Agraria was established in 2017 by the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions (AMICS). AMICS’ history goes back to its founding in 1940 as Community Service, a non-profit organization specializing in research and education about the importance of small communities. which its founder, engineer and educator Arthur E. Morgan, viewed as the seedbed of cultural and democratic values. Morgan was the first chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, architect of the flood control system for the Miami Conservancy District, and a pioneer in community land trusts. He also was president of Antioch College, from 1920 to 1933, and is credited with reviving the near moribund institution and instituting its signature coop program, which endures to this day.
AMICS over the years developed educational initiatives (including Communities Courses, trainings, and conferences) and large scale on-the-ground projects (including the Celo Community in North Carolina and Mitraniketan in Kerala, India); published books and newsletters; produced films; hosted conferences and symposia; and fostered land trusts. In 2003, AMICS expanded its focus to include peak oil and climate change, and in 2016 it identified five priorities to guide its work: resilient communities, regenerative land use, community economics, energy democracy, and being the change. Its mission was to educate people about how to make their communities more resilient and capable of withstanding dramatic shifts due to climate and economic disruptions.
In 2017, AMICS purchased the 128-acre farm that is now Agraria, when it went up for auction. The decision to purchase was spurred by our focus on regenerative land use as both a key strategy for strengthening regional resilience and a promising tool for climate mitigation and adaptation. The farm had long been a focus of concern among area conservationists because Jacoby Creek, which runs through it is part of the environmentally sensitive Jacoby Creek watershed. And because the property had been farmed conventionally for decades, Community Solutions viewed it is an excellent test bed for modeling ecosystem renewal through regenerative practices that restore and build healthy soils, which underlie the health of the planet and its inhabitants.
The establishment of Agraria as a Center for Regenerative Practice reflects our belief that regeneration applies to not only healthy agricultural practices but also to a mindset that needs to underlie all we do, from the environmental, economic, psychological and social to human health and well-being.
Agraria began as a project of The Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions. But it quickly moved out from under that umbrella, as children often do, and became the central focus of AMICS’ work. With that realization, the organization in 2021 retired the name AMICS and became Agraria. Though AMICS’ name and logo are no longer reflected on our website or materials, the legacy begun by Arthur Morgan lives on in our work to help build vibrant, just, and resilient communities.