Inspiring change from the ground up

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Student Michelle Williams learns about agriculture through hands-on experiences.

Brayden Stephenson, Reporter

Those who’ve been paying attention to the world of sustainability have probably noticed a step towards the work of regeneration. To be regenerative, specifically in the world of agriculture, means to prioritize soil health, increase biodiversity within the land, and cultivate an ethical workplace. Regenerative practice is harmonizing with the land, and Sierra Nevada University students and faculty are seeing its potential and taking action.
“Anything we can do on our campus to share education and awareness around regenerative agriculture, it needs to be discussed as much as possible,” Brennan Legasse, SNU professor and sustainability program chair, said.
The dreams and goals of sustainability at SNU have always been there but just got pushed to the side at some point. With all the resources the school has available it seems like loads of opportunity and progression are at waste.
“We have a greenhouse, we have a composting program, the demonstration garden on campus and we also have a few raised beds that were used some years ago. Tying all those together and finding ways to get students involved in reviving those resources. They were all thriving at one point but started falling through the cracks,” said Legasse. “We can start bringing in regenerative aspects that can be a model to others and hopefully inspire and teach people. It’d be a huge benefit to the school.”
Last summer, SNU senior Michelle Williams spent her time working on a regenerative cannabis farm where she learned skills about building soil health and skills that prioritized the land on which they were growing. Her skillset within regenerative farming makes her the perfect student for introducing regeneration to the school.
“I think regenerative agriculture is important because it’s giving back more than we take from the planet. It tackles climate change as it’s rebuilding soil and enhancing the biodiversity, which is important to ecosystem health as well as cultural diversity,” Williams said.
Working with the available resources is a great way to get started on the path of regeneration. The SNU greenhouse is just one of the dreams on campus put on the back burner, but with passion and hard work, Michelle Williams took the initiative to bring some life back to the soil.
“My goal with reviving the greenhouse is helping students connect back with nature. Being a student of sustainability I’ve noticed there’s a crisis of relationship between people and land which ultimately stems from our disconnect with nature,” she said. “It’s also important to note that regenerative agriculture has become very whitewashed. It’s an indigenous practice, weaving and connecting with the land.”
At SNU, the bare minimum is being done to practice sustainability but hope is not lost as both Williams and Legasse are paving the way for future generations of students and community members to take part in something bigger and better for both people and the planet.
“The goal of sustainability is that sustainability goes away so that we’re actually sustaining across ecology, society, culture, politics, and economy. Then we move towards regeneration.
Therefore, the goal is regeneration across all levels,” Legasse said.