Episode #89: Folx Farm, Mycelium Composting Network, La Via Campesina and Olive Experiments

Episode #89: Folx Farm, Mycelium Composting Network, La Via Campesina and Olive Experiments 150 150 Farmerama Radio

Almost nine years ago, we started bringing you the stories of regenerative farming around the world, each month. It’s been a total pleasure and we are ever grateful for all of your support. 

In the 89 episodes since, we have been privileged to collaborate with so many inspiring people who continue to do the brilliant work of building a better farming future for all. Thank you for listening and joining us on this journey. But for now, we want to announce that we will be taking a break from producing monthly shows. We are taking a pause to step back and reflect. We have a few series and other projects on the go, so this is by no means Farmerama stopping. We’ll still be online, at events and releasing some series in the near future. Ultimately, we are excited to see what emerges as Farmerama moves into its 10th year.

This month, we talk to the team at Folx Farm about their motivations for starting an organic vegetable business. Using land to build community is a central tenet of Chrissy, Rae and Dunia’s work and the trio aim to create a space for people who might be marginalised in rural places to gather, connect, and learn from each other. 

Next up, we hear about the power of the Mycelial Composting Network from Old Tree Soil, and we ask food activist Jo Kamal about last year’s La Via Campesina international conference in Bogota. Jo reminds us of the power in international movement building and solidarity for questioning and transforming our relationship to the land.We end in Italy, talking to Marco Carbonara about his experiments growing olives at Pulicaro regenerative farm. A firm believer in the importance of knowledge sharing, Marco teaches us about the symbiotic relationship between the olive trees and animals on his farm and how vital it was to work with local genetics to establish resilient olive groves.

This episode of Farmerama was made by Jo Barratt, Dora Taylor and Abby Rose. Big thanks to the rest of the Farmerama team Katie Revell, Olivia Oldham, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins, Lucy Fisher and Fran Bailey. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

Thanks so much to all of you for tuning in and we look forward to sharing news of what’s next.

Too-da-loo for now.

Episode 89 Transcript

Thanks for joining us on the 89th monthly episode of the show, we have been putting out shows every month for almost 9 years now. It’s a total pleasure and we are ever grateful for everyone who has shared their stories and for all of you who have listened in and continue to do the brilliant work of building a better farming future for all.

Before we dive into this month’s show we wanted to announce that we will be taking a break from monthly shows for now. We wanted to take some time to step back and reflect. Abby is taking some parental leave and Jo is also going to take a break. We have a few series and other projects we will be continuing with, so this is by no means Farmerama stopping… so you will continue to see us online, at events and some series will be coming out soon. Ultimately we are excited to see what emerges as Farmerama moves into its 10th year.

So on with the show…

This month we start on a farm visit we co-organised late last year to land in East Sussex tended by a team of women and non-binary folx. We hear about the power of a composting network, mycelial connections above ground. We get a download from La Via Campesina’s international gathering in Brazil and we end in Italy with the power of diversity and genetic optimisation in a place. 

Farmers Chrissy, Rae and Dunia run Folx Farm, an organic vegetable farm in East Sussex tended by a team of women and non-binary folx. In October last year, Farmerama, Land in Our Names and Out on the Land co-organised a visit for queer and people of colour landworkers. I caught up with the Folx Farm team afterwards, to talk about their motivations for starting the farm, and their desires and plans for the future.

We moved to this bit of land. We’ve done one season so far on this bit of land, Folx Farm. Yeah. 

Before that, Chrissy was in London where we all got together. And we lost access to our land, basically, last year. 

We suddenly lost access to a piece of land that I’d been leasing for a while. 

And so I  cashed in my inheritance and got us this amazing bit of land in East Sussex now. We’re in Hastings ish, where we’ve got more land than we imagined we ever would.  It’s wonderful and it’s a great space for us to develop a lot more. 

All three of us really wanted to put roots down, and yeah, Dunia.

Make space. 

Yeah.  

Yeah.  

Make what felt like quite a needed space for queer people in land work, and just being outside of, or like having our own space being, yeah, owning this land and not having any, having to deal with anyone, besides the people that we’ve made community with.

Yeah, and I suppose the growing space can feel quite one dimensional. And I suppose we all wanted a place in which we could be on land in community, hopefully grow a community here that  represents a kind of  broad range of the people that we have in our lives, and not just one type of person, and to feel comfortable and to be yeah, to have a space that’s tailored to our specific needs. So being queer, but also me being a person of color and like wanting to be in a land based space with other people who I can feel comfortable around, we can all feel comfortable around. And I think realistically in the current climate, it was a space that needed to be made rather than one that we could walk into. 

The land is absolutely stunning. You come up the drive and it’s really beautiful. We’ve got about 12 acres of growing space. There’s a reservoir which feeds the fields. The land came with some really amazing indoor growing spaces. So we’ve got a kind of Victorian style glass house, big double span polytunnel. 

For Chrissy, Dunia and Rae, using their land to build community is really important. They want Folx Farm to be a place for people who might be marginalised in rural spaces to gather, connect, and learn from each other

We’ve made friends with our neighbors, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it’s very reflective of who we are, and we really want to make space for people like us to be comfortable out in the countryside. 

Yeah, we’re just, we’re not sure how that looks yet. 

And it might not be people living here, but it would be nice to have especially the communities in terms of if we do, when we start going into  bigger things like to be serving those particular communities. So whether they’re living here or not to have those people in large amounts around us at any given point, no matter how transient. 

Yeah. And there’s plenty of people who are already around here that we’re starting to make connections with.  It’s not just about bringing Londoners out, but making space for queer people, for people of color, for women even, just like people who haven’t been,  who don’t feel empowered in rural spaces.

On our visit to Folx Farm, a group of around fifteen, all of us queer people and people of colour, spent a beautifully sunny day looking around the farm, chatting, and eating the incredible spread of food that had been prepared by Rae, Dunia and Chrissy.

It was wonderful how everyone who showed up was just so incredibly kind and lovely.  And I think we had a lot more planned than we actually did and it just being outside seemed to be really wonderful and enriching and just eating good food with nice people. 

Yeah. The world is and was feeling quite heavy and  it was, it felt like quite a tonic to have. Yeah. Some really gentle souls around  with us. 

It was so nice to be  just around people that you didn’t have to explain or put up a front or try and act like you knew more than you did just to be considered valid in a space. That we could all just enjoy being outside. And just eating delicious vegetables. 

Yeah, and the weather was perfect. 

Yeah, we roasted marshmallows. We roasted marshmallows. On an open fire, yes. On willow sticks. It felt um, the camp experience that I wished I had as a child. Not necessarily the reality of it, but Yeah, just really wholesome. 

It was really nice to introduce the space to,  to maybe  the sorts of people that we would like to have involved with the project. 

The team also spoke about what they’re most excited about for the future of Folx Farm.

I’m just really honored to get to tend it and to have access to it and I look forward to  sharing that with people and giving other people getting to see, I don’t know, getting to see the hazelnuts to the coppice to burning it, digging the clay from our site. Yeah I’m really excited about that, but also those same hazel coppice, we can use to string up our tomatillos, all of it works together in a way  that feels wonderful, but it’s also so much work. 

I feel like that’s not something we mentioned in this is just there’s so there’s, you could, there is so much abundance that we could to meet it, to to come to. To do justice to the land  is something that… I don’t know. It feels like that’s part of what we need a community for. It’s not something that like, the more I do the land work, the less I believe that it’s something that you should do as an individual. So I really look forward to bringing people in and everybody getting a chance to have that kind of healing relationship with the land  and with each other. 

Definitely learning that, growing food at scale and kind of land work at scale is really tough work. Even when you’re as well resourced as we are here. And so yeah, I’m constantly thinking about how inspired I am by people that aren’t as well resourced and, but would be nice to see everybody being able to take part in this kind of work. It is really  enriching. I don’t know. I feel like I came to land work partially as my, I became more disabled by migraine. And just being outside is so healing. Just spending your day working outside instead of inside. I feel like that simple change has really improved my life so vastly. 

Thomas Daniell is the founder of Old Tree Brewery and Old Tree Soil. Old Tree Soil have a vision to build a network of compost hubs that directly feed community gardens and land regeneration projects, they believe with more people composting they can make a compost revolution in our cities and power the regenerative farming revolution in our fields. Thomas told us about how important it has been creating the Mycelium Composting Network, an international network of compost creators collaborating to produce complete compost, to support this vision.

I think like appreciating the value of these things and these microbes is such an important part in the whole regenerative movement. And, so then I sort of became like a compost, a real compost geek and, and, and, and sort of enthusiast and other people. I was asked to do some talks and I did, of course, a talk with my friend Danny, who, uh, I really thank for facilitating a talk.

And I wanted to do a talk called composting to heal the earth. And he got like, I swear it was the best part of a hundred people like in Bristol to come on the zoom call. It was during lockdown or towards the end. And I just kind of shared the whole like compost story, but with pictures and stuff and, um, uh, and videos of our compost journey and how  powerful it was.

And, and then, and then like, Loads of people wanted to start their com, their own compost clubs ’cause it, they, and, and, and that, that’s when we started a WhatsApp group, which was a sort of, you know, group to help people  start composting. And, and we ha we were joined quite quickly. Where Nicki Scott, we platformed him.

We do, we did. We, we, we do. Um. uh, events with, with people that have got loads of experience to share the experience with others. And suddenly this WhatsApp group, um, started, um, growing like gathering, gathering people and people started getting funding and starting their own compost clubs in the compost stations.

And that’s, that’s what kind of gave us, cause we’re, cause we’re a lot.  always talking about the fungi and the, in the compost, you know, that’s a kind of huge part of it. It’s like the reason no one is really making very nice compost is because they don’t appreciate that it’s, you’ve got to feed the fungi as much as you’re feeding bacteria.

And everyone’s just kind of smoldering, moldering and, you know, you know, Um, food waste and stuff and it’s, it’s not making very rich fungal compost, which so basically the whole thing with fungi is like, you know, they’re a network and they’re a resource sharing network and they’re like working with all plants to like, you know, communicate and,  and exchange.

It’s like nature’s economy is working through this network, isn’t it? And, um, so that whole inspiration, um, is why we came up with that. I came up with the idea called for mycelium composting network. And then we,  then the internet was sort of ready at just the right time. We found out there’s this platform called mighty networks.

And we, we sort of transferred all of that knowledge that we literally got like two years of questions and answers from the WhatsApp group and put them onto a mighty network, um, so that people could search the stuff that they’d.  Uh, been asking or, um, you know, needed to know in the past. And the idea is we’ll create this kind of data, like resource based, um, because knowledge based because it’s so easy to forget.

You know, this is like, I feel like it’s a rewiring of our brains to think about microbes in this way. I love the quote by Jeff Levenfels, he responded, he commented on one of our posts, he was just like.  Life is the question. Compost is the answer. Um, like, and it’s people that kind of get that like composting can solve so many things.

And, you know,  um, it’s, it’s a perfect place for that to sort of meet others that, um, that can help you basically, you, you know, you realize as soon as you get into composting and the microbiology  especially, you realize how, you know, how little you know. And that’s what I love about it. It’s like, we are all in kindergarten here.

When it like, you know, when it comes to like composting biology, we literally know like 1 percent of 1 percent of what there is to know. And, but then again, you know, you only learn from somebody that knows more than you. So it’s just about finding those like  interactions and.  kind of platforming them and creating a community of a supportive learning community around them.

And that’s why I think it’s, it’s been, that’s what the most value I think it’s given people is like, so people want to are inspired and they want to start their, their own local composting project. We can point them to like the person that’s been doing it for like 30 years in that area, or the person that’s like an expert in, a certain system like Bokashi, for example, which is the right thing for their area because, you know, there’s so many different solutions, um, to use.

There’s no like one size fits all solution. Like we found one of the most popular solutions in this country. Cause let’s face it, we have a lot of, um, rats here and like we, there’s a real need not to feed the rats. So like I’ve, um, actually sold like over a hundred, um, well, nearly a hundred, um,  compost tumblers, the same ones that we got originally for the brewery. Um, they’ve become a supplier of them to the mycelium members. Um,  and that’s because  they are quite a good way to solve  that problem of like what to do with food waste. We don’t want to be using fossil fuels to transport it out of these cities to make it into like basically waste gases and something like really low grade mulch.

So we, we want to be making a living. compost with it where we are. And these things work really well in like parks or community spaces or back gardens or church courtyards, or we’ve had people kind of putting them up, uh, everywhere. And,  um, it’s really good for like what I call the community gardening scale.

It’s like that you have people that want to, you know,  make some good from the nutrient cycles of the area, the food waste and the tree, the wood chips, et cetera. And you have people that want to grow food and then those two things together. And it’s just like, perfect. It’s a really good system. And then we always, um, we have also all sort of got had a,  had a bit cashy sort of, um, Celebration, like we’ve all been sort of infected by the Bokashi sort of, uh, good, good, good biology, um, and, and now like full, I think everyone that’s running a compost club in the Mycelium Network is, is using Bokashi in some way, because it just helps, it helps reduce the labor, and it helps reduce the smells, and, you know.

It’s just useful to get the right biology growing in your bucket and you don’t have to do so many trips before your whole kitchen stinks and all this stuff. Like, um, so yeah, uh, I guess those were my notes, but those, that was the general, like, it’s, we, we’re really good at helping people get started. Um, so like, if you want to build a compost station, you can join the Mycelium Network, you get big discounts on the compost tumblers and Bokashi as well, as well.

Um, we can like help find like successful funding bids that have been used by others that like, can just give you like a step up. And that’s, um, that’s one, that’s one thing. Um, the other like best things about it, I think are like, The,  um, just happen, emerge through the conversations that come about either through like monthly events that we do where we’ll kind of like platform a regenerative, uh, practitioner of some kind, or like a really experienced compost maker or soil nerd of some description to do a talk and, and inspire and share their knowledge.

And there’s this beautiful. Um, uh, desire for others to share as well. Like we packed with this year, we did two on biochar and it was amazing. We we’ve met, we, we, we platformed, um, um, Martin Jaeger, who’s based in Portugal, and he’s just spent 10 years of his life innovating the most incredible backyard, biochar.

Um, biochar combustion stoves, um, that make biochar and power, like your heating needs and your cooking needs. And so innovative, like, um, and he, he, he, he was absolutely excelled in this environment where we’ve got loads of enthusiastic people about composite biochar, you know, would you do a talk? And he’d like put so much into making this amazing talk.

There was 10 years of his stove development and design and thought and, um,  the whole why people are doing stuff as well. Like, you know, with biochar, you can literally change landscapes by making them hold water in desert areas and yada yada yada. So, um, that kind of value brings about some connections, you know, people by meeting these people, even if it’s online and learning their work, like stuff comes up and it ends up changing the way.

you know, people’s whole projects go. Like, for example, would someone, someone, oh yeah, shredders. Everyone was talking about shredders and the composting network. Um, because obviously you need a good wood chip shredder. You need, ideally you need a good cardboard shredder as well. Um, because That’s such good fungal food, you can literally turn it into earthworms and fungi if you like, create the surface area that will make it work in a composting system.

So we’re all talking about shredders and um, somebody shared, oh yeah someone, it was a, a, a character that I’d come across um, through wider sort of activism, basically told me  that he, he, he was an engineer and that he’d made shredders in the past and he’d worked for precious plastics and they’d done like plastic recycling and that stuff.

And I was like, wow. And, um, I, I, I gave him a account on the network and he created a profile and shared his bicycle powered shredder on the network, on the forum. And people were just like, Whoa, like that’s really cool. And, uh, you know, there was a whole thread like, and there’s, you know, the more people comment on stuff, the more it’s like, coming up top.

And anyway, the, um, the awesome humans behind, Hey, I got worms compost club in Wales. Hey, regenerative soils, their, um, business, their community interest company, they ended up like getting cooperative, um,  co op funding, um, to build, uh, to commission Javier to build them a bicycle powered cardboard shredder.

And this has now been like is being made. It’s being. manufactured and they’re going to use it for like education and, um, it’s so cool. It’s like a pioneering piece of like local appropriate technology for making compost that sort of come to fruition through the conversations that we’ve been having. Um, and, uh, and the hard work of everyone doing like this work too.

Jo Kamal is a food activist and grower. I spoke to Jo about attending La Via Campesina’s international conference last year, as part of the Landworkers’ Alliance. La Via Campesina, or LVC, is a global peasant movement of 182 small-scale food producer organisations, from 81 countries around the world. Jo began by talking about their understanding of food sovereignty, one of LVC’s core values, and why it is important. 

What food sovereignty means to me is quite  personal, because I feel that  I was imagining a future that looks like a food sovereign future before I even knew what that term meant or was, before I was even really involved in the Landworkers Alliance or the agroecology movement. I was imagining a future in which  we lived in community, in which we were connected. Connected to land, connected to our food,  living in  a reciprocal relationship with everything around us. And then I started food growing and heard about this phrase, food sovereignty. And when I learned more about it, I realized that it was really giving like a political framework and context. And  argument for the like imaginings and dreamings I already held in my own body.   

But it’s also about so much more than just food. And.  I think we limit ourselves when we discuss it only in the context of food, because really it is calling for the kind of overhaul of our economic systems. It’s calling for the overhaul of capitalism. It’s yeah there’s so much in it.

And in questioning and transforming the ways, the dominant ways in which we relate to the land and relate to each other and relate to food all of those things. And there are six and now there’s an added seventh principle  that have been used to elucidate what food sovereignty means in more concrete terms.

So the six main pillars that La Via Campesina and other organizations such as Global Justice Now subscribe to highlight that food sovereignty focuses on food for people, i. e. the right to food. It values food providers. And food producers,  it localizes food systems, which doesn’t necessarily mean that all our food has to be local, but the there is an emphasis on localizing and shortening supply chains. Food sovereignty also puts the control around food locally. Meaning control over territory and land and grazing and water. It also builds knowledge and skills importantly intergenerationally. And we’re talking about, agricultural skills and land based knowledge. As well as cooking and all these sorts of things. And food sovereignty also works with nature. And so it, it works in a way that supports and protects natural resources and the land.  So that’s the kind of official line of what food sovereignty is. But I think it’s also really helpful to think about it in terms of what kind of future we envision for society and for the world in the midst of the kind of ashes of capitalism as capitalism crumbles, what do you want to put in its place? And for me as a society that is based around  Sovereignty really captures a lot of the the things that I would hope for. 

La Via Campesina’s international conference happens every four years, and brings together representatives from all its member organisations from across the world. In 2023, the 8th international conference happened in Bogota, Colombia.

 In  November last year, I traveled to did the 11 or 12 hour  plane journey over to Columbia for the 8th International Conference of La Via Campesina. Initially, I went with another member organizer called Ed Brooks. And we initially were convening with the European delegation of La Via Campesina. But then we were  meeting with a specific subgroup, which is the ECBC Diversities Articulation. Without going into too much technical detail, the articulations in the Via Campesina are essentially like working groups. And the, so the European region has a queer working group called the ECBC Diversities Articulation, but there’s also many others, like there’s an articulation on SEEDS and working groups on various other kind of yeah, important work groups. Campaigning and policy let things. So initially we met with  them as a kind of like team building bonding exercise. And that was really amazing. We visited a few eco feminist  farms and sites on the outskirts of Bogota which was so inspiring. And it was really amazing to hear about all the. Feminist work that was happening in the peasantry around around that land 

What I found so moving about the conference was how rooted it was in  internationalism. Of course, that was to be expected, but But it wasn’t just like an intellectual understanding of internationalism, and a reminder of my our inherent interconnectedness. But there is something so special about that being with people who are already on the same page about where the world needs to go. In terms of  the climate crisis, in terms of patriarchy, in terms of colonialism. And I knew that we were on the same page because 

 There are a few moments in particular, like the on the youth articulation day. The youth delegate from UAC, which is the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees in Palestine led the opening and closing Mysticas. And she read out a beautiful poem by Mahmoud Darwish. She also at the end of the day, we we were dancing and singing traditional Palestinian songs. And that was a really moving moment in which, the whole world was witnessing  something  catastrophically awful. But in that moment,  I was so lucky to be able to. experience both the grief and and the solidarity of that in a room full of people from all across the world 

what my colleague Ed pointed out before was that there is something really beautiful about that, in that we were all able to connect in an emotional way to those mysticas regardless of what languages we spoke. There were lots of barriers to us connecting with everyone, because we couldn’t always speak the same language, but we spoke the language of emotions and of really seeing, the story of the oppression and exploitation of capitalism and corporate greed.

I think that as people who have been brought up or are living in the UK, we hold a lot of power and privilege in that what we say can be heard and in lots of other ways but,  yeah, I think sometimes,  As a food grower, it is really easy to  get bogged down in the minutiae of the work, it’s hard work, it’s long hours, it’s very localized and that’s also a principle of what we do. We want to be localizing, but also we want to be holding the values of internationalism in the work and in the revolutionary kind of potential of the movement. 

It’s a feeling that I think is transformative. And it’s a feeling that also is humbling. And makes you realize how much there is to learn from your comrades and also  makes you realize how much you have in common with your comrades, regardless of having, you know, differing,  totally different contexts and experiences how much there is for us to learn.

 Marco and Chiara Carbonara have run Pulicaro Regenerative Farm close to Bolsena Lake in Italy for the last 20 years. It’s a mixed organic farm with free-range grass fed animals, a seasonal vegetable garden and heritage orchards including fruits and olives. They do local dinners and host young people from around the world to learn about regenerative farming and farm to table cooking. Marco shared with us the importance of diversity and how vital it was to work with local genetics to establish resilient olive groves. Sorry about the cicadas. It was outside, and we thought you would want to hear this anyway. 

When we arrived, me and my wife Kiara decided that one interesting thing could be planting olives, even if we already knew that it was too much. Something that will produce his own fruit in the future. We thought it could be something for our retirement even. And we tried to plant, we planted in 2005. 

Uh, we planted 200 olives.  It’s just a little batch for, um,  um, from, from a nursery that was, uh, um, selling the classical center of Italy variety like, uh, Moragliolo, Leccino, uh, Frantoio,  mostly.  And we planted them in May, we watered them during the summer. And here, cause I repeat, we are quite high on the hills.

Uh, during the winter in December it was minus 7 Celsius degrees.  That is quite common here.  Uh, but these olives almost died. They died 50 percent immediately and another 30, 40 percent in the next, uh, spring.  Uh, so we realize that even if they sold us, these olives has Varieties for the center of Italy, uh, probably were more selected for, uh,  area closer to the sea or  with higher temperature during the winter. 

So we stopped and we said, okay, we have to change strategy and we contact another friend of us from university, Andrea Gori.  that, um, he’s used to be a consultant for, um, big olive orchards also, um, out of Italy. And we decided to search for old heirloom varieties of olive trees in the surroundings in a diameter Uh, five kilometers more or less.

Searching for the plants that were having a trunk that was wider than 50, 60 centimeters. That means usually in this area that these plants have more than 70, 80 years.  Uh, and so that means also that they resisted to, uh, at least two or three big frosts in the last century. And then we searched for the wild variety of Alisodiaria that is called Caninese, it’s a variety that is almost wild.

And so we asked to the nursery to propagate the seeds and a year after we grafted with the pruning of this. It’s five varieties of the aria coming from these mother trees that were, uh, old.  And so, during this process, uh, we reached, uh, 2010.  And, uh, we planted these, uh, uh, these olives in the field, the first 500 we planted, uh, was the, um, September  2011. 

And that year,  during the, uh, January, when my daughter Livia born, uh, was very, very cold and the temperature reached minus. 16 minus 17. So I was sure that  every single olive was dead. 

But the surprise was that the next spring just less than 2 percent of them died. So the experiments, I can say that.  This also means that when you choose a variety, you choose  all the, um, characteristics of the variety. Uh, these are varieties that grow even slower than normal.  These are varieties that, uh, needs at the beginning, um,  quite a good amount of organic matter. 

They don’t need so much water, but they need organic matter,  and,  and for example, what we have seen is that  in the places where we were able to keep the animals on pasture  since the beginning. where these young plants were planted, they, they grew very well,  but where we didn’t have enough manure, they are still small and they are waiting for growing, waiting for manure, waiting for organic matter that will de  uh, improve the dynamics of the soil. 

Uh, this is mostly our project about the olives.  Another interesting thing that we have seen is that  animals just, uh, they don’t just provide manure, but it is, there is a lot of relation in between the plants, the orchard and, uh, any animals.  The animals need the plants for shade,  cause they provide shade, cause they provide  enrichment of the environment. 

But the olives also need animals, cause, uh, they control the, the fly of the olives, that is the most dangerous pest of the olives.  After now ten years we have maximum 1 percent of damage from the olive fly  and  they also have a very strong action against 

beetles. I don’t remember the species, but it’s a beetle that eats the tops of the leaves,  uh, and other parasites in general.  Um,  we also realized that the edges of the field where we kept oaks and, uh, and  wild bushes, they provide the habitat for other insects and other birds that contrast the pest of the olives.

Cause, cause the problem is What we are definitely doing when we plant, uh, 200 or 2000 olive orchard,  we are providing the perfect habitat for the pest of the olive. So we have to mitigate this, adding competitors, adding different plants, adding different niches  that can host all the animals and plants that are needed for, uh, Keeping the things more resilient, more in balance.  

 Well, at the very beginning, the soil was quite eroded when we founded it. It was quite poor. And there was mostly thistles.  and few species  that were dominant.  Then, year by year, we reached the point that  nowadays, where we have, um, really a huge amount of different species of grass and little bushes and stuff like this  that  provide,  um, an environment that is so stable, that also the olives are healthy, not just because the birds eat the fly, but because they, for example, they don’t need any kind of, um, sulfur or copper anymore since years.

Because the relation into the roots, we don’t dig the soil,  um, the relation into the roots and the relation with the wild plants and the permanent  cover of the soil, uh, is producing a very healthy.  ecosystem. So a healthy ecosystem have healthy hollies or  whatever is cultivated there inside. 

What I learned is that in general,  we search for  easy solutions to very  Uh, complicate, uh, uh, question, okay? So what I learned is that  there’s no simple recipe for handling an ecosystem.  It’s  a very  rich environment.  Uh, so I think that what I learned is that  farms should turn in what they were. Farmware places where a lot of different animals and a lot of different plants were kept together by the farmer, by the family of the farmer, um,  trying to, um, improve the production of the soil, trying to sustain the, the, the, the needs of the, uh, of the farmer, uh, without being so hardly specialized.

This is what, what I learned.  Not every year is good for olives, not every year is good for eggs.  So  even if the  margin,  uh, decrease, um, when you are not specialized, the stability, also financial improves a lot.

I think that my message should, um,  should be that, um, let’s find a way for sharing more knowledge all together. Let’s find a way for keeping in contact a bit more because we are so few compared to the amount of work we have to do. Uh, and, and so I think that in the future, we should  be more able to work as A team.

This episode of Farmerama was made by Jo Barratt, Dora Taylor and me, Abby Rose. Big thanks to the rest of the Farmerama team Katie Revell, Olivia Oldham, Annie Landless, Eliza Jenkins, Lucy Fisher and Fran Bailey. Our theme music is by Owen Barratt.

Thanks so much to all of you for tuning in and we look forward to sharing news of what’s next.

Too-da-loo for now.