Leadership from the American Farmland Trust visited the neighborhood last week to meet with local residents interested in learning more about AFT’s campaign to make agriculture carbon neutral by exponentially increasing the use of regenerative agriculture and support farmers, already on the frontlines of climate change, who utilize sustainable farming practices.
Several dozen concerned Angelenos gathered at a local garden in Fremont Place to hear from American Farmland Trust President and CEO John Piotto about AFT’s efforts to raise awareness of its work to help farmers and address climate change. Journalist and Windsor Square resident Corie Brown, and her husband Chris Fager, attended. Brown has written extensively on craft breweries. Also in attendance were Ginger and Bill Lincoln. Ginger is a past president of the Hancock Park Garden Club. Activist and actress Donna Mills, and her partner Larry Gilman, also attended.
Historically, AFT’s mission has been to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices, and keep farmers on the land. Since its founding in the 1970s by Peggy Rockefeller, a passionate farmer and active philanthropist, AFT has worked to help farmers apply the emerging tools of land conservation to agriculture. The organization has been largely focused on federal legislation, most notably the passage of the 1981 Farmland Protection Policy Act, a subtitle of the 1981 Farm Bill that codified the notion and use of agricultural conservation easements.
AFT believes that since farmers are on the front lines of climate change every day, they can and must play a major role in national efforts to fight it, explained Piotti.
“We need a global effort to increase carbon drawdown to have any hope of stopping or reversing climate change,” explained local host Pam Tarr, a Wisconsin native with strong ties to the local neighborhood, and who organized the “friend-raising” evening.
“America’s farms are in crisis and transitioning industrial agriculture (one of the biggest culprits of climate change) to more organic farming that allows soil to do what nature intended is primary,” said Tarr. “It is also the only way to save the demise of over a million non-arable acres of farmland a year in America — it is essential to reversing climate change and to saving America’s farms.”
Larry Kopald, Founder & President of The Carbon Underground, joined Piotti and Tarr. Kopald explained that growing food and fiber are the largest and 3rd largest industries in the world and have the potential to provide the solution to reversing climate change. Kopald, a communications and marketing specialist who has worked with Fortune 500 companies his entire career, explained how he has recently has enlisted several large multi-national companies to support products with sustainable farming practices, which is why his organization has teamed up with AFT.
Kopald explained that extensive scientific research from around the world has emerged in the past few years, showing us the impact that soil health has on climate change. Here’s an explanation of the science from the Carbon Underground’s website:
“We are now learning how soil organic matter greatly affects the entire carbon cycle, and that how we manage farms, ranches, and natural wetlands and grasslands may provide the key to solving the greatest threat facing the planet,
“Carbon is one of our more ubiquitous elements and key to every living thing on earth. Like water, carbon has a cycle. It is stored in oil and coal and in living things and gets released when those things die or burn. And because nature is the perfect system, it gets recycled back to be used again, keeping carbon levels—and our atmosphere—in perfect balance.
Recently we have disrupted that cycle and thrown the carbon balance off, resulting in an increasingly destabilized climate. Scientists are now telling us that the way we grow our food may be the single greatest contributor to that disruption, and the greatest opportunity to restore both the carbon balance and the climate.
Industrial techniques like deep tilling, mono-cropping, and overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is now diminishing soil’s natural ability to draw carbon back down, trapping it in our atmosphere. Changing current techniques can restore the soil, reboot lost photosynthetic activity, and help enable nature to again re-balance carbon levels currently out of balance due to human activity.”
The evening event followed that afternoon’s climate change protest at LA City Hall, with activist Greta Thrunberg, and offered guests an opportunity to get involved, learn more about the science, and help support producers of sustainable agriculture.
“We invite you to become a member of AFT and support the future,” said Piotti. More information on getting involved can be found on the AFT website. Or contact Shawn Shepherd, AFT’s Director of Development and Strategic Engagement ,at 505-301-8296 or [email protected].