Regenerative Agriculture

We know the results are amazing, but we also know it can be incredibly hard to get there. Grounded teams up with farmers to enable them to transition towards regenerative agriculture in a way that makes business sense.

The promise

Regenerative agriculture is a way of farming that goes well beyond organic farming and sustainable principles; it aims to reverse the decline of an agro-ecosystem and kickstart a new ecology that is continually restoring itself. It is a holistic management system that values the microbes in the soil as much as it does food security and the whole engine of food production. As a result, the farmer, the soil and the biodiversity all become richer. Soil enrichment also increases the ground’s ability to soak up carbon from the atmosphere, and thus combat climate change.

Nurturing soil lifeGrounded is all about nurturing soil life, as it is soil life that nurtures the plants we depend upon. The better the life in the soil, the better our products become over time.Natural defense against climate changeA plant uses solar energy to take CO2 from the atmosphere, extracting the carbon it needs to fuel its growth. The plant uses part of this carbon to feed the fungi and bacteria that live around its roots with sugars, and gets nutrients back in return.The world beneath youWhen you pick up a handful of soil from your garden, you are holding more living organisms than there are people on Earth. Underneath your feet is another world of living organisms—eating and feeding each other, making resources available, working together to survive.DIVERSITY PROTOZOAROTATION OF LIVESTOCKNEMATODESANTSEARTHWORMSBACTERIA & FUNGIHEAVY MACHINERYPLOUGHINGDIVISION BETWEENANIMAL ANDCROP FARMINGGROUNDED.CO.ZAIG: @GROUNDED.CO.ZA
Plant Section Separator

What we do

Drawing from our own experience developing regenerative agricultural operating companies, we can provide support to producers looking to transition into regenerative agriculture.

The following principles are vital to the way we work:

  • Healthy soil is the foundation of all that we do

  • We focus on profitability, rather than yield

  • Creativity and collaboration with nature is key: solutions are designed using what nature has to offer
  • Great soils alone can’t sustain the farmer. The business model must make sense

  • Economic efficiency. The support we provide needs to make economic sense for farmers

  • We are rooted in Africa. We are equipped to deal with the specific challenges farmers face on this continent
  • Our feet on the ground. Our experience comes from walking the walk with farmers and our own operating companies

Our experience

Regenerative agriculture sounds fantastic for so many reasons, but we’ve experienced firsthand the challenges of working at scale. For many farmers, switching to regenerative requires a significant change to how they operate, and often a complete redesign of their business model. When farmers change their production methods and crops, they also need to access different markets. All this requires skills, cash, networks, and, most importantly, time.

This is still a pioneering branch of the agricultural industry, and our food system is not equipped to support farmers who practice regenerative organic agriculture. Processing and storage facilities are not built with niche product streams in mind but made to deal with large volumes of uniformly produced goods. Consumers can’t buy into the regenerative way and support these farmers if brands can’t access ingredients that can be traced back to their farms.

Since 2013, we have walked this journey alongside farmers. We’ve made many mistakes, and learned a lot along the way. You can read our stories on our blog.

Woman walking through rosemary crops.

Team – Regenerative agriculture expertise

Daniel Fourie

Daniel Fourie

South Africa

With a background in biochemistry and microbiology, Daniel takes an analytical and data-driven approach to regenerative agriculture. His experience is extensive: interning at a large-scale compost facility for ZZ2; helping develop and establish a successful artisanal yoghurt company on a dairy farm; and enabling farmers in the Baviaanskloof to transition over 120 hectares to regenerative farming. Daniel is a creative problem-solver with a knack for explaining complicated scientific concepts in layman’s terms. With his biochemistry background he does his own soil analysis, and is a great support in R&D and product quality control.

Michelle Awuor

Michelle Awuor

Michelle is passionate about finding solutions to the challenges facing farmers and their communities, she is committed to supporting the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices that will improve livelihoods and build a better future. With a background in Integrated Soil Fertility Management, she specializes in developing resilient farming systems that will build soil health and increase soil fertility while being sustainable over time. She works as our East African regenerative agriculture specialist, supporting the implementation of different Regen Ag road maps at farm level.

Elzanne Singels

Elzanne Singels

South Africa

Elzanne is our resident botanist. She specializes in indigenous African plants and their historical uses. She believes sustainable wild-harvesting can create great opportunities for any regenerative agricultural system in Africa, as long as it is done responsibly. Elzanne brings to the table the necessary scientific knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for these plants to enable farmers to work with them, and to get brands to appreciate their benefits.

Steph Mendelsohn

Stephie Mendelsohn

South Africa

As Head of Impact at Grounded, Stephie focuses on how our teams take the right steps on Grounded’s mission to make regenerative agriculture work economically, at scale for farmers in Africa. Having worked with Grounded at its inception and then joining the company fully in 2017, she has seen the evolution of Grounded’s approach and applied herself in many different roles, contexts and countries. Drawing from experience working across Southern and Eastern Africa and her passion for understanding and improving ecological and socio-economic systems, Stephie coordinates and fundraises for Grounded’s regenerative agriculture support function.

End-to-end support

When it comes to supporting producers, our regenerative agriculture team works closely with the rest of Grounded to create a plan that can holistically address their needs. We believe it only starts with healing the soil, and growing the right crops, it doesn’t end there. We also offer:

  • In-house expertise on product development
  • International marketing & sales
  • Business development
  • Certifications
  • Logistics
  • Raising financial capital and financial management
Close up of rosemary plant.

Sourcing guidelines

Creating a fully functioning regenerative operation is a long process, achieved in incremental gains. To monitor our progress and ensure we’re living up to our values, we have established our own sourcing guidelines, which we use in each of the landscapes where we work.

Our guidelines incorporate standards set by market-recognized certification schemes, such as Organic, Regenerative Organic, and Fair Wild.

Our Sourcing Guidelines are based on are the following principles:

1. The ingredients we source and farming practices we employ improve soil quality
2. Wild harvesting follows sustainable management plans
3. Farmers receive a fair share of the value created by their product

Want to know more?

If you’re interested in our approach and want to chat to us about the possibilities to work together, please contact our team.