How to Feed Nine Billion People from the Ground Up

Ranching, land management, and the challenge of feeding a growing human population was the main theme at the Quivira Coalition‘s 11th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, NM. 600 attendees from all over the West (and beyond) convened for three days to engage deeply on this topic, relying on new partnerships, creative thinking, and a holistic approach to food production to help feed a hungry planet.

With speakers including Allan Savory, Gus Speth, Katherine DiMatteo, Dr. Molly Jahn and a host of others, the conference addressed the most critical issues facing our food system today. Discussions included carbon and carbon sequestration, seeds, soil health, the corporate dominance of agriculture, and misguided agricultural policies, striking tones of concern, opportunity and hope.

“What we’ve done for years is not working,” said Allan Savory of the Savory Institute, referring to existing strategies around the management and preservation of agricultural land. “It cannot be business as usual.” Indeed, Mr. Savory called for, among other things, a congressional inquiry in the United States into the policies guiding land management, with a specific look at the science, or lack thereof, in the decision-making process.

Other Notable Quotes from Conference Speakers:

This is what a packed house looks like

-There’s no other place to put the carbon…it’s got to go in the soil. – Jim Howell

-We’ve excelled at things we (humans) make, but fail at things we manage. – Allan Savory

-Does it makes sense to use fossil fuel to make corn to produce fuel? No…it lacks common sense. – Allan Savory

-When times get tough, we want to go back to our comfort zone. Instead, step forward. Be Bold. -Dr. Jill Clapperton

-The real synergy and power is what’s beneath the ground. – Gordon Tooley

-More aggressive than chimps but more conciliatory than bonobos, humans are the most bipolar ape. – Courtney White

-If they’re calling you a lunatic, you know you’re just about on the right track. – Colin Seis

Hats and Boots fundraiser for the Young Agrarians

A key focus of the conference was also to encourage and support youth interested in becoming our nation’s next farmers and ranchers. The Quivira Coalition did it’s part, publicly promoting it’s New Agrarian Program at the conference by launching a fund drive that in fifteen minutes raised nearly $10,000 from conference attendees! The program, led by Virginie Pointeau, partners with sustainable ranching and farming operations throughout the West, providing direct training for young people with a sincere commitment to life at the intersection of conservation and sustainable agriculture.

“My goal is make this program a very visible component of what Quivira does,” said Ms. Pointeau. Costing approximately $15-20k to fund one apprentice for one year, the project is looking for funders, supporters and mentors. Learn more here.

The conference concluded with the annual Clarence Burch Award, recognizing

Quivira’s new Executive Directory, Avery Anderson (left), with Mr. Ned Ames of Ford Union Ranch

individuals, organizations and others who have led by example in promoting and accomplishing outstanding stewardship of private and/or public lands. This year’s award went to: Joe Morris, owner of Morris Grassfed Beef in San Juan Bautista, Ca., who has spent the past 20 years using holistic decision-making to direct his ranching tools toward his vision of a thriving community; and the Taos County Economic Development Corporation, led by Terrie Bad Hand and Pati Martinson, whose lifelong work has focused on maintaining equity and ownership for land-based people, overcoming poverty, and providing access to education, business and other opportunities for ranchers, farmers, and food sector entrepreneurs.

To learn more about the Quivira Coalition, please visit For this year’s full program and schedule, please click here. Don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

LoaCom, LoaTree’s sister company, was honored to assist with the marketing, branding and production of this year’s sold out event.

By Eric Cardenas, LoaTree; Photos by Eric Cardenas

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