There seems to be a barrage of negative environmental news lately, such as the alarming rate of losing a species on Earth every 10 minutes. Additionally, there is an estimation that only about 40 to 60 harvests are left while our current agricultural systems can provide a sustainable food supply. Unfortunately, there are little to no prospects for technological fixes such as genetically modified organisms and agricultural chemistry, which, despite their promises, have actually greatly accelerated the degradation of our life-supporting biological systems.
It would be easy to understand an attitude of apathy from young people based on tThe highly degraded commons of our life supporting ecosystems and a functional worldview that we have handed them, after the mildest climate and the great potential of human intellectual achievement in the history of mankind.
The birth of the Regenerative Agriculture Club
It would be easy to understand but not what you would find if you went into the Temecula Valley High School and other schools in our region. What you would find his students who in 2019 got together with supportive and innovative faculty members Megan Mahan and Toby Brandon and started a Regenerative Agriculture Club. While other students were working on their thespian, musical, or athletic abilities, these students decided to work on regenerating the future for all.
In 2019 students from the Temecula Valley High School got together with supportive faculty members and administration and said that they wanted to start learning about the concepts of regenerative agriculture which not only include the regeneration of basic life supporting biological systems but also includes all elements of the Eco, the whole house which includes biology, economics, politics, and social and organizational theory. The students soon realized that the best method of learning is hands on application, and the best application is in your own backyard. They looked to the hillside behind the Temecula Valley High School, which had been largely abandoned except for an infamously challenging cross country field trail through the disrupted soils that no longer even supported natives plant or animal species. They envisioned an the evolving learning laboratory in their backyard where they could see the application of regenerative principles develop over time in person and share with their fellow students.
Students Transform Abandoned Hillside into Thriving Regenerative Laboratory
These students, with assistance and guidance from high school Science faculty members Meghan Manion and Tobey Brannon, developed a concept for the hillside project. They reached out to industry professionals to develop this hillside regenerative agricultural learning laboratory. The students recruited assistance from Greg Pennyroyal, Professor of Viticulture at Mount San Jacinto College (MSJC), Vineyard Manager, and practitioner of regenerative viticulture at Wilson Creek Winery. Additionally, they sought help from, Tom Curry, regenerative olive Grove manager and local food entrepreneur, and Leah Di Bernardo, founder and owner of EAT marketplace, a farm to table restaurant, and champion of high nutrient density food and public health in our region.
During the 2020 school year, the students began conducting biological surveys investigating regulatory and technical aspects of developing their hillside regenerative outdoor laboratory project. They also began to gather institutional, political, and fiscal support for their proposal. Over the next two years, the students developed a systematic approach to learning what is necessary for a project of this scale, including the invaluable life skill of tenacity. They overcame numerous financial, bureaucratic, and technical barriers that any major project encounters, and did not let anyone interfere with their dreams.
Regenerative Agriculture Club Achievements
The Regenerative Agriculture Club has over 100 members, and has been featured on an ABC News segment. They have organized several fundraisers, and had a high level meeting with the staff of MSJC College, including with John Kemp and leading technical experts from Advancing Eco Agriculture. The club has received funding from the Specialized Secondary Program grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The high school now has an approved curriculum for a regenerative agriculture high school science program and is coordinating with the development of a program offering an AS degree in regenerative System theory for entrepreneurs and social change, and Regenerative Agriculture.
During Spring Break in May 2023, the land clearing was finished, and irrigation and infrastructure systems are being installed with the direct involvement of the students, who are involved in all aspects of this project.
A basic tenant of systems theory-based ecological science is that nature constantly innovates, launches, reevaluates, and re-innovates. This is the essence of an organizational theory called Agile Management, which like many things we “discover” are actually just processes of nature we have wisely learned to adopt. The organization and execution of this project follows this basic environmental principle and will be constantly adapting, learning, and improving. The founding members of the regenerative AG club are also evolving and learning. They have all been accepted to Berkeley or Davis to study environmental sciences. Their acceptance is largely credited to their innovative work on the regenerative AG hillside project.
Inspiring the Regeneration Generation