Chaco Empoderado, part 2: Juan Pedro Borrelli

a man smiling in front of a cityscape.

We’re pleased to introduce our audience to our Spanish-language regenerative training courses, and the people behind our partnership who offer these courses: Guido Lois, former Kiss the Ground photographer and founder of Diez Mil Anos, and Juan Pedro Borrelli, course designer at Escuela de Regeneracion, a Savory hub in Argentina. Please read on in Part 2 to discover JP’s unique pathway to regeneration, and check out our scholarship offerings to their courses.

Check out Part 1 hereNos complace presentarle a nuestra audiencia nuestros cursos de capacitación regenerativa en español y a las personas detrás de nuestra asociación que ofrecen estos cursos: Guido Lois, exfotógrafo de Kiss the Ground y fundador de Diez Mil Anos, y Juan Pedro Borrelli, diseñador de cursos en la Escuela de Regeneracion, un centro de Savory en Argentina. Siga leyendo en la Parte 1 para descubrir el camino único de JP hacia la regeneración y consulte nuestras ofertas de becas para sus cursos.

Mira la Parte 1 aquíWhat was your path to regenerative?

I grew up in Patagonia, Argentina, but now I live in a beach town south of Buenos Aires – Mar del Plata. Although I consider myself a city kid, my  father was a rangeland scientist for 25 year and was well known in the field; before he discovered holistic grazing methods he was confounded by the prevalence of desertification he found across rural farms in Patagonia. He was 50 years old when he discovered holistic practices and had to admit that he had been wrong for many years; he says transitioning to regenerative/holistic grazing saved his career. In 2008, my father started holistic grazing trials in south Patagonia; the results we saw the first spring after those trials were unlike any we had ever seen. The grasslands came back, even in the very arid conditions. The company that my father worked for officially  adopted holistic management practices after those trials.

I was initially interested in social work and  studied sociology  at Universidad Buenos Aires. For a long time I didn’t see a match between my father’s profession and my purpose in life. I went on a cycling trip all along the Americas with my brother, from California all the way back to South America. When I got home,  I met up with my father again. He was showing holistic management to small farmers in really poor, rural areas of Patagonia. Although the families had a lot of land, they needed social services to survive because farming was not enough to live on. 

Their land was fully degraded/desertified, and through holistic management and keyline design (technology + holistic grazing), I witnessed their quality of life improve so much that they were able to stop receiving financial assistance. They were grazing and selling beef, and I realized then that the most important thing I could do with my time for these families was to regenerate their land. Regeneration was the key to keeping these families from abandoning their land and moving to cities, where they would face further hardship. That’s when I understood the power of regeneration, and I’ve never looked back. 

That was seven years ago, and since then I’ve been working to train as many people as possible in livestock management and holistic grazing. I currently lead the Escuela de Regeneración of Ovis 21 – a regenerative space that teaches any methodology that regenerates land – permaculture, agroforestry, cover cropping,  holistic grazing, etc – in-person and online. There are two learning sites in Buenos Aires, but most students attend virtually, from Spanish speaking countries all over the globe, such as Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Attendance is around 300 students/year for live courses and 400/year for online courses. I design the courses and generally coordinate the operations of the school, while educators in each specific discipline lead the courses. ¿Cuál fue tu camino hacia la regeneración?

Mi padre lleva toda su vida trabajando para frenar la desertificación en Patagonia. Por mucho tiempo para mi, en su quehacer solo veía ganadería y campo, algo desconectado de mi vocación, que era el trabajo en el terreno de lo social y mejorar la calidad de vida de las personas.

Un día a la vuelta de un largo viaje en bicicleta por America, nos reencontramos junto a mi hermano con nuestro padre, que se encontraba enseñándoles sobre regeneración a pequeños productores de la Patagonia, familias que si bien poseian grandes parcelas, vivian en la subsistencia y eran sujetos de asistencia social. Aprendiendo a hacer un manejo regenerativo, tenían la posibilidad de cambiar su situación de vida, recuperar el ecosistema que estaban habitando y prosperar en su tierra. En ese momento lo entendí. La solución mas potente para resolver la crisis social y ecológica estaba en regenerar la tierra. A partir de ese momento, hace 7 años, trabajo para que la mayor cantidad de gente pueda formarse en ganadería y agricultura regenerativa, y en hacer llegar el mensaje de la regeneración a todos lados.Why is regeneration important to you? 

Regeneration is the big word for our generation; there’s a common sense among young people that we need to repair all the damage that has been done by humanity. Regeneration is the purpose we can all share in reversing the ecosystem situation; it embodies the relationship between nature and the relationship between people. I consider regeneration a collective idea for now and the future. I’ve found my purpose in this and I hope more young people will find the same purpose. I really hope the movement goes worldwide. My  brother leads a project called Ruuts; a carbon credit/carbon market company that finances big scale projects for transitioning farmers to regenerative. Escuela de regeneracion is focused on teaching, Ovis 21 is focused on training on the land and measuring outcomes (it is an EOV certified Savory Hub), and Ruuts is how we fundraise and create a market for farmers. ¿Por qué es importante para usted la regeneración?

Yo creo que la regeneración es la gran palabra de nuestra generación. La que define nuestra idea común de que hay un vinculo que esta roto, entre el humano y la naturaleza, y que necesitamos poner nuestro ingenio, nuestras manos, y nuestro tiempo al servicio de la vida, y volver a pensar sistemáticamente si queremos seguir habitando la tierra. Para mi ha sido muy revelador encontrar la palabra y todo el significado que engloba. Me defino como un activista de la regeneración en todos sus planos : social, ecológica, económica.What part does storytelling play in regenerative agriculture and what’s the most significant takeaway from the Kiss the Ground film?

Escuela de Regeneracion held a live screening of the Kiss The Ground film. If I had had the money, I would have made the same film. It’s very clear and beautiful. I believe storytelling and giving people education are two separate things. Ovis 21 has a communication team, and I think the role of communicators is key in scaling up regeneration. You need to have a common epic story; we need people to embrace regeneration and know why it’s important. We need really talented people to tell this story; it’s the most beautiful story I know. We need to inspire decision makers and appeal to young people to put their time and love and energy into this cause. Ovis 21 is trying to do it all – finance projects, tell stories, educate – all of which have equal importance. We use social media – we have a content designer and a graphic designer, and we prioritize highlighting the science behind regeneration with infographics, animation, etc, to get the story across. ¿Qué papel juega la narración en la agricultura regenerativa y cuál es el aprendizaje más significativo de la película Kiss the Ground?

Creo que el rol de los comunicadores es clave para poder escalar la regeneracion. Si realmente queremos lograr la tarea titánica de regenerar el planeta, necesitamos de una épica común, un relato que genere conciencia en los tomadores de decisiones, y fundamentalmente enamorar a los jóvenes para que abracen la causa regenerativa. El documental cuenta la historia de un cambio posible, y encuentra a las personas con su propósito.What do you wish more people knew about regenerative agriculture?

People need to know how regenerative agriculture is the most powerful solution we have to reverse the climate crisis. All the side effects are positive; it’s a story where we have only winners. That’s the most urgent message. It’s so unknown and so awesome: the power of soil to come back to life. I wish farmers knew how much better it is to work in favor of nature, from economic profits to the happiness of people who live on the land. The feeling of regenerating living ecosystems is phenomenal, and it goes beyond profits. You’re not fighting with weeds, or fighting life, you’re improving life, you’re aligned with life. You’re not looking for something to kill. You go looking for life, you’re promoting life. That’s the difference that changes all relationships with land.¿Qué te gustaría que más gente supiera sobre la agricultura regenerativa?

En primer lugar, creo que es urgente que se sepa que es la solución más potente que tenemos para revertir la crisis climática, que todos sus efectos secundarios son positivos, que solo tiene ganadores, y que sus protagonistas serán sus principales beneficiarios.

Me gustaría que se sepa lo superador que es trabajar a favor de la naturaleza, desde los resultados productivos y económicos, hasta la felicidad de las personas que habitan el lugar. Para las personas que viven en el campo, es fenomenal la sensación de estar generando condiciones de vida, estar permanentemente encontrando señales de agradecimiento de la naturaleza por estar dandole lugar a que se exprese y no combatiendo cada hierba que no deseamos. Cuando un productor se vuelve regenerativo, es un viaje de ida, y es la posibilidad de dejar un lugar mas bello y mas rico del que nos encontramos.What are some of the biggest challenges for Spanish speaking farmers and ranchers in the regenerative agriculture space and how are you trying to overcome those barriers?

If we want to change the paradigm, there are five things we need to achieve:

I. Restore biological functions and heal ecosystem 

II. Generate scientific evidence to support regen ag

III. Consolidate new rural culture – in other words, change the way we relate to rural culture. The culture is not being supported for regenerative agriculture; the culture is telling people to leave the field and go to the city; it’s not encouraging people to trust each other and value the land. We need to encourage people to be farmers. Ovis 21 relates to our farmers in “high quality vibes.” We need to make farm life awesome again!

IV. Make regenerative food and fibers visible to consumers so they can choose them in the market, so they have a choice

V. Capture C02 to slow down global warming 

Ovis 21 is helping by training farmers in holistic management, allowing them to achieve these goals. It’s a solution for all these challenges, starting with the productive transition to a regenerative system. Algunos de los principales desafíos que interpreto que serán importantes para cambiar el paradigma productivo:

I. Recomponer las funciones biológicas de sus suelos y pastos para sanar sus procesos ecosistémicos

II. Generar evidencia científica que avale la agricultura regenerativa

III. Consolidar una nueva cultura rural que perennice valores humanos y ecologicos

IV. Visibilizar los alimentos y las fibras regenerativas para que los consumidores puedan elegirlos en el mercado

V. Capturar CO2 del aire para frenar el calentamiento global y ser recompensados por ello

En Escuela de Regeneración capacitamos a los productores para que puedan implementar un Manejo Holístico que les permita abordar todos estos desafíos, empezando por la transición productiva a un modelo regenerativo. Luego los acompañamos en terreno con educadores acreditados* y medimos los resultados ambientales, lo que nos permite generar evidencia científica y verificar que el campo está regenerando.What advice would you give to a farmer who is just starting out?

I would tell them to be patient with nature, and to trust that there is no better idea than to work on nature’s behalf. So that their children and grandchildren will be grateful for the decision they make today, and the market will pay for it. They are facing the opportunity to be heroes, to do the right thing when the planet needs it most.

Everyone wants to be regenerative right now.¿Qué consejo le daría a un agricultor que recién comienza?

Le diría que tenga paciencia con la naturaleza, y que confíe que no hay una mejor idea que trabajar a su favor. Que sus hijos y nietos serán agradecidos de la decisión que esta tomando hoy, que la sociedad lo va a reconocer, y que el mercado lo va a pagar. Están ante la posibilidad de ser héroes, de ser parte de un grupo de personas que hizo lo correcto cuando el planeta lo necesitaba.

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