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ABC’s Sustainable Herbs Program Releases Video Exploring Regenerative Herb Farming in Costa Rica

In-depth video documents how regenerative farming addresses critical global environmental, social, and economic challenges

AUSTIN, Texas (March 28, 2023) – The nonprofit American Botanical Council’s (ABC) Sustainable Herbs Program (SHP) has just released a new video exploring how farmers are using regenerative farming practices to grow herbs and medicinal plants while building soil health and resilient farming communities in Costa Rica. The video highlights how supporting these human and ecological communities is critical to the quality and long-term supply of many of the medicinal plants on which the herb industry depends.

Key points of this 21-minute video include the following:

  • How organic certification is not enough to address the scale of the current human and ecological challenges—both in terms of the amount of acres certified and lack of adequately addressing economic challenges farmers and farming communities face.
  • How regenerative farming practices like mulching, low and no-till procedures, and intercropping help balance the microbiology of the soil.
  • Why balancing the microbiology of the soil is important.
  • How to support the intelligence of the plant.
  • The importance of dignified, stable work for farmers as a way to convince younger people to continue to farm.
  • How the herb industry can better support the farming communities on which the industry depends.

The video features on-camera comments from numerous regenerative herb farmers and regenerative agricultural experts. These include Ryan Zinn of Dr. Bronner’s, Esteban Jimenez and Joshua Hughes of Blacksheep Regenerative Resource Management, Luis Iglesias and Ric Scalzo of CR Medicinal Farms, Geri and Rob Brown and Juan Pérez Sovalbarro of Cinco Ramas Farm, and many more. 

“We are seeing more and more farmers stop growing because they’re not making money and then they’re going into cities and we’re losing farmers,” say Alison Czeczuga, Director of Social Impact and Sustainability at Gaia Herbs, in the video. “For this industry to survive we really have to look at the start of the supply—treating those farmers right and buying herbs that really will positively impact people’s health.”

“Over the last five or seven years we’ve seen a transition to understanding that agriculture plays a really significant role in emitting greenhouse gases. [Regenerative farming] is one of the best ways that we can not only address global greenhouse emissions, but also really improve people’s lives. I would say [it] is one of probably the most hopeful things I've seen,” says Ryan Zinn, Regenerative Projects Manager at Dr. Bronner’s.

“We want to create impact, to make change in the world through regenerative agriculture,” says herb industry veteran Ric Scalzo, Founder and CEO of CR Medicinal Farms.

“Regenerative farming is increasingly a buzzword, and it is critical that we have the tools to know when these claims are real,” says film co-producer and SHP Director Ann Armbrecht. “We produced this video to highlight the voices and initiatives of those investing in farming in Costa Rica in ways that not only produce high quality raw botanical material but that also support the health of the soil and of the farming communities growing and processing those herbs.”

This information-rich video will hold the attention and provide insights into the regenerative agriculture movement for a wide range of people involved in the herb and medicinal plant community,” said Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of the ABC. “I learned a lot from it. This is a compelling educational primer on the great value of regenerative agricultural methods of growing medicinal plants.”

The SHP regenerative agriculture video was produced by SHP Director Ann Armbrecht, PhD, and veteran documentary film producer Terry Youk. The video is one of many videos dealing with the regenerative and sustainable sourcing of herbs and medicinal plants that are freely accessible on the SHP website here.