Previous Field Day event held at Paicines Ranch. Photo by Becky Bonner.

Contrary to the popular image of a rugged male farmer working the land, cultivating crops knows no gender boundaries and the Jan. 22 Women in Regenerative Agriculture Field Day is proof of that.

The EcoFarm Conference is an organic farming event highlighting new farming and growing concepts. The 39th annual gathering in Pacific Grove kicks off with a pre-event at Paicines Ranch focused on the topic of women in regenerative agriculture.

“There are over 5 billion microorganisms in a cup of healthy soil, and they are connected to each other and to all of the plants growing,” said Paicines Ranch owner Sallie Calhoun. “Most agricultural soils in the U.S. today are not healthy in this way.”

Soil regeneration is an approach to agriculture using human management and the power of nature, especially photosynthesis, to heal soil by allowing its biological community to grow and thrive.

Calhoun said all terrestrial life depends on the relationship between plants and soil.

“Without that topsoil, we can’t grow food for ourselves or much of the rest of life on earth,” she said.

At Paicines Ranch, all farming takes into account five main principles required to regenerate the soil. They include:

  1. Keeping the ground covered.
  2. Keeping green, living plants in the ground as much of the year as possible.
  3. Growing a diverse group of plants.
  4. Minimizing soil disturbance by minimizing tillage.
  5. Integrating grazing animals into agricultural systems.

“Regenerating our soils would be a great start to solving many of the large, systemic problems currently facing mankind,” Calhoun said.

Attendees of the EcoFarm pre-event at Paicines Ranch will get to witness applications of regenerative practices and hear from women farmers and ranchers who are using the principles of regenerative agriculture. They’ll round out the day with several site visits on the ranch to observe regenerative ag practices.