Editor’s note: This is part of a series on closing the sustainability skills gap with the resources we have available right now. Read the previous articles in this series, which cover training on climate literacy, scaling corporate climate literacy, sustainability strategy, climate and net-zero strategy and measuring and managing GHG emissions.
Regenerative agriculture, holistic management and other nature-based solutions have become critical components of sustainability strategy for organizations with agricultural inputs. Walmart and PepsiCo recently announced their collaboration supporting the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices across 2 million acres of farmland in North America. Global agricultural supply chain leader ADM expects to cover 2 million acres in the re:generations regenerative agriculture program by the end of 2023 and is on track to meet its goal of covering 4 million acres across the globe by 2025.
These investments, and many others like them, are helping producers to earn additional income while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving water quality and soil health and enhancing biodiversity through practices like the use of cover crops, integrated livestock and reduced tillage.
Below are 14 training offerings that can help you to learn more about sustainable farming practices. The first section focuses on the farm level and is perfect for professionals who work on-farm or engage with suppliers who do. The trainings in the second section zoom out to cover agricultural supply chain management. The third section highlights trainings that offer an in-person component, which gives you the chance to roll up your sleeves and develop a personal connection with the land and these practices.
If you’re excited to learn about making global food systems more sustainable, just, nourishing and resilient, be sure to attend the Food Program at GreenBiz’s VERGE 23 event Oct. 24-26 in San Jose, California. It’s a three-day experience that will allow you to discover the most impactful strategies, technologies and products enabling food systems transformation and connect with the leaders bringing them to life.
Special thanks to Anne Garsztka, a graduate student in corporate sustainability and sustainable food systems at the Harvard Extension School, who helped research this article.
As is often the case with these types of lists, I’m sure I've missed some. If your favorite offering isn’t listed here, I warmly invite you to join the conversation on LinkedIn to tell me and your fellow readers about it. Thanks in advance for your help with bringing these resources out into the open so that more people can get to work on advancing sustainable business practices.
Regenerative agriculture and holistic management
The primary focus of these courses is what can be done at the farm level and covers topics such as regenerative agriculture, soil health, soil carbon, holistic management, grassland restoration and other sustainable farming practices. If you work on-farm or engage with suppliers who do, these courses are a great place to start.
The Regenerative Agriculture Revolution from EIT Food on FutureLearn
This course will explain the key principles of regenerative agriculture, the benefits of different farming methods and how the regenerative model can help to reduce the environmental impact of farming practices. Learners will be guided through the development of a regenerative action plan for a hypothetical farm. This is part of a large collection of courses on food system innovation from EIT Food.
- Cost: $99, or included with paid subscription to FutureLearn
- Next start date: Available on-demand
- Time to complete: 2 weeks, 3 hours per week
- Training format: Videos, articles and development of an action plan
- Key topics covered: Why shift to regenerative agriculture; the relationship between soil, plant and climate; animals as key-player in the agroecosystem; the use of natural resources on farms; how supply chains are transitioning to regenerative agriculture and supporting policy
Soil Advocate Training from Kiss the Ground
This course empowers learners with the knowledge and confidence to effectively advocate for soil health and regenerative agricultural practices when speaking to diverse stakeholder groups including businesses, policymakers and farmers. This course is part of a suite of training on regenerative agriculture from Kiss the Ground, which includes customizable team-based training for businesses.
- Cost: $180
- Next start date: Available on-demand
- Time to complete: Unspecified
- Training format: E-learning, reading
- Key topics covered: How rebuilding soil is the solution; understanding regeneration; regenerative vs. degenerative; soil health, human health; replenishing fresh water sources; making the case
Soil Health and Regenerative Farming from Terra.do
This course introduces the five principles of soil health with illustrative, innovative examples of how farmers apply these principles and are incentivized and rewarded for their efforts. There is also a discussion of how soil carbon stocks can be used to engage in carbon markets and carbon offsets. Learners will walk away with a deep understanding of soil health principle applications and the complexities of scaling regenerative agriculture practices.
- Cost: $199
- Next start date: Nov. 6
- Time to complete: 2 weeks, 4 hours per week
- Training format: Live online classes
- Key topics covered: Principles of soil health; how soil health translates to regenerative agriculture; understanding and measuring soil carbon; supporting the transition to soil health and regenerative agriculture across the food supply chain
Foundations of Holistic Management from the Savory Institute
Holistic Management practices restore grasslands used for livestock grazing. Healthy grasslands lead to carbon sequestration, drought resilience, food security and financially viable communities. This course provides corporations, governments and individuals with the insights and management tools needed to work with the web of complexity that exists in nature; resulting in better, more informed decisions that balance social, environmental and financial considerations.
- Cost: $399 for the five-course bundle, $99/each for individual courses
- Next start date: Available on-demand
- Time to complete: 25 hours
- Training format: Videos, field manuals and trainer support
- Key topics covered: Managing ecosystem processes; holistic land planning, planned grazing, financial planning and ecological monitoring; water, mineral and energy cycles; community dynamics; tools for managing ecosystem processes; decision-making frameworks; developing effective management feedback loops
Food and Climate Shaper Boot Camp from the Future Food Institute
This experience includes four regeneration tracks including regenerative farms, regenerative cities, regenerative oceans and gastrodiplomacy. The digital boot camp is available online, but there are also boot camps at inspiring locations such as Pollica, Italy, and Tokyo.
- Cost: $2,000
- Next start date: Coming soon; apply now to be considered for the next cohort
- Time to complete: Approximately 80 hours across four weeks
- Training format: Virtual self-paced e-learning, live conversations with experts, mentoring sessions, group work, design challenges and a hackathon
- Key topics covered: Regenerative agriculture and restoration practices; farming innovations and technology; farming practices for biodiversity; the intersection of farms, climate change and food insecurity; mitigation and adaptation; agroforestry; Indigenous and traditional practices
Sustainable supply chain management
These trainings focus more broadly on sustainability in agricultural supply chains. Topics covered in these courses include supply chain mapping, analysis and performance measurement, procurement policies and influencing change within your value chain. Several of these programs run during the growing season and have concluded for 2023; be sure to check their websites often for new program date announcements.
Sustainable Agri-food Supply Chain Management from Doane University on edX
This course was developed to teach sustainable agri-food supply chain managers about the economic, social and environmental sustainability considerations for agri-food supply chains, as well as how to measure, benchmark and report on the environmental sustainability performance of supply chains. This course can be taken individually or as part of a MicroMasters in Sustainable Agribusiness from Doane University.
- Cost: Free
- Next start date: Available on-demand
- Time to complete: 8 weeks, about 10 to 15 hours per week
- Training format: E-learning
- Key topics covered: Sustainable agri-food supply chain management principles; measuring the environmental sustainability performance of supply chains; the importance of ethics and transparency in supply chain management
Regenerative Agriculture and Supply Chains: How to Get Started from FAI.ACADEMY
This course is designed to help food supply chain professionals better understand the challenges and opportunities of moving toward supply networks that actively regenerate our planet and how they can effectively influence and drive this change. This course is offered in three formats: a free trial course, a self-paced online course and a tailored private course for corporate teams with live webinar support. This is one of many offerings from FAI.ACADEMY, a multidisciplinary training hub for people working for a better food system.
- Cost and access:
- Next start date: The trial and self-paced courses are available on-demand; the private course is available upon request
- Time to complete: The trial course is 1 hour, the self-paced course is 10 hours, and the private course includes additional live interaction
- Training format: E-learning, live online sessions, optional visit to a regenerative beef farm
- Key topics covered: Regenerative agriculture definition; how regenerative agriculture works with nature’s ecosystems; case studies in regenerative practices; how to transition supply chains and design regenerative practices into your supply chain
Building Ethical + Environmentally Responsible Food Supply Chains from the Food Business School at the Culinary Institute of America
This course will teach learners how to map out and analyze food supply chains, develop procurement policies and ingredient specifications that support sustainable food systems and leverage state-of-the-art procurement systems for sustainability performance. Learners will also develop personalized supply chain roadmaps to guide future decision-making. This is one of several courses available from the Food Business School at the intersection of food, sustainability and business.
- Cost: $149
- Most recent start date: Oct. 9 (registration is still open)
- Time to complete: 5 weeks
- Training format: E-learning
- Key topics covered: Ethical questions in supply chains; design and management of sustainable, strategic supply chains; how reshaping existing supply chains can achieve new goals and outputs; methods of responsible sourcing; procurement pathways for driving change
The International Executive Programme on Sustainable Sourcing & Trade from the International Trade Centre, in partnership with SAI Platform and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
This course offers leaders in sustainability, procurement, strategy and brand marketing a set of tools for identifying sustainability risks and opportunities within global value chains and integrating sustainability with corporate agendas. Virtual and in-person networking opportunities are an integral part of the experience.
- Cost: $700, more for participating in the in-person experience in Portugal
- Next start date: Coming soon; visit the website to register interest
- Time to complete: 6 weeks, about 2 to 4 hours per week
- Training format: Live online classes and peer meetings, optional in-person experience
- Key topics covered: Megatrends impacting global supply chains; carbon neutral and climate-resilient agri-food systems; tools to improve sustainable management of agriculture supply chains; sustainability leadership; regenerative agriculture from theory to practice
Mini-MBA in Sustainable Food Supply Chains from the Institute of Food and Agribusiness Leadership
This program teaches students how to develop business models and supply chains that are good for business and good for the planet. There are no admissions requirements; participants just need to complete prerequisite courses in food and agricultural business models in order to access the mini-MBA training content.
- Cost: $799
- Next start date: Available on-demand after completing prerequisites
- Time to complete: 6 months, about 3 to 4 hours per week
- Training format: E-learning, live online sessions
- Key topics covered: Disruptive food value chains; AgriFood Tech’s value to the food value chain; food sustainability and sustainable development; food distribution and retail development; sustainable sourcing and logistics; sustainable finance in agriculture
Food Systems and Global Supply Chains from the Harvard Extension School
This course investigates how food passes from production to distribution and consumption and what the sustainability ramifications are, specifically on air, water, soil, energy, mining and human health. This is a research-based course where participants choose related food scenarios and quantify their impact on greenhouse gases and climate change; energy use; air, water and soil degradation; and solid waste disposal. This course can be taken individually or as part of a Sustainable Food Systems Graduate Certificate or Sustainability Master’s Degree.
- Cost: $1,500
- Next start date: Jan. 22
- Time to complete: 15 weeks, about 2 hours per week
- Training format: Live online classes with the option to attend asynchronously; assignments
- Key topics covered: Agricultural economics; agricultural styles and practices; soil resources and problems; food production’s impact on air, soil and water; supply-chain management; quantifying the economics and sustainability of common food items
Sustainable Food Production and Processing from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership on GetSmarter
This course is designed to benefit individuals working at every stage of global or local food systems — from the supplier to the consumer. Learners will gain an understanding of the modern food system and discover new business models, technologies and processes for embedding sustainability into food supply chains. Learners will also build practical strategies for leading this transformation in their own organizations.
- Cost: $2,767
- Next start date: March 13
- Time to complete: 8 weeks, about 7 to 10 hours per week
- Training format: E-learning, assignments
- Key topics covered: Modern food security challenges; new business models and approaches for sustainable food; embedding sustainability into food supply chains; innovations in sustainable food production and processing; leading transformational change in your context
Get your hands dirty
Who doesn’t love a good farm stay? These offerings give you the chance to roll up your sleeves and develop a personal connection with the sustainable and regenerative practices you’ll be learning about. These real-world experiences provide you with a perspective that’s difficult to obtain from online content.
Rodale Institute’s Farmer Training School
Rodale Institute is widely considered the global leader in organic agriculture, growing the regenerative organic movement through research, training and consumer education. The Farmer Training curriculum is one of many educational experiences available through Rodale Institute and is designed to enable individuals with little-to-no farming experience to become fully capable farmers or farm managers.
- Cost: Students receive a weekly stipend
- Next start date: March 4
- Time to complete: 9 months
- Training format: Farm stay, in-person classes
- Key topics covered: Regenerative organic farming science; agricultural budgeting; marketing; agricultural product finance
Climate Farm School from Terra.do
This is a hybrid four-week program combining online sessions with getting your hands dirty on a working farm. Tech, business and sustainability professionals, entrepreneurs, farmers and others passionate about food and climate are invited to learn about the climate impact of food systems and the solutions within them.
- Cost: $2,200 to $3,600, depending on which farm you visit
- Next start date: March 25
- Time to complete: 4 weeks
- Training format: 7-day farm stay, live online classes, on-demand videos, reading
- Key topics covered: Regenerative agriculture principles; crop management; forestry and fire mitigation work; soil health; building soil carbon; farm business models; water management; food justice; food
In-person add-on experiences
Several of the programs listed above are available as online training but also offer optional in-person experiences:
- The Food & Climate Shaper Boot Camps from the Future Food Institute offer experiences in Pollica, Italy, and Tokyo
- The International Executive Programme on Sustainable Sourcing & Trade from the International Trade Centre offers a regenerative agriculture-focused experience in Portugal
- Regenerative Agriculture and Supply Chains: How to Get Started from FAI.ACADEMY offers a visit to a regenerative beef farm in the U.K.
Join the conversation
I hope this article has helped you find at least one great new resource to help you incorporate regenerative practices into your work. Be sure to keep an eye out for future articles in this series and remember, if I’ve missed one of your favorites or if you want to tell me about a resource that could be relevant to a future article, please join the conversation on LinkedIn. Until next time!