Long before she got sick, Lyndsey McMorrow believed it was possible for people to be conscious stewards of the earth. A turning point in her understanding was a trip to Paicines Ranch in 2016, where she participated in the Lead with Land program and became inspired by the potential of a little known but growing area of study: regenerative agriculture. McMorrow returned to Santa Barbara and poured herself into this learning, exploring the complex, but intuitive, practices that can restore ecosystems, improve soil health and biodiversity, recharge water cycles, and help to balance the climate. Lyndsey never got to see the organization she inspired; she passed away in February of 2018.
McMorrow’s husband, Steve Finkel, who shared her passion for the environment and conservation, started the White Buffalo Land Trust in her honor in the days after her passing. Lyndsey’s parents Bobbie and Bill, along with other close family and friends, were the founding supporters. The legacy Lyndsey left behind has quickly become a leader in regenerative agriculture and is supporting change locally, regionally, and globally.
Regenerative agriculture has the potential to provide meaningful work and living wages to farmers while feeding millions of people, sequestering large amounts of atmospheric carbon into the soil, building our freshwater resources, and improving wildlife habitat. White Buffalo Land Trust is a rapidly emerging leader in the space and is delivering real impact through their four fields of focus: direct land stewardship, education and training, scientific research, and enterprise. The enterprise piece, says Steve Finkel, is “how we make regenerative agriculture the new ‘business as usual;’ where we bring all we have learned to the marketplace and we can support businesses to evolve agricultural systems and offer customers products that align with their values.”
White Buffalo’s beginnings and proof of concept is a 12-acre farm in Summerland that has been developed into a community demonstration, learning, and teaching nexus for regenerative agriculture principles, practices, and techniques. The success at Summerland and the need for broad scale change inspired the Campaign for Jalama and the successful acquisition of the Jalama Canyon Ranch, a 1,000-acre jewel on the Gaviota coast. The Ranch is developing into a center for education and training, scientific research, and removing the barriers to rapid and broad adoption of regenerative agriculture. The Summerland and Jalama sites demonstrate how we can restore the ecosystem through agriculture and directly address the climate, biodiversity, public health, and food security challenges we face today.
This is done by changing the way we grow keystone crops like beef, grapes, almonds, cotton, and avocados; by expanding other climate beneficial crops like persimmons and elderberries, and by monitoring the ecological functions of the land to ensure farming practices are creating positive outcomes and stimulating positive feedback loops. These changes can sequester significant amounts of atmospheric carbon into the soil, increase biodiversity, and rebuild our freshwater resources. White Buffalo Land Trust gives farmers the tools they need to lead this transition and also hosts public and private tours, school tours, hands-on workshops, and farmer and rancher trainings, offering the opportunity for all to engage with this type of agriculture first-hand.“What we are trying to model in our work is that we can transcend the concept of doing less harm. How we raise and grow our food has the power to change our world for the better, and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to unlock that potential. Doing less bad is no longer good enough,” Finkel says. “That’s a huge consciousness shift for us as an economy and as a society.”
Director of Programs and Engagement: Ana Smith
White Buffalo Land Trust practices, promotes, and develops systems of regenerative agriculture for local, regional, and global impact.
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I have been deeply inspired by the White Buffalo team and their approach to regenerative agriculture; it has given me new hope that this generation can redesign our food systems to be a restorative force for people and planet. Manitou Fund is proud to support the Center for Regenerative Agriculture at Jalama Canyon Ranch. Building regional resilience has never been more important and Manitou is thrilled to be part of this transformation at the leading edge with White Buffalo Land Trust.
A Global Imperative with a Local Solution
White Buffalo Land Trust is currently seeking $1.5 million to endow the Director of Land Stewardship position in perpetuity; a position of leadership catalyzing the adoption of regenerative agriculture locally, regionally, and globally.
Contributors can rest assured that those dollars are spent responsibly. “The enterprise part of our organization puts us in an equally competitive environment as any for-profit entity, as part of our mission to demonstrate regenerative agriculture as the new business as usual,” says Finkel, a former investment manager. “We treat the philanthropic dollars that we receive as investments and we take an incredible amount of pride in how we steward those donations. We seek to provide a capital return on every donation, whether it’s ecological, intellectual, or financial.”
JS Bower Foundation
GA Fowler Family Foundation
TomKat Education Foundation
Coyuchi Philanthropy Fund
Dancing Tides Foundation
Natalie Orfalea Foundation
Brownstein, Farber, Hyatt, Schreck
McMorrow Family Foundation
Santa Barbara Foundation
Zegar Family Fund
Gardner Grout Foundation
Saxon Family Fund
Williams Corbett Foundation
Land Trust for
Santa Barbara County
Gaviota Coast Conservancy
Santa Barbara Food
CA Dept of Agriculture
US Dept of Agriculture