#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.

#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.

#19 Traditional methods & new tools, future growers, rewilding and Cambodian learnings

As Spring draws nearer we bring you Joel Salatin talking traditional methods and modern tools. Joel calls this new-fashioned farming, where systems such as cow-feed lots and high chemical input systems are now old-fashioned. We also have an example of new-fashioned farming in action from Angus, Scotland where Pasture For Life farmers, Andrew Brewster and his brother have cattle on 900 acres. He tells us about the low-tech tools and setup they put together to get their rotational grazing off the ground.

We begin to unpick the world of rewilding with Steve Carver of the Wild Land Research Institute. This is something that has caused much debate and upset amongst farmers, conservationists and wildlife fans alike. Steve explains that it’s not anti-farming at all and emphasises that we all need to work together to create connected habitats up and down the country.

Next up are despatches from the Soil Association Future Growers apprenticeship, a very popular way for new farmers to learn about growing veg. We hear from current students, alumnae Laura Newman and organiser Rachel Harries to get different perspectives. Finally we hear from Cambodian farmers and teachers about their experience of learning to grow organically thanks to the Green Shoots Foundation.
So many thanks to our contributors this month, Muneezay Jaffery and Joy Rose. Farmerama was produced by Jo Barratt and Abby Rose.

#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.

#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.

#12 Growing garlic, apprenticeships near and far, neo-peasant politics plus diverse cropping techniques home and abroad

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We’ve now been following the nitty gritty of the smaller-scale farming world for one growing year. One journey of this world around the sun. We’ve chanced upon and dug up so many stories, met inspirational farmers and growers. The podcast has spiralled from a discussion over dinner, into an adventure uncovering different ideas, perspectives and techniques along the way.

This episode we head back to Utah but this time for a garlic special in the Wasatch mountains at Sandhill Farms. They grow over 50 types of garlic and tell us tips of how to grow garlic yourself. Hannah hears inspiring stories from a Dagenham trainee about the importance of farming opportunities for her life.

Diverse cropping is on the cards, we learn of long-established Mexican intercropping methods and companion cropping closer to home.Finally we hear from new reporter Phil as he chats to one of his small-farm heroes, Chris Smaje at Vallis Veg about neo-peasant politics. Listen in to find out what it’s all about!

#11 Organic Soil-less Growing?, landscape based eating, the ultimate salad harvester, crowdfarming, Food Assembly plus farmer to farmer advice networks in Kenya and Peru

Farmerama-ers…this episode we are brimming with innovations and new perspectives from all over the world. We enjoy crowd-farming oranges in Valencia, WeFarm’s farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing in Kenya and Peru and the community fuel of Food Assemblys around the country – all part of a panel discussion we chaired at the ReWork Future of Food Summit. Ben Raskin is back as he chats to Alan Schofield about an organic perspective on hydroponics, can soil-less growing be organic? Abby gets the low-down on a super salad tool from Pete at Sandhill Farms in Utah, and we learn how to eat our way to a stable climate by becoming climavores: landscape-based eating as proposed by design studio Cooking Sections.

#9 SoilCity in Glasgow, Farmhack, urban farm updates, poetic landscapes and glasshouses, plus rural entrepreneurs

The Farmerama family is ever-growing, artist Alec Finlay sets the tone for this month’s adventures with his eco-poetry and the lineage of landscapes echoing throughout the episode. Alec’s performance is part of our report on Soil City at Glasgow International Festival, designed to reimagine the city as if soil matters. Clem Sandison tells us why the Open Jar Collective created Soil City for Glasgow, and Rebecca Chan chats to Severine von Taschen Fleming who led a Farmhack planning night for the Scottish contingent.

Ben pays a visit to the glasshouses at Hankham Organics for the Organic Growers Alliance AGM, Pete takes us on a tour of these glass giants and Kate Collyns lets us in on what being part of Organic Growers Alliance has meant for her growing.

Lambs-a-plenty over at Hockham Farm mean that Nigel is on duty day and night, luckily we do get to hear his voice among the masses over at the Farmers For Action March in London. He reports as farmers from all over the country downed their tools to spend hours travelling on buses and trains to get to London to make their voices heard.

Keesje brings to light how important the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Program has been for herself and other graduates, and Hannah brushes the soil from her hands just long enough to have a chat with Shelagh Martin, for the latest from the Dagenham farm.

Thanks also to David Szesztay for the beautiful notes guiding us through all these voices and to Olga who made the recordings of Alec at Soil City and sent them our way. What a wonderful bunch of people bringing Farmerama to life this month including everyone tuning in to listen.

#8 The voice of small-holders, business tips for urban gardens, cellular agriculture and organics in Udaipur, India

And we’re off, as we happily hop into another Spring season. Beautiful flowers in bloom, lots of hard work planting veg for the year ahead and baby animals dotting the countryside.

This month we have a new contributor, small-holder Keesje Crawford-Avis heralding from the Scottish highlands. She shares her thoughts from the Scottish small-holder conference, in conversation with the Accidental Smallholder.

Hannah gets very excited about a few very simple business tips for budding urban gardeners that she gleaned from the team at Keats Community Organics in South London.

We have something a little unusual, a very open-minded cellular agriculturist, Abi Glencross, who wants to bring permaculture to the lab and find a way for her tissue cultures to be part of agroecological farming. See what you think…

and then we are brought back to the real world, Udaipur India, where Rohit Jain has helped setup a CSA-style membership model for Banyan Roots, connecting farmers to local people and producing grains with soul.

We also take a moment to acknowledge all those who help make food possible, we must never forget the producers are the linchpin of society. Thank you!! Thank you for caring for the people and our soils.