#23 Indigenous Soils, regenerative farming in Malawi, Essex Sea Buckthorn & no-till Meet the Farmers

This month we begin with our first report from the SoilHack gathering, a wise lady, Mama D explores how our cultural roots are entwined with the soil. We visit the Tiyeni project in Malawi, started by local farmers to regenerate soils and bring food security back to local people. We hear from Tiyeni Senior manager, Isaac Monjo Chavula, about the Tiyeni deep bed method and why it’s so important for food security and Albert Msuku speaks about the posiive impact it’s having for farmers. Then we are back in the garden of England talking to Essex farmer David Eagle about his Sea Buckthorn setup and how he and his son, Ben, are dealing with the ever encroaching sea chipping away at their farmland – being so exposed to the changing climate and seas has changed their long-term plans for the farm. Plus we get a short snippet from Ben’s podcast, Meet the Farmers, where he is talking no-till with a neighbour, David Lord.

Thank you to all who contributed to this episode – and to all those who listen. Farmerama is here for you! This episode was crafted and produced by Abby Rose, Jo Barratt and Katie Revell. Special thanks to Bex Kelley for sorting the recordings from Malawi.

#22 Beauty, land, rewilding, upland sheep farming, spiritual ecology – how farming fits into the future of a Britain built on beauty

This month’s episode is a little different to usual as we weave in and out of a conversation we had with Dame Fiona Reynolds, former Director-General of the National Trust.

Her recent book The Fight for Beauty is a call to arms for all of us to pay more attention to matters of the earth and oceans. Fiona charts the power of the people who have fought for their right to beauty over hundreds of years of land disputes in the UK. Of course farming and fishing communities feature heavily in this fight. We caught up with Fiona and she told us how she sees farming fits into the future of a Britain built on beauty.

We are well aware that beauty seems a little airy-fairy and disconnected from the realities of running a farming business. But please do hear us out to the end…this is about bringing power back to the people.

As Fiona discusses beauty and rewilding we hear from upland organic sheep farmer (with a passion for whole thinking), Martin Peck, asking his long-time neighbour and fellow upland sheep farmer, Rees Roberts, for some of his thoughts on these topics. It’s brilliant to hear the views of an upland sheep farmer, this voice is so often missing from the rewilding debate. Rees Roberts is from Dyffryn Tanat (The Tanat Valley), Powys. He still practices Hafod a Hendre known as transhumance in English – hafod meaning a farm on the higher pastures where he takes the sheep during the Summer (haf is Welsh  for summer) and hendre, the old settlement or farm where the sheep go for the Winter.

We also hear from spiritual ecologist and artist behind The Milking Parlour, Nessie Reid for a completely different perspective on beauty and being.

#21 Care farming around the world, cover crop porridge, small farmers activism, purple corn and Pasture for Life Poetry

This month we hear from Robin Asquith, Yorkshire-based Care Farm Manager at Camphill Village Trust, about an amazing variety of Care Farming projects he visited around the world as part of his Nuffield Farming Scholarship. From a farm in the Netherlands employing many homeless people picking tomatoes to help them gain confidence in working life, to Norwegian care farms where people suffering from dementia get to enjoy the outdoors and be part of an active community regardless of their memory loss. We would like to say a special thank you to Robin for sending in that recording, he contacted us on twitter and we helped him to make that recording with someone from his community. It’s really important to us to help farmers get their voice heard and if you would like to feature on the programme, please do get in touch. We’ll work with you to support you in getting a recording together.

Next up Darla Eno catches up with Paula Gioia, a member of La Via Campesina, the global peasants’ movement. Paula talks about the importance of international solidarity between small-scale farmers and the challenge of balancing activism with farm work. Paula also digs into this word ‘peasant’ in German, drawing out important distinctions about the type of farming it is linked to. In English it seems we have one word for all land-workers, ‘farmers’, as peasant often means many other things. What do you think and what landworker ‘label’ do you feel comfortable with? Please do let us know on twitter, instagram or facebook!

We speak to sustainable chef, Tom Hunt, about the unusual dish he put together for the recent Dan Barber food-waste restaurant in London, wastED. This is where farming methods meet food – as crop rotations begin to craft the plate. Clover anyone?

Abi Glencross hears from Shelley Spruit of Against the Grain Farms in Canada, about what it has taken to put purple corn on the map and why it is such an important move.

We also have a special treat – some poetry written at this year’s Oxford Real Farming Conference by Adam Horovitz who is the poet-in-residence at The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association. We think this is a brilliant idea – showing that culture and agri-culture are so entwined.

Thanks as ever to the wonderful farmers out there working with and caring for the land and seas, ensuring everything in the ecological web thrives. We are here to support you!

This month we have had reporting from Robin Asquith & Abby Rose, Abi Glencross, Darla Eno and the show was produced and edited by Abby Rose, Katie Revell and Jo Barratt.

#20 Halal & Tayyib meat, Open Food Network UK, tips for growing veg in harsh conditions & crafting human-scale CSA tools

This month we celebrate the dawn of Spring as we bring you stories from many different communities across the UK: Muhsen Hassanin of Abraham Organics, a specialist Halal and Tayib Meat supplier, gives us the low-down on halal and the meat they supply to the Muslim community in London. We hear how the Open Food Network (OFN) works from OFN UK head Lynne Davis and Mark Harrison, farmer at Stroud Community Agriculture, tells us how they are using OFN to expand their business plus reduce waste from surplus crops. Next, we hear clever tips from Ed Hamer at Chagfood CSA in Devon, about growing great veg on the wild exposed moors (and more generally growing great veg in the face of unpredictable british weather). Finally Ben Raskin of the Soil Association/CSA Network UK hears from Plotgate CSA growers about the human-scale tools they are crafting to support people caring for the land. Thanks for listening and supporting the smaller scale farming community – it’s an exciting time for the future of farming!

Produced and edited by Jo Barratt, Abby Rose & Katie Revell.

#18 Thoughts from the ORFC, productivity of small-scale farmers, street play and diversity in storytelling, forest fires in Chile, soil life and no-dig insights.

For much of the farming community in the northern hemisphere, January is time to engage in conversation and share ideas and so we headed to the 8th Annual Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) at Oxford Town Hall, where over 800 farmers, chefs, makers, scientists and activists came together to share highs and lows encountered on the journey towards an agro-ecological future. This is a conference where communal silence is the welcome call and singing and stomping are part of the programme.

We have a few stories from the conference to share with you, firstly market gardener Rebecca Laughton from the Landworkers Alliance tells us about her investigations into the productivity of small-scale producers. We get stuck into no-dig experiments with Charles Dowding, learning about soil biology and the intriguing results from his latest forking trials. You can hear more about And finally we hear from Ashwini Shannikodi about Street Play as tool to tackle social problems in rural farming communities in India, as well as the importance of women in farming.

Abby also reports from Chile where she is currently evacuated from her family’s farm, vidacycle, as some of the largest forest fires in Chile’s history surround them.

Thank you all for listening to Farmerama this month and every month and thank you to all this month’s contributors Joy Rose, Darla Eno, Nigel Akehurst, Lauren Simpson, Phil Moore and Richard White at ORFC and Owen Barratt, who recorded the new music we have on this show.

Farmerama is produced by Jo and Abby and presented with Nigel.

#17 A zero-waste food system, pigness of pigs and sustainable woodlands

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In the depths of the long dark nights we wanted to do something a little different, so we headed to Silo in Brighton to record with special co-host, eco-chef Doug McMaster. He tells us all about his zero-waste philosophy and how this simple starting point has transformed what it means to prepare and serve food. We also hear what it means for a farmer to supply a zero waste restaurant, from Silo supplier Emile Webber and partner Miriam. They rear Large Black pigs at Hathor Farm, part of the Sacred Earth Community in Sussex.

Abby heads to the ancient woodlands of Norfolk to hear from Teddy Brun and son Freddie about the craft of managing these wonderful woodlands sustainably and profitably, now and for many generations to come using single tree selection.

Over in Gloucestershire, Abby and Nigel headed to a Sustainable Food Trust event discussing the future of livestock where they met Joel Salatin. Joel is a world-renowned alternative thinking mixed livestock farmer from Virginia, we will hear from him over the next few episodes but this month he tells us about his tips for respecting the pigness of the pig and what future technologies he would like to see.

Farmerama is produced by Jo and Abby and presented with Nigel.

#16 Agroforestry, small data, food sovereignty and people’s food policies

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Farmerama have learnt that farming’s best economic models mimic nature’s clever ways and make many things from the same piece of land.

Farmer Stephen Briggs tells us about one of these clever models. He fills us in on his  agroforestry setup or ‘3D farming’, where he grows organic apples and cereals on his 150 acres in Cambridgeshire. We also hear a few thoughts from Ben Raskin, head of horticulture at the Soil Association, who is just starting a new agroforestry project in Wiltshire at Helen Browning’s Organic Farm.

Our co-host Abby shares a tool she initially created for her family’s farm to help them build a more resilient business using ‘small data’. Now other farmers are using it in the UK and Chile, in particular we hear from Davenport Vineyards about how they have used it to help their vineyard prosper.

We finish with a bit of a food sovereignty focus – two reports from different ends of Britain both building people’s food policies: in Scotland we hear about the ‘Good Food Nation Bill’ and Dee Butterly, talks us through ‘The People’s Food Policy’ supported by The Landworker’s Alliance. In our divided world we wonder if food and farming could be a web that will connect us all.

Farmerama is produced by Jo and Abby and presented with Nigel. Reporting this week was from Nigel, Abby, Katie and Phil. This week we have additional sound design by Eight Fold Way, music by Michael and we have much appreciated social media support from Madeline and Richard.

#15 Dairy farming tips, transparent pricing, cheap soil testing, Wwoofing and a roundup from the first Scottish Farmhack

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After last month’s words from farmers around the world at the Slow Food Terra Madre, we are now back on British soil with stories from Perthshire to Devon.

We start on the west coast, with Patrick Holden from the Sustainable Food Trust. Patrick tells us about how he makes the most of the by-products from his dairy farm thanks to local producers Illtud & Leisel, and what a positive effect transparent pricing could have on all farmers.

We hear about a great little trick for soil testing on the cheap – the TBI – from systems thinker Dr Tom Powell. He used this technique to sample a Field of Wheat at many locations earlier this year to compare ‘underground’ activity in the soil.

And then we are in Shropshire to find out about some of the ups and downs of Wwoofing from Barbara at Babbinswood Farm. Wwoof UK celebrated its 45th birthday a few weeks ago and it’s great to hear about the contribution wwoofer’s have brought to Barbara’s farm, and how she has contributed to them.

Finally, we get a collection of dispatches from the first Scottish Farmhack organised by Common Good Food, an experience that had many people excited to share ideas and co-create tools – including new methods for crafting with the community minded MakLab.

You can listen online here or subscribe on iTunes here

We would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts about what’s good and bad in Farmerama! We are always looking for more contributors, ideas, anecdotes or stories from farmers and their friends all over – so please do get in touch if you have something you want to share!

Thanks to this month’s contributors Carolin Goethel at Food Assembly, Abi Glencross at Future Farm Lab, Keesje Crawford-Avis at The Burmieston Project , Abby Rose at vidacycle tech (and Farmerama) and of course our podcasting crafter Jo Barratt.

#14 Voices from around the world, storytelling fishers, an open-source tractor, holistic management, multiple suckling calves & eco-gastronomy

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We recorded Farmerama ‘live’ from Turin, Italy this month where thousands of small-scale farmers, shepherds, fishers, chefs and people committed to more resilient food systems from over 100 hundred countries around the world have come together to celebrate and share food and farming knowledge at the Slow Food Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, it’s like the UN for food systems.

In Turin eco-gastronomer David Szanto from the University of Gastronomic Sciences tells us about feeding all of our senses, fisherman Paul Molyneaux shares storytelling as an alternative to certification and we hear the united voices of farmers from around the globe coming together thanks to the Slow Food Network.

Back home the holistic management framework gives mob-grazer Rob Havard some clear goals at home and in the fields, Will Edwards has a super simple calf-feeding technique for his dairy herd and Alabama-based Locky shares about the Ogunn Tractor an open-source, easily fixable tractor.

If you want to find out more about Holistic Management, RegenAg UK are putting on a weekend introduction to financial and grazing planning 20-22 November, you can find out more here.

Reflections on Terra Madre compiled from different people’s voices:

The beauty of Terra Madre is saved in the smiles.

We walk differently, dress differently, communicate differently, yet we share soil moisture tips, ways of preparing foods, how to bring the hope back home.

The power lies in knowing, we now see the world with new eyes, we are not alone.

We may return to our villages or cities a single voice, but when we close our eyes we know the thousands of other people alone on hillsides, with small restaurants in distant towns, all caring for the land, bringing tasty, nourishing food to schools and hospitals, feeding 70% of the planet using only 30% of the resources.

We are all part of this web that is woven cross-continents and oceans.

They are giants, but we are millions.

Field Report Urban Food Fortnight

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We teamed up with Urban Food Fortnight to do a Farmerama Field report special. Listen in here http://farmerama.co/ to hear about some of the amazing growing, making, cooking and saving projects and events happening in London this week and next…and best of all pick up some great tips, thoughts and ideas from GrowUp Urban Farms The Dusty Knuckle Bakery Plan Zheroes Oliver Rowe