Conservationist, visionary and mentor, Doug Tompkins, sent me over the weekend, a batch of photos of his Campo Laguna Blanca (farm) situated in the Entre Rios province of Argentina.
These pics have a real meaning to me because I see them in an interesting context. I spent time with Doug and his partners at Laguna Blanca eight years ago when he had just acquired the farm. It was run down having been “farmed hard” as an intense monoculture operation. The rolling acreage on the banks of the Parana’ River had been mismanaged to the point where it was an erosion nightmare – gullies had formed in the sloping areas washing the valuable alluvial soils into the river.
Doug worked with a surveyor to lay out terraces in a way that would minimize the slope on farmed areas. Terracing is not a new concept but new for this region and well suited for this farm. The area had naturally excellent alluvial soils but the organic matter was low from years of monoculture. The first order of business after laying out the terraces was establishing a cover crop to take hold before the rainy season. He worked his grain fields around old trees in respect and as a gesture recognizing beauty adds value.
Terrace layout included meaningful wildlife buffers that were non-existent as the farm had been formerly operated. The habitat enhancement has resulted in noticeable and measurable increases in the wildlife population adding ecotourism and sporting opportunities, boosting and diversifying revenues from the land.
The erosion control has resulted in reinvigoration of soils with building organic matter and productivity. The switch from monoculture to a diverse crop mix has been a great way to manage risks and spread workloads. The organic methods have resulted in products to specialized markets that command a premium.
Laguna Blanca has been revitalized and is being operated in a manner that it incrementally is a better farm each year. It has been very satisfying seeing Campo Laguna Blanca transition from its former run-down state to what it is today.
Laguna Blanca, today, is one of the most beautiful farms in the world. Scroll through the pictures and see how nature, conservation and production can work hand in hand. There is a youtube video, narrated by Doug, that tells the Campo Laguna Blanca story in more detail.