Questions with the Speakers - Ray Archuleta & Fred Provenza

By
Mar 14, 2016

Here is our second installment of our blog series “Questions with the Speakers” for the upcoming conference on April 27 and 28 in Perry, GA.   In preparation for the conference, we asked these speakers a common set of questions concerning the future of grassfed production and the story of their experiences and insights that led to their leadership in our industry.  This will be a short sampling of what you can learn and discuss while attending.   If you have not signed up for the conference yet go here.  There is still early bird pricing through March 31st.  Enjoy and get your questions ready!  In the weeks to come, we will share their answers here.   This installment is Ray Archuleta and Fred Provenza. 

sep56e7336804a19-ray.jpg
Ray Archuleta

1.     What do you see as the potential impact of regenerative grassland agriculture?  
This type of agriculture will positively impact all biotic, climatic, aquatic, and economic health. At the same time redistribute humans and animals on the landscape which will restructure society has a whole.
.   
2.    What do you believe are the big strategies and behaviors required to move us toward this?
Regenerating agriculture is a social and psychological issue: The transformation of the human mind and heart is required.  An "eco-consciousness" that teaches all humans that they are part of the natural system.  We need an awareness that nurtures and respects all life- by emulating it. "You cannot build ecology integrity without human integrity".

3.     Why are you doing things the way you are today?
Humans learn through progressive revelation.  In other words, we learn in steps (progression) within time and space. This time of learning takes time, like botanical growth, it is very slow and un-noticeable, but eventually evident. With the proper experiences, exposure to the right people, good books, and the proper contextual knowledge.  I was able to formulate the correct premise which helped me better understand agriculture- mimic natural ecosystems to improve soil function. Don't force it-understand it!

4.    What brought you to this point?  Was there a defining moment that sparked a change?
Failure brought me to this point! I found a humbling awareness that I was not helping the land or the people. As a NRCS/ USDA employee, I was wrapped in a web of governmental process and tools that masked symptoms (economic failing farms, unclean water, erosion), yet no real healing of the soil was occurring.     


5.    Where or to whom do you look for guidance and inspiration?
I look to Jesus Christ for encouragement and hope- a perfect example of true leadership.  His words help me understand CONTEXT; my relationship between God, creation, and my fellow men.

6.    What is an important lesson you learned from a mistake?
One of the most powerful teaching tools for us humans...is mistakes. Mistakes are misconceptions, defective knowledge/judgment, and a miss-understanding. My understanding of agriculture was built on a flawed premise: nature is a machine, a chemistry set, it is not alive!  Control it with our tools (pesticides, tillage and etc.,)! My misconceptions-masked symptoms and facilitated no healing for the land or the people.  "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. Douglas Adams".

7.    What do you think is the most important first step someone in your field can take to move in the right direction?
Understand Context: You must have the proper psychological, social, and spiritual context if you are going help regenerate agriculture.  Without it, you’re lost. You cannot understand the proper conditions or the circumstances without it.

8.    What will be the # 1 take home message from people listening to you speak?  
If you build your agricultural understanding on the correct foundation: mimic nature through systems thinking and don't focus on the tools or process, you will improve soil health and function. This correct premise will impact all life on earth...especially yours.

sep56e733b71ce27-fred.jpg

Fred Provenza

1.    What do you see as the potential impact of regenerative grassland agriculture?  
I think the health of nations is built from the ground up and regenerative grassland agriculture is essential for that.
 
2.    What do you believe are the big strategies and behaviors required to move us toward this?
I think it has to happen from the ground up. I don't have much faith at all in top-down (e.g., political) approaches. How do we get the 98% of folks not involved in agriculture to realize that our health is linked with the health of soil, plants, and animals that inhabit the landscape communities where we live too? Education through articles, books, and films for the general public (e.g., documentaries like Fed Up), getting folks to grow gardens -- all ways to get people to realize that our health depends on the health of the landscape communities we inhabit.

3.    Why are you doing things the way you are today?
All the experiences I've had: training in in wildlife biology; working for many years on the ranch in Colorado; the many years as a teacher and researcher at Utah State University studying how behavior links soil and plants with herbivores and human beings; the last six years living in the backwoods of Colorado pondering the mysteries and wonders of existence.

4.    What brought you to this point?  Was there a defining moment that sparked a change?
The trials I've experienced along the way have caused me to make profound changes in how I view life.

5.    Where or to whom do you look for guidance and inspiration?
I use quiet time in nature for guidance and inspiration. I like to read broadly about all facets of life in the here-and-now and the hereafter. I like to write as a way to reflect on all of this.

6.    What is an important lesson you learned from a mistake?
Mistakes are never mistakes when I'm trying my best, just another chance to learn and move on…

7.    What do you think is the most important first step someone in your field can take to move in the right direction?
Take time to ponder and follow your heart. There's something in each one of us that knows when we are 'on the beam or off the bean.' Find that and follow it wherever it leads you and you will never go wrong.

8.    What will be the # 1 take home message from people listening to you speak?
You are the artist who is painting the canvas of your own life.

For more information and questions on the conference go to our website.  See you back here for the next installment.

Join the Newsletter

Get the latest conference updates

Get Registered Now

Register Now