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Part 1 of a series about regenerative agriculture in France
Part 1 of a series about regenerative agriculture in France
News 4 Mar 2021


France is Europe’s largest agricultural producer. After the Second World War, the country invested massively in the industrialisation of its agriculture. Productivity per hectare exploded. From a country suffering from chronic food shortages, France became one of the world’s largest food exporters. Agribusinesses transformed this abundance into increasingly numerous and convenient consumer products. Shelves forever full. It was the green revolution. With the food industry as its axis.

The reality for French farmers was different. After witnessing a productivity miracle on their land, larger volumes came with lower prices, rising input costs and more debt. In time, it was clear that this revolution came at the expense of the farmers’ essential capital: soil and people. Intensive practices destroyed organic matter (i.e. life) in the ground. Millions, starting with many farmers’ sons and daughters , moved away from rural areas. For much of the land and its people, the green revolution became synonymous with a steady depletion of its life forces.

Earthworm Foundation created the Living Soil initiative in 2018 so that the interests of farmers, business and society can be aligned. We know productive agriculture can be practiced in ways that restore soil, increase biodiversity, reduce pollution and capture vast amounts of carbon. It is called “regenerative agriculture”. Yet we also know that farmers cannot do this alone; the whole food supply chain has to change to serve the land, and not solely consumers. It is a revolution, with the soil as its axis.

This is the story of a life-scale experiment to realise this vision. It describes Northern France’s changing rural landscape, where the Living Soil initiative started, along with the supply chain connected to it. It shows what tools are being developed to support the transition towards regenerative agriculture in this region and beyond.

Yet more than just tools, much will depend on the human qualities of the people pioneering this revolution. This story is told through their vision and their work.

Earthworm Foundation created the Living Soil initiative in 2018 so that the interests of farmers, business and society can be aligned. We know productive agriculture can be practiced in ways that restore soil, increase biodiversity, reduce pollution and capture vast amounts of carbon. It is called “regenerative agriculture”. Yet we also know that farmers cannot do this alone; the whole food supply chain has to change to serve the land, and not solely consumers. It is a revolution, with the soil as its axis.

This is the story of a life-scale experiment to realise this vision. It describes Northern France’s changing rural landscape, where the Living Soil initiative started, along with the supply chain connected to it. It shows what tools are being developed to support the transition towards regenerative agriculture in this region and beyond.

Yet more than just tools, much will depend on the human qualities of the people pioneering this revolution. This story is told through their vision and their work.

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