Regenerative agriculture refers to a suite of principles, practices, or outcomes which seek to improve soil health, biodiversity, climate, ecosystem function, and socioeconomic outcomes. However, recent reviews highlight wide heterogeneity in how it is defined. This impedes our ability to understand what regenerative agriculture is and has left the movement open to strategic repurposing by diverse stakeholders. Furthermore, the conceptual franchising of the regenerative agriculture debate by Western culture has omitted discussions surrounding social justice, relational values, and the contribution of Indigenous and local knowledge that does not align with Western-centric producer-consumer frameworks. This is a continuation of injustice by creating barriers to representation and participation, and its confrontation will ultimately be necessary for regenerative agriculture to achieve its transformative potential. This article demonstrates that the farming techniques associated with the regenerative agriculture movement today have been practiced for centuries, and in some cases millennia, by Indigenous and local communities around the world. We propose that current Western academic attempts to define regenerative agriculture have resulted in long lists of practices, principles, and outcomes which fall short of describing the whole, because they lack the relational values component that is so integral to these Indigenous and local knowledge systems. We take an urgently needed, Indigenous-informed approach to defining regenerative agriculture, which confronts current epistemic injustice and prioritizes sociocultural and relational values. Finally, we propose an anti-colonial definition that draws on diverse knowledge systems including Indigenous ecophilosophies and published scientific analyses.
Sands, B., Machado, M.R., White, A., Zent, E. and Gould, R. K. (2023) Moving towards an anti-colonial definition for regenerative agriculture. Agric Hum Values.
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