The Challenge

Regenerative approaches to food systems have grown exponentially, while the term ‘regenerative’ is also growing in popularity across the world. It is a movement rooted in social justice, systemic transformation, and sustainable nutrition, paying homage to indigenous knowledge. It opens possibilities for an ambitious reimagining of how we grow, catch and eat our food, how it is financed and where power in the food system is held.   

Regenerative agriculture also has the potential to encompass agroecology, permaculture principles and nature-based solutions. It is the opposite of the extractive, productionist approach of much at the current conventional systems. 

Yet, there is a growing risk that the term is being used is such a wide variety of contexts and systems as to be meaningless. We need to come together to collaboratively to ensure “regenerative” does not become the next buzzword: “local”, “natural or “sustainable”. 

This is the time to ensure regenerative approaches to food supply work for people and nature. They are at the forefront of delivering One Health goals – the recognition that the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, and the wider environment are interdependent. They need to develop into systems that deliver for those who produce and supply food, for food businesses and for citizens. 

Our approach  

Our work to advance the field of regenerative approaches to agriculture spans across three geographies with vastly unique historical contexts, landscapes and cultures.  

We facilitate convenings with stakeholders to co-develop learnings and collectively create a shared vision and cohesive understanding of what regenerative approaches to agriculture can – and should – provide people and planet. We seek to deepen context-specific narratives of what it means to be regenerative, expanding its definition to include both social and environmental outcomes that address deep inequities that underpin the current global systems.  

Our theory of change rests on the notion that no one sector, region, or stakeholder group will be able to enact that change we envision at the pace required. Thus, working in lockstep, our multistakeholder collaborations set the stage for addressing multiple levers simultaneously to catalyse the transition towards a just and regenerative food systems. It is about mindset shifts and power dynamics.

It’s not just getting people together to talk about scaling and catalysing. It is about empowering change, breaking down hierarchies and centre the voices of food actors throughout the supply chain in the process.  

Examples of our work 

Growing our Future US 

In 2020, Forum launched Growing our Future US (GoF US), a pre-competitive platform to address critical levers that could accelerate the uptake of regenerative agriculture if addressed. These levers were identified through a collective diagnosis on the current state of play of agriculture in the US. 

In 2021, the GoF US community prioritised key areas of work from our original collective diagnosis and launched four workstreams – small groups of actors from across the system trialling new ways of collaborating and driving tangible action toward ambitious system-level change. The workstreams are: 1) Financing the transition, 2) Policy change, 3) Pathways to market and 4) Social outcomes. 

Each workstream developed a toolkit at the end of GoF US’s initial three-year strategic plan in May 2023. While our workstreams continue to evolve, these tools aim to inspire others to both join the collective efforts, as well as “take up the baton” – scaling, replicating, and building on our learning, insights, and new ways of working – with the ultimate goal of re-wiring the food and agriculture system towards both just and regenerative outcomes.  

Growing our Future UK 

In the UK, we are exploring what it will take to transform the UK’s food and farming system towards more regenerative agricultural practices that deliver positive economic, environmental and social outcomes alongside productivity. We ask: How can the UK food system and food companies support and enable a shift in agricultural practices that helps them to achieve their carbon, biodiversity, environment and social goals, in a way that is compelling for consumers and beneficial to farmer livelihoods? 

From 2021 the UK ran a pilot with a mainstream UK retailer, M&S Food, building connections and dialogue across their value chain, and exploring the opportunities for and barriers to the adoption of regenerative farming practices—what support farmers need to get started on their journey towards regenerative agriculture. The pilot explored how to find fair mechanisms between retailers, suppliers, processors, and farmers and growers to share both the risks and the benefits of the transition. 

What our partners say

I had one of those, “Why didn’t I see this earlier” moments during your [workshop]... By the end of the conference I had met people where the average farm size was 5 acres in the Caribbean, 100 cows on 110 acres of tropical pasture in Saipan, 42,000 acres of crop land and 50,000 acres of North Dakota pasture with 1,000 cows and a rancher that was also the head of a branch of the USDA in Washington DC.  And as different as all were, we still could talk commonly about family, grandkids and rural living.  This makes me believe that no matter how different you may be from someone, chances are there are parts of your life where you agree wholeheartedly.”

– John K., Missouri Farmer, participant at a Growing our Future US workshop in collaboration with the National Association of Conservation Districts. 

Get in touch

Please contact Senior Sustainability Strategist, Michelle Stearn, for more information on Growing our Future US and Principal - Food and Regenerative Agriculture, Duncan Williams, about Growing our Future UK.

Contact Michelle

Contact Duncan