AHR 26: Holistic Land Management, Desertification, and Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild with Doniga Markegard

Can agriculture be a sustainable path forward?

This is the main question surrounding today's episode:

Can we use the same technology that, arguably, has been one of the single-most destructive advents in the epoch of human history to move or usher us forward into a time where we're projected to hit an all-time population density of 9.5 BILLION people by 2050?  

With global desertification, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreats, decreased snow cover, rising sea levels, declining arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, and extreme weather events…

What tools do we have at our disposal? How can we make an impact where it seems like none can be made?

That's what we're here to find out.

And why, in today's episode, my guest Doniga Markegard shares with us:

  • Her amazing story of triumph as a child being taught traditional ecological knowledge through an experimental wilderness school in the Pacific Northwest,
  • What holistic planned grazing is and what that means for the future of agriculture,
  • Doniga dispels the jargon around grass-fed, finished, pastured, and free-range, and...
  • Much, much, more...

Episode Breakdown

  • Doniga talks about her past with wildlife tracking and permaculture
  • Doniga explains an ah-ha moment that came from a time when she was young and thrown from her horse
  • Doniga briefly speaks about her time as a teenager in an experimental wildlife school in Washington
  • Why Doniga tracked wolves in Yellowstone and what that meant for the biodiversity of the ecosystem
  • Doniga talks about her new book (Dawn Again: Tracking the Wisdom of the Wild) that is being released this fall
  • Why Doniga is excited to work with Proprioception Press
  • Doniga briefly shares a few experiences she has while traveling alongside wolves and other wild animals
  • Why Doniga says her culmination of past experiences has led her to discover holistic ways of stewardship
  • How Doniga's particular style of land management mimics the trophic cascade of predator, prey, and plants
  • Doniga makes a big distinction between traditional ranch lifestyle and traditional industrialized agriculture
  • The similarities between Doniga and Allan Savory
  • Why tracking is so important and how that helps you develop your personal awareness
  • Doniga mentions what she believes to be the sixth sense
  • Why the Bay Area has is so prolific and why it may be a wild food foragers paradise
  • Why Doniga says it's important that people realize that these grasslands evolved with grazers
  • Why holistic land management is about people, planet, and profit 
  • The difference between grass-fed and finished beef
  • Why Doniga says Cowspiracy is extreme vegan propaganda
  • Why Doniga has gripes about the word Organic

  • The difference between traditional and conventional agriculture

  • Doniga breaks down the problem of desertification and why we need grassland grazers to help build carbon in our soil

  • Why practicing survival skills and challenging herself within the rigors of the wild helped shape Doniga into the steward she is today

  • Doniga gives solid tips for the consumer to move forward with becoming a steward of the land herself

  • And much, much more...

Questions I Ask

  1. "Tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today?"

  2. "What are the differences between a typical ranch and one that uses holistic land management?"

  3. "Can you maybe dispel what grass-fed, pastured, free-range -- what do all those terminologies mean and what exactly should we be looking for?"

  4. "What is the difference between the quality of proteins between an industrial agricultural animal and one that, let's say, is off of your land?"

  5. "Can you talk to us a little bit about land desertification and what's going on with that right now?"

  6. "Is there something we can do on the consumer side?"

Mentioned Resources

Quote Highlight

"There's no excuses anymore to not just get up in the morning and take action for the good of the planet and humanity."—Doniga Markegard

Who is Doniga Markegard?


Doniga Markegard has a background in wildlife tracking, holistic management and permaculture. Along with her husband Erik and four children, Doniga lives on a coastal ranch in San Gregorio, CA. Doniga is passionate about finding ways to regenerate lands and community through practices that build soil, sequester carbon, capture and purify water and enhance habitat. Doniga has an immense passion for the natural world and helping others live a life of balance with the earth and all living things, leading a life of example where her own actions are deliberated into the health of the future generations.

Contact Doniga, Here:

Websites: www.donigamarkegard.com and www.markegardfamily.com

Social media: Facebook and Instagram

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James Broderick