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.
Sun, 25 September 2016
Episode 135: Starhawk is an internally renowned activist, feminist, writer, and Permaculture Designer and Teacher. Founder of the Earth Activist Training, Starhawk travels the globe teaching about Permaculture Design, Social Permaculture, and Earth-based spirituality.
In this interview, Starhawk talks about how Permaculture changed her life, how to design beneficial relationships, and why she feels that there is no more vital work we can do than to heal our damaged earth.
We learn about the regenerative land management practices that she is doing on her land in Sonoma, CA and why she feels that "trees and veggies are the easy part of Permaculture." We talk about Social Permaculture and the many challenges of working in groups, cultural diversity and sensitivity, group cooperation examples in Nature, and how Permaculture ethics and principles can help us navigate the murky waters of working with others.
To hear the interview I did with Starhawk in 2010, click here.
Sat, 3 September 2016
Episode 134: Have you ever wanted to grow a cornucopia of organic fruit at home? In this episode, Permaculture and Ecological Designer Michael Judd teaches us how to plant a food forest in easy to follow steps. Michael recommends a "patch method" for starting your food forest, shares his recipes for sheet mulching, and talks about how to incorporate existing trees into your new food forest. Michael covers guilds (a selected group of plants that form a small ecosystem to support trees) and talks about the plants he loves to incorporate into food forests including: Comfrey, Strawberry, Lead Plant, Yarrow, Wild Blue Indigo, and many others. Michael shares his favorite Uncommon Fruits and "Edible Landscaping All Stars" which include: Hardy Kiwi, Gooseberry, Juneberry, Goumi, Autumn Olive, Paw Paw, Che Fruit, Elderberry, and Currants.
You can taste some of Michael's uncommon fruit at his 1st Annual Paw Paw Festival on September 17th, 2016 at Long Creek Homestead. The Fest is a celebration of North America's largest (and many say most delicious) fruit.
Sun, 24 July 2016
Episode 132: Can planting lentils be a radical act? Yes, if you live in a small conservative farming town in Montana, circa 1976. That was the year David Oien moved back to his family’s farm and planted a crop of lentils. This marked the beginning of the Lentil Underground, a group of farmers who created a new way of doing business both on the farm and in their community.
It wasn’t always easy. Planting lentils in a county known for wheat created waves and they weren’t amber waves of grain. But, what disapproving, wheat-loving onlookers didn’t know, was that the short, squat lentil plant is the “Robin Hood” of the plant world. A Nitrogen fixer, it creates fertilizer and increases soil health by sequestering Nitrogen out of the atmosphere and putting it in the soil in a plant available form. This fixing of Nitrogen is a valuable service to farmers and to plant and soil life.
In this interview with author, teacher, and lecturer Dr. Liz Carlisle, we learn what happened when a group of farmers shifted from industrial agriculture to a more ecological farming method. This transition from a “farming up” to a “farming down” model, with a goal of regenerating soil health, is the story of the Lentil Underground. It's also a story about community, agricultural policies, and our food system.
Dr. Liz Carlisle is the author of the book Lentil Underground. Liz is a Lecturer in Food Systems at the University of California, Berkeley and in the Thinking Matters program at Stanford University. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography, from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. from Harvard University.
You can buy lentils and other products from the farmers mentioned in this interview by visiting their company Timeless Food.
Fri, 8 July 2016
Episode 131: Dr. John Todd is a pioneer in the field of ecological design. The inventor of the Eco-Machine, John Todd works with nature to heal degraded waste sites often thought irreconcilably damaged. John Todd and his associates have worked on projects on five continents dealing with waterborne waste streams of both domestic sewage and industrial waste.
John believes that there are ways to heal our damaged earth and designs machines that work with nature to reduce the amount of nutrients and pollutants in water and manage and transform them into beneficial forms.
In this episode, John Todd tells us why he travels to the places most people don't like to go- polluted landfills, contaminated oil fields, and sewage plants. John talks about the first Eco-Machine he designed to mimic the genius of nature and how armed with a bucket and turkey baster, he filled it with life from over a dozen wild environments. When polluted water was poured into the machine, it moved through different tanks on a 10 day journey. The end result? Clean water.
John talks about his project at the Omega Institute where he designed an Eco-Machine that treats up to 52,000 gallons a day of wastewater. The Eco-Machine is located in a beautiful greenhouse that doubles as a classroom, event space, and yoga center!
John also talks about his latest project, designing and building a fleet of Ocean Arks. As the Arks travel through the sea or lake, they clean the water, while onboard, students learn about the ocean.
Sat, 18 June 2016
Episode 130: Permaculture teacher, poet, and author Patrick Jones talks about his family's epic journey, how they took Permaculture on the road, and some of Australia's indigenous plants.
In 2013, Meg Ulman and Patrick Jones embarked on a 14 month, 6,000 km journey by bike, cycling along Australia's East Coast from Daylesford to Cape York. Their travel companions were their sons, Woody and Zephyr, and their Jack Russell Terrier, Zero. Patrick and Meg wrote a book about their journey called The Art of Free Travel: A Frugal Family Adventure.
One of the goals of their four hundred day journey was to document some of the edible wild plants of Australia and to eat and enjoy free and foraged food along the way.
Patrick also talks about pre-1788 indigenous Aboriginal land tending and shares some of the history and science that demonstrates reciprocal agrarianism across Australia pre-contact.
Learn more about Patrick Jones and Meg Ulman by clicking here.
If you'd like a list of the Latin names of the many plants, insects, and mushrooms that Patrick talks about in this interview, visit the Sustainable World Radio blog by clicking here.
Fri, 6 May 2016
Episode 129: Fungi are absent from our awareness, but are everywhere around us. In this interview with Peter McCoy, author of the book, Radical Mycology, we learn about fungi and its influence and effect on all life.
Did you know that fungi are the "grand chemists of nature"? That fungi are more closely related to the animal kingdom than the plant kingdom? Or that fungi is a high protein functional food that boosts your immune system?
Peter McCoy shares with us some of his knowledge gleaned from years of working with fungi. We talk about how many plants need fungi to grow and thrive (including orchids), how to grow mushrooms at home, and "Survival of the Most Symbiotic."
Peter McCoy is the co-founder of Radical Mycology, a grassroots organization that educates about the importance of mushroom cultivation and mycoremediation. Peter is a writer, artist, mushroom cultivator, and educator.
Fri, 8 April 2016
Episode 128: Dr. Elaine Ingham of Soil Foodweb Inc. guides us on this podcast journey into the world of soil. The meeting place of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere, soil contains vast numbers of species. Like most places where “edges” of different worlds meet, the soil is a dynamic interface. Fertile soil is alive with the biodiversity of a thriving forest; complex ecosystems connecting, growing, living, co-existing, and dying. In this episode we learn about the cast of creatures that comprise the Soil Food Web, including Bacteria, Fungi, Nematodes, Protozoa, and Arthropods and the many ecosystem services that they provide.
Elaine talks about how to take dirt- soil that has no life- and transform it into soil. She details techniques that you can do at home and on the farm to increase soil life, resulting in healthier plants, people, and planet. Are you trying to grow broccoli in a fungal- dominated soil? Why does your yard only grow weeds? What is living in your soil? Why is rototilling a bad idea if you are trying to increase soil health? What is the connection between healthy soil and climate change? Tune in to learn the answers to these questions and more from Soil Food Web expert Dr. Elaine Ingham.
For more information about Elaine visit her website.
Tue, 1 March 2016
Episode 127: How can we apply Permaculture ethics and principles to our lives and relationships? In this episode Delia Carroll and Rachel Kaplan, co-founders of 13 Moon CoLab, talk about Social Permaculture, designing your life for resiliency, and how tending to your inner landscape can lead to cultural repair.
The 13 Moon CoLab's Permaculture From the Inside Out Design Course is intended to grow Permaculture people and places. The 100+ hour course includes the traditional 72 Hour Permaculture curriculum, as well as somatics, place-making, community art, and ceremony. The 13 Moon CoLab teaches permaculture and somatics in the same course because they see both as practices of repair, with somatics tending to the inner landscape and permaculture tending to the outer.
Rachel and Delia are Permaculture teachers and designers. Rachel is the co-author of the book Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living. Delia is a past producer of the West Coast Women’s Permaculture Gatherings and the Northern California Permaculture Convergences.
Thu, 18 February 2016
Episode 126: Joseph Simcox is a botanical explorer, ethnobotanist, international lecturer, and expert in food plants from around the world. In this free-ranging conversation, Joseph talks about the potential that we have to transform the planet in positive ways, how we can become "Giant Enrichers", acting like the "new earthworms of the planet."
Joseph shares his knowledge about resilient plants and climate change, the agriculture industrial complex, and how we can re-integrate foodways from the past into our modern food system.
Of course, Joseph also talks about plants, including three that he is really excited about: Manroot, (Ipomoea leptophylla), Prairie Turnips (Pediomelum esculentum), and the Queen of the Night Cactus (Peniocereus greggii).
For more information about Joseph Simcox, click here.
Fri, 15 January 2016
Episode 125: In this interview with Irina Stoenescu we talk about the re-discovery of food traditions, how regional foods are going global, and how Millennials and their interest in food with a story is shaping our food system.
After the taste standardization of the fast food era, we are in the middle of a food revolution. We are living in a time where the story of food and its ingredients (the community growing or raising it, its nutritional benefits, and traditions), are as important as the food itself.
The revitalization of food traditions fuels culinary innovation and creativity. Chefs searching for “forgotten” ingredients and “ethnic” foods are merging tradition and innovation and sharing their discoveries with the world.
In this interview, Irina also talks in-depth about several Eurasian foods that she is excited about, including Arugula, Sea Buckthorn, and Cornelian Cherry.
Irina Stoenescu is a Food Researcher and Consultant whose work focuses on healthy food, trade and nutrition issues. Irina is dedicated to educational programs, focusing on the revival of food traditions, balanced nutrition, and sustainable food systems. Currently, Irina is working on a project to introduce Euarasian specialty foods to a larger audience.
Tue, 15 December 2015
Episode 124: In this episode we dive into the world of Natural Process Farming with Bob Cannard. Bob grows highly diversified food crops by working with nature and natural systems. In Natural Process farming, crops are grown 50% for people and 50% for Nature. In this interview, Bob talks about the value of "nature support plants," why weeds need to be managed, not eradicated, the digestive systems of and in the soil, how to feed the soil, and why we should strive to give plants a "life of choice." Bob also tells us how home gardeners can begin practicing Natural Process Farming on a small scale.
Bob has been farming for thirty years in Northern California and is the co-founder and operator of Green String Farm and the Green String Institute which offers internships in farming the Green String or Natural Process way.
Sat, 7 November 2015
Episode 123: In this episode I speak with Mary Alford of Rabble Housers. Mary Alford is a professional engineer and expert in energy optimization and sustainable building practices.
The Rabble House is a 600 square foot home designed to be built by individuals, groups, and/or volunteers. Modeled after the Craftsman Home Kit that was available from Sears in the early 1900s through 1940, the Rabble House is a home designed for efficiency, comfort, and affordability.
The Rabble House can be built in 20 weekends with two people working fifteen hours each. To see the plans of the house, click here.
This version of the Rabble House is designed for the hot and humid climate of the southeast, but Mary promises more Rabble Houses in the future!
Sat, 31 October 2015
Episode 122: In this episode we dive into the world of Vetiver. With powerful roots that grow 12-15 feet deep, Vetiver is a valuable plant that acts as a living infrastructure. Vetiver is planted around the world to remediate polluted soil and water.
To learn about this multi-faceted plant, I spoke with Vetiver expert Jason Fox of Vetiver Farms Hawaii. Jason fills us in on vetiver's many uses including slope and erosion control, wastewater treatment, toxin absorption, water diversion, and flood prevention.
Vetiver is the plant that keeps on giving. It's roots yield an aromatic and medicinal essential oil, it sequesters excess atmospheric carbon, and Vetiver mulch is mycorrhizal-rich.
Fri, 25 September 2015
Episode 121: Learn how to grow your own organic veggies and fish in an Aquaponics system. In this episode, I talk with Sylvia Bernstein, the President of the Aquaponic Source and author of the book Aquaponic Gardening: A Step By Step Guide to Growing Fish and Vegetables Together.
Aquaponics is a closed recirculating system. Using only 10% of the water of conventional agriculture, Aquaponics can be done almost anywhere, even in times of drought. Aquaponics uses the waste byproduct of fish as a beneficial organic input to grow plants.
Sylvia tells us what fish and plants thrive in an Aquaponics system. Vegetarians can grow "ornamental" fish like koi and fish eaters can grow tilapia, catfish, or trout to harvest.
According to Sylvia, some of the other benefits of Aquaponics include a lack of weeds, waist-high beds for gardening ease, and no costly inputs like fertilizer and herbicides.
Fri, 11 September 2015
Episode 120: Seaweed is a superfood from the sea! Terry d’Selkie of Ocean Harvest Sea Vegetable Company tells us about the many benefits of seaweed. An algae, seaweed is high in vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and fiber. Terry introduces us to many different types of seaweed, including Kombu, Sweet Kombu, Ocean Ribbons, Sea Palm, Pacific Coast Wakame, Wild Nori, Fucus, and Turkish Towel. Terry tells us how to ethically harvest, dry, and cook with seaweed. Seaweed is also medicinal and can be used in compost tea and fertilizer.
Many people are concerned about the safety of eating seaweed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. All of the seaweed that Terry harvests is tested by an independent lab for radiation and so far has tested negative for radioactive isotopes.
To learn more about seaweed, visit Terry’s website: SeaweedMermaid.com.
Sun, 30 August 2015
Episode 119: Eric Scott Bresselsmith is an herbalist, wildcrafter, and artisan distiller of essential oils. Owner of the House of Aromatics, Eric uses Conifers and Brushes native to the intermountain region of Southern Utah to create medicinal therapeutic grade oils.
Believing that "the medicine you need is always just a few steps away," Eric creates oils from local ethically wildcrafted material and trees damaged by humans or weather.
In this episode, Eric talks about the medicinal and psychological effects of the essential oils of conifers and brushes, including Great Western Sage (Artemesia tridentata), Pinon Pine (Pinus edulis), Rabbit Brush (Ericameria nauseosa), Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma/utahensis), Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and Grindelia (Grindelia squarrosa). He also discusses Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), a great remedy for muscle trauma, which he thinks one day may be called "the Arnica of the desert."
To learn about these plants and many others, visit Eric's website: House of Aromatics.com.
Fri, 31 July 2015
Episode 118: Can plants learn? Do they have memory? Can they make decisions? In this episode, Monica Gagliano, Research Associate Professor of Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Western Australia, talks about her research with plants. Monica has pioneered the new field of plant bioacoustics and recently extended the concept of cognition to plants.
Monica talks about her research exploring whether plants can learn and if they have memory and decision-making capabilities. Monica also talks about plant time vs. human time, the chemical vocabulary of plants, and why she treated plants as animals and not as objects in her experiments.
To learn more about Monica's work, click here.
Wed, 22 July 2015
Episode 117: How can a cook stove change the world? Three billion people burn traditional biomass and coal indoors in cook stoves. These stoves are having a tremendous impact on our environment and on the health of those who use them. Some of the health problems associated with non-improved cook stoves include increased rates of asthma, indoor air pollution, (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide), and respiratory infections. Cook stove use also contributes to climate change and deforestation.
For over thirty years, the Aprovecho Research Center has been designing and implementing improved biomass cooking and heating technologies in more than sixty countries. Aprovecho is the world leader in open source development of all aspects of improved cooking stoves.
Fri, 26 June 2015
Episode 116: My guest for this episode is Josh Trought, author of The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm: The D Acres Model of Creating and Managing an Ecologically Designed Education Center.
Josh Trought is the co-founder and current director of D Acres, a Community-Scale Permaculture Farm located in New Hampshire. D Acres is a hub of learning, an educational center that researches, applies, and teaches skills in Permaculture, organic farming, and sustainable living. (D Acres stands for “Development Aimed at Creating Rural Ecological Society.”)
In this interview Josh talks about the beginning days at D Acres, the challenges and rewards of living in community, working with animals on the land, and his goal of creating a perennialized farm that lasts for centuries. Josh also gives advice to those who want to start a farm or educational center.
For over twenty years, Josh and the D Acres staff and farm have been creating positive change on a community-scale. To learn more, visit DAcres.org.
Sun, 7 June 2015
In this episode, we talk about the weeds that surround us with forager, chef, writer, and plant lover Katrina Blair. Author of the book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, 13 Essential Plants for Human Survival Katrina talks about the wild integrity of weeds, their medicinal and nutritional value, and how to harvest and prepare them. Katrina shares recipes for their cosmetic and culinary use. Some of the plants that we cover include Mallow, Dandelion, Mustard, Clover, Purslane, and Thistle.
Katrina Blair also runs the nonprofit Turtle Lake Refuge whose mission is to celebrate the connection between personal health and wild lands.
Mon, 11 May 2015
Episode 113: Melanie and Jeff Carpenter are medicinal herb farmers. The co-owners of Zack Woods Farm, a 30 acre organic farm and botanical sanctuary located in the green mountains of Vermont, Jeff and Melanie grow over 50 species of medicinal plants.
In this episode, they share their passion and knowledge about herb growing, how they use Permaculture on the farm, and how they grow healthy plants with high bioactive compounds. The Carpenters talk about the increasing need for medicinal herb farmers and the burgeoning market for medicinal plants. Growing local medicine for your community can be rewarding and profitable. It can also protect wild herb populations.
Mon, 27 April 2015
Have you ever wanted to grow your own grains? In this episode, farmer and author Gene Logsdon tells you what you need to know about small-scale grain growing. Gene talks about the most resilient crop for beginning grain growers and shares his knowledge about corn, wheat, sorghum, and buckwheat. A longtime farmer, Gene explains why you want to alternate growing legumes with grains, how much space is necessary, the tools you need to get started, and planting and harvesting.
Gene also shares his wisdom and humor about how to create fertile soil, why he thinks doing what you love is more important than making a million bucks, and how he realized that he wanted to be a farmer while living at a seminary.
Gene Logsdon is the author of numerous books including Living At Nature's Pace, All Flesh Is Grass, Holy Sh**, and The Contrary Farmer. To learn more about Gene and his work, visit his blog at The Contrary Farmer.wordpress.com.
Fri, 19 December 2014
Growing Moringa oleifera is like growing a botanical apothecary. Most parts of the plant are edible, medicinal, and useful. In this Sustainable World Radio Podcast episode, organic farmer and Moringa grower Mariko Gifford talks about the plant that has become her life work.
In this interview, we learn about Moringa's many benefits. Morniga leaves are delicious and highly nutritious. The seeds can be pressed into an oil that is used on the skin and in industry. The seed cake can clarify water. Moringa is also an excellent animal fodder and can be made into a nitrogen-rich foliar spray.
Tune in to learn how to plant Moringa and why it's such an important plant to grow at this time. Although Moringa is a tropical plant, Mariko speaks about how to grow it in colder climates.