Plants & Farm StoriesJul 26, 2023

The Regenerative Organic Farmer’s Perspective

Our farmers are the stewards of our land, and we’re immensely grateful for all they do! In honor of National Farmer Appreciation Day, we’re giving you a glimpse into the regenerative organic farmer’s perspective.

Learn what it’s like to work on our farm, get tips for your garden and see how you can support the movement.

This deeply aligns with my ethics as a lifelong organic farmer and naturalist. - Matt D.

Why Our Farmers Care

Herb Pharm has always valued organic farming methods but being Regenerative Organic Certified® holds us to a new standard. We asked two of our farmers, Matt Dybala (Director of Agricultural Operations) and Mark Disharoon (Farm Supervisor), “What does regenerative organic farming mean to you?”

Mark shared, “To me, it's a higher level of accountability than just being Certified Organic. You’re talking about worker fairness, living wages and soil health.”

Matt shared, “Regenerative farming practices target solutions to the climate and ecological crisis that are directly linked to the current industrial farming model and global supply chain. This deeply aligns with my ethics as a lifelong organic farmer and naturalist.”

Life as A Regenerative Organic Farmer

We strive to make sure our farmers feel appreciated for the work they do. When it comes to farm-worker fairness, Matt shared this is one of the biggest commitments a Regenerative Organic Certified® farm makes. He said, “We’ve moved away from seasonal workers and we’re offering strictly full-time employment to our farmers which includes benefits, profit sharing and above-average pay for farm work.”

[These practices] save us a little labor time and make our job slightly easier. -Mark D

Matt also shared, “The certification requires an auditor to interview every farm worker on an annual basis. [They] audit how our workers are doing and make sure their voices are heard.”

Beyond worker fairness, life as a regenerative organic farmer also involves new equipment. Something exciting our farmers have acquired is a no-till seed drill. According to Mark, it’s allowed them to “plant a rotation of cover crops directly following a production crop without any soil disturbance. Part of putting these practices in place is saving us a little labor time and making our job slightly easier when it comes to getting our cover crops in.”

Our plants have] healthier root systems…and many herbs display healthier shoot growth since this transition. - Matt D.

Impacting Plant Growth & Harvest Yields

As we implement more beneficial methods to care for our soil through composting, using cover crops, crop rotation and biodiversity, we have noticed a difference in the health of our plants. Matt shared, “In 2019, we began building our soil biology through a commitment to incorporating compost between each crop rotation, including diversifying our cover crop mixes as well. This is also coupled with reducing compaction and soil disturbance in our fields. This has resulted in healthier root systems in our crops and many herbs also display healthier shoot growth since this transition.”

"Reduction of off-farm inputs and recycling of on-farm biomass is one of several benchmark standards in the soil health pillar of regenerative organic certification. We used to purchase pallets of bagged soil amendments, and now we are building soil fertility through compost and cover cropping on our farm. Our compost is derived from on-farm biomass waste, pressed herbs after extraction from our certified organic processing facility and manure sourced from a local, organic dairy.”

Tips For Farmers & Gardeners

For the farmers and/or gardeners who are interested in methods that benefit the Earth, instead of harm it, our farmers have provided some helpful suggestions. Mark says, “Don’t use chemical herbicides. Start small, it’s very easy to put some of these regenerative practices in place if you're just working with a small 100 sq ft garden. You can put cover crops in and set your garden up like you're growing in one half of it during one season, and then you’ve got a cover crop down that whole season, and then you just flip flop back and forth.”

Start small, it’s very easy to put regenerative practices in place with a 100 sq ft garden. -Mark D.

Mark also shared, “Mulch in your pathways and on your beds, helps to reduce moisture loss. You don’t have to water as much because it helps the soil retain moisture. Also, saving your food scraps and lawn clippings, if you have a lawn and mow it, and making your own compost.”

Additionally, Matt wants our readers to know that “synthetic fertilizers, chemical herbicides and pesticides only offer short-term solutions. Farmers and gardeners should seek a better understanding of soil, plant and insect biology to increase diversity and bring balance back into farming and gardening systems over the long term.”

How You Can Get Involved

As a Regenerative Organic Certified ® farm, we focus on soil health, farm worker fairness and native habitat restoration. You can support these farming practices by buying from Regenerative Organic Certified® farms and brands. You can find a full list of Regenerative Organic Certified® companies here.

Interested in hearing more from our farmers? Follow us on Facebook or Instagram and we’ll let you know every time a new Farm Stories blog post is out.