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VIDALIAMILLS.COM | 4.30.2024

Cole Viramontes says his ultimate aim is to achieve a zero-pesticide operation, though the path is challenging and far from straightforward. Many assume it's simpler than it is, particularly given the distinct climate conditions in our region compared to, say, the central or eastern parts of the country. Despite the Southwest region's diversity, spanning from Texas to California, the variability in weather and cropping systems presents unique challenges. Over a decade, he's embarked on this journey and has made significant strides, notably in reducing pesticide use and improving plant and soil health. This endeavor has not been without cost, but he's optimistic about its future payoff. He's pursuing certification in this area, although the term "regenerative" lacks a legal definition. A few organizations offer certifications for regenerative farming that provide tiered recognition. It's a system that ranges from Tier 1 to Tier 5, with Tier 5 representing the pinnacle of regenerative practices, including zero pesticide use and the integration of cover crops with subsequent replanting. However, his vegetable program's constraints, especially regarding food safety standards, prevent him from allowing animal grazing, a critical component of the highest tier of regenerative farming.

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