By Christine Ruggeri
As farming practices have evolved over time, its impact on the environment has become a serious concern. The idealistic scene we may picture when thinking about a healthy farm — lush crops, green grasses and grazing animals — is not at all common these days. Modern farming methods are contributing to an increase of greenhouse gas emissions and have hindered the quality of our foods and health.
Today, farming contributes to climate change, while it’s also at the mercy of climate change — plus it holds the potential to help solve climate change. How can this all be true at the same time? The impact of farming differs, depending on the approach.
That’s exactly why Ancient Nutrition co-founders Jordan Rubin and Dr. Josh Axe have decided to start walking the talk when it comes to investing in regenerative agriculture with our R.A.N.C.H. ProjectSM. The founders own and operate 4,000+ acres in both Tennessee and Missouri, and are on a mission to be part of the solution, not the problem.
And starting now, you will be part of this mission, too, with 1 percent of all revenue at Ancient Nutrition being dedicated to this important and impactful project.
The Link Between Farms and Climate Change
Agriculture and farming have been at the center of civilization for centuries, but over the years it has changed drastically — and today, it’s actually contributing to climate change. Big ag farming encourages practices that harm the soil, waste fertilizer and boost the use of herbicides, which all increase the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Conventional agriculture actually discourages practices that could improve soil health and offset dangerous emissions that contribute to climate change. Methods such as monoculture (growing the same crop), excessive tilling and the use of herbicides are depleting environmental health.
With regenerative agriculture, the farm becomes more resilient and biodiverse, with enriched soil and better water quality. Regenerative agriculture adopts principles and practices that aim to rehabilitate and enhance the entire farm ecosystem.
It involves using practices that help to stall or reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring soil biodiversity. This results in an improved water cycle and carbon drawdown, and crops that are rich in nutrients, as nature intended.
What Is Our R.A.N.C.H. Project?
Our R.A.N.C.H. project stands for Regenerative Agriculture, Nutrition and Climate Health, and it’s focused on the work we’re doing on our 4,000-acre Beyond Organic Ranch (which is home to Heal the Planet Farm) and our headquarters, The Center for Regenerative Agriculture.
This project is rooted in Ancient Nutrition's ongoing mission to transform the health of all individuals with nature’s most powerful superfoods. We believe in creating the change we want to see, and we rely on organic farms (including our own) for many of our ingredients.
The R.A.N.C.H. project will allow us to play a role in environmental regeneration and healthy food production. This is a farming revolution that we want to be part of — a transformation of agricultural production and an evolution of the industry that can have a significant impact on the future of climate change.
Each initiative we undertake reduces greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions, reducing waste and sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. We have a long way to go, but we’re committed to taking every step we need to get there, with big goals in place for 2024 and beyond.
Our Climate Goals
Ancient Nutrition will be sponsoring and directing the regenerative agriculture efforts at both the Tennessee and Missouri farms. We are also entering into a scientific research partnership with Rodale Institute, a pioneering organic regenerative research farm in Pennsylvania and founder of the Organic and Regenerative movements, to validate our efforts to “Heal the Planet and Feed the World.”
Starting this year, Ancient Nutrition will dedicate 1 percent of revenue to these efforts and begin the first stage of a 14-year project to definitively demonstrate a plan that will revolutionize environmental regeneration and healthy food production, with important elements including water conservation, carbon cycling, and soil microbiome diversity and viability.
We have big goals for the next two years. By 2024, we plan to:
- Become carbon negative
- Plant one million superfood-bearing perennial trees, bushes, vines and shrubs (called Million Member Forest Initiative) that will grow superfoods, some of which will be used as ingredients in Ancient Nutrition products
- Reduce our plastic waste by 25 percent and transition to more sustainable solutions
- Protect biodiversity by banking seeds and diverting waste that might otherwise go to landfills
- Support like-minded organizations like Mully Children’s Family in Kenya and the Rodale Institute in their missions
Our Accomplishments So Far
The R.A.N.C.H. Project revolves around our two properties that have allowed us to make our mission a reality.
Beyond Organic Ranch
- Established in Missouri in 2012
- Organically certified
- Houses over 20 species of native trees
- Has pastures with native grass species
- Features 60 acres of winter rye, legumes and mixed grasses for grazing
- Houses 7 different species of mushroom grown on a patented substrate
- Runs on regenerative farming practices including:
- managed intensive grazing
- the incorporation of spiders and other beneficial insects
- biodiversity of grasses and forestry
- large scale composting
- permaculture practices
Heal The Planet Farm
- Part of the Beyond Organic Ranch
- Uses permaculture practices to create regenerative food forests — with help from:
- holistic grazing and livestock management to build soil organic matter, capture carbon and transform the environment
The Center for Regenerative Agriculture
- Established in April 2020
- Serves as our official headquarters for the R.A.N.C.H. Project
- 133-acre farm in Middle Tennessee
- Houses 81 greenhouses (6 of which are outfitted for year-round growing), over 100 plant varieties (with a focus on improving biodiversity to support native pollinators), and over 10 different kinds of animals (including ducks, guinea fowls, bees, horses, cows, sheep, goats and water buffalo, all specifically chosen to work play a role in the development of the farm)
- Practices low-till farming
- Focuses on carbon sequestration
- Home to our Million Member Forest Initiative
- Allows for active participation by the Ancient Nutrition Team and is open to anyone who wants to learn, participate and deepen their understanding of organic and regenerative agriculture
As you can see, we’ve come a long way since establishing our first farm in 2012 and will continue to build and achieve new goals.
Most recently, in 2021, we planted 250,000 native superfood bearing trees, vines, shrubs and plants. We’ve composted 444,000 pounds of eggshells, collected 5.5 million gallons of rainwater across our two properties, and have reduced our plastic use by 25 percent, which saved over 72,600 pounds of plastic.
Even our printed materials and product containers are selected mindfully, with the use of eco-friendly marketing materials, vegetable-based inks to reduce the use of chemicals, and HDPE canisters that reduce plastic waste. We’ve eliminated our outer cartons and no longer use plastic neck band safety seals, too.
Where YOU Come In
Now that you have a better understanding of what we’ve been doing to help heal the planet and save the world with superfoods, you may be wondering how you can join us to make a difference. Starting this year, Ancient Nutrition is dedicating 1 percent of revenue to the R.A.N.C.H. Project and our partnership with Rodale Institute.
Together we will measure and improve soil health, water quality, livestock health, carbon sequestration and more. When you purchase our products, you’re participating in this important and impactful work, plus getting us closer to planting one million trees by 2024!
Christine is a writer and nutrition counselor based in New York. She's worked for Ancient Nutrition and the Dr. Axe team for five years. She has a degree in Education with a concentration in English from Iona College, and received her health coach certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.