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Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems

Scott Park

Scott Park has been farming for nearly 50 years. His family has no history with agriculture, yet he successfully farms 10-20 crops on 27 fields spread over 10 miles on 1,700 acres in Meridian, CA. Almost all of the acreage has been certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

Although he started out in tomatoes, Park’s crop portfolio has expanded to include rice, corn, wheat, millet, dry beans, herbs, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, lettuce, gourds, stevia, coriander, flax, snow peas, safflower, sunflowers, walnuts, vineyard, row crops, livestock and more. At any given moment each year, 700 of his 1,700 acres are planted with cover crops. “The overall goal is to have a live root system in the ground as much of the year as possible,” Park said.

Park Farming Organics uses oats, wheat, and vetch as cover crops. “What I try to do is have a heavy biomass crop and then a crop that is not as heavy as a biomass,” he said. He estimated his farming operation adds, on average, 10-12 tons of organic matter per year in the form of crop residue, cover crops, and compost. The additional organic matter has diminished his water needs.

Scott Park standing in his fieldThrough his line of work, he has come to appreciate the intricate web of life. “Healthy soil solves most problems farmers face. You do not need to go outside the normal functioning of nature to have a productive farm,” he said. His current thinking comes from mistakes, hard work, several test plots and the power of observation.

Park hopes to make his farm self-sustaining, independent from external inputs. His regenerative operation involves soil management, cover crops, conservation tillage, crop rotation, controlled traffic, compost, crop residue, conserving inputs, care of crew and connection to the soil.

For those who are thinking about implementing regenerative agriculture on their own farms, Park gives this reminder:

“Regenerative practices make the farm money while improving the soil and the surrounding environment. Every year as the farm improves, the risk associated with farming and all the vagaries of nature lessens.The surrounding community benefits from the cleaner air, water, increased wildlife and lack of pesticides permeating their food.” 

As it stands, his farm’s net/acre is competitive with the more successful row and field crops in California. “The unmeasurable part of my net is that all my inputs are helping the farm for years to come, versus inputs that are temporary fixes. The proverbial soil bank is functioning and spewing dividends!”