Andrew Bennett , P.Ag.
I apply principles of ecological dynamics to design diverse agricultural ecosystems and to regenerate damaged landscapes. I apply my experience in mountain agriculture (range management, livestock, horticulture, agroforestry, irrigation, soil and land conservation) and habitat creation (bio-engineering, water resources, riparian management) to consult and educate on eco-farming systems.
My BSc (UBC 1998-2000, McGill 2002-2005) was very broad, and I measured, modelled, and analyzed the complex dynamics of plant communities for my MSc in environmetrics (Laurentian 2005-2007). I have collected field data with plant transects, mammal tracking, and bird surveys. My childhood in Indonesia acquainted me with tropical agroecosystems, and my volunteer work on farms and conservation projects has taken me to Bhutan, Guatemala, and across Canada and the USA.
In 2011, my wife and I started Moon Gravity Farm, a small-scale, periurban collection of about 20 acres of leased land in Rossland, BC. In 2015, we bought a 5-acre base for the operation. With our two young sons, we raise herds, flocks, perennials and vegetables, and sell our products directly to local consumers. We continuously experiment with different ways to integrate farm components to achieve greater ecological function and economic efficiency.
We rotationally graze, breed ruminants and poultry, run an organic market garden and propagate plants in a nursery. We create microclimates with soakage swales, drainages, ponds, berms, rocks, “hugelkulturs”, roads, and outbuildings. I offer farm workshops on electric fences, portable shelters, walking tractors and earthworks, food gardens, season extension, poultry processing, canning and fermentation, efficient use of hand tools, and other basic skills. I give tours to community groups and speak about eco-farming at local food events.
I often work as a writer for both technical and popular projects, including editing a design manual on greenhouses, a regional policy document on abattoirs, and a municipal food charter. In 2013, I moderated a 6-month online forum to study Joel Salatin’s ecological farming systems, interviewing him for 90 minutes every two weeks based on questions generated in the forum, and packaging the ideas into a book, “The Salatin Semester” (2016, Acres USA).
In 2015, we began to engage in restoration contracts to shore up eroding banks and riparian areas using techniques such as live stakes, log structures, micro-earthworks, seeding, and transplanting. Our farm now propagates some restoration species to use in these regenerative projects.
In 2017, I began work with Keefer Ecological Services (Cranbrook) as an agroecological consultant and program developer for the new Regional Agricultural Liaison Services program in the Kootenays. I also began work as an Environmental Farm Plan Advisor on contract with ARDCorp (BC Agricultural Research and Development Corporation).