This blog has been quiet for a while, but I will be reviving it over the coming weeks and months as a precursor to revamping the entire Empyrean Research website. I'll also be adding some punch to the blog by intermittently adding some video interviews.
First up in this vein is my interview with Lisa Heenan of the Regrarians. She and her husband Darren Doherty are globally recognized for their work as sustainable farm designers. They consult widely with landowners and farmers to help them create agricultural systems which work effectively and collaboratively with the local climate and landscape. Darren also leads 30+ workshops a year across the planet sharing his methods and expertise.
Some colleagues and I traveled to one of the Regrarian workshops earlier this month, hosted at Farfields Farm in Afton, VA. The focus of the workshop was on earthworks for water catchment and management. During the five day program, we participated in the construction of a ridge pond, in keyline plowing and as well as in the re-contouring of farm roads to integrate them as additional components in the property's water catchment system.
Lisa and Darren also shared one of their recent projects, a full length documentary film about Polyface Farms, in Swoope, Virginia. Featured in The Omnivore's Dilemma and many other books, Polyface is one of the world's best-known regenerative farming operations. It's commitment to sustainability has not reduced the efficiency or productivity of the farm, which provides food to more than 5000 families.
Lisa and Darren's film, Polyfaces: A World of Many Choices, takes an in- depth look at the regenerative practices utilized at Polyface. The film also delves into the social dynamics of the farm, the intergenerational efforts of the Salatin family who own the business, and the role of women in building and sustaining one of the world's most celebrated farming operations.
Although the film has not yet been released, workshop participants were treated to a private screening of the documentary. Polyfaces will premiere in December in Los Angeles and in New York and has been accepted as a contender for an Academy Award in the Documentary Feature category.
I sat down with Lisa Heenan to discuss with her the origins of the project and the messages she wants to communicate through the Polyface story.
Polyfaces provides an upbeat message about sustainable development grounded in a concrete, replicable example. Ultimately the film aims to show that not only can farming help to rebuild the earth, but that it can also help rebuild communities and form new ones, as the story traces the many lives, on and off the farm, who have been impacted by the values and approaches utilized by the Satatin family at Polyface Farms.
The full length trailer for the film can be viewed at www.polyfaces.com.
Felix is the founder and director of Empyrean Research. Based in Tennessee, he travels widely with his work for Empyrean.
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