If you’ve seen the documentary “Sustainable,” you know that Spence Farm is a special place. It’s owned and operated by Marty Travis, along with his wife, Kris and son, Will. Their farm supplies organic vegetables and heritage meats to some of the top kitchens in the City of Chicago — Fronterra Grill, Girl and the Goat and The Publican, to name a few. But that might undersell what Marty and his family have built. The way that they’ve developed relationships, not just with chefs, but also with a network of small farmers, is nothing shorting of astounding. To our mind, Spence Farm is a vision for the future of food. Marty has a new book out titled, “My Farmer, My Customer: Building Business & Community Through Farming Healthy Food” (Acres U.S.A., 2019). It's currently available for pre-order at the AcresUSA.com bookstore. Marty is also a featured speaker at the Acres U.S.A. Eco-Ag Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota in December.
Archive for the 'farmers' Category
Hosted by Ben Trollinger / Editor, Acres U.S.A.
Hello and welcome to Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host, Ben Trollinger, and as always, I want to say thank you to our sponsors, BCS America.
You’re probably heard of kamut (kah-moot), also known as khorasan wheat, also known as King Tut’s Wheat. It’s drought resistant and highly nutritious. It’s in organic breakfast cereals. It’s in pasta. People with gluten sensitivity can eat it. Artisan bakers drool over it.
It’s one of organic farming’s biggest success stories. It’s a story that’s rooted deep in history and it that might just show us the way forward.
I’m joined by Bob Quinn and Liz Carlisle, co-authors of Grain by Grain: A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food.
The book details Quinn’s journey over the last several decades to turn his dryland farm in Big Sandy, Montana into a powerhouse of organic and regenerative agriculture. Through his multi-million dollar heirloom grain company, Kamut International, Quinn has managed to create a durable network of around 200 organic farmers.
Quinn was also instrumental in shaping the country’s first organic food standards back in the late 1990s. Before that, in the 1980s, he helped establish standards for his home state.
Liz Carlisle is a lecturer in the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences at Stanford University. Her first book, Lentil Underground, prominently features Bob Quinn’s work and also won the Montana Book Award and the Green Prize for Sustainable Literature. She’s a forager of regenerative agriculture wisdom — and also a recovering country and western singer.
1 hour, 4 minutes
Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh & Ben Trollinger / Sponsored by BCS America
Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host, Ryan Slabaugh, and as always, I want to say thank you to our sponsors, BCS America. Today’s theme is all about happy pigs, and profitable pig operations, and an interesting breed called Guinea Hogs.
First, I’ve got someone to introduce to everyone this episode. It will be the new host of Tractor Time, which I’m proud to say is Ben Trollinger, the new editor at Acres USA. I’m not going too far, but will stay involved helping Ben produce and grow the podcast, while I get to go focus on getting a few new exciting projects up and running.
Ben will join before he interviews Cathy Payne, our guest on this episode. Cathy is the author of Saving the Guinea Hogs, a new book that is on sale in the Acres U.S.A. bookstore.
First, I recently took a trip to Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, and got a chance to tour their hog operation. To make sure this episode is all pig-themed, I thought I’d share some audio I got from touring their operation.
Thanks again to our listeners and our sponsor, BCS America. You can find this podcast at ecofarmingdaily.com, acresusa.com, or anywhere podcasts can be played. Thanks, and have a great week.
If you want, shoot a note to Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d love to hear from you.
Good day and welcome to Tractor Time, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host Ryan Slabaugh, and I’m happy to bring you the 26th episode of our podcast. Thanks again to Albert Lea seeds for making this episode possible.
A few announcements — Minnesota is the theme of today’s show. Acres USA will be in Minnesota in December for our annual conference, and one of the reasons — other than the great December weather there — is the amount of trailblazing agriculture that is going on in that region. You can learn more about our event at www.acresusa.com — tickets will go on sale later this spring. But before that, we’ll get into some of that agriculture, and talk to some of the country’s original grassfed beef farmers.
Today, we’re going to have two cattlemen on the show to discuss their operations and some current topics, a few of which are creating quite a debate: Matt Maier, with Thousand Hills Cattle in Minnesota, and Will Winter, a teacher of holistic animal medicine and founder of the American Holistic Livestock Association. I met Will at our annual conference a couple years ago, and recognized his trademark cowboy hat and beard. He’s written for our magazine and spoken to our audiences before, and we’re excited to have him on the show today.
I met Matt’s team at our conference last year and learned that they had pursued Savory Institute Hub certification, and are — and have been —leading the way with regenerative agriculture. Their cattle were grazing 365 days a year in Minnesota, which is not an easy thing to accomplish, and takes a disciplined system. Will and Matt worked together in Minnesota at Thousand Hills.
During our talk, they walked me through the Polar Vortex experience, where temperatures reached -30 on their farm, and their reactions to the Green New Deal, as well as sharing some ideas and inspiration for new cattle farmers.
Here’s a video that shows off the environment at Thousand Hills:
Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh
This episode is a bit unique from the others, which are usually done in the comforts of my office back in Greeley, Colorado. For most recordings, it’s me, a microphone, an interview guest and my dog snoring in the corner. If you need the full picture, I even prop a sign up in my windowed door that says, “On Air.” But that’s really just for me – it makes me feel official.
But so does this scene where I am today. Today, we are broadcasting from Belize, specifically, Belmopan, Belize, at the inaugural Tropical Agriculture Festival. We first met one of the organizers, Beth Roberson, a Belizian farmer, in Columbus, Ohio, last year during our annual conference. Beth left inspired to start her own educational conference down here, picked our brains a bit, and recruited some of our speakers and former Tractor Time guests like regenerative poultry specialist Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin and Regeneration International’s André Leu, among others.
Let me set the stage a bit. Belize is a small country of about 350,000 people, just south of Mexico and east of Guatemala. It’s known for having the second largest reef in the world off its coast, and for being an English colony until the early 1980s. The country, very proud of its freedom, is still finding its feet. The Guatemalan president threatens them with invasion, and England still has a small standing army there as a reminder to their neighbors.
Belmopan is a small town of a few thousand, and wears a few scars. The main roads are paved, but most are not, but a fountain roundabout greets visitors on the Western Highway. A bar-restaurant called “Cheers” greets guests as they arrive into town before a roundabout — I met the owner, and she told me she also runs a “small” farm behind it that includes horses, sheep, cattle, goats and chickens, and yes, she composts from the restaurant. On the other side of the highway, the entrance to a national park. Inside the town, a large agriculture grounds with stages, test gardens and plenty of native trees. This is where the festival was held this week.
The event started with the national anthem, sung by an 8-year-old local schoolgirl. It’s clear from the anthem what the country does not want — tyrants and colonizers. And it’s clear that they want to be a free country, although they are still grappling with which economy will drive its future. The tourism economy, which favors hotels and airports and large ports, or a more local economy, where manufacturing, agriculture and other jobs will fill the gap.
Agriculture, though, will have some part. It has to. Or at least, it’d be silly not to. Pineapples, mangoes, bananas, jackfruits, etc. From any city, it doesn’t take long to be in the country, where anyone would be taken in by the variety of flora, fauna and wildlife, which range from toucans to jaguars to crocodiles. Our first hour in the country, as we pulled into our hotel, the sounds of howler monkeys greeted us. (You’ll have to listen to the podcast for the full effect.)
The next day, the conference began. We heard a resounding call to action from Ronnie Cummins, on the board with Regeneration International, which was followed by two days of educational speeches on five different stages, ranging from permaculture to seed saving to agritourism. All were rooted in how Belize can transform its agriculture into one of the world’s best. And no matter what, you have to give something to a country that starts its weekends on Thursday nights.
Here’s what clips you can find on the podcast. Also, you’ll hear some thumping in the background, and truck noise. I apologize for that recording issue – (I wasn’t counting on so much foot stomping on stage when I set up the microphone, nor could I do much about the nearby highway traffic.)
Ronnie Cummins, Board Member of Regeneration International
Here’s that talk from Ronnie that opened up the conference. It’s about 16 minutes, and full of fire and fury.
Taylor Walker, Biodiverse Systems Designer
Next, a highlight I recorded from Taylor Walker. A jack-of-all trades who designs gardens and permaculture environments, including Naples Botanical Gardens, Inland ecology Research Group, Sanibel Sea School and others. In Belize, he is managing Tropical Agro-Forestry farms.
I’ll play a few minutes of his talk, as he walks about 50-60 people in his class through specific plants that grow well in Belize, like bread fruit.
Christopher Nesbitt, Regenerative Agriculturist
Christopher Nesbitt, a regenerative agriculturist, has spent 30 years restoring a piece of damaged land in the Maya foothills. His land is now filled with more than 500 species of plants, all of which are harvestable. His talk was about his work. Here’s just a piece about that biodiversity.
Santiago Juan, Agritourism in Belize
Santiago Juan, born and raised in Cayo District Belize, owns and operates a resort farm in the country. He spoke about agritourism, and how Belize can use its organic lands, pristine wilderness, and local food production to create a unique, authentic experience. One side note: his talk was not without some controversy, as some Belizian farmers weren’t too sure they wanted hoards of camera-toting Westerners posing with their pigs. But alas, the discussion assuaged some fears, and again showed what is to be gained, or lost, in such a wonderful country, one that is still building itself into an autonomous, self-sustained citizen of the world. (And sorry for the popping on this audio. It was lunch time, and the nearby passing trucks’s jake brakes kept blowing out the microphone.)
That’s it — and a few rambles from me. Thanks for reading and listening.
Find the Tractor Time podcast in the iTunes store, or at www.acresusa.com, or at ecofarmingdaily.com. It’s a bunch of other places too. Thanks for helping grow our food – have a great week.
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 the 2018 Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show, where Brendon Rockey will be speaking in December, here.
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.
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.
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.
In this week's episode, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Susan Sink, vice president of development and external relations at American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit organization who collaborates with farmers around the world to help save farmland from development, among many other things.
Susan and the team are based in Washington D.C., and work with policymakers as well to craft major legislation like the Farm Bill, which affects almost every farmer in the country. She and her cohorts travel around and talk with farmers, both conventional and organic, and see how different environments — both political and geographic — affect the agriculture industry across the country.
Susan is also a farmer who has diversified her cattle farm in hopes of finding a way to keep her farm going in a very challenging environment for cattle farmers. She speaks to her own experience, and provides words of wisdom and hope that every farmer out there can hear and appreciate.
Hosted by Ryan Slabaugh.