‘Cereal’ #6: Grain Futures

We are the bread system. If you eat bread – or any grains – you are part of it.

So how can we all get involved, and what can we do to usher in the new grains movement to build joy, nutrition and resilience in all of our communities?

In this final episode, we explore what a more efficient, nutritious, regenerative and joyful bread system might look like. We hear some of the ways people are coming together and building networks to strengthen the movement in the UK and further afield.

It’s clear that in this beautifully complex, entangled system, even just a conversation can spark much wider change. This is a story of hope and a blueprint that has the potential to cause reverberations far beyond bread. It turns out that bread is political – and you, too, can take a stand for the world you want to live in. 

This might be our final episode of Cereal, but it isn’t the end – it’s just the beginning! Join the new grains movement. Talk to your local bakers, seek out local millers, thank your farmers, be open-minded, be curious.

A huge thank you to everyone who’s contributed to Cereal. As well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape the series. Thanks to Andrew Whitley (Scotland the Bread), Kim Bell (Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab), Mark Lea (Greenacres Farm), Fred Price (Gothelney Farmer), Steven Jacobs (Organic Farmers & Growers), Ben MacKinnon (E5 Bakehouse), Anne Parry (Felin Ganol), Rupert Dunn (Torth y Tir), Josiah Meldrum (Hodmedods), Tomaso Ferrando (University of Antwerp) and Fintan Keenan. Thanks also to the Lost Revellers and everyone who came to the Nottingham Cereal launch harvest party and lent their voices to make the Flour Ambassador’s Pledge.

This series was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Roddick Foundation. Please listen, share, review and subscribe, and support the farmers instigating change. All six episodes can be found on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama.

Cereal is produced and edited by Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

‘Cereal’ #5: The best thing since sliced bread? Unsliced bread

The UK is the fifth largest economy and has some of the cheapest bread in the world – is that something to be proud of, or is it a convenient outcome of a system that prioritises shareholder profit, fobs off economically deprived people with poor quality food, and throws away a third of what it produces? 

It’s so ingrained in us that cheap food is better for everyone, but in this episode we ask you to stop and really think – are we supporting a system that is efficient for lining the pockets of a few, whilst impoverishing everyone else? 

What if the real cost is our collective health, and the health of the planet? 

Bread is not just money, bread is nourishment, deliciousness, companionship, connectedness, pride, politics.

In this episode we hear from bakers up and down the UK who are redefining the value of bread. Bakers who are making a stand for their communities and the planet. Bakers from some of the most economically deprived areas who are bringing meaning, intention and joy to their baking. Bakers who are being recognised for their craft and sharing the benefits with their local communities. 

This is about food networks, not food chains — this is about reaching true efficiency that takes into account the whole system (health, environment, waste, community, joy), not just the financial balance sheet.

The radical changes that bread has undergone are revealing of much wider truths about our relationships with food, to farmers, with the land, the environment, and with each other. If you eat food, you have a stake in this story.

A huge thank you to everyone who’s contributed to Cereal – as well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape the series. Thanks to Chris MacCormack (Govanhill Bread Man), Theo Laffargue (Riverside Bakery), Catriona Milligan (High Rise Bakers), Kim Bell (Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab), Ben MacKinnon (E5 Bakehouse), and Rupert Dunn (Torth y Tir).

This series was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Roddick Foundation. Please listen, share, review & subscribe, and support the farmers instigating change. All six episodes can be found on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama.

Cereal is produced and edited by Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt. 

‘Cereal’ #2: Nature Hates Uniformity

Most bread we eat today is made using modern wheat varieties bred for uniformity and yield at the expense of our health and our soil. Just as our bread has changed, so have our seeds. 

In this week’s episode, Katie Revell takes us straight to the source and asks: in the face of a climate and health crisis, what seeds should we be sowing? Hear how people like Mark Lea of Greenacres Farm (pictured) are finding ways around oppressive laws and reviving heritage varieties in order to feed people with nutritious grains.

It might get a little technical in places, but stick with us — industrialised wheat covers an estimated 218 million hectares of the planet, more than any other food crop. If we are to feed to the planet in years to come, we need to work in sync with nature and embrace ecological farming systems that support DIVERSITY. 

A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to Cereal – as well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape this series. Thanks to contributors Kim Bell (the founder of Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab), John Letts (Heritage Harvest), Andrew Whitley (Bread Matters, currently based at Bowhouse Fife, chairman of Scotland the Bread), Mark Lea (Greenacres Farm), Rupert Dunn (Torth y Tir), and Josiah Meldrom (Hodmedods). Thank you also to the Oxford Real Farming Conference for their archive recording of the late Professor Martin Wolfe.

This series was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Roddick Foundation. Please listen, share, review & subscribe, and support the farmers instigating change. Episodes are released each Sunday on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama

Cereal is produced and edited by Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

‘Cereal’ #1: Flour, Water, Salt

Bread.

Once the cornerstone of our diet, bread is now, at best a guilty indulgence or, at worst, something to be completely avoided.

How did something so basic, so fundamental, get so complicated? Why are more and more people made sick by this age-old staple?

Introducing our critical new series, CEREAL. Farmerama’s Katie Revell travelled the country to find out how the needs of industrial production have come to dictate the way that seeds are bred, grain is grown, flour is milled, and bread is baked and eaten.

Episode 1 “Flour, Water, Salt”, released today, begins to unveil the truths behind how our bread is made today and its impact on human health and the planet.

We are introduced to the Real Bread Campaign and the bakers and researchers giving rise to a new grains movement that’s good for our soil and our guts.

The radical changes that bread has undergone are revealing of much wider truths about our relationships with food, to farmers, with the land, the environment, and with each other.

If you eat food, you have a stake in this story.

In this episode, we hear from Chris MacCormack – ‘Govanhill breadman’, Kimberley Bell – the founder of Small Food Bakery and UK Grain Lab, Chelsea Marshall  – Trustee of Scotland the Bread, Andrew Whitley – co-founder of Scotland the Bread and The Real Bread Campaign, and Theo Laffargue – baker at Riverside Bakery, Stirling.

Please listen, rate, review & subscribe, and support the movement. Thanks to the Roddick Foundation for their generous support to make this series possible. Episodes are released each Sunday on Soundcloud and all podcasting platforms. And if you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/farmerama

Cereal is produced and edited by  Katie Revell, with support from Abby Rose and Jo Barratt. Suzie MacCarthy and Hanna Söderlund also worked on the series. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

Thanks to Christopher, Ross, Jess, Sabine and Euan for lending your voices. As well as the voices you hear in this episode, many more conversations have helped to shape this series, thank you to everyone involved!

#43: Children growers, travelling cow laboratory, silvopasture, and a taste of sustainable wine

Thank you Tasca D’Almerita for the photo!

This month, we learn about the importance of involving young children in food growing and a much-loved friend of the show shares some wisdom on cattle management. We get an introduction to the whole-system approach of silvopasture, and we taste some natural wine in Sicily.

First up, we heard from Deb Moses, a new farmer who champions the cause of involving the very young in food growing. She realised the power of gardening to inspire very young children when her own son was born, and was amazed to see just how much it changed their relationship to food and flavours when they got involved in growing.

Abby bumped into our old friend Greg Judy, an enthusiastic mob grazer based in Missouri after the Savanna Institute Perennial Farm Gathering in Wisconsin. He explained to her how his herd remineralises the land for him. He also shared his thoughts on running a single large herd all year round, including 50 bulls, to mimic what happens in nature.

Steve Gabriel, an ecologist, educator and forest farmer from the Finger Lakes region of New York was at the Oxford Real Farming Conference earlier this year. We caught up with him about his ideas on silvopasture, including some great tips on integrating trees, grasses and animals in a single system. Steve explained that the biggest challenge he has faced in setting up his own silvopasture system has been to get the trees established in the first place.

We joined a wine tasting session in Sicily with Fabrizia Lanza and Alberto Tasca. They are well-known in Italy for promoting sustainability and the use of indigenous grapes. Alberto shared with us his feelings on the importance of measurement, the value of knowledge sharing and the need to look beyond flashy story-telling. The Anna Tasca Lanza cooking school has a 10 week “Cook the Farm” program which runs each year.

Finally, a heads-up. Public consultation has finally begun on the “Good Food Nation Bill” in Scotland. Nourish Scotland has put together a really handy guide to the consultation questions. It includes simple explanations of the questions, as well as suggested responses, and you can find the guide on the Nourish website. If you’re in Scotland, take a few minutes to respond – but make sure you do so by the 29th of March when consultation closes.

Thank you to our supporters Rebel Kitchen. Rebel Kitchen chose to become a Certified B Corporation so they could stand up and be proudly measured against the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. They’re honoured to be part of this movement driving change and playing their part in solving world social and environmental problems. They believe in a future where companies not only compete to be the best in the world but also the best for the world.

Farmerama is made by Katie Revell, Jo Barratt and Abby Rose. Thank you Suzie McCarthy for editing support this month. Thank you to Claire Roberson, Sam McKeown and James Fryer for sending in recordings this month. Community support is by Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham, and our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

 

Leah Penniman: Farming While Black

In this special episode, brought to you by Chelsea Green Publishing, we hear from a super inspiring small-scale farmer, Leah Penniman. Leah is a farmer, activist, author and co-founder of Soul Fire Farm in New York: a family farm committed to restoring food-sovereignty and ending injustice in our food system. (Photo: Onion harvest on Soul Fire Farm credit:Leah Penniman).

In the last century, over 14 million acres of land in the US have been taken from the control of black farmers. Leah’s recent book, ‘Farming While Black’, published by Chelsea Green, is a stirring manifesto that aims to reconnect people of colour to the land, in sharing Afro-indigenous traditions and sustainable farming practices that have been aggressively undermined through slavery and colonialism. At Soul Fire Farm, innovative programmes such as the ‘Black-Latinx Farmers Immersion’ and a sliding-scale farmshare ‘CSA’, work to reverse systematic food injustice.

This is a story of one black woman embracing the land and activating a whole community to do the same. The book is at once fiercely political, deeply practical, and unashamedly spiritual, because as Leah shows us…. farming is ALL of those things.

The podcast is brought to you by Chelsea Green Publishing, the leading publisher of books on sustainable food and farming, including Farming While Black by Leah Penniman. To get this book and discover more great titles visit chelseagreen.com

This show is made by Katie Revell, Jo Barratt and Abby Rose. Thanks to Leah Penniman for sharing her recordings of field songs and Yabisi Asili for sharing his experiences. Community support is provided by Annie Landless and Eliza Jenkins.

#39: Beginner farmer tips, Piglet to Plate and small-scale farmers Feed the World

First up this month, farmer, writer and activist, Leah Penniman, of Soul Fire Farm in New York State, shares  3 top tips for farmers who are just starting out. We also hear how Leah is committed to the duty of stewarding life on her farm. Although she herself is a vegetarian, she keeps and kills animals on Soul Fire Farm and shares the knowledge of these practices with others. (The photo this month is from Soul Fire Farm. Credit: Leah Penniman.)

Leah has just written a book, Farming While Black, which is both a manifesto and a manual. It includes recipes, wisdom from diasporic African farmers, and practical techniques for setting up a small-scale farm.

You can hear much more from Leah in our special episode (out November 4th), brought to you by Chelsea Green Publishing, which digs deeper into her story of Farming While Black.

 

Continuing the somewhat taboo theme of killing animals, we hear from Millie Diamond in north Wales. Through her @piglet2plate Instagram account she candidly shares her experience of keeping, killing and eating her own pigs.

 

Next up, we head to London and the We Feed the World Exhibition on London’s South Bank. We hear from speakers on the opening night, including Theo Sowa of the African Women’s Development Fund. Theo tells us how the We Feed the World exhibition begins to challenge the dangerous myths of industrial agriculture and presents an alternative story about the passionate smallholders who understand and care for the land.

 

Finally Vandana Shiva shares with us some powerful reflections on what the We Feed the World exhibition means for all of us. She leaves us with her compelling call to action, stating that “it is not a luxury, but an imperative to defend the small-scale farmers of the world”!

We would like to thank Rebel Kitchen for supporting this episode. Rebel Kitchen are all about redefining health. But they have a different kind of health message, and we think that’s great. It’s a health message that doesn’t separate the individual from the whole, and that’s based on actions instead of preaching – because, as they point out, it’s all connected. Amen to that!

Farmerama is produced by Jo Barratt, Abby Rose, and Katie Revell. Social media is led by Annie Landless with Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham, and the music is by Owen Barratt.

#33: Kitchen Table talks, Jersey soils, trade deals, pig clubs and bee-lieving

This month we have a political focus and still manage to squeeze in some brilliant stores of soils and microbes. Firstly we share some personal stories from a ‘kitchen table talk’, on what good food means to the people of Scotland. These Kitchen Table Talks are a way of enabling the public to feed their ideas into the Good Food Nation Bill, you can hear more about this initiative from Nourish Scotland in this Short.

We hop over to Jersey to hear from young farmer Justin Le Gresely at Anneville Farm about their first attempt to produce potatoes and vegetables with zero external inputs. He shares how they’re using microscopes and compost extracts to guide bacterial and fungal populations trying out an innovative approach to growing the island’s favourite potato, the Jersey Royal.

REMINDER: If you do live in the UK, then there’s only a few days left to respond to the consultation on the Agricultural Bill “Health and Harmony: the future for food, farming and the environment in a Green Brexit”, which sets out the government’s ambitions for farming in England and seeks the views of all readers on its proposals.

This will dictate government policy in farming (and food!) for many years to come, and now is the time to get your voice heard. Have your say here! It’s not just farmers who need to respond, but anyone who cares about the environment or eats food. So… that’s everyone, then.

Next we have an update from Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University London, in conversation with reporter Marianne Landzettel on ‘Green Brexit’ and trade deals.

We’re happy to revisit Jubilee Farm in Northern Ireland, to hear an update from their CSA and head farmer Jonny Hanson chats to Dr Jude Stephens, a smallholder-turned-lecturer at Queens University Belfast, about the promise of Pig Clubs — intrigued? We are!

The show ends with a catchy tune from the bee-lievers, ooh Mr Gove, we sincerely hope you’re listening. 🐝 🐖🍭🍏

#30: Gove, agri-CULTURE, Human Ecology, Sanfoin and Pollarding

Hello and welcome to Farmerama, episode 30! This month we bring you stories from the 9th Annual Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC). The Conference this year was a bit different as politics took centre stage, we have a few words from Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in conversation with Zac Goldsmith. His positive words we hope will bring positive actions.

A brilliant part of the conference was the launch of The Soil Never Sleeps, a book of poetry from the Pasture Fed Livestock Association (PFLA), written by their poet-in-residence Adam Horowitz – you can get a copy here. We hear two PFLA farmers, Fidelity Weston and Chris Jones, share their experiences of working with a poet and read poems written about their farms.

Human Ecology and holistic food systems in cities are explained by Abi Morden of Propagate, who run Glasgow based food projects. Richard Smith, farm manager at Daylesford talks about his favourite crop, Sanfoin and just how beneficial it can be.

Finally we hear from Ted Green who is focused on pollarding for fodder – if that doesn’t mean anything to you (it didn’t to some of us) then listen in and all will be revealed!

This episode was produced by Abby Rose, Jo Barratt, and Katie Revell. Thank you to Joy Rose, Annie Landless and James Fryer for helping us capture stories at the conference. Thank you also to the wonderful fiddler Becky Dellow who played the music at the start of the show, performed between poems from the Soil Never Sleeps launch. And thank you also Katherine, Nessie and the ORFC team for making ORFC 18 such a success and pleasure to cover!

#29: Biodynamic vines, Catalonian chickens & medicinal plants

We have passed the darkest day here in the UK, every new day eeks out a few moments more light. To tide us over this month we have some slightly longer stories for you from 3 young farmers scattered across the globe.

First up, is young Welsh biodynamic farmer Dave Morris. He grows and makes natural wine at Ancre Hill Estates in Monmouthshire, Wales. Biodynamic farming is often seen as pretty esoteric but Dave makes it all seem fairly straightforward and sensible.

To get a biodynamic certification you must prepare and use both the 500 and 501 sprays. Preparation 500 is an animal horn manure and Preparation 501 is animal horn silica. Dave explains how he uses each in the vineyard.

We hear from Jaume Pretel, a chicken farmer in Catalonia who is moving towards making a living off the land and why he is doing this. Finally, Ari de Leña is the owner-operator of community-supported Kamayan Farm, near Seattle. As well as being a farmer, Ari is also an educator with a focus on the land and plants as medicine.

For the year ahead we’re excited to hear more stories from the fields, what’s important to you? We make Farmerama to share knowledge amongst the independent farming community so if you’ve got another story for us, do let us know.

A very happy new year to you all!

This episode was produced by Katie Revell, Jo Barratt and Abby Rose. Thanks to Joel Rodker for sending in the story about Catalonian chickens and to Annie Landless for all her support on social media.

If you have something you’d like to share, please get in touch. We’re farmeramaradio@gmail.com and you can find us easily on twitterinstagram and facebook.