Wed, 22 November 2017
Episode 143: How would Nature farm? Can degraded, infertile land be regenerated? Can agriculture become a healing beneficial system that mitigates climate change?
To answer these questions, I speak with farmer Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farm located in Swoope, Virginia. When the Salatins moved to the farm in 1961, there wasn't enough soil on the land to hold up a fence post. Over fifty years later, Polyface is an oasis of organic matter and one of the most fertile farms in the US.
How did Joel and his family achieve this remarkable transformation? It began when Joel's father William, who out of necessity and with very little money, bucked conventional practices and began to observe how Nature farms. Implementing what they saw in natural systems, the Salatin family began their great task of restoring life and fertility to the land.
In this inspiring and uplifting interview, Joel shares the joy of being a visceral participant in healing land, why he believes that good farming should increase the commons, and how we can become beneficial participants in legacy ecology.
Joel talks about the importance of including animals in agriculture, his "Moving, Mobbing, and Mowing Ministry," how to use herbivores as pruners, and what we can do now to heal the earth.
To learn more about Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm, visit their website at PolyfaceFarms.com.
Fri, 20 October 2017
Episode 142: Have you ever thought of going to the International Permaculture Conference and Convergence (IPC)? Held every two years, switching between continents at different locations, the IPC is a gathering of Permaculture designers, teachers, and enthusiasts. This year, the IPC is held in India, which is celebrating 30 years of permaculture!
To learn more I spoke with Margie Bushman & Wes Roe of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network. In this interview, Margie and Wes discuss Permaculture, their involvement with the IPC, and the next one taking place in Hyderabad India, in November and December of 2017. Hosted by Aranya Agricultural Alternatives NGO, the IPC 2017 will be a unique and possibly transforming experience. The whole Aranya organization, including community members, farmers from nearby villages, a dynamic group of international volunteers, and especially the community's women and children are all joyfully preparing to welcome the world to the IPC conference & convergence.
Margie & Wes are founding members of the Friends of the International Permaculture Convergences (FIPC) that works to insure there is a diversity of participants at each IPC by providing scholarships for delegates from around the world. Diversity is key here. Delegates come from a wide variety of regions and contribute toward a diversity of ideas and solutions arrived at each IPC. IPC's reach into every corner of the world, local to global, to bring forth and share these ideas. Past host sites have been in Australia, USA, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Nepal, Croatia, Brazil, Malawi, Jordan, Cuba, United Kingdom, and India in 2017, followed by Argentina in 2020. This year for the first time FIPC launched an ambitious worldwide crowdfund, so all in the global Permaculture community could easily contribute using the powerful energy of money to help shape a better world.
We are a global society, and more than any other time in history, in order to be resilient, we need a diversity of ideas from all regions and cultures to survive. For more than forty years Permaculture has been leading the way with innovative, planet and climate friendly design strategies, that are just now being fully recognized by the rest of the world as the answer to some of our most pressing challenges.
Margie Bushman and Wes Roe are the co-founders of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, an educational non-profit founded in 2000 that has sponsored hundreds of workshops and events about Permaculture and sustainability. Margie was the Program Coordinator for the Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Center for Sustainability from 2009-2013, where she developed a Cities as the Solution series and an Eco-Entrepreneurship pilot program. Together Margie and Wes teach the Invisible Structures component of the Permaculture Design Course, a credited class, that they are proud to have helped initiate at SBCC. Wes served as a board member of the Permaculture Credit Union for nine years, later as Board President. Margie and Wes have been volunteer coordinators for the IPC Support Group since its inception in 2005.
For more information on IPC2017, visit the IPC India website at : http://ipcindia2017.org/
Visit the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network/IPC page for the FIPC and crowdfund information: http://www.sbpermaculture.org/ipc.html
Wed, 23 August 2017
Episode 141: Larry Kandarian is an organic farmer and ancient grain advocate. In this episode, Larry takes us on a whirlwind tour of Kandarian Organic Farms where he grows over 200 varieties of plants. As you'll hear in the interview, Larry is a man with a mission- growing the most ancient and nutrient-dense grains he can find and providing the world with alternatives to modern wheat.
I first became aware of Larry and his work when I saw an ad for a talk he was giving at our local seed swap entitled, "Ancient Guy Talks About Old Grains." When I read that, I knew I wanted to interview him!
Larry Kandarian has been farming for over 25 years. A former mechanical engineer, who worked on the Space Shuttle, Larry is now committed to growing ancient grains in the most ecological way possible.
Margie Bushman of the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network and I spent a few hours with Larry last Fall. We talked with him about many plants including: Ethiopian Blue Tinge Farro, Terrestrial Rice, Einkorn, Fonio (also known as Grain of the Universe), Khorasan, Nude Oats, Quinoa, Sonoran Wheat, Tibetan Black Barley, Purple Corn, Kaniwa, Sorghum... the list goes on. Walking around Kandarian Farms is like being at Costco on a Saturday afternoon, there are lots of samples. It was a fun, delicious, and inspiring tour.
We also talked with Larry about gluten and why he believes that some of his crops may provide a delicious and nutritious alternative to modern wheat for those with gluten-sensitivity.
Note: Since this was recorded outside, you may hear wind and farm machinery during parts of this interview.
Learn more about Larry Kandarian and his amazing grains at KandarianOrganicFarms.com.
Sun, 11 June 2017
Episode 140: Before 2006, Andrew McMillion wasn’t thinking too much about plants, soil health, or ecology. He was living the American Dream, spending a lot of money, and commuting to work at his job for a large corporation. The only catch? He felt miserable. After taking a test to see how high his carbon footprint was, Andrew committed to make a change. Now residing in Ornes, Norway, Andrew lives on a small ecological farm where he focuses on earth care, people care, and increasing and protecting plant biodiversity.
In this thoughtful and inspiring interview, Andrew shares his journey from knowing nothing about plants (in 2013) to growing over 200 varieties of vegetables, trees, and herbs. We talk about some of his favorite plants including Tree Collards, Shetland Kale, Habblizia or Caucasus Spinach, Syrian Homs Squash, Lambsquarters, Ashitaba, Udo, and Achocha (Bolivian Cucumber). Andrew shares his experience of the positive effect of building relationships to individual plants and the many cycles of life in which we are embedded and how changing his focus from matter and production to connections and life quality has been pivotal for the thriving of the web of life on his farm.
Andrew also shares his experiences from the Norwegian Seed Savers, the Green Party and the Refugee Greenspace Initiative, the new nonprofit Andrew co-founded, which sets up kitchen gardens at refugee centers. For more information and to contact Andrew, visit: RefugeeGreenSpace.org
Fri, 24 March 2017
Episode 139: Dr. Vandana Shiva, author, activist, and scholar, talks about the forgotten richness of pulses and how growing these plants can help us practice a more biodiverse and permanent agriculture.
In this short interview, we talk about Pulses, the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. Common pulses include chickpeas, lentils, beans, and dry peas. Vandana says that growing pulses is an excellent way to begin farming nonviolently. Pulses fix Nitrogen, increase soil fertility, are drought tolerant, and are an excellent source of protein.
Vandana talks about the "violence" of fossil fuel-based agriculture, the Green Revolution in India, Bt Cotton, and how she became an activist.
Vandana believes that our role is to protect natural systems and to be co-creators with the earth. In one of my favorite quotes from the interview, Vandana says that, "Making peace with the earth means recognizing our creative abilities and not being proud of our destructive capacity."
Fri, 3 February 2017
Episode 138: Natural building is good for both people and planet. In this episode we hear from natural builders who are committed to their craft and who create beautiful structures using natural locally-sourced materials.
Recorded at the Natural Building Colloquium at Quail Springs Permaculture Center in New Cuyama, CA, I speak with many natural builders including Sasha Rabin, Linda Smiley, Patrick Hennebery, Liz Johndrow, and Bob Theis.
I visit projects at the Colloquium including a feral straw bale office- created to be an affordable replacement for a trailer, a cob bench and Rumford fireplace- part of an outdoor gathering space, and a plaster wall- a gorgeous butterfly with layers of color derived from natural pigments.
Sun, 1 January 2017
Episode 137: Take a ride around the world with aromatic explorer John Steele. In this interview John talks about the sacred use of fragrance in ancient Egypt and Amazonian shamanism. John draws upon his decades of experience as an archaeologist and aromatherapist to delve deeply into the shamanic use of fragrance. John talks about smell as "direct intuition", how certain plant fragrances can be used to restore flow when stuck in negative thought patterns, and how fragrance can be used as an aromatic tool for conscious transformation.
John Steele urges us to think "outside the perfume bottle" and open up to the "floral highway of awareness."
John is the owner of Lifetree Aromatix and teaches workshops about the aromatic domain around the globe. To contact John you can email him at info (at) lifetreearomatix.com.