Good day and welcome to Tractor Time, a podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A. Today’s podcast features two guests. Both live together in Seattle, and are writers, advocates and change agents and, it should be noted, both are quite brilliant as well – Biologist Anne Biklé and Geologist David Montgomery.

We have interviewed both separately, and will run their interviews back-to-back.

Our second interview you will hear on this episode, Anne Biklé, is a biologist with an interest in environmentalism and, most recently, soil life. She’s an active speaker and author of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health, which is available in our bookstore at acresusa.com. 

We are going in depth on new science into life in the soil, and discuss the significance of all the new information to farmers and growers.

But to set the stage, we will get to our first guest, David Montgomery, Anne’s co-author on The Hidden Half of Nature, and a writer, geologist, professor, and researcher who will set the stage for Anne’s deep-dive into the soil. It’s also worth noting that David is a recognized genius – or at least, someone who has been recognized as the closest thing to it. David Montgomery is a Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, and a member of the Quaternary Research Center.

In 2008, In 2008 Montgomery received a MacArthur Fellowship, generally known as the “genius grant,” for his work as a researcher and writer.

His early work began in topics of topography and geology. He was all over the television after the tragic landslide in 2014 in his homestate of Washington, and since then, has published books connecting the ideas of healthy soil and healthy civilizations.

In 2016, Montgomery published "The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health", a collaboration with Anne Biklé. The book addresses the relationship between microbial life, plants, and people.

His most recent work, Growing A Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life, released in May 2017.

Both are available from Acres U.S.A. store.

We welcome David Montgomery and Anne Bilké to the Tractor Time podcast.

Also, find all of the Tractor Time podcasts here, or for free in the iTunes store.

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More Episodes

Tractor Time Episode 19: Judith McGeary, Founder of Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance

September 7, 2018

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres USA. I am your host, Ryan Slabaugh, and we are excited to bring you another episode – this one will be about advocacy, and how to get involved to make real change happen.

Our guest today embodies that sentiment, Judith McGeary. Those who attend our conference every year should know her name, as she is a frequent speaker. But why we ask her to speak is most important – that she is the founder and leader of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, and represents about 1,000 ranchers and farmers in Texas who help advocate for government to better represent all of its constituents, not just the huge corporate farming interests. She’s also a rancher herself at the McGeary Family Farm a couple hours outside of Austin, Texas.

How she found her way into this role is something we’ll discuss during the podcast, and her story is inspiring. It involves a career change, and some life-changing moments with farmers and politicians. 

Not only does Judith lead FARFA, but she serves as the executive director of the Council for Healthy Food Systems and on the board of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. And this year, she’s leading the Raise Your Voice Tour to learn more about what type of advocacy farmers and ranchers need the most. We’ll get into that, and more, in this 40-minute talk.

You can learn more about FARFA at farmandranchfreedom.org, and their October conference. You can learn more about the Acres USA conference, where FARFA will be presenting, at www.acresusa.com.

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Tractor Time Episode 18: Charles Walters, Then, Today and Tomorrow (from 2006)

August 2, 2018

Welcome to Tractor Time, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host, Ryan Slabaugh, the GM and publisher of Acres USA.

Last week, I took a trip. I spent about 36 hours in the car driving from Colorado to Illinois, down to Columbia, Missouri, back to Illinois, and back home to Colorado. For a few days while I was in Missouri, I spent time at a sacred ground to us. At the University of Missouri, hidden among the tall brick buildings, is an open space called “Sanborn Field,” run by a guy named Tim Reinbott. You probably recognize the name if you’ve ever been to our conference.

There, Tim has built and preserved what a professor named William Albrecht built there a century ago. Prof. Albrecht started test plots in hopes of showing what happens when you grow corn, continuously without fertilizer or manure, and what that does to the soil. I’ll save you the suspense. It looks terrible. The stalks, miniature compared to the other, more well-fed test plots, were brown and only about two feet tall.

The video’s on our website, ecofarmingdaily.com, if you want to check it out, too. But it’s him talking about how, because Missouri’s soil has natural phosphorous and nitrogen, it wouldn’t take much to regenerate that continuous corn plot. But they aren’t going to do it. It’s too good of a reminder.

It was near these fields that Charles Walters met William Albrecht for the first time. Charles, while trying to piece together the information that would build the foundation for Acres USA’s belief in ecology-based agriculture, found scientists he kept interviewing telling him about Albrecht. Charles being Charles, he did his research and found out Prof. Albrecht was just down the road a couple hours. He called the university, and they told him not to bother. But, again, Charles being Charles, he got in the car anyway and drove to meet the scientist. When he knocked on the door, a voice boomed out, “Don’t knock when you enter and leave the same way.” Charles walked in – and I learned all this from his son, Fred – and when Charles walked in, without even an introduction, said, “You must be from Western Kansas. You have good teeth.”

Albrecht had pioneered research to connect local food to local health. It’s science that more should understand today. He pulled dental records from the military and matched those with the amount of calcium found in the soil and they matched. It’s an incredible study, still available for free on the University of Missouri’s academic research site.

Anyway, the conversation sparked a longtime friendship. Charles would edit more than a dozen volumes of Albrecht’s research, and used that research to develop his stubborn and accurate view of agriculture – that the only way to make money, to make farming a viable job, is to work with nature. He met other Albrecht students like Neal Kinsey, and founded a lifetime friendship – in fact, Neal and Charles may have been Albrecht’s last students.

In Columbia, we heard from more than a dozen farmers and consultants who employ the Albrecht system of growing, and have proven results. Most of them are using the mineralization techniques Albrecht preached – balancing magnesium and calcium – and advancing on that research with biological techniques of composting and manure and the like. Nobody walked away with a question of whether or not the methods lead to results. The irony – was that all this was being presented in Monsanto Auditorium. Their hold on farmers being educated is not lost, but the biological processes we were sharing in its halls were far more important. In a cynical way, it just reinforced why we were all there, and why Sanborn Field down the street is so sacred.

So anyway, all this driving and inspiration got me thinking, that for our next show, we needed to go back in time and dip into our archives, and find a good conversation with Charles Walters. We found one of the last talks of his career, and it was aptly titled, “Then, Today & Tomorrow.” Given in 2006, you will find it’s still relevant today.

Charles passed away a couple years later, so I guess we are in his tomorrow. To all those listening, let’s keep up the good work, keep our food connected to nature, and feel blessed to have those who came before us pave such a clear path ahead.

 

 

 

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Tractor Time Episode 17: Brendon Rockey, Potato Farmer, Speaker

July 12, 2018

Today’s guest is Brendon Rockey, a third-generation Colorado potato farmer. He spoke last October at a soil health conference near Greeley, close to our office, and when I wandered down to hear his talk, I was a bit surprised. We are surrounded by conventional ag folks in the Greeley, Colorado, area, but instead of talks about spraying schedules and storage tanks, I heard a guy talking about a wildly diverse field, about growing at 7,000 feet above sea level, about the importance of microbial life in the soil, and even how his neighbors even called him “weird.” As soon as I heard all that, I was pretty sure we had an Acres U.S.A. guy in Brendon.

Turns out, we did. He will be speaking at our conference this year in Louisville, Kentucky, about what he does on his farm, and how he went from “weird” to the envy of his community.

Today, we’re going to talk to Brendon about this journey, and explore his farming techniques that go against a lot of conventional thought, and talk to him a bit about his quinoa crops as well.

Learn more about Brendon Rockey here, and his farm here

Learn more about the 2018 Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show, where Brendon Rockey will be speaking in December, here.

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Tractor Time Episode 16: Douglass DeCandia, Farmer and Advocate Against Food Apartheid

June 21, 2018

Welcome to our 16th episode of Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the voice of eco-agriculture. My name is Ryan Slabaugh, and we are fired up to bring you another hour of conversation about ecology, agriculture, and this hour, we’re even talking about saving the world.

We have two guests on our show today. One is Mary Battjes, and I have the pleasure of working every day with Mary. She’s our project manager, and recently wrapped up a survey of young farmers around the country and world. We spoke with a lot of them, and found their look at the world and their role in the world so inspiring. Speaking generally, they want the same things most of us want — safety, security, family and a healthy environment. Yet, they see the obstacles very clearly. Climate change. Technology disruption. And an economy that favors the big devouring the small.

Yet, there is hope. And it comes in the form of our second guest, Douglass DeCandia, a young farmer from New York. He grows food using natural methods, but he does so with an even greater purpose – to serve those who are forgotten by our food system, who are systematically discriminated against because of who they are, where they are from or where they live. His “farm,” and he uses quotation marks around that so I will ask him about that later, serves youth and adults who are incarcerated, students at a school for the deaf, and young adults who are part of a residential treatment program. He also supports a number of his area’s food growing products, and when we talked to him today, he was wandering around the gardens at the school for the deaf.

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Tractor Time Episode 15: Dr. Nasha Winters, Author and Health Consultant

June 8, 2018

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time Podcast by Acres USA. I’m your host, Ryan Slabaugh, and today’s guest is Dr. Nasha Winters.

I met Dr. Nasha Winters last year at our conference in Columbus, Ohio. I had heard about her talk from the large number of people who walked out inspired. After meeting her, I can understand why. She was unassuming, funny and presented a message about human health that made a lot of sense. About how we create environments in our own body – similar to how we create environments in our physical world – that either promote and foster health, or the opposite – disease and injury.

On this subject, she wrote her book, The Metabolic Approach to Cancer, which quickly became a hit with our audience of farmers and good food advocates. So much so, that at last year’s conference, we sold out of her books before her book signing. Oops. We’ll bring more this year, as she is returning to teach a full-day class on her approach to health in Louisville, Kentucky, Dec. 4-7.

Dr. Nasha Winters is the founder, CEO and visionary of Optimal Terrain Consulting. She is a naturally board certified naturapathic doctor, licensed accupunturist and a fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology. She lectures all over the world and consults on projects, including the ketogenic diet, which is showing huge promise. 

Learn more about her at https://optimalterrainconsulting.com/.

Learn more about the 2018 Acres U.S.A. Conference at www.acresusa.com/events.

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Tractor Time Episode 14: Neal Kinsey, Hands On Agronomy

May 21, 2018

It’s that sound again – tractors, the voice of Charles Walters, and that happy little strum. It all means we are launching into a second season of Tractor Time Podcast by Acres U.S.A., the podcast for farmers who care about the Earth. My name is Ryan Slabaugh, and I’m lucky enough to be your host for a second season.

We have a lot in store this year. We are going to talk about a lot of eco-farming tactics and methods. We’re going to go back in time and listen to age-old talks that still apply today. We’re going to talk about with surveyers about the loss of farmland, and what you and I can do about it. Our goal this year is to also make sure we are talking with young f armers, to better understand how they see themselves fitting into the future of agriculture. Anyway, we’re so excited, we hope you are too. 

Today’s episode, like our very first episode, starts with the voice of Charles Walters. Charles started Acres USA in 1971 as a vehicle to report on the challenges facing small farms, and to help give farmers a resource for good, healthy, ecological growing in the face of large-scale toxic takeovers of our methods.

In today’s talk that we are re-airing from an Acres USA Eco-Ag conference in 1993, Charles introduces us to Neal Kinsey, who at the time, was new to the Acres USA family, and working on his legendary book, Hands on Agronomy. The book has sold thousands of copies to farmers and growers all over the world.

In this talk, again from 1993, Neal talks about the premises of his book, Hands on Agronomy. Enjoy, and thanks for joining us again for another season of Tractor Time.

Find all the Tractor Time episodes here, or on iTunes

 

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Tractor Time Episode 13: 2017 Conference Highlights — Dr. Vandana Shiva, André Leu and Ronnie Cummings

December 21, 2017

Welcome to another great episode of Tractor Time. We’re coming off a high from our 42nd annual Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show in Columbus, Ohio, and wanted to use this podcast to help us celebrate the highlights.

There were many. They included the 1,100 people who attended from 15 different countries, who gathered to hear diverse and interesting viewpoints on ecology and agriculture. Not only did we learn about the finer points of soil nutrition, micronutrients, microbiology, micro fungi, but we also learned about the larger picture, and how ecologically based agricultural practices can benefit all of our global systems, from climate change to world peace.

If that’s a lot to get your head around, we feel you. Many of our conferencegoers came up to us and asked, “Now what?” They left feeling empowered and knowledgeable and motivated.

And that’s what made our plenary panel stand out, and why we are going to feature it on this podcast. On Friday morning, we were lucky to have Acres U.S.A.’s Fred Walters lead a discussion between Dr. Vandana Shiva, a peace and food health advocate who came all the way from India, and André Leu, president of IFOAM, who came from Australia, and Ronnie Cummings, founder of the Organic Consumers Association, an international group focused on real change in our food supply.

Each took 20 minutes to discuss their take on what is happening in agriculture, in the organic and sustainability movements, and why they remain so positive despite all the challenges and hurdles we have to overcome. I can’t wait for you to hear from our panel, and will let you get right to it.

One side note before we begin: you can find free video of this event at www.acresusa.com, and you can also order or purchase audio any of our other classes to help your eco-education. 

Anyway, this is our last podcast of 2017, and we wanted to also say thanks for a great year, and here’s to an even better 2018.

Learn more at www.acresusa.com.

 

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Tractor Time Episode 12: Edwin Blosser, Farmer & Founder of Midwest Bio-Systems

November 3, 2017

It’s Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres USA, the Voice of Eco Agriculture. This was recorded on Nov. 2, 2017, in Greeley, Colorado.

We’re going deep into eco-agriculture this hour. This episode's guest is Edwin Blosser, a longtime instructor in the art of crafting and utilizing high-quality compost in production-scale agriculture. He’ll talk about specific compounds in compost to build, advise about cover crops, and help us connect the dots between profitability and soil structure.

But first, I thought I’d share a story. Earlier this week, I got a call from Ulrich Scheyer. For those who don’t know, he’s one of the original advisors to Acres USA, attended our conference early in our history, and now lives in France and leads a team of researchers looking at biodynamics. We’ll share that research at some point once we review it. 

His quote, which is really what I wanted to share, has been my beacon of motivation this week. And a lot of you might benefit. Before hanging up, he told me: “There are a lot of cracks showing in conventional agriculture that my generation helped create, but now the real work begins. Find those cracks. And plant as many of your Acres USA trees in them as you can.”

Plant as many of our Acres USA trees as we can. And that’s what we try to do every day, but we need help. And that brings us back to today’s guest, Edwin Blosser, who never hesitates to teach, share or explain the tactics that has made him successful.

The company he founded, Midwest Bio-Systems, provides compost windrow turners and other equipment, as well as the knowledge needed to economically implement sustainable, organic growing practices. His goal is for farmers to consistently product high-value, highly humified compost. You can learn more at www.midwestbiosystems.com.

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Tractor Time Episode 11: John Kempf, Founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture

October 25, 2017

Tractor Time is back, after harvest, to get back into the swing of recording and broadcasting interviews with your favorite people in sustainable agriculture. And we’re coming back with some thunder. Our guest today is a good friend of Acres USA. John Kempf is the founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a crop consulting company, and is an expert in the field of biological and regenerative farming. A resident of Middlefield, Ohio, Kempf is a farmer who grew up in and remains a part of the Amish community.

John has always sought alternative approaches to prevent damage to crops, and will be leading a two-day class on biological agriculture in December at the 2017 Acres USA Eco-Ag Conference and Trade Show. His class is our most popular so far, in fact, and is filling up fast.

Learn more about us at www.acresusa.com.

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