Regenerating New Mexico

Catalyzing Landscape-scale Regeneration of Farming Communities and their Ecosystems

NM Healthy Soil is starting a new initiative aiming to achieve landscape-scale restoration and food system change as an expression of a larger and lasting impact of soil health improvement. 

Regional regenerative food systems can restore ecosystems and establish thriving economies and environments to an extent not possible through interventions at an individual farm scale. The Dutch NGO Commonland has developed a consensus-based, community-centered approach for envisioning and carrying out landscape-scale regeneration. This methodology is being employed successfully internationally in semi-arid regions such as Spain, South Africa and Australia. NM Healthy Soil is bringing this framework to the US for the first time.

Key elements: 

  1. Assembling community-sourced and science-based assessments of several potential focus areas within New Mexico and choosing one as project area;
  2. Gathering stakeholders and creating a common vision for a thriving landscape-level ecosystem mutually beneficial for agriculture and the environment; 
  3. Cooperatively planning and enacting a progression of location-specific practices that work toward the shared vision and learning from the implementation; 
  4. Identifying and scaling regenerative agricultural businesses based on the common vision.

Problem Statement

Farming communities in New Mexico experience a multitude of interconnected challenges, including climate change, drought, extreme wildfires and flooding, diminishing natural resources, rural economic depression, and conflicts over water. The COVID pandemic has shown the vulnerability of our current food system, exposing food insecurity, supply chain gaps, a lack of basic infrastructure as well as systemic racial and social inequities.

Addressing these problems one farm at a time has not proven to be very effective when one considers the magnitude of the problem. Worldwide, rural development organizations are calling for community-driven, integrated approaches with mutually beneficial outcomes for agriculture and the environment to provide systemic and long-lasting solutions.

Proposed Solution

Commonland’s interdisciplinary and bottom-up approach brings together conservation and agriculture to develop production systems that are embraced by the community and embedded into the ecosystem.

Working directly with farmers and ranchers to build diversified regenerative businesses requires that our process is community-driven, with a focus on just, inclusive, and equitable relationships among participants.

We are using regenerative agriculture to achieve ecological, financial, social and cultural benefits – the so-called 4 Returns framework:

Graphic by Commonland

Phase One: Initial Assessment of three Study Areas
Click HERE to access the StoryMap

Our partners: