Even the most knowledgeable and food-conscious among us can feel hesitant when using terms like permaculture, biodynamic farming, and regenerative agriculture. So, we’ve put together a glossary of farming fundamentals and suggestions for where to find local examples of each one.


It’s too bad this growing practice is called conventional. For millennia, the conventional way to grow food meant no chemical additives, today, however, conventional growing methods employ synthetic inputs like fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. Conventional can also refer to the use of genetically modified organisms, monoculture, or intensive tilling.


Buried cow horns and lunar cycles—yep, that’s biodynamic farming for you. Based on the ideas of Dr. Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics integrates science with “a recognition of spirit in nature.” A biodynamic farm or garden promotes biodiversity, builds soil fertility (with a focus on compost), and works in conjunction with the earth’s rhythms.

Want to support local biodynamics? Consider a CSA subscription to Odd Trees Biodynamic Farm in Fallbrook.


Organic produce is grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or genetically modified seeds. Many small farms use organic practices, but because the certification process is lengthy and expensive, their produce doesn’t always display the Certified Organic seal.

Your local farmers’ market is a great choice for picking up local, organic food—or head to buy direct from a farm stand like at Cyclops Farms, Chino Farms’ Vegetable Shop in Rancho Santa Fe, and the Farm Stand West in Escondido.


The principles of permaculture boil down to one idea: holistic integration of natural forces (air, soil, sunlight, moisture) to create a self-sustaining system. The term is a mashup of the words permanent and agriculture, which hints at permaculture’s goal of creating closed-loop systems.

To see a local example, visit Coastal Roots Farm’s food forest in Encinitas, where trees grow symbiotically alongside other crops.


Regenerative agriculture serves the dual purpose of building healthy soil and sequestering carbon. Wild Willow Farm in the Tijuana River Valley is on a mission to train the next generation of farmers and gardeners in cutting-edge regenerative growing techniques, and their workshops are excellent venues to learn regenerative practices such as vermicomposting and no-till practices from local experts.

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