Central Minnesota farm ‘renegade’ tackles new industry: Fashion

Central Minnesota farm ‘renegade’ tackles new industry: Fashion

When Matt Maier bought some land near his childhood home in Clearwater, Minn., and started using regenerative agriculture to raise grass-fed cattle, he went into the beef business with a high-minded ideal: Improve the environmental degradations wrought by the industrialized food system by using more natural processes.

It became clear when he saw the numbers that the food industry was threatening the earth: that conventional agriculture contributes more than a third to global greenhouse gas. That U.S. soil is eroding 10 times faster than it can be replenished. That the chemicals we’re putting into our soil is ruining that land for the future.

Maier started researching regenerative agriculture. He learned about the farming and grazing practices that attempt to reverse climate change by rebuilding organic matter in soil and restoring soil biodiversity. He found out that the animal so vilified for its contributions to climate change — the cow — could, with regenerative agriculture practices, be the single biggest way to improve the environmental problems brought by the conventional food system. He built his Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed brand to include 60 family farms around the country that observe the same regenerative agriculture protocols.

Now he’s turning to the fashion industry.

On October 1, Timberland will release its first boot — the Courma Guy EK+ boot — made of regenerative leather sourced from Thousand Hills ranches.

“On one hand it’s this whole uncharted territory for us,” Maier said. “On the other hand it makes complete sense. We make sure these animals are expressing their natural behavior. We feel a responsibility to use the whole animal: Organs, oxtail, bones for bone broth, liver for braunschweiger. I’ve gone on five years of product development to try to fill every void we could to take advantage of the nutrient density of these animals.”

When he got to the hide, though, he confronted an entrenched, conventional supply chain. He had to figure a way to break out of it.

That’s where one of the world’s most recognizable footwear brands came in.

This month Timberland announced the New Hampshire-based company’s 2030 goals in new product innovation. It plans to create only products that have a net positive impact on the earth.

The company has begun pilot programs to source regenerative products across the globe: leather in Australia, rubber in Thailand, cotton in India and Haiti, sugar cane (for EVA soles) in Brazil, and the Thousand Hills leather pilot based in Minnesota.

The goal is to go one step beyond sustainability and work to reverse climate change and environmental degradation.

“Sustainability is no longer enough, especially when we have the ability to restore the environments we source our product from,” said Zachary Angelini, Timberland’s manager of environmental stewardship. “The environment has a pretty impressive ability to heal and restore itself. But that happens if and only if humans work in harmony with it. That’s exactly what regenerative farmers do.”

Even if it works, it will be an uphill battle for this group that calls itself “regenerative renegades” to bring about change in the massive, entrenched industries of food and fashion. Maier calls his brand “a small voice in the woods.”

“It does go against the conventional model,” said Maier’s daughter, Melissa Larsen, who does communications for Thousand Hills. “But it’s a journey to continue improving the earth, the land, the species. Sustainable really just maintains. Regenerative improves.”

 

 

rn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup-optimizely/start"},{"id":"limit-signup","count":12,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":{"template":"{% extends "grid" %}rnrn{% block heading_text %}Youu2019ve read your 10 free articles for this 30 day period. Sign up now for local coverage you wonu2019t find anywhere else, special sections and your favorite columnists. StarTribune puts Minnesota and the world right at your fingertips. {% endblock %}rnrn{% block last %}rn{{ parent() }}rn{# limit Krux pixel from https://www.squishlist.com/strib/customshop/328/ #}rnrnrn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit-signup/start"},{"id":"meter-desktop-331","count":10,"action":"ignore","mute":false,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/meter-desktop-331/start"},{"id":"PDA991499opt","count":9,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/PDA991499opt/start"},{"id":"limit","count":8,"action":"inject","mute":false,"action_config":{"template":"

rnrnrnrn

rn

rn

rn rn

rn t

rn SUBSCRIBErn Already a subscriber? Log in.rn

rn

All Star Tribune readers without a Digital Access subscription are given a limited number of complimentary articles every 30 days. Once the article limit is reached we ask readers to purchase a subscription including Digital Access to continue reading. Digital Access is included in all multi-day paper home delivery, Sunday + Digital, and Premium Digital Access subscriptions. After the 1 month Premium Digital Access introductory period you will be charged at a rate of $14.99 per month. You can see all subscription options or login to an existing subscription herern

rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn

rn"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/limit/start"},{"id":"nag","count":7,"action":"lightbox","mute":true,"action_config":{"height":null,"width":"630px","redirect_on_close":null,"template":"{% extends "shell" %}rnrn{% block substyles %}rn

rn{% endblock %}rnrn{% block page %}rn{#rnrn{{ limit - count - 1 }}rnrn{{ form.flow_form_open({nextAction: 'firstSlide'}, null, null, '_top') }}rn {{ form.btn('Save Now') }}rn{{ form.flow_form_close() }}rnrn

rnrnrnu2022 rnrnrnrn#}rn

rn

rn

You have {{ limit - count - 1 }} articles left

rn

rn rn u00a0u00a0u2022u00a0u00a0rn rn

rn

rn

rn

rn Save More Todayrn

Over 70% off!

rn

rn

rn

rn

99u00a2 for first 4 weeks

rn {{ form.flow_form_open({nextAction: 'firstSlide'}, null, null, '_top') }}rn {{ form.button('Save Now', 'btn nag-btn') }}rn {{ form.flow_form_close() }}rn

rn

rn{% endblock %}rnrn{% block last %}rn{{ parent() }}rnrn{% endblock %}"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/nag/start"},{"id":"x","count":4,"action":"ignore","mute":true,"action_config":false,"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/x/start"},{"id":"multi-start","count":3,"action":"fly_in","mute":true,"action_config":{"location":"bottom_left","slide_direction":"bottom","group_id":null,"display_delay":"0","collapse_delay":"10","template":"

rn

rn

rn

rn u00d7rn

rn

rn

From just

rn

$3.79 99u00a2 a week

rn Save nowrn

rn

rn

"},"start":"https://users.startribune.com/placement/1/environment/3/multi-start/start"}]};

Source Article