A great deal of suffering comes from the false belief that humans are separate from our beautiful, complex, living world.

2021: A Regenerative Year and Looking Forward to the Future

TomKat Team Photo Collage

On behalf of the Team at TomKat Ranch

A great deal of suffering comes from the false belief that humans are separate from our beautiful, complex, living world. Feelings of separation from nature cause fear, uncertainty, and anger, and may lead people to believe they must either dominate the world or be dominated by it. The poet A.E. Housman described this state of mind quite starkly:

I, a stranger and afraid
In a world I never made.

In contrast, holistic and regenerative thinking grows from the belief that humans are as much a part of nature as bugs or Sequoias.  From this starting point of connection and belonging, we can embrace and enjoy the diversity and dynamism of the living world and collectively grow a just and regenerative food system. At TomKat Ranch, staff, friends, and associates have been hard at work trying to bring that vision to light. 

Here are some of our favorite highlights from 2021:

Regenerative Ranching

Our Regenerative Ranching initiative is the foundation of our work. Through observational and scientific rigor, we monitor and test for its success at preserving habitat, filtering and holding rainwater, supporting a diversity of plant and microbial communities, and the important work of transforming soils into carbon sinks. All the while pushing our understanding of the potential of regenerative applications.

In April, 700 goats under the guidance of Executive Director of The Goatapelli Foundation’s Lani Malmberg, descended on TomKat Ranch in an effort to reduce fuel loads while regenerating the landscape. Throughout the year, we’ve been conducting and monitoring several soil health trials, And, in late summer, Ranch Manager Mark Biaggi started a trial to swath-graze Harding grass as a way to reduce feed costs and promote biodiversity in pastures that have been colonized by the non-native species. 

In the fall, CalFire, accompanied by ranch staff, conducted the first of a 10-year prescribed burn plan to reduce wildfire risk and foster healthy ecosystems. And in September, our science partner, Point Blue Conservation Science, organized into one document the wide range of science taking place on TomKat Ranch.

Fork to Farm

Through our Fork to Farm initiative, members of our staff teamed up with colleagues from Office of Kat Taylor (OKT), ranchers, farmers, and various food advocacy groups, working to bring our vision of an economically viable, secure, healthy, and equitable food system to fruition.

Through these collaborative efforts, California became the first state in the nation to permanently adopt free breakfast and lunch for all K-12 students with the passage of School Meals for All,  And, we’ve been part of OKT’s Growing the Table initiative, a response to increased food insecurity due to COVID-19, helping it become a growing success. Meanwhile, many hands, hearts, and minds were busy getting Bay Area Rancher’s Cooperative (BAR-C) up and running to address processing bottlenecks for small-scale ranchers in Northern California and serve as a model regional processing cooperative for other communities facing similar challenges. We also joined the Savory EOV Program, a robust regenerative verification program that provides insight and recommendations on implementing and improving regenerative ranching practices.

To strengthen local food distribution, we expanded our gardens from ten raised beds and six 40ft. rows, to nearly a quarter acre of growing space allowing us to grow and distribute 3,710lbs of produce to the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District (LHPUSD) while our grass-fed beef program, LeftCoast GrassFed, donated more than 2,000 pounds of beef through our local community support Puente and over 250 pounds to LHPUSD.

Gathering for Action

Bringing people together to learn about, and experience regenerative ranching on the ground is also a critical part of the work we do. Through our Gathering for Action initiative, we’ve managed to bring people safely together for gathering outside during the challenging time of the ongoing pandemic.

At the start of 2021, we welcomed three new apprentices—Dillon, Jessica, and Alex—and by the end of the year, wished them the best as they embark on the next chapter of their regenerative journey. In June, we hosted social distanced artists gathering to merge with beauty and appreciation for our regenerative landscapes. And, in July, we hosted a “Day at the Ranch” for Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch team to connect, learn, and identify opportunities for collaboration toward our like-minded goals.

Along the way, we’ve read about things like transformative investment and how it can address climate change through diverse, targeted investment in regenerative agriculture. And explored the reality that, despite the known benefits of regenerative agriculture, the transformation process from the conventional approach can be a difficult journey.

We’ve also expressed our support for the wonders of regenerative harmony and productivity, the positive legislative policies being implemented both in California and nationally, and noted how a regenerative vision can lead to a shift in public consciousness—a social metamorphosis, of sorts.

As we enter 2022, our hope is that all of us who are working towards a regenerative world continue our work to discover, demonstrate, and broadcast the potential of regenerative agriculture, and also acknowledge and address the places where the promise of social, economic, and environmental regeneration is yet unfulfilled. We also hope that 2022 is filled with inspiration to shift people from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance, as real transformation can only take place when we reestablish a loving connection to ourselves, each other, and our planet.

With gratitude and hope, we wish you a Happy New Year.

The Team at TomKat Ranch