White Buffalo Land Trust Practices, Develops, and Promotes Systems of Regenerative Agriculture.
We focus on the growth of healthy soils, the restoration of water cycles, carbon sequestration, remediation of toxins in our food system, and the increased nutrition and resiliency of plant and animal production.
With our employees, partners, and volunteers we engage in direct land stewardship, education and training programs, ongoing field research, and exemplary product development.
We put the principles of Regenerative Agriculture into practice on the land to increase biodiversity, enrich our soils, improve watersheds, and enhance ecosystem services for our community.
Education & Training
Education and training are core facets of our organization and how we develop our team, as well as build the capacity for ecological literacy in the community around us.
Throughout our work is a thread of rigorous scientific research, gathering of baseline metrics and data, and the production and evolution of our protocols and methods of investigation.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
We rely upon the current definition of Regenerative Agriculture, developed by Terra Genesis International, which states the following:
Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. The system draws from decades of scientific and applied research by the global communities of organic farming, agroecology, Holistic Management, and agroforestry.
The 4 principles of Regenerative Agriculture are:
Progressively improve whole agroecosystems (soil, water, and biodiversity).
Create context specific designs and make holistic decisions that express the essence of each farm.
Ensure and develop just and reciprocal relationships amongst all stakeholders.
Continually grow and evolve individuals, farms, and communities to express their innate potential.
We are currently designing and developing our 12-acre flagship farm in Summerland, California, as an example of how a legacy avocado orchard can be transitioned into an integrated agricultural system. Through the principles of Regenerative Agriculture we are developing systems that support biodiversity, water resources, and soil health while enhancing ecosystems services at a watershed level.
At our Summerland ranch we are implementing the practices of multistrata agroforestry, animal integration, water reticulation earthworks, and compost production and application. Through these systems, we are focused on long-term carbon sequestration, integrated nutrient and pest management, drought and flood resilience, and soil health as it relates to food quality, human health, community health, and financial health.
As we look forward to new properties to bring into our production we are planning a bio-intensive, annual row-cropping system integrated within perennial fruit, nut, and legume orchards. Furthermore we have our sights on land that will offer the opportunity to showcase broad-acre agroforestry, managed grazing, and watershed scale hydrological cycle regeneration.
Education & Training
Education | Community Engagement
Through our WBLT Education and Engagement Program we are working with educators, trainers, farmers, chefs, doctors, lawmakers, parents, and students to increase the ecological literacy of our community, and prepare the next generation of land stewards. Our programs introduce engaging and relevant subject matter to our community in the context of advancing understanding of living systems and the choices and opportunities we have as stewards.
We have chosen to plant the seeds of change within the next generation and are proud of our partnership with Santa Barbara Middle School as we collaborate to deliver content through a curriculum titled:
Beyond Sustainability: An Introduction to Regenerative Land Stewardship.
Within this curriculum, we are currently offering two elective courses:
Beyond Gardening: How Your Garden Can Regenerate the World
This Monday-Thursday session utilizes the campus garden as a living laboratory for teaching students the concepts and values of regenerative land stewardship.
Living SB: A Backstage Pass to Santa Barbara’s Ecological Hotspots
This Friday session head off-campus to explore Santa Barbara’s bioregion and meet the land stewards who are supporting ecosystem health through agriculture, education, and conservation.
Based on the success of this program in 2018 we will be expanding our education program throughout 2019 with a goal of reaching every student in our region.
Training | Land Stewardship
Within our WBLT Training Program, we are curating the learning experiences needed to develop the capacity of current and aspiring land stewards throughout our region in preparation for transitioning from conventional practices to diverse and regenerative systems of agriculture at larger scales of production.
We are currently utilizing the Regrarians Platform as a systematized framework for farmland design and planning. We are working with Soil Health Academy to develop a deeper level of expertise in growing healthy soil which aims to increase profitability, build resiliency into the land, decrease input costs and improve nutrient density of food and agricultural products. We are also working with the Savory Institute to expand our use of Holistic Grazing and Financial Management which leads to carbon sequestration, drought resilience, food security, and financially viable communities.
In order to expand our commitment and training offerings to our community of fellow practitioners, we are actively in pursuit of becoming the first Accredited Savory Hub in the Central or Southern CA regions.
Through our ongoing field studies we are monitoring the impacts of our practices to better understand the relationship between applied principles of regenerative agriculture and the indicators that will lead to repeatable desired outcomes in soil health, water resources, biodiversity, and economic health.
Soil health is defined as “the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans” (Natural Resource Conservation Service). Managing for soil health contributes to long-term agronomic, environmental, and economic sustainability. This leads to improved plant quality and yields; increased resilience under environmental stress; improved water quantity and quality; reduced erosion and leaching; reduced input costs (i.e fertilizer, fuel); and increased efficiency of irrigation and other inputs.
Our Partners from Soil Life, a UC Davis based organization on a mission to change the way we look at soil, are helping us develop our testing protocols and long-term research plan. From our shared perspective, soil health analysis utilizes an emergent scientific understanding of biological, chemical, and physical properties, and thus requires a more holistic, integrated approach to sampling and testing compared to conventional soil tests.
We are also planning to monitor all of the land under our stewardship through the Savory Network’s Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) program, which verifies and validates positive outcomes in soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem function. Through EOV we are able to monitor and measure the impact of regenerative land management practices as well as document, share, and reproduce results throughout our region.
The roots of White Buffalo Land Trust reach back to the year 2001, when two white buffalo were born into a herd in Colorado. The buffalo calves were sisters and intended for sale to a casino until a group of Oglala Lakota relatives asked Lyndsey McMorrow and her mother Bobbie McMorrow to consider caring for and protecting the two buffalo on their land in Santa Ynez, California. Chumash and Lakota relatives gathered and gave instructions on how to look after the two calves.
The White Buffalo are a reminder of our responsibility to the earth, and to be in better relationship with all living beings.
Dedicated to this responsibility year after year, Lyndsey and Bobbie looked after the white buffalo and heard the continuing call to heal relations with the earth and in our communities. This call to serve led Lyndsey to a deep affinity for the developing work of Regenerative Agriculture. In 2016, Lyndsey participated in the Lead with Land program at the Paicines Ranch in California, which catalyzed her affinity into action. Unfortunately, Lyndsey’s health was deteriorating as her desire for action was growing. The intertwined destinies of Lyndsey and the white buffalo sisters continued; in November 2017 the first sister passed on, followed by Lyndsey three months later in February 2018.
Soon after Lyndsey's passing, her husband Steve Finkel, with the support of her mother and father Bobbie and Bill McMorrow, founded White Buffalo Land Trust to fulfill the work Lyndsey inspired during her life. One of the white buffalo sisters grazes on the first tract of land managed by the Trust. The Trust now serves as a leader in Regenerative Agriculture in our region and a connected hub in the growing global effort; inspired by the message of the White Buffalo and fueled by the never-ending love Lyndsey brought to the earth. The White Buffalo Land Trust is an invitation to participate in the regeneration and healing of the earth and the heart.
We are a team of active land stewards, field researchers, educators, and leaders committed to the work of developing California’s Central Coastal bioregion into a thriving food system built on the regeneration of soil, ecosystems, and community systems.
Steve Finkel, Founder and President
Steve is the founder and president of WBLT and is dedicated to our mission and goals through building our team and stewarding the foundation to be a leader in regenerative agriculture and the wider business community.
Jesse Smith, Director of Land Stewardship
Jesse is the Director of Land Stewardship and is guiding the development of our flagship farm, as well as working with our team, contractors, and partners to grow the land under our management, and the impact in our community.
Sarah Rathbone, Product Development
Sarah has joined our team to support the growth of our exemplary products program. Sarah brings with her a strong science background in addition to her entrepreneurial experience in creating innovative market pathways and developing food economies based on regional food system connectivity.
Regenerative Landscape Alliance
We have partnered with the Regenerative Landscape Alliance (regen.coop) for our ‘on-the-ground’ landscaping duties. Their team brings a set of expertise in rainwater harvesting earthworks, irrigation systems, water management, and water wise, native, and Mediterranean landscapes. Their organization is a member owned cooperative dedicated to a collaborative process that leverages the diversity of perspective, expertise, and strengths to effectively achieve desired outcomes.
Join us in regenerating ecosystems by connecting with us, volunteering, apprenticing, taking courses at the farm, and making a donation.
Stay up to date
Keep up with our latest news, happenings, and community connections in our monthly email newsletter.
There are several volunteer opportunities at the farm throughout the year. If you are interested, please fill out the form below to be contacted.
Donate to Regenerate
We are committed to creating long-term return and impact from every dollar invested with our 501(C)3 organization. Our entire team holds the responsibility, trust, and support of each of our partners in every decision we make.
Make A Donation
Make a one time donation or become a steward through a monthly recurring donation. Make an online donation by clicking the button below.
Plant a lasting legacy for the future generations through a will, charitable gift annuity or trust. Get in touch with our development office.
Or you can make a donation by check and mail it to:
White Buffalo Land Trust
PO Box 22, Summerland, CA 93067
Follow along on the Journey…
Updates from the Field
Collaborators and Inspiration
White Buffalo Land Trust is committed to our regional work while also being part of a global network of changemakers shifting resources towards projects, people, and processes that value and benefit the ecosystem services that we all rely upon. We have been inspired by many and work closely with a select few to curate the collaborative network that will allow us the opportunity to do our best work, and support others in theirs. These are some of the organizations that we are excited to be working with: