The River Valley Path to Being Regenerative

The Influence of Waves

It is impossible to talk about being a regenerative company, especially one that operates in a rural area, without acknowledging the impact of agriculture, and the effect that has on the land, and communities.

Agricultural development underwent a number of waves (depending on location). While we certainly cannot turn back the clock, there are elements of what is sometimes known as the second wave of agriculture that certainly have relevance. This second wave of agriculture, (the first wave was the discovery and use of the plough and the training of animals to pull that plough), was the discovery of techniques such as crop rotations, fallow periods and general soil husbandry. Fertility had been lost during the first wave and these new techniques and practices restored some of that fertility and maintained the productivity of the land. History is littered with defunct civilisations that did not embrace this second wave.

The Disaster of the Third Wave

Thousands of years of second wave knowledge pretty much all went out the window with the third wave of agriculture. This 20th century phenomenon saw the widespread introduction and use of fossil fuels and the application of thousands of tonnes of artificial fertiliser. This changed the narrative to one where there is no real need to work with nature when you can get a solution in a bag or a can.

We cannot go back to any of these pasts. A regenerated healthy landscape and community needs to be able to meet the challenges of the 21st century, not the 5th or the 20th.

The Epiphany

Every good story needs some sort of moment of enlightment or epiphany. The Ah Hah moment.

Our moment or epiphany was more in the form of a progression than a sudden U turn. As a family we can identify when we decided that being regenerative of land and community would become the official “Why” or purpose of our business.

What triggered this was actually making, after more than 30 years in business, a seriously good profit for the first time. Our reaction to this was yes, yeehaa, but also, that’s it?

After over 30 years of hard work, sacrifice and stress, some extra money is it? No, we knew we could do so much more.

A family retreat followed and from that, what emerged was the purpose of River Valley encapsulated in a simple statement.

The Purpose of River Valley

“The purpose of River Valley  is to be a regenerative business that benefits the land, nature, family and staff, our local community, and our guests.”

To carry out this purpose, we identified four functions we need to carry out.

The Four Functions

  • The first function is to build a profitable intergenerational business that financially & non financially sustains the owners and employees through robust governance
  • The second function is to regenerate the landscape
  • The third function is to contribute towards a dynamic local community through developing possibilities of economic opportunity
  • The fourth function is to be responsible educators by planting seeds of knowledge that enlighten and enable visitors and staff to make better choices about their environment


Looks kind of simple and easy does it not?

Well, I don’t think it really is, so we have since fleshed out just how we are going to make these four functions come alive and go beyond just more words.

“Sustainable”? Anything But

As we have gone down this road we have embarked upon, it has become increasingly apparent that the results of the focus on “Sustainability”, will be anything but. It is clear that mankind’s actions can only be of two kinds, regenerative, or what is in fact the majority of our actions, degenerative.

We have gone way too far down the degenerative road to arrest the damage done with some sort of utopian “Sustainable”.


Brian Megaw

Holistic grazing enhancing ecosystem function, with two year old hazel nut trees in the background. River Valley Stables

holistic grazing at river valley stables