April 7th 2018, we invited over 100 pioneers, practitioners, academics and enterpreneurs to an old monastery in Stans, Switzerland to a symposium to explore the potential of perennial plant communities for resilient food systems and regenerative agriculture.
Today, nature conservation, ecosystem restoration and (food) productivity are still largely considered as opposites. With approaches like regenerative farming, agroforestry and an increasing recognition about the untapped potential of underutilised edible plants, we see an increasing potential for combining soil and ecosystem regeneration and biodiversity with productivity.
There were three main outcomes from this Symposium:
The practical examples show, that perennial plant communities have a huge potential to support soil regeneration, biodiversity, healthy water cycles and resilient decentralised food systems: Stephen Barstow in Norway, Joe Hollis in the United States, Felipe Basini and Ernst Götsch in Brazil, and also the upcoming regeneration initiatives in the Mediterranean were present at the Symposium.
A shift towards perennials requires more than replacing annuals with perennials within the existing monocultural structures. It required a paradigm shift into more diverse and holistic agroecological approaches.
To move regeneration and perennials to the next level, the existing experience-knowledge from pioneers and practictioners in projects needs to be made available so that cross-project learning and knowledge-sharing (within comparable climate zones) will be possible. This is true for access and knowlegde about plants and plant communities, about system design, planning and management as well as about the creation of diverse regional value-chains for perennial products.