Sun 24 May 2020 8:06PM

Collective steps to Commons regeneration

DJ Diogo Jorge Public Seen by 157

Hello there!

I'm Diogo, and I collaborate in a hub (chat group) called Joint Agroforest Ventures. We propose a concept of small scale collectivelly managed agricultural block, based on lease contracts and sintropic agroforestry. Sintropy as the increase in complexity and biodiversity. Each area would have a Agroforest Design with a map, the working schedule, seasonal tasks and costs, produced collectivelly with the global team.

All stakeholders would interact in a social media with horizontal governance tools like different membership levels and rewards, reputation grants and credits like Sourcecred. Using opencollective we can create winwin situations for every actor in the forest regeneration front line. Follow up and accountance of the status of each territory would be presented on screen, with pictures, videos and comments. Satellite evaluations prove the positive environmental service indicators.

Those collectives best qualified gain trust of investors and get to go to larger areas, and then you have a grounded chain of commons production. In a matter of few years wood and fruits would start being produced in a sustainable way for generations to come. One would be able to be invest and be a partner in the production of cocoa, coffee, or other plants and get seasonal lifelong rewards.

Lease contracts could be short, mid or long term, payed in fiat or the network currency, in agreement with the parts. By promoting access to land we want to spread knowledge and revive rural jobs and services. Revive a regional commumal agenda based on the seeds of cooperation of the global team. You know that nice gardening group of facebook? Yes we want to expand it a little further. We believe that allowing urban people to interact with nature in a collective ground could be a kickstarter to human return to nature.

Sounds like a presentation, but what I would like to ask is: How do you expect platform cooperatives can regenerate the planet?

Thanks a lot p2p community for the inputs all this years, congratulations for the great webinars and materials and debates. Looking forward to partnerships, we are all very new on this platform coop thing, but yes, we believe it is the economy model of the future and are willing to catch up. The technology is out there, we offer our services to help it grow living roots. Our beginner Open Collective is at https://opencollective.com/jointagroforestventures . Cheers!


Jennifer Damashek Mon 25 May 2020 1:59PM

Hi Diogo, This sounds like an interesting idea. I have questions. Do you have a pilot project going to demonstrate the concept? I can see how this idea could work, but many details matter. Who are the landowners? Who are the investors? What is the governance structure? How is the forest land and entire project managed?

In my mind, if the project isn't managed holistically, there will be unintended consequences, many of them negative. Are you familiar with Holistic Management? It was developed to manage land, but the decision making framework can be applied anywhere humans attempt to manage complexity. Since Holistic Management started as a way to manage agriculture, there are many experts who would be able to help. I live in Virginia, USA, and know of one amazing forester here who uses Holistic Management to regenerate his clearcut forest land. https://www.therobiniainstitute.com/

You asked: How do you expect platform cooperatives can regenerate the planet?

Platform cooperatives by themselves can't regenerate the planet, but they are an example of a different way of operating, a different way of doing business. The reason I am interested in platform cooperatives is because they could fit into a regenerative world rather than the one we have now.

Just like the vast majority of agricultural practices on our planet right now extract the life from the soil, most of the economic and technological practices extract resources and life energy from people. Platform cooperatives are a different way of doing business, which can help ensure the people involved in an enterprise are the ones who keep the benefits, so their community can build wealth and power. This can be compared to regenerative agriculture, which seeks to build the carbon and the life in the soil so that it can produce abundantly according to its nature.

If people began making decisions within a holistic framework, we would see that EVERY area of our lives needs a completely different approach. That includes education, healthcare, business and legal structures, government, housing, parenting, everything. So we need new ways of behaving, organizing, shopping, everything. I think platform cooperatives are one new pattern that is needed for the world to shift so we can all enjoy the abundance that is already here.


Diogo Jorge Tue 26 May 2020 12:02AM

Hi Jennifer, I'm really glad to read your comment. We started collaborating in late 2019, and we plan to start our pilot in the southern hemisphere spring, in September 2020. We will buget and collective fund the pilot according to a previous design plan and then assess the costs and returns involved in managing a "simple" policulture design for short, mid and long term production, on a 2.000 m2 lot. We will collect all the data related to the monthly activities, costs and returns and also pictures an a diary report. As you said, many details matter, the ways people can partnership are infinite and we know we can not tell them all before hand and we expect to learn a lot in these first years of Glocal p2p Agroforest cooperation. This pilot will be designed for southeast Brazil, but we will use principles that could be applied to plan agroforests worldwide. We plan to have all the activities of the pilot posted on a page either here in Loomio or at OpenCollective.

Who are the landowners? Well, could be anyone, we plan on having a regional database of land offers, that matches your search or location. Who would be the investors? We see the investors as someone willing to invest their time and energy on land work, or those that could be far away but interested in supporting agroforest production getting their fair returns over every sale, or getting their share of the seasonal harvest. People can play more then one role also, a land owner or land worker in US could be an investor and follow the development of an area in Brazil for example. An important point here is that all theses stakeholders would interact in a social media interface, where everyone can access knowledge, participate in thematic forums and raise questions for more experienced groups and experts.

We divided the coop governance in 5 sectors that interact and share the same operational budget. We plan to use a sociocratic model for the Regional Collective's decision making, and for open assessment of the activities of the peers by using tools like Loomio and Open Collective. Here are the list of the sectors:

- White sector: IT

- Yellow sector: Finances/Common administration

- Blue sector: Law/Arbitration

- Red sector: Marketing/Media podcasts

- Green sector: Agroforestry development

- Orange sector: Culture/Tourism/education

We haven't applied Holistic Management in our activities so far, although it seems promising. We plan for small scale lots, that can serve as the germplasm resource for regional agroforest multiplication. One of the ideas of the platform is that experts can leave their normally used classroom (or farm) and go out in a new adventure, facilitating a regional collective in managing a new area.

It may seem complex, but not so much if we see the variety of digital governance tools that have been shown here in Open2020, and I really feel that they can match very well with territory governance.


Billy Smith Tue 26 May 2020 3:22PM

It might be worth getting in touch with https://ecologicalland.coop/

They've been using this business model to help smallholder farming co-operatives get started.

They use crowd-funding to finance the purchase of the freehold of the land.

The land is owned by a land-ownership co-operative, that then leases the land out to the farming co-operatives, who then become members of the land-ownership co-operative.

This also means that as the farming co-operatives are tenant-farmers, so they have a different range of legal rights/protections/responsibilities than they would have if they just owned the land directly.

It's very similar to the legal structures used in housing co-ops, but relying on rural zoning law, rather than residential housing law. :D


Billy Smith Tue 26 May 2020 3:27PM

Copies of their business plan can be found here, https://ecologicalland.coop/plan :D


Diogo Jorge Tue 26 May 2020 3:41PM

Nice Billy! we have been doing research, but there's always something new to learn, thanks! I will check the site and bring my perception!


Jennifer Damashek Tue 26 May 2020 5:22PM

Thank you so much for posting, Billy. I'm grateful to learn about Ecological Land.


Diogo Jorge Tue 26 May 2020 11:13PM

Yes, I read through their site, its a splendid idea. Their coop owns land and lease them for farmers. Their focus seems to be on that specific region of UK. In an attempt to draw a comparison about their approach and ours, we aim to be able to act globally, without having money to purchase land. We plan on inviting users and investors by using blockchain and smart contracts technologie to distribute fair shares after every sale. We also want to support the first years of the collective management of the land, through a regional host. Thanks a lot about the link, we will get in touch, he sure has a lot of knowledge on these issues, specially in the UK.


Jennifer Damashek Tue 26 May 2020 1:27PM

Hi Diogo, I'm very interested in this project. I think agriculture is the most important human activity to shift from narrowly-focused and extractive to holistic and regenerative. In fact, perhaps it was our agricultural practices that many thousands of years ago led us to living in the patriarchal and destructive systems we have now.

I grew up in the province of New Brunswick, Canada. It's a tiny, rural province. One family, the Irvings, have been clear-cutting vast areas of the province for their business. This has contributed to devastating flooding in the province over the last few years. It's so sad what is happening to the forests of the province. My husband and I are thinking of moving to New Brunswick within the next few years, and I've been dreaming of how to become involved in farming and/or restoring the forests there in some way.

I am wondering about many aspects of your idea. First, if I were to be involved in a project I would want everyone to be on the same page regarding the big picture of what you want to happen. This is the first step in holistic management. Get a very clear, detailed description of how you want the land to be, how you want the lives of everyone involved to be, how everyone needs to behave, and how the environment needs to be far into the future for it all to be sustained the way you want to be.

This big picture is then used to make decisions. Possible courses of action are checked against this big picture.

I have a big picture like that in mind for the world I want to live in. And some of the details of your project I wonder about. For example, what about the possibility that the project will be very successful, and once the land becomes fertile and productive, the landowners decide to terminate the leases? Or simply, the land changes hands and the new owners aren't interested in continuing the leases.

I know that it can be mutually beneficial in many cases for farmers to lease land, and often the true value of an operation is in the skills and knowledge of the farmer, not the actual land. But I wonder about whether that is the case for long term crops like tree nuts, coffee, etc.

I also wonder about the farm workers. Are they in the green sector in your plan? It seems they are the ones who are risking the most. How are they protected and how do they benefit? Are they also owners, taking part in the decision making?

Also I wonder about the evidence for increasing the life in the land. How are you measuring whether the land is actually being regenerated?

I'm interested in learning more.


Diogo Jorge Tue 26 May 2020 11:51PM

Hi Jennifer, important questions!

On the first one, "what about the possibility that the project will be very successful, and once the land becomes fertile and productive, the landowners decide to terminate the leases? Or simply, the land changes hands and the new owners aren't interested in continuing the leases." - Here, we must be aware that these details can be contract specific, its possible to find an agreement for example, to end the lease contract but still be able to harvest the wood in the future. Our goal is to establish a forest in a small lot, so we will need a survey of the trees growth along the years. Initially we plan on supporting the first 3 years of a 1000 m2 lot fort regional collective management, and leave the possibility of renewal for these regional members to decide. Our goal is to spread the literacy and training on agroforestry, so, by the end of the initial lease contract, if the owner doesn't want to renew it what will remain is the knowledge and the awareness of the possibilities of a group of humans working together with a seasonal agenda. A good reference about land lease contracts is offered to download by the Savannah Institute on their webpage.

"I also wonder about the farm workers. Are they in the green sector in your plan? It seems they are the ones who are risking the most. How are they protected and how do they benefit? Are they also owners, taking part in the decision making?" Again, it is very case specific. There are quite a few possibilities. We plan on simple design so that 4 people working 2-4 days a month are able to manage the lot. Basically we plan on rows of trees 10 meters apart, and in the space between the tree rows we would plant seasonal short and mid term crops. As it is not a large area, the goal is to apply a season agenda in order to establish the tree rows and increase the number of crop seeds. This way the group will gain knowledge, confidence and a useful seedbank to take a bigger step towards a larger enterprise, and the region will gain another 1.000 m2 food forest.

:"Also I wonder about the evidence for increasing the life in the land. How are you measuring whether the land is actually being regenerated?" Good question. One of our hub partners works with satelite imagery and it is possible to follow an area over the years and have a verification of positive outcomes. Besides that, the social media follow up will also bring more detailed info about the change of the seasons in the lot, and we believe that the care about one's reputation will avoid bad behaviour.

Hope that helped to make the picture a bit more clear.

"I'm interested in learning more." Nice! I hope after Open2020 we can form a working group with interested people, right now we are just a chat group in the process of evolving to a working one, according to Oliver's article https://open.coop/2020/02/20/making-groups-work/ . We believe that it can be done, and the 2020 pilots will be our school to find some answers and bring on new questions...

If anyone reading this thread feels like entering this journey just let me know ;)


Oli SB Wed 27 May 2020 11:37AM

A working group focused on food and agriculture would be excellent - I totally agree, this is one of the first sectors that needs, and makes most sense for, transformation. Maybe someone would like to propose a session to discuss this... https://www.loomio.org/d/sKPCrZqM/open-2020-fringe-propose-a-session

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