A check in interview with Benedikt Boesel, German farmer in transition to regenerative agriculture. Benedikt has been the co-host of our special series on Transition Finance for Farmers in 2020.
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Benedikt Bösel, one of the leading farmers of regenerative practices at scale in Europe, manages over 3000 hectares of land in the east of Berlin. After hosting a special Transition Finance for Farmers series Benedikt and Koen talk about the importance of having the best team, bridging the gap in helping farmers transition to regen ag, syntropic agroforestry, and more!
What has changed, and how has on-farm experimentation, even in the forestry part, exploded? What were the crucial elements to have this crazy growth? Where are we in this regenerative evolution, and what do we know?
Sticking with the Right People
Benedikt emphasizes the importance of being able to find those incredible and hardworking people that have the same vision and beliefs as this is the kind of relationship that works out. People that are willing to take risks and willing to stick up until the end. In the regenerative agriculture space, it’s easy to find people who are interested, but it’s hard to find the ones that actually trust the system enough to be involved in financing. Luckily, Benedikt and his team found people and companies who were willing to support what they were doing, and this trust is what allowed them to move forward and do what they do.
“I always thought, ‘Before the money runs out, I’ll find people who understand why we do what we do, and also understand why it’s important to do it, therefore will start to support us.’” – Benedikt Bösel
Helping Farmers Bridge the Gap
For many years, farmers had been forced to rely on a broken system of production—the same system that drives them to mass produce for the lowest price. Now that regenerative agriculture has emerged, farmers are suddenly being pressured to incorporate these regenerative principles without getting any transitional support. This is very difficult for farmers, so we need solutions that would bridge this gap. Since we need to improve the quality of the products, farmers need help the most in finances, triggering the need for investments and capital.
“I think we put a lot of pressure on the farmers that are in really different situations to what we believe regenerative agriculture can be: as a key and solution to everything.” – Benedikt Bösel
Role of Investment and Capital
In order to address the gap that makes it hard for farmers to transition to regen ag, we need strong investment models as well as decision-makers that know what data needs to be gathered and how to use these data to propose solutions. This is exactly what Benedikt and his team have been doing. Some of the strategies Benedikt shared include ensuring the quality of products (e.g. grain) by making them tasty and refined and telling the products’ story by making them traceable (i.e. through packaging).
“Communicate that [what the product is made of] on a package where someone takes maybe one or two seconds to look at. They also kind of look at the price. Push it to 100%, so they know that it’s a tough product. ” – Benedikt Bösel
How We Know So Little
We know very little about forests. We are still in the process of monitoring and analyzing data about the connections of forests with water storage, carbon storage, cooling effects, and such. Experts are also in the process of gathering more information about the syntrophic agroforestry system and many other models. Some of the significant observations Benedikt shared are the impact of location and climate adaptability in the systems, which we are bound to know more about in the seasons to come.
“With every day and every thing you learn, you try or maybe even understand a bit more, you realize that you don’t know anything. You’re just in a universe of nothing, basically.” – Benedikt Bösel
Other Points Discussed
Koen and Benedikt also talked about:
- Farmers need to be independent;
- Understanding the complex ecosystems;
- The increasing awareness and interest of the scientific community;
- Ecova – Fertilise the Future Fund;
- Making data accessible to people.
To know more about Benedikt Bösel, download and listen to this episode.
- Followfood German organic food brand
- Ecover – Fertilise the Future Fund
- Benedikt instagram page
- Gut and bosel instagram page
- Agenda Gotsch
- Transition Finance for Farmers series with Benedikt
- Felipe Pasini – Trees bring water so when in doubt plant more trees and complexify
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.