‘Regenerative agriculture: a potentially transformative storyline shared by nine discourses’ (Paper) – Response from Darren J. Doherty, CPAg AIA

‘Regenerative agriculture: a potentially transformative storyline shared by nine discourses’ – Response from Darren J. Doherty, CPAg AIA

~ Paper Citation: Gordon, E., Davila, F. & Riedy, C. Regenerative agriculture: a potentially transformative storyline shared by nine discourses. Sustain Sci (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-022-01281-1

Last night Lisa and I were at a birthday party in Melbourne and I caught up with an old friend and he mentioned he had just read a new paper which mentioned ‘Regrarian Permaculture‘.

My first reaction was that I was not too happy that our work was characterised in this way—kind of how it was in our friend and colleague Ethan Roland Soloviev‘s 2019 paper as well. Alas that tar sticks…

I was interviewed by Ethan Gordon for this paper in November 2021 and provided him with access to the Regrarians Workplace (our private professional development network) to build further context to his paper.

I don’t completely recall that conversation, however I do think I make it pretty clear that if the lineage of the ‘Regrarians Platform®‘ (which was not referred to in this paper) was best described, then it would be very much on the shoulders of the work of P.A. Yeomans and The Keyline® Plan, not permaculture design—its functionally the next iteration of his ‘Keyline Scale of Relative Permanence (of all things agricultural)’ (1). So I don’t know how that could have been missed.

“…Participant 11 said the Regrarians have not adopted permaculture’s ethics because people can bring their own ethics to the work. Nonetheless, these ethics were referenced by other participants. Participant 9 felt that using permaculture without the ethics subverted the core intent of permaculture. They said, “if we don’t have ‘people care’ in this system, is it truly regenerative?” There is a tension in this discourse between the ideology of permaculture and the practicality of Regrarian Permaculture…”

I think that I might be ‘Participant 11’, and this last sentence is inherently erroneous as there is no such thing as ‘Regrarians Permaculture’ and as the originator of the Regrarians Platform and brand I have never characterised it as such. However I do agree that with the expansive development of the Regrarians Platform we have purposely not included any ethics as these are the private affairs of individuals that we seek not to influence. From this perspective I am a classic liberal, and so it is my belief that including ethics in our framework would be a slippery slope, as it shifts our work from being a systematic aide memoire and set of work practices, to that of a ‘movement’ (and all that can come with that trajectory).

“…Adherents to Regrarian Permaculture are focussed on land regeneration and do not typically address issues beyond the farm-gate…”

I don’t agree with this statement at all. It should be clear to anyone who spends any time in the Regrarians Workplace or studies the Regrarians Platform® would see that this is not the case.

I agree with the conclusion of this article that ‘...RA (regenerative agriculture) is an attempt to build a more encompassing discourse through an alliance of smaller discourses—a discourse coalition…”, and that only endorses the point that aligning the title ‘Regrarian Permaculture’ this paper’s authors have overlooked entirely the fact that our work is not about ‘joining our wagon’ to any one methodology—as we make clear on the ‘Regrarians Platform’ page on our website,

“…As a meta-methodology, the Regrarians Platform also includes insights from agroecological and ecological designers and decision-making systems. These include the work of Allan Savory of the Savory Institute and the Holistic Management® movement (especially Kirk Gadzia, Graeme Hand & the late Bruce Ward); David Holmgren, the late Bill Mollison and others in the Permaculture Design movement (especially Rowe Morrow and the late Toby Hemenway); as well as John and Nancy Jack Todd, Sim Van der Ryn, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Art Ludwig, Joel Salatin, Paul Stamets, the late Lynn Margulis, Abe Collins, Jaime Elizondo Braun, Johann Zeitsman, Ethan Roland Soloviev and Gregory Landua among many others…”

Its great to see more of these papers emerging over time, I just hope that those writing them would be a bit more assiduous in including details that were more reflective of the impact their characterisations can have—especially when they are in error.

(1) Yeomans, PA, The Challenge of Landscape: The Development and Practice of Keyline, Keyline Publishing, 1958, Sydney, Australia, p. 22