriving network of small-scale regenerative farms producing a variety of food, fiber, medicine and
Our Mission is to trial, demonstrate and promote bio-regionally appropriate Regenerative Farm Designs, Techniques, Technology & Products through on-site research/education, off-site consultation and assisting new farmers establish in the region.
The AgroEcology Center will display one example of a Regenerative Farm Design. But what is a Regenerative Farm, more broadly referred to as Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative Agriculture shares and incorporates both philosophical underpinnings and on-the-ground practices and methods of farming with other agricultural approaches, such as: Permaculture, Biodynamics, Organic agriculture, Agroforestry, Restoration Ecology, etc. Learn more about the world of Regenerative Agriculture by visiting Regeneration International, a sister organization of the OCA.
Some over-arching Principles of Regenerative Agriculture include:
- Work to increase soil fertility, while building carbon stores underground,
- Improve and evolve whole agro-ecosystems (soil, water, and biodiversity),
- Connect the farm to its larger agro-ecosystem and bioregion,
- Create context-specific designs, that speak to the unique irreplaceable essence of each person, farm and place,
- Develop just and reciprocal relationships between the farms, farmers, communities and ecosystems,
- Develop economically productive farms that sustain the farmer, and enliven rural economies.
The goals of the AgroEcology Center are two-fold at this stage. On the one hand, we seek to demonstrate one type of Regenerative Farm Design for the Boreal Forest eco-zone where the above Principles are put into action. We consider regenerating soil and building soil carbon levels to be of prime import. It is recognized that regenerative farming practices can both help us combat Climate Change through carbon draw-down and storage, while also helping us adapt to a changing climate through the creation of resilient agro-ecological systems.
On the other hand, our goal is to 1) demonstrate a permaculture methodology to designing, developing and planting out a system, 2) reflect a wide variety of perennial forbes (herbs/flowers), shrubs and trees that can be productive in our region, and 3) develop a regional “taste” and market for a variety of crops.
We envision that the AgroEcology Center could develop such products as: Apples, Pears, Plums, Apricots, Hazelnuts, Pine Nuts, Cherries, Seaberry, Aronia, Honeyberry, Blueberry, Elderberry, Currants, Gooseberry, Grapes, Hardy Kiwi, Hops, Rhubarb, Medicinal Herbs, Mushrooms, Honey, Maple Syrup, Seeds, and more!
Animals are a vital component of any Regenerative Farm Design, as ecosystems through the aeons have been an evolving relationship between the plant, fungi, animal and microbial kingdoms. Because our site is located within the town limits of Finland, MN, there are restrictions on our incorporation of animals on-site. This will require a more nuanced and multi-stakeholder approach to designing livestock into our system.
Research will also be a significant part of our mission. Some of our areas of research will include:
- Unusual perennials and/or varieties for Cold Climates,
- Seed-Saving and breeding of new vegetable varieties for regional climate,
- Small-scale biochar production systems,
- Composting processes and systems,
- Deep Winter Greenhouse production,
- New and/or unique beehive designs.
Stay in touch as things develop!