October 2018

Welcome Back! 

A big White Buffalo welcome to all of the new community members who have joined us in the past month, we are so glad to have your engagement and support! 

Our team is working at full effort. We have our hands in the dirt, our eyes to the future and our hearts committed to the work of regenerating landscapes. We believe the time is NOW to fully commit to increasing soil health, sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil, remediating the toxins in our food supply, restoring water cycles, and increasing the nutrition and resiliency of our plant and animal production.

Effort Passion Land and Money are the necessary ingredients.

Health, Strength, resilience, and long term capital growth are the outcomes.

White Buffalo Land Trust is committed to this work here in our region and we are a part of a global community of change-makers working to align soil, food, economics, community, environment, and climate for long term health and prosperity. The change IS happening - one acre at a time - please stay with it!

Steve Finkel
Founder and President


Our Agriculture team is deep into the multi-layered design process that will culminate with the first phase of our Regenerative Systems implementation this coming winter. Our flagship farm in Summerland will be getting upgrades in the way of:

  • Earthworks aimed at increasing water retention and infiltration 

  • A fertility canopy in the avocado orchard

  • An animal grazing plan to manage spring groundcover, break pest cycles, and increase the nutrients in our soil

Each design and implementation decision supports our outcome driven approach to increase soil health, functional capacity, and carbon sequestration while decreasing long term water, fertilizer, insecticide, and pesticide inputs.


Our team of designers includes Jesse Smith, Daniel Parra Hensel, Josh Graning, Riley Kriebel, and Evan Walbridge; and the resources that we are drawing upon to inform our design are diverse and plentiful. We are using the Regrarians Platform as a guiding framework for our planning, as well as resources from Soil Health Academy, Savory International and more. As we move through the design and implementation process we are alert for opportunities to deepen our understanding of the context and potential for this project. 

Our initial planting systems as the new land stewards of the Summerland farm are being implemented with the support of local nurseries that specialize in native and climate appropriate plant stock that work within the natural (and changing) patterns of our bioregion. Native Sons Nursery, Santa Barbara Natives Nursery, Dryland Farming Company, and Honey Badger Nursery are all being consulted in our planting plan. We look forward to getting roots in the ground to welcome our winter rains.


Greetings from the Director of Learning and Engagement. The month of September has flown by and there is a lot to share! The WBLT team developed their first ecological literacy curriculum,Beyond Sustainability: An Introduction to Regenerative Land Stewardship. 

This is the overarching curriculum that has guided the team in creating the two new elective courses for the Santa Barbara Middle School. The Beyond Gardening: How Your Garden Can Regenerate the World elective utilizes the Santa Barbara Middle School's recently built garden on campus as the living laboratory for teaching students the concepts and value of regenerative land stewardship. We have so far discussed and explored the climatic factors of temperature, rain, and wind, the geography of the garden, and we have begun to take measurements for observing the flow of materials through the landscape. We have also delved into water systems and how to make the most use of that precious and limited resource we have in Santa Barbara. 

The Living SB: A Backstage Pass to Santa Barbara’s Ecological Hotspots elective has also been a great success. We have visited the Santa Barbara City College’s Lifescape Garden, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and a local residential property that highlights regenerative water management for southern California. As a student expressed last week, “This is my favorite elective. It is both organized and relaxed... I wish we could stay longer.” The students are learning the basic concepts of regenerative land stewardship and ecological literacy through both electives. We look forward to more lessons and learning as the semester unfolds. Stay tuned!


Our ongoing field research with UC Davis based Soil Life has us taking a deep look at the indicators of soil health of our Summerland farm. Our objective is to monitor the long-term impacts of Regenerative Agricultural management on soil health.

We are utilizing indicators that allow for interpretation of critical soil processes and identify key strengths and deficiencies so as to better inform adaptive management moving forward. Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) dynamics are of particular interest over multi-year time scales as well as the change-in-state of soil microbial community.

Six sampling locations were selected on the basis of unique soil and plant communities, topography, and projected agricultural use. In each location, 5-6 sub-sites were selected and using hand tools, pits were dug to a depth of 30 cm. Using a soil knife a representative sample was taken from 0-15 cm at each of the sub-sites and a second sample was taken from 15-30 cm.. Subsamples were collected by walking a zig-zag path with 75ft between each site. 
The locations were flagged and GPS logged for future sampling efforts, to ensure consistency in sampling location. We are currently working with Ward Laboratories and the UC Davis Analytical Laboratory as our soil testing facilities.

Samples taken at annual intervals in the future will track the change-in-state of soil health and correlate to the management practices implemented at each of the sampling locations. The first of these new management practices will include introducing beneficial microbial soil amendments and animal grazing systems to increase the nutrient cycling capacity of our soils. 

Static Aerated Thermophilic /
Vermicomposting System 

A primary tool in building soil health is the application of compost and compost teas (liquid extract of beneficial microbes from solid compost biomass). The value of compost in soil health is widely appreciated but the resources required to implement a thorough compost plan can be challenging. We've decided to use the Johnson-Su Bioreactor design as a way to reduce the time and labor for compost system maintenance and prioritize the creation of very high quality compost. 

The build process for our static aerated thermophilic/vermicomposting system is underway. Our goal is to increase our capacity to receive local nutrient streams (wood chips, county mulch, beer mash, coffee grounds, horse manure, etc.) and efficiently convert the biomass into a biologically rich soil amendment. By being a static compost pile (no turning or flipping) it allows for the fungal hyphae to remain active, creating a final product that is better suited to support the woody plants, fruit trees and perennial grasses in our bioregion. Now that the our first bio-reactors are built, we are working with the team at Soil Life to determine protocols for testing and monitoring the bioreactor input feedstock and the process of it’s decomposition. Over the coming weeks we will begin filling the reactors and be on our way to a steady and superior supply of beneficial microbial compost. 

Our Community Makes Us Strong

Partnerships are what make this work grow and expand. This month we want to especially thank the local families and local Family Foundations who have partnered with us through offerings of money and land to extend and deepen the reach of Regenerative Agriculture in our region. 

Thank you for investing in us!

Reach out to us if you too want to partner in this work.

Our entire team holds the responsibility, trust, and support of each of our partners in every decision we make – we are committed to creating lasting return and impact from every resource we invest.

New partnerships are developing every day. New training and education partners, marketing and fundraising partners, and strategic business partners all committed to expanding the reach of Regenerative Agriculture globally and into communities locally. Please reach out to us if you too want to partner in this work.