Getting Carbon-Negative with Education

The Living Soils Symposium Montréal

“That’s when something clicked. You know, when I fully understood the tremendous potential for soils to sequester a lot of carbon and all of the ecosystem benefits related to that. Regenerating biodiversity, restoring the water cycle. That really triggered something within me.”

Gabrielle Bastien is the Director of the Living Soils Symposium Montréal (unrelated, but equally as awesome organization) and Regeneration Canada. As she wrapped up her Master’s from Harvard Extension School, her sights set onto something big: reversing climate change and playing an integral role in that process.

She wasted no time. Spending four months interning at Whole Systems Design under the guidance of Ben Falk, she thrust herself into the thick of sustainable agriculture for her thesis without any prior experience growing foods. It was during that stint in Vermont that she realized that she could contribute more with a thesis in her home province of Québec with the farms surrounding Montréal.

Her findings were unexpected, and reassured small-scale permaculture farmers and farmers-to-be of the potential economic viability of their businesses. In true permaculture fashion, she found that systems design had the largest impact on a farm’s potential profitability. In fact, over 78% of permaculture farms in the region were economically viable, beating the 2006 nationwide average of 55% for farms in general. She didn’t stop contributing to her community there.

Gabrielle, with a group of other community members just as passionate about living soils, has been working tirelessly to launch the first annual Living Soils Symposium Montréal. #LSSMTL has been designed to create a multidisciplinary interaction facilitating cross-pollination between different schools of thought, fields of study, and areas of work. Leaders from all walks of life will be there: food producers, researchers, agronomists, entrepreneurs, and policy makers.

This is where it gets really cool.

#LSSMTL has committed to offsetting the entirety of the event’s carbon footprint through a local agroforestry project. The goal is to get carbon negative and to put more carbon back into the ground than was created hosting the event.

“We’ll basically plant trees and install a system that will provide a yield in the long term to the farmer and be able to sequester all of the carbon emissions that we have emitted.”

The crew at #LSSMTL doesn’t plan on stopping at just the footprint for the event itself, but is also including every attendee’s travel impacts! The project will be implemented on a local farm for the growth and progress to be shared with the community.

“It’s a site that we’ll be able to visit and to show people, which will trigger conversation on the importance of regenerative and eco-responsible events.”

In a beautiful display of leadership and environmental accountability, this event is sure to spread the word of regeneration through living soils far and wide.

The Living Soils Symposium Montréal is on October 13–15, 2017. You can still grab tickets for the weekend on their website!

You all know that we love to share amazing people and projects working to help heal the planet. We asked Gabrielle to share some of her favorite living soils advocates and projects with you all:

· David Bernard-Perron — VP of Growing Operations at The Green Organic Dutchman, a Canadian organic cannabis Licensed Producer. David is a living soils advocate within the cannabis industry of Canada. Check out David on KiS Organics’ podcast.

· Blain Hjertaas — Hjertaas Farm. Blain is a regenerative livestock rancher in Saskatchewan who transitioned from a high-tech industrial approach to managing his herds with the principles of holistic management. Has been building up soil carbon in his pastures in an impressive way: on average 23 tonnes of carbon / hectare / year.

Be sure to check our event recap following #LSSMTL!