Archive for November 2018

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. We are happy to be bringing you another episode, our 11th this year and 23rd overall, and I think we’re going to get in at least one more before the end of the year, so stay tuned.

It’s about that time. In a couple days, Acres U.S.A. is hitting the road — or getting on a plane, actually — and heading to Louisville, Kentucky, for our 43rd annual Eco-Ag Conference & Trade show. In the office, we’re at that hybrid stage of nervousness, confidence, anxiety and adrenaline, and our days are filled with all the little odd jobs – cutting badges, ordering bags, shipping off our bookstore – and we know a lot of our listeners who will be attending are doing the same. Getting ready for the week away. 

So we though it’d be appropriate to preview a few of our upcoming speakers on the show today, and include some of our sponsors. We don’t do a lot of advertising or sponsored stuff on this, so forgive us this one time. Plus, these aren’t your normal sponsorship messages. These are folks just like you – passionate about eco-agriculture and making a difference. And paying the bills, of course.

To start, here’s a quick thank you list to the companies and organizations that make our conference, and Acres U.S.A., possible. We don’t thank them enough for their support, so here is a big, giant, thank you to our advertisers, sponsors who make this all possible. Including, those who sponsor this podcast, some of whom we interviewed especially for this episode on all things eco-agriculture:

  • The Savory Institute and their co-founder and CEO Daniela Ibarra-Howell. You can hear an entire interview with Daniela on episode 21. She’s fascinating and her story is inspiring of how we can all see a problem – overgrazing and unsustainable agriculture – and develop a solution that can be applied anywhere in the world.
  • Midwest BioSystems and Edwin Blosser & Company. Edwin is a master at explaining how to use compost on large-scale farms, and we’ll hear from him on that on this episode. He’ll be speaking next week as well, and is just an efficient, patient teacher.
  • Eden Blue Gold. They are passionate about what they do, and the time and effort they’ve put into researching their products. You’ll hear about their process for creating organic inputs for large-scale production.

We also want to thank the following folks:

  • Brandt. They have a whole line of sturdy, well-built farm equipment, and we are kind of in love with their slogan: Powerful Value, Delivered. Yep. That about says it all. They stand by their work. Search for Brandt agriculture tools and you’ll see what we’re talking about.
  • Verde Agritech. Verde’s products are derived from an ancient 570 million years old rock named “glauconitic siltstone”, rich in a mineral called glauconite. The production process is 100% natural.
  • Terreplenish is another great supporter of Acres USA. If you are farming corn, or anything that you need help in retaining your nitrogen in your fields, then I’d encourage you to look up Terreplenish. This is what they do. They have a number of biological, sustainable solutions.

But we are going to lead off our show with a bit from Wil Spencer at Environotics, who will talk about a subject we don’t discuss often on this show – soil life and biodynamics. We talked in late October on the phone about what the licensed holistic naturopath has learned on the subject

Next up, we interviewed James Arpin in late October of 2019 about Eden Blue Gold. The interview may not be what you expect. James wanted to teach us about what he sees as the true differences between plants, animals and humans, and what our similarities, and differences, can teach us about how to interact. How we can heal each other. Here’s James Arden with Eden Blue Gold --   

Our third guest today is Edwin Blosser. His company, Midwest BioSystems, lives the word. When we talked about a year ago, he was looking out his office window at harvesters picking black beans that were going off to Chipotle. We talked about large-scale biological inputs, and what he’s learned from a lifetime of farming. If you’re attending our show, Edwin is a must-see, and find him at his booth, too. I started the conversation by asking him to tell us how he got into farming.

I couldn’t let this completely be finished though without a soundbite from one of our keynote speakers next week – Daniela with the Savory Institute and legendary grower and author Eliot Coleman are two of them, and our third is Joel Salatin with Polyface Farms. I asked him what he liked better, speaking or farming, and this was his answer. He’ll be leading our conference with a resounding presentation on Thursday night.

Now, that’s our show. Thanks for tuning into another episode of Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. Find us at www.acresusa.com, at ecofarmingdaily.com, or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Better yet, come find us in Louisville next week and say hello.

Thanks for listening, and have a great week.

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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.

 

 

 

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