Grower aims to educate community about regenerative farming, water conservation

Thrive and Grow Gardens aims to teach the community about the benefits of regenerative farming and how it helps conserve water during the historic drought.
Thrive and Grow Gardens aims to teach the community about the benefits of regenerative farming and how it helps conserve water during the historic drought
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 7:47 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 7:48 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Thrive and Grow Gardens is working to teach the community about regenerative farming and various water conservation techniques that can be used by farmers and people at home.

“They are going to be learning about all these practices, and they might be able to implement some of the things that we teach them in their own landscapes, especially such as the passive rainwater retention basins that we put to work here,” said Michael Ismail, owner of Thrive and Grow Gardens.

The drought conditions have put farmers in a position to reexamine the practices they have used for years. Ismail said industrial agricultural practices have left the soil in a condition that holds less water and requires more year after year.

A way around this problem Ismail said is through regenerative farming.

“When we focus on regenerative practices, we end up building up more organic matter in the soil, more microorganisms. As a result of all of this, we hold more water in the soil and whenever it does rain, a lot more of that water will quickly infiltrate into the soil. So these practices reduce the amount of water that we have to apply,” Ismail said.

He is also focusing on a combination of what they grow, and their soil care practices to help reduce the amount of water they use. In their farmhouse, they grow microgreens which are high-value and use less water. They are also focused on using beneficial bacteria that reduce the amount of water the soil needs.

“Using beneficial bacteria, one of which is called sequester that we’re putting into work here, which is a series of cyanobacteria that actually significantly reduced the amount of water we have to apply to those crops,” Ismail said.

He added they will also begin using in-ground techniques this spring which will allow more to be produced in smaller areas with less water.

Ismail said their work also focuses on using different water conservation techniques to help support what they grow.

“What we’re demonstrating here on this property are ways that we can use passive rainwater retention methods, where we create basins for water when it rains, it goes into those basins, and it soaks into the soil. Ultimately, we can demonstrate here on this property, how we can put more water into the ground than we take out for agricultural purposes,” Ismail said.

While these techniques have been beneficial to him, he said they are not just for farmers. Ismail offers regular tours of the grounds to show the community how they can use these techniques.

“People can apply that to their own landscapes, and they can look at their front yards and see how water is just sheeting off into the street. They can say, well, I can build some basins here, and I can put that water into the ground,” Ismail said. “I can plant trees, and those trees produce a canopy, and the water that’s held in the soil through those trees, it ends up actually contributing to our water cycle.”

Ismail said helping to educate the community about these techniques will help conserve water and change the way farmers grow food across the southwest.

For individuals looking to learn more about these or other techniques, they can visit the Thrive and Grow Gardens website here.