Spring 2024 Retreat: Is Your Ecosystem Rigged for Joy

May 3, 2024 by Lara Dickinsoon

Member Spotlight

Is Your Ecosystem Rigged for Joy?

In our vibrant industry, the topic of regenerative agriculture is more than just a buzzword – it’s a cornerstone of our ethos. For over a decade, OSC has been at the forefront of these discussions, supporting initiatives with a visionary group of members. The impact of their efforts has been nothing short of transformative.

Think of John Roulac, whose work helped produce groundbreaking films like Kiss the Ground and Common Ground. Consider David Bronner and his team, who brought forth the ROC Certification. And then there’s Jordan Rubin of Ancient Nutrition. Their R.A.N.C.H Project is ambitiously converting thousands of acres of farmland to Regenerative Organic certified.

Recently, we gathered at Ancient Nutrition’s R.A.N.C.H. (Regenerative Agriculture, Nutrition, Climate & Health) in Tennessee for our Spring CEO retreat, 12 intrepid OSC members from across the country. Our objective? To delve deeper into the innovative practices of the Ancient Nutrition R.A.N.C.H Project, which serves as a living laboratory for regenerative agriculture. And, as always, to engage our CEO members in collaboration,  regenerative leadership development, and fun.

Our first day on the farm was with a group of regenerative luminaries from Rodale, CCOF, ROA, Alive Publishing, the wonderful Ancient Nutrition and R.A.N.C.H teams and many others.  We witnessed the “flerd” – a multi-species herd comprising goats, sheep (including just born!), water buffalo, and cattle – move from one paddock to another, each rotation contributing to the regeneration of the land. Amidst the delightful cacophony, we marveled at the diversity of birdlife and explored teaching stations on soil health, sauerkraut making for cows, and chick hatcheries.

We marveled at the intentional balance struck at the R.A.N.C.H Project. While immense effort went into setting up this expansive ecosystem, there was also a profound respect for nature’s ability to self-regulate. Chicks were hatched on-site, seeds were saved and planted, and soil was nurtured, not trucked in. The result? A closed-loop ecosystem that’s not just sustainable but actively regenerative.

Sarah Shaw and Lara Dickinson at the Petting zoo.

Kristie Cerrutti and Jordan Rubin generously hosted the OSC crew for our own retreat the next day.  Our experience deepened as we spent time with the farm director, Todd Vincent, his wife and 14 children.  They shared their wisdom, wonderful cooking and hospitality. We learned about the inter connectedness of all living beings on the farm – from ducks controlling pests to water buffalo enriching the soil.

I had wondered why Kristie has a carefree email signature photo of herself with a water buffalo.  Todd and Kristie explained that these animals are like conduits.  When we touch them, they are able to take our anxiety or stress and ground it, leaving us feeling lighter.  Even euphoric.

Our conversation turned to our OSC Community potential for collaboration. We recognized each other’s unique strengths and contributions, from fresh perspectives, to far out visioning,  to social media savvy. Like the diverse elements of a thriving ecosystem, our individual roles are vital to the collective whole.

Leaving the farm, I found myself drawn to a piece of street art in Nashville – it struck me  that regenerative farming is not just about sustainability, but joy. When we nurture and steward a living, thriving ecosystem, we become part of something greater than ourselves – a symphony of life, belonging, and joy.  And how synchronous that our Fall 2023 OSC retreat member driven theme was around finding more joy.






Regenerative agriculture isn’t just a practice – it’s a celebration of life itself. And those water buffalo? They’re more than just animals – they’re ambassadors of joy, scattering seeds of hope and growth wherever they roam.

Here’s to cultivating joy, belonging, and regeneration in our industry and beyond.