Farmers Need Helpers – Blake Hurst

Even new local farmers eventually reach a stage that they can’t do it all themselves and need helpers.  First they put crazy hours in working harder and harder, then after family or friends are maxed they turn to finding other workers. More farmers are having to look to foreign sources such as through the H2A program. Former President of the Missouri Farm Bureau, Blake Hurst is a grain and greenhouse farmer  in north west Missouri who had found local labor sufficient since the 1980s.  Times have changed, maybe permanently and our Farm To Table Talk story begins with Blake meeting Carlos and Juan at the Kansas City airport arriving from Guadalajara.

Food Connects Us – Chef Stephanie Michalak White

Food tells what makes us tick. From farm to table it is the deep and meaningful connector to everyone. Chef Stephanie White has come to that philosophy with a journey from a New England organic farm to professional kitchens in a variety of roles in different types of establishments, including small businesses, pop-ups, high-end catering, high-volume cookery, and farm to table restaurants. A Chef Instructor with the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, Chef Stephanie has designed curriculum, taught, and catered for a teaching kitchen located on Turner Farms in Cincinnati, Ohio, educating the local community to use local, seasonal ingredients. Chef/students are helped to find their passion for seasonal and plant-based eating, sustainable practices, ending food insecurity, the role of self-care in the culinary industry, food as medicine, local food sourcing and being a food connector.

Growing A Dream – Farmer Lee Jones

Farming is just a dream for some and a dream come true for Farmer Lee Jones, a regenerative farmer who is leading the way regenerating the soil , promoting biodiversity, and creating a closed-loop system where waste is minimized and resources are conserved. The family-owned regenerative enterprise grows more than 600 varieties of the most flavorful and nutritious vegetables, herbs, and microgreens to culinary professionals and home cooks across the country.The result is not only healthier and more productive land, but a more resilient food system that can withstand the impacts of climate change, and a more sustainable future for generations to come.

Giving A Damn – Will Harris

Food, farms and earth will be better if more people give a damn.  Will Harris does. He has worked as a cowboy and a rancher for decades, but now calls himself a land steward and herdsman. At White Oak Pastures in SouthWest Georgia, over 150 employees work together to raise, process, and ship meat from 10 species of livestock to loyal customers. And while they are proud of the grassfed and pasture-raised meats that they sell, their business centers around one central goal: regenerate the land. As White Oak Pastures moved toward regenerative agriculture, they acquired nearby farmland and grew from 1,000 acres to around 5,000 acres . Much of the new acreage was cracked and dried monoculture crop land that they have turned  into perennial pasture using age old methods: animal impact, rotational grazing, and holistic land management. Beyond the farm and processing, they have a store, restaurant,  lodging and and they are a Savory Institute hub.




Peace Corps Wants You – Kerry Carmichael & Rashad Thacker

When you’re not sure if you’re where you should be and doing what you could be doing, maybe Peace Corps is for you.  Since President Kennedy launched the Peace Corps in the 60’s, thousands of volunteers have found a corner of the world where they could make a difference. Today there is a shortage of volunteers with agricultural interest and experience. Volunteers who range in age from their early 20’s to their early 80’s are dispersed around the world for two years or shorter term engagements. Kerry Carmichael and Rashad Thacker have been volunteers themselves and now recruit others to experience the rewards of using their energy and talents to help communities help themselves. Kerry Carmichael is a Peace Corps recruiter whose territory includes the North and East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area and California’s Central Valley. He primarily recruits leads for the traditional 27-month immersive Peace Corps program. Rashad Thacker is a recruitment and placement specialist in the office of Peace Corps Response, a program that offers short-term, high-impact positions for experienced professionals.

Goats are G.O.A.T.- Aaron Steele

Humans take turns as the temporary stewards of Earth but the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time) earth helpers may just be the humble goat. With a passion for practical conservation, sustainable agriculture, and rural living, an idea was born with goats to grow beyond the hobby stage, to produce  food profitably, while avoiding many of the pitfalls of conventional agriculture. Aaron Steele, Co-founder and owner of Goats On the Go has led the good fight against noxious weeds, brush and invasive plant species from suburbs, to public lands and a burgeoning frontier of solar farms.  With herds of goats and sheep available to help nature, Aaron Steele shares how they have grown a network of independent, local targeted grazing affiliates and expanded with complimentary brands; now including Barnyard Discoveries Affiliates delivering farm-positive education at the local level.

Doctor’s Orders – Edye Kuyper

Food will be just what the Doctor ordered.  Prescriptions for medicine from a pharmacy is normal but prescriptions of food from markets, stores, farms or our own garden may become the new normal.  Recognizing the role of good nutrition and even the therapeutic contribution of growing our own foods has led to Doctors and county level health centers finding ways to help low income families.  Edye Kuyper is the Food and Wellness Manager of the Communicare Food Program in Yolo County California. She shares how getting healthy foods early  in life directly contribute to lower rates of chronic diseases when people are getting foods in a medical context.  This new dynamic of medical prescribed food connects local farms, community gardens, SNAP shopping, farmers markets and aspiring gardeners–healthy families and healthy communities from farm to table.

Bridge Ag to the Future – Jack Hanson

Building a bridge from where Agriculture is now to where the public and policy makers want it to go is advisable.  Even for the best of reasons ranchers are not able to just flip a switch to new prevailing expectations without suffering from unintended and under considered consequences. States like California that are out front with new initiatives make it especially difficult to be competitive with producers in states that aren’t making such big moves.  Jack Hanson, Willow Creek Ranch, is a cow-calf rancher in Lassen County  has experienced the opportunities and recognizes the challenges that a bridge to the future might address.

Eco Farm Eco Fish

If we reimagine how water flows across our landscape, we can help both fish and our farms.  At Eco Farm in Pacific Grove, California that was the message to farmers from all over the world from a popular keynote presentation by Jacob Katz, the Lead Scientist with California Trout. Mas Masomoto, legendary Organic pioneer sets the stage for the stimulating ideas that always surface at ECO Farms when surprise and promise float to the surface, even from our rivers. www.caltrout. org

Meetings of the MInds – Tara VanderDussen, Natalie Kovarik

It’s Meeting Season for farmers and others in the food chain when they gather to agree to disagree and ultimately find middle ground (or high ground). What’s decided when they put their heads together can impact public policy and public opinion.  To cover  this critical process Natalie Kovarik and Tara VanderDussen followed the American Farm Bureau to Puerto Rico where 5,000 farmers assembled to claim the high ground. Tara, an environmental scientist/dairy farmer and Natalie, a pharmacist/rancher, share lives and agriculture stories online as a way to build a community around Ag and contribute their voices to an in industry and lifestyle they are extremely passionate about. Their Discover Ag is a docuseries + podcast that pioneers conversation around relevant and trending topics is Agriculture.