Email: corbeauerd – at – gmail.com
Phone: (805) 819-9182
308 Calle Converse
Camarillo, CA 93010 USA
“... we imagine that as our population grows, the rest of the living community remains the same (because it’s [perceived as] separate from us), whereas in fact, the biomass that we’re adding to the human population comes directly from the rest of the living community.” – Daniel Quinn
In a walnutshell, I’m trying to make good use of the conversion of biomass that has made my existence possible.
I grew up in the Central Interior/Omineca region of BC in the Robson Valley, on a 300-acre family farm and forest. At first wanting to be a vet, I started off studying zoology – but was quickly drawn towards ecology, by a fortuitous combination of inspired professors at Capilano University and University of Calgary, and a summer of volunteer ecological field research at the Kananaskis Field Station at Barrier Lake, AB. Studying ecology meant a deep dive into understanding complexity, dynamic interactions, and a lot of calculus. I loved every minute of it (well, most of it). After trips to do my own traipsing around national parks of Argentina and a short stint catching frogs in Costa Rica, I was absolutely hooked. That led to a 4-month field season, complete with research funding and a very supportive, creative young supervisor, in the remote Peruvian Amazon, to conduct my Bachelor’s thesis research.
But in the Amazon, I found myself again facing issues that had troubled me in Argentina and Costa Rica. Next to the research station, remote communities struggled to survive, coping with disease, lack of access to services at all (let alone healthcare), and total dependency on external food services. Each 5-hour boat trip up the river was packed with bags of onions, rice, carrots and other “staples” that could have easily been grown, or replaced, in such a hospitable climate. What was going on? At the same time, the entire region was – and still is – deeply threatened and impacted by the explosion in illegal gold mining operations (read fellow biologist Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa’s Mongabay article here).
These issues continued to nag at me as I wrapped up my research and continued on to a Masters in Evolutionary Biology, focusing (as much as I have ever focused) on disease ecology and evolution. A 6-week field season in Kenya studying grassland birds reconfirmed my discomfort with relatively well-funded, pure biological research operating side-by-side with economically distressed human communities that had few choices and little or no access to better options for agriculture, food security, and water scarcity issues they faced. Finally, I decided I needed to crunch down from theoretical and purely interest-driven work towards more applied and restorative agriculture. This led me first to the Savory Institute, then permaculture, and in November 2012 I completed a PDC with Geoff Lawton at the Greening the Desert II site in Jordan. I was deeply interested in the design methodology but troubled by the lack of scientific grounding that permaculture seemed to have: or rather, the claims of scientific grounding, but also a preponderance of highly idealistic, extremely generalized statements that glossed over the complex, highly context-dependent realities of ecological systems that I was familiar with. Still – I tried to keep an open mind by questioning my “scientific brainwashing” (a term I’d hear a lot from permies in the coming years) and institutional training.
Over the last several years, I have had the opportunity to balance and re-ground my initial permaculture training with a return to ecological research, finding a much more welcoming and fact-driven community in the regenerative agriculture sphere. From 2013 to 2015 I focused on acquiring more practical experience, working on a number of farms (pastured pigs and poultry; organic fruit and berries) in the North Okanagan; collaborating, teaching and working with Element EcoDesign, Vernon Permaculture, and Vernon in Transition; and working for the Allan Brooks Nature Centre in youth education. After completing the REX/Regrarians training with Darren Doherty (Orella Ranch, Gaviota CA 2016) I am feeling the pieces coming back together, tying into a solid foundation of research science with the hands-on and experimental work that a growing number of farmers, ranchers and agrarians are undertaking – and that some have been doing for over 30 years.
Today my energy is largely focused on supporting both the regenerative agriculture movement and a more nuanced view of biodiversity conservation, through a variety of avenues. I value first-hand evidence, and seek out opportunities to connect with practicing regenerative agroecologists that have grounded their theoretical knowledge in the field. Further training and independent research in holistic management, mycology, rainwater harvesting, and soil biology helps me stay abreast of the latest trends, as well as remain aware of early developments than can often be overlooked in the rush for the next ‘silver bullet’ or innovative strategy.
Overall, my primary interests centre on using holistic frameworks and scientific research to address challenges of regenerative agriculture, conservation, food security and watershed management.
“Open every door you see. Take every opportunity that’s in front of you, that’s given to you. Don’t think something is too good for you, or not good enough. You never know when your big chance is going to come.” — Ani Kavafian