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Regenerative agriculture — Net-Zero Carbon

Maui farm mission is to connect people to the land, co-founder says

(Image: FreightWaves)

On this episode of Net-Zero Carbon, Danny Gomez, managing director of financial and emerging markets at FreightWaves, chats with Jakke Aoga, co-founder of La Kahea Community Farm on Maui, Hawaii, and a program manager at FreightWaves, about regenerative agriculture. 

“Our mission is to connect the community and the people who come to Maui with the land and to highlight the importance of regenerative agriculture,” Aoga said.

Regenerative agriculture includes holistic farming practices that rebuild soil health and restore soil biodiversity.

Aoga said there are plenty of ways to support regenerative agriculture even if you don’t have a farm. The La Kahea Community Farm educates locals, as well as some of the many tourists who visit Maui, about the farm’s sustainable techniques.

Gomez mentioned that he watched the Netflix documentary Kiss the Ground and it taught him more about the connection between soil, farming practices, ecosystems and people.

Plants take in carbon dioxide and sunlight and convert that energy into soil microbes, which increase the nutrient density of the soil and the food grown in that soil, Aoga said. Now that people understand the relationship better, “we can leverage that to reduce CO2 emissions, which is a really exciting thing, all while growing nutrient dense food,” he said.

Regenerative agriculture focuses on:

  • No-till farming, in which farmers don’t break up the soil with plows before planting each season.
  • Avoiding spraying crops with herbicides and pesticides.
  • Using cover crops to prevent erosion.
  • Integrating animals when you can.

“It’s a huge undertaking. If you put yourself in multigenerational farmers’ shoes, to tell them to completely shift the way they’ve done their operations isn’t the easiest thing to do. With that said, they’re the ones on the ground seeing the drastic results of what’s happening to their soil by farming like this,” Aoga said.

Farmers are starting to notice their soils degrade and how extreme flooding and droughts impact their crops each year.

Gomez made the connection between farmers using regenerative agriculture techniques and transportation companies making operational changes to reduce emissions through alternative fuels. It’s “early innings” in these transitions, Gomez said. But every farmer or company that changes practices makes a difference and brings attention to environmental issues.

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Alyssa Sporrer

Alyssa is a staff writer at FreightWaves, covering sustainability news in the freight and supply chain industry, from low-carbon fuels to social sustainability, emissions & more. She graduated from Iowa State University with a double major in Marketing and Environmental Studies. She is passionate about all things environmental and enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, ultimate frisbee, hiking, and soccer.