#57: Fibreshed UK, Chestnuts, The Edible Schoolyard and Welsh Poetry

Credit: @famergala (Instagram)

This month, we’re back to our regular format, bringing you a mix of voices from the regenerative agriculture movement. First up, we hear from Gala Bailey Barker, a first generation farmer at Plaw Hatch Farm. Gala and her mother Deborah Barker, a natural dyer, are establishing Fibreshed UK to bring together all the people involved in a garment’s lifecycle.

Next, we head to Caney Fork Farms in Carthage, Tennessee, a 400-acre organic, 100% grass-fed mixed farm owned by environmentalist and former US vice-president, Al Gore to meet vegetable and agroforestry manager Ranan Sokoloff. Last year, the farm hosted The Climate Underground conference, which explored what it takes to raise food, sink carbon and work towards healthier communities. 

Then, we hear from Angela McKee Brown, deputy executive director of the Edible Schoolyard Project, an initiative founded by celebrated chef Alice Waters. Angela designs and facilitates hands-on educational experiences in gardens, kitchens and cafeterias that connect children to nature, food and each other.

Finally, we come back to the UK to meet shepherd Sam Robinson, another first-generation farmer based in Machynlleth, Wales. The 27-year-old moved from Oxford to the Welsh countryside where he joined a rugby team, became a member of a Welsh choir, got a job on a livestock farm and became fluent in Welsh – all in the space of 18 months. He reads us a poem called Untamed, by Megan Elenid Lewis, which speaks to the heart of rewilding. 

This episode of Farmerama was made by Jo Barratt, Katie Revell, and Abby Rose. We’re extremely grateful to our Patreon supporters, who help us make the show. If you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/Farmerama . Thanks to James Fryer and Cathy St Germans for recording interviews featured in this episode. Community support for Farmerama is provided by Hanna Söderlund, Fran Bailey, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

Farmerama are looking for audio producers!

We are looking for audio producers to work with Farmerama on a new series about food producers who have been affected by the pandemic.

We have decided to work with 5 different producers because we want to build a team that reflects the breadth of talent in audio, as well as providing opportunities for as many people as possible.

If you would like to apply, please complete this form.

We will review every application and listen to every example of work supplied, and make our decisions based on this. 

The role

  • As Lead Producer, you’ll be the creative lead on the episode. 
  • You will do 1–2 interviews, put the episode together, make amends according to production schedule and contribute to structure, script and sound design.
  • You will be supported by an experienced team of audio producers and experts in regenerative farming, as well as community collaborators who will all work with you on planning, sourcing stories, structure and script writing. 
  • The series has a project manager to help make sure everything runs smoothly.  
  • The series will have a single presenter, so you will not be voicing the episode.
  • There will be a palette of original music elements that you will have access to. 
  • We’re open to working with people in different ways according to interest and experience. For example, you may not be able to travel to do interviews. We’ll support you in the ways that you need to make your best work.
  • We’ll work with each producer to agree what is possible within 5 days before we begin and you will not be expected to work more than this.

What we offer

  • £1,000 (based on 5 days work @ £200/d)
  • Travel or other expenses will be covered.

How to apply

  • For the application we are inviting people to submit a short paragraph explaining why they would like to work with us, and a link to something you have worked on. 
  • The form should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. We respect your time. Look at this as the start of a conversation. If we have more questions, we’ll come back to you.
  • Applications close 19th June.

What if I have more questions?

  • Please ask us directly by emailing farmeramaradio@gmail.com, with ‘Audio Producer Role’ in the subject line
  • If relevant, and with approval, I’ll add any questions and answers to the FAQ at the end of this blog post, as they may help others. 

About ‘Who Feeds Us’ 

This series will showcase the stories of food producers who have been affected by the pandemic: their struggles and successes, their resilience and hard work, and their incredible capacity for innovation. It will unearth on-the-ground accounts of those who have stepped up to feed their communities in new ways – by re-focusing their production, establishing micro-production set-ups, developing local food databases, and helping people to grow their own – with a focus on including underrepresented and diverse voices and experiences.

About Farmerama

Farmerama Radio shares the voices behind regenerative farming. We are committed to positive ecological futures for the earth and its people, and we believe that farmers of the world will determine this. Each month, the show features farmers and growers rebuilding our food and eco-systems from the ground up. Our standalone series Cereal, has been nominated for the Broadcast and and Investigative categories in the 2020 Guild of Food Writers awards. 

#55: Enlightened agriculture, sustainable economies, and regenerative businesses

Colin Tudge at ORFC (Img Credit: ORFC official photographer)

As we bring this episode to you, we know that the Coronavirus pandemic is putting many of the farmers and growers out there are under more pressure than ever to provide food for your local communities and to rapidly find new markets for your produce – all whilst being concerned with the health of those around you. So we wanted to take a moment to say as ever we and so many others are grateful for all the work you do: thank you — Farmerama is made for you! 

This month, we go back to the Oxford Real Farming Conference (ORFC) one last time, this time to focus on the economic system and ask the question: what form does our economy need to take if we want to support a regenerative farming future? To start helping us answer this question, we hear from biologist, author and co-founder of the ORFC Colin Tudge, who helps us understand today’s dominant economic paradigm, and shares his vision for an economy that supports regenerative farming.

Next, we speak to Tony Greenham, a finance professional, economist, sustainability consultant and Executive Director at South West Mutual, who explains how, in his view, the economy has failed us and what he thinks a more sustainable economy might look like.

Then, we share some of the final episode of CEREAL, the 6-part series we released at the end of last year, to illustrate how everything Colin and Tony spoke about is embedded in our food systems, including in our bread.

Two of the key characters in CEREAL were baker and regenerative retailer behind Small Food Bakery, Kimberly Bell, and Fred Price, the farmer at Gothelney Farm. They both run regenerative businesses that produce food to nourish people, bring joy, promote healthy lifestyles and build communities. We hear from them about what shifting towards regenerative business and a regenerative economy means to them. 

This episode of Farmerama was made by Abby Rose, Louis Hudson and Hanna Soderlund, along with Jo Barratt and Katie Revell. We’re extremely grateful to our Patreon supporters, who help us make the show. If you’d like to support Farmerama, visit patreon.com/Farmerama. Community support is provided by Hanna Soderlund, Fran Bailey, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

‘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. 

#51: Compost, soil carbon vs soil health, a call to farm, CEREAL, and community beer

This month, we chat with compost pioneers Dr. David Johnson – a microbiology researcher and Associate at the Centre for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems at Chico State University, California – and his partner, Hui-Chun Johnson, about the breakthrough compost methodology they have devised, called BEAM.

Next, Abby shares some thoughts on soil carbon and soil health, encouraging us not to forget about all the many benefits of improving soil health aside from carbon sequestration. We hear an impassioned call to farming action from Jyoti Fernandes, co-founder of the Landworkers’ Alliance and member of La Via Campesina.

We are very excited to announce a six-part series called CEREAL on the UK Cereals industry, starting Sunday 24th of November. In the series, we ask how the industrial food system has come to dictate the life cycle of cereals, from seed to loaf, and introduce some of the people building alternative models for the future. This month, we share a conversation with John Letts, of Heritage Harvest and one of the original pioneers growing different types of grain in the UK.

Next, we chat to Ann Bodkin of Grow Beer, who, along with her community, grows her own hops and makes community beer through the Brixton Beer Company.

Keep an ear out for the next episode in our Women of the Land Series, produced in partnership with Chelsea Green Publishing, in which we’ll be featuring vermiculture queen Rhonda Sherman talking about her new book, ‘The Worm Farmer’s Handbook’.

Finally, a party announcement and a quick request. Join us to celebrate the launch of our CEREAL series. We’ll be raising a glass to the new grains movement and the farmers, millers, bakers and activists building a better future. Save the date: 21 November in London, and 29 November in Nottingham. Tickets will be released soon.

As we embark on our fifth year, we would love to hear your ideas on how we can make Farmerama even better. If you have a few minutes, please share what you’d like to hear in the future! 

Thanks for listening to Farmerama this month, and every month.  Community support for the show comes from Hanna Soderlund, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins, Olivia Oldham and Mary Hurd. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

#49: The Sustainable Cooperative, wilding, beneficial insects and connecting faith with farming

Image credit: Knepp Wildland

This month, we visit The Sustainable Cooperative (SCOOP) in Jersey, whose aim is to create a more sustainable supply of food on the island. Co-founder India Hamilton speaks about making sure that ecological farmers have a market, and that people have access to more affordable healthy, local food.

Next, we head back to Knepp Estate, where we quiz owner, farmer and author Isabella Tree about the idea that rewilding and farming are incompatible. We find out whether she sees herself as a farmer, her thoughts on how projects like Knepp fit into the farming landscape, and her vision of how rewilding can be part of a regenerative farming future.

Then, we return to Gothelney Farm in Somerset to hear from farmer Fred Price. He tells us how he’s building wildlife into the arteries and veins of his farm. We’re particularly intrigued by his plan to have every part of his farm within 50 metres of beneficial habitats.

Finally, we hear from Reverend Godwins Maere in conversation with our old friend Jonny Hanson at Jubilee Farm. They speak about Reverend Godwins’ work with a farming community in northern Malawi, and how his faith and farming practices are connected.

Keep an eye out for the next episode of our Women of the Land Series, produced together with Chelsea Green Publishing. On the 5th of September, we’ll be sharing the story of pollinator queen Brigit Strawbridge Howard and her new book, Dancing with Bees.

We’re so excited to be starting Farmerama’s 5th year with your support! Farmerama is made by Jo Barratt, Katie Revell and Abby Rose. This month, editing support was by Suzie McCarthy, Louis Hudson and Zack Ekpe. Community support for the show comes from Hanna Soderlund, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins and Olivia Oldham, and our theme music is by Owen Barratt.