The Indigenous Origins of Regenerative Agriculture
Grade Level: 
In the lesson, An Introduction to Regenerative Agriculture, students explored the meaning of the term “regenerative agriculture”. In this lesson, students will learn about the origins of regenerative agriculture, and how many modern-day sustainable farming practices, including regenerative agriculture, originated within Indigenous communities. We suggest taking time with your class to acknowledge the Indigenous lands your program is situated on. In the “Reference” section of this lesson, you will find a list of resources for creating land acknowledgments and resources for discussing settler colonialism.
Guiding Questions
  • What are the Indigenous origins of regenerative agriculture?
  • What are the goals of Indigenous agriculture and how do they compare to the goals of industrial agriculture?
Teaching Notes: 
  • This lesson offers an important framing and extension to the lesson, An Introduction to Regenerative Agriculture. We recommend starting with that lesson or briefly introducing students to the concepts of regenerative agriculture.
  • This lesson also asks students to compare and contrast their observations of Indigenous agricultural practices to those used in industrial agriculture. If students are unfamiliar with industrial agriculture, we recommend integrating a short activity on industrial agriculture.
  • The “READ” section of this lesson may feel a little dense to some students if they aren't offered support. We suggest the following strategies for supporting students to engage fully with the text:
    • Instruct students to find a quiet place to sit and encourage them to observe their surroundings before and after they read. This helps them engage with their surroundings in a different way and can also support their engagement with the text.

    • Assign sections of the reading as a jigsaw: Assign small groups a different topic each, and then have groups report back to one another after they have finished reading with their topic in mind.

    • Remind students that the Talk to the Text or T4 strategy can be used when reading texts to help track their thoughts, questions, and reactions to a text. In these strategies, students write notes and ask questions in the margins, underline words, and use symbols to react to the text.

    • Read the article aloud and have students take notes as they listen. It might be helpful to stop frequently as you read to write down keywords, phrases, or ideas on chart paper. Take your time through the reading and ask your students for their thoughts along the way.

  • Consider modeling one or more of the Indigenous agricultural practices from the lesson in your classroom garden. If you already are using one of these practices, make connections between your gardening techniques and their roots in Indigenous agriculture. Try starting this lesson with an observation of that gardening technique as an introduction to the subject matter. If you do not yet use one of these practices in the garden, you might decide to plan and implement one of them as a class.
  • The “OPTIONAL” section of this lesson offers some great ways to integrate research and analysis into the lesson as well as suggests ways students can share what they have learned.
  • This lesson is primary text based. Check out the lesson, Making Sense of What You Read for helpful suggestions for textual analysis.
  • You may notice that the term “Indigenous” is capitalized throughout this and other lessons in the curriculum. Learn more about our decision to use “Indigenous” instead of “indigenous” here.
  • This lesson was developed for Edible Schoolyard Project’s Understanding Organic curriculum and is part of the extension inquiries.