#039 Stop Riding the Unicorn
Empowering the regenerative agriculture movement, with David McLean
Those who followed our travels last year will have heard a number of remarkable stories of pastoralists and farmers bringing land and people back to life. In some cases, their situations had become dire, and land turned to dust. Wherever we went, an organisation called RCS Australia came up in conversation. So we visited them late last year in Yeppoon, Queensland, and had the pleasure to meet legendary founder Terry McCosker and his team.
Charles Massy calls RCS one of the key training groups in Australia in regenerative agriculture and holistic grazing, including the business of it all, with “brilliant social learning programs and workshops, and a network of support.” When we visited, New Chair David McLean was there, and we got talking. After a number of fascinating conversations over several days, we subsequently resolved to meet up when he was next doing training in our neck of the woods.
David’s journey with RCS started as a client. He went on to become General Manager in 2012 and Chair in 2018. He is now a highly sought-after educator, consultant, facilitator and public speaker across Australia. Like Charles Massy, who we feature on podcasts #016 and #032, David’s got an invaluable over-arching view of what’s happening across Australia and the world in regenerative agriculture.
His insights are extensive and instructive, on changes in the movement, on country, in families and communities, in the businesses, in impact investing, in increasingly volatile climate and other forces of change, and importantly in how the thinking about the connections between all these things is developing.
When talking about such a holistic approach, and how it relates to life in cities as well, we arrive at themes of trust and connection. Why is trust so central to building the movement? What does success look like? What do we do about the potential co-opting of the term regenerative? Why is ‘going organic’ not enough? How can the most meaningful investments and impacts be made? How do we respond to at times diabolical drought, fire and flood? And how do we loosen the hold our cultural stories have on us, to stop riding the unicorn, as David puts it, and operate in a way that’s more aligned with the realities of how the living world works?
When in Perth recently, David dropped by Anthony’s place for this conversation.
Title slide: wheat growing in Moura, central Queensland. Pic: David McLean.
Sweet Home Alabama, by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Seeds, by David Ross Macdonald.