Lesson 5: What are local solutions to climate change?

Farm-educator Prep:

  • Read up on other farms engaging in climate resilience and climate solutions (listed below) to understand and compare practices.

  • Generate comprehensive list of farm-based climate solutions; try to rank from most impactful to least impactful (using Project Drawdown solutions list and tools like COMET Farm Planner). Example list here.

  • Watch Soil Solutions to Climate Problems video (could show students, if technology is available).

Materials:

  • Related to activity chosen below (compost materials, woody biomass, seeds/seedlings).

  • Add to/Print out “List of Farm Climate Solutions”

Agenda:

  • Warm-up: Brainstorm as a group what they see as local solutions to climate change. Can be anything- solar panels on rooftops, wind turbines, efforts to promote electric vehicles, developing energy storage, etc. Talk about ways individuals can “reduce their carbon footprint.” Focus in on solutions that are able to be taken on the farm level (this may still include renewable energy projects, or water conservation projects). Refer to list in prep materials.

  • Mini Lesson: Revisit the difference between adaptation (adjusting to climate changes) vs. mitigation (reversing the process of climate change). Both are needed; this lesson focuses on mitigation!

  • Activity 1: Gallery walk of climate solutions being implemented on other farms (give a brief summary of each farm, or post description on large paper for students to read in prep for activity).

    • Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, CA- no-till approach to farming, diversified cropping system, high compost inputs

    • Marin Carbon Project in Marin County, CA- researcher-rancher collaboration to measure carbon storage and emissions from compost application on rangeland. Co-benefits to ranchers include increased pasture/forage for cows, access to inputs from research grants/funding. Measures 3-6 tons C/acre/year in C-sequestration.

    • Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY- testing out various climate resilient farming practices including plant breeding for nutrition, flavor, and soil health; perennial grains and grain rotations for increased soil carbon sequestration, etc. Building connection between food producers and consumers (via Stone Barns restaurant and chef network).

    • Other farm-based solution gaining interest/application: biochar. Still needs further research to understand carbon impacts of production process and application to soils (rangeland and cropland).

  • Activity 2: Engage in on-farm “solutions” activity- building up or feeding compost production, producing biochar, seeding cover crop, intercropping, planting perennial crops, or planting hedgerow (specific activity will depend on farm’s needs and season). If materials are on hand to take soil samples or set up soil carbon monitoring plot (measure soil carbon change over time), this could also contribute to the activity. If composting, go over composting process and how it can help promote carbon sequestration. Can insert thermometer to take temperature readings over time, and measure/graph the changes in temperature (and bacteria) that occur.

  • Wrap-up: Debrief- what other benefits do you notice about climate-related solutions that farms can adopt? Are the benefits of these activities limited to reducing climate impacts, or are their benefits in other ways?