Welcome to our two year anniversary edition (YAY!) of Farmerama supported by the brilliant E5 Bakehouse, an East London bakery pushing the boundaries of baking: exploring and innovating from grain to oven to make the best bread. They work closely with farmers and have even started growing grains themselves, which they then mill on site.
At Farmerama we’re here to bring you stories from farmers and growers around the UK, we want to get stuck into uncovering the nitty gritty of producing – things like soil experiments, choosing different seed varieties, and exploring sustainable or resilient food systems.
This month Soil health and tree expert Niels Corfield shares the 6 Soil Health Principles that can help anyone working on the land, at any scale, to make soil-friendly management decisions.
New contributor Marianne Landzettel sends dispatches from the Netherlands, where a biodynamic Dutch grower and breeder is working to establish blight-resistant potatoes that are yummy and also drought-resistant.
Dung sausages are up next, as we hear from Dr Sarah Beynon, a researcher and farmer at Dr Beynon’s Bug farm in Wales. She tells us about a rather intriguing creature, the Dung Beetle that is working hard beneath our feet.
Finally, Cheese-man and Daphne Zepos Award winner, Sam Frank, takes us on his journey across Europe, as he visits farmers and cheesemakers who work with native dairy breeds. Sam shares some of the highs and lows of the state of the industry.
This show was created by Jo Barratt, Abby Rose and Katie Revell. Thanks so much to Marianne for the additional reporting and to our supporters E5 Bakehouse.
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.
Invitation to an event:
Wednesday 4th Jan 16:15 – 17:45 we are co-hosting a small informal meeting for young farmers during the ORFC and OFC at St Aldates Tavern, 108 St Aldates, Oxford, OX1 1BU
We are gathering a small group of young farmers, from a mix of backgrounds, to come along and share their stories, the challenges they face and their hopes for the future.
We recognise there are two events happening at the same time in the same town and we think it’s important that as the next generation of farmers we start to build bridges across that divide – and begin a conversation, share our stories, share a common understanding which we can build learning and friendships from. Farming in the UK is not easy for anyone and this is a time to start learning with each other.
Please do come along if this interests you, we welcome anyone including those not young in years but young at heart!
This will begin a series of events, blogs and other things to try and bring together farmers from all walks of life and to communicate the views of young farmers.
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.
We are at a crossroads in British food and farming history, so this month we begin to probe the post-Brexit discussion. We hear a few candid kitchen-table chats with different farm families, including Ed Hamer, grower at Chagfood and policy person at Land Workers Alliance.
Soil tests are untangled, the hidden truths behind the tests is revealed after National Trust Farmer Richard Morris raises some questions, which Innovation for Agriculture soil-man Stephen Briggs answers for us all.
We learn about practical knowledge sharing platform Agricology, which bridges the gap between science and what really happens on the farm. Plus, we hear about one of the projects they feature on their site: Fit for the Future Network, a network that shares experiences of renewable energy between newcomers and people/institutions with established projects.
Future Farmer Amy Franceschini tells us about the heritage seeds headed from Norway to the Middle East, returning to their homeland on an artistic voyage of discovery, the Seed Journey.
This is the beginning, we all need to sew the seeds of an agricultural policy that leads to a positive food and farming future in the UK.
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!
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.