Bipartisan Food System Solutions – Senator Debbie Stabenow



The Farm Bill is the primary food policy vehicle of the United States government and it affects every American citizen from commodity farmers, organic farmers, urban agriculture to citizens receiving supplemental nutritional assistance. Passage every 5 years requires bipartisan support that is sadly rare in Washington DC. Despite the acrimonious atmosphere in the Capitol, a Farm Bill has passed that has substantial improvements and none of the draconian changes that had been predicted. Much of the credit must go to the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee, republican Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas and democrat Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. 80,000 people attended the Natural Foods Expo where Senator Stabenow gave a Keynote address. She told a surprising and encouraging story of creation of the new Farm Bill and it’s substantial new initiatives. Because it is such an important story we share her speech and then follow it with some questions for the Senator about bipartisanship and the future of farming and food policies.

Welcoming Diversity — Karen Washington

If more diversity in the food system is desired, why isn’t it accomplished? Karen Washington, food system activist and partner in Rise and Root farm, says that the reason is that no one asked, invited and welcomed others to a farming, gardening, school garden or other food and farming related event or organization. Karen resides in the Bronx and also in the country at her Rise and Root Farm. She is a co-founder of Black Urban Growers, an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. She has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the country, has been awarded the James Beard Leadership Award and was a keynote speaker at EcoFarm where she visited with Farm To Table Talk about diversity and the power and dignity that comes from growing your own food.



Permaculture Creation – Natalie Bogwalker NC

Permaculture is about creating a permanent culture- a way of living that is completely sustainable.  Natalie Bogwalker lives and teaches this web of life system in the country near Asheville, North Carolina. She is described as a “badass permaculture practitioner, homesteader, businesswoman, and momma.”  Her five years of experience living primitively at the remote Wild Roots Community in Western North Carolina inspired her to start the Firefly Gathering (the premier Southeast skill sharing festival) and Wild Abundance, a homesteading and permaculture school near Asheville, NC.  Wild Abundance is also a thriving homestead itself, and home to Natalie, her partner Frank and their daughter Hazel, plus a handful of apprentices, work-traders, and Fox, the cat. Natalie joins Farm To Table Talk to share her journey, the recognition of necessary interdependence and path for  others  who share a  permaculture passion and a determination to not just let life happen.




Microbe My Goodness — Pam Marrone

There may be nothing more important to the health of our soil, our food, ourselves and ultimately the future of the planet than the microbes beneath our feet and in our bodies.  Yet most of the public, from farmers to consumers, are unaware of this microbial magic and when they learn: “My goodness!”  Dr. Pam Marrone tracks microbes down all over the world and explains why they matter. The founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations Inc.  she was honored by the Ecological Farming Association  at the EcoFarm Awards. where she was presented with the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award – or “Sustie” – which “recognizes those who have been actively and critically involved in ecologically sustainable agriculture, and have demonstrated their long-term, significant contributions to the wellbeing of agriculture and the planet.” Dr. Marrone joins Farm To Table Talk to give us a glimpse of the microscopic ‘critters’  beneath our feet that are foundational for sustainability and the future of food.

Healthy First Nation Food – Denisa Livingston


Food deserts with a shortage of affordable healthy foods are not just found in inner cites but also throughout the country in rural and remote areas where the choices are “fat, cheap and easy” foods leading to an epidemic of diabetes and related health issues. The first place in America to address this with a Healthy Food Act and a tax on unhealthy foods was not Brooklyn or Berkeley but the Navajo Nation. This is where Denisa Livingston is working to empower Navajo communities to take control of food policy and lead a movement toward food sovereignty and social change. Through the Dine` Community Advocacy Alliance Act she helped create a 2% additional sales tax for unhealthy foods with the revenue going to fund community based and community directed health and wellness programs.   Passing laws in the Navajo Nation faces the same challenges from lobbyists for national food brands as in Washington DC or State Legislatures. It’s hard, but the advocates for healthier food choices have persevered. Denisa is also the Slow Food International Indigenous Councilor of the Global North. Indigenous people around the globe are addressing similar challenges and the Internet is allowing them to form a global community to share stories and strategies from New Mexico to Kenya. Denisa Livingston shares the journey on Farm To Talk.  Facebook: @dineadvocacy Twitter: @princessedenisa

Eco Farming Frontier – Jack Whetham, Hidden Acres Farm


EcoFarm is an annual gathering of farmers, want to be Farmers, their friends, suppliers, customers and fellow dreamers sponsored by the Ecological Farming Association. While the Annual Eco Farm takes place in Pacific Grove California on the Coast of Monterey Bay there are similar gatherings taking place all over where one finds inspiring stories of people who dream of being farmers and with persistence, support and some luck often  realize those dreams.  At last year’s EcoFarm we spoke to  Melissa Phillips who with her husband Jack Whetham moved to California from Texas to be WOOFers on the Kern Family Farms in the Sierras. At the recent EcoFarm Melissa was at home on the Kern Family farm with their toddler, Phoenix and we had the chance to catch up with her husband Jack Whetham about the family’s journey and the pursuit of their dream to their new farm in New York’s Hudson River Valley.



When Growing and Eating Is Voting – Josh Tickell, Kiss the Ground


Imagine if you approached your meals with the same consideration you give to the choices you make in an election. Well, when we choose what we eat, in important ways we are also voting for the type of food and farming system we want.  Not only are we to wonder if the food will taste good, be safe and be affordable, but also whether we are choosing food that has been sustainably produced, in an earth friendly way that still pays enough back to the farmer and all the hands that touch it from farm to table. Farm To Table Talk is back for a second episode with Josh Tickell, the author of  Kiss The Ground. In our first conversation we discovered the lessons he found on regenerative agriculture as he traveled around the globe to speak with farm families making a difference. In this episode he explains what farmers, consumers, food retailers and policymakers can do to protect and build our most precious resource our soil. Farmers vote on being regnerative and those of us who are lucky enough to eat three times a day,  vote three times a day.

Kiss The Ground– Josh Tickell, Author

Among consumers, farmers and food marketers, regenerative agriculture is still not a term that is widely heard let alone understood; however that is beginning to change as individuals and organizations recognize a rebirth that can save the world–effecting farmers, our climate and what’s on our plate.  Josh Tickell, the author of Kiss The Ground, set out to learn and tell the stories of the regenerative agriculture pioneers and this fledgling movement.  Beginning with the encouragement of leaders who established Kiss The Ground  to produce a documentary film.   In the process of that soon to be released documentary film,  there was  so much original,  inspiring stories accumulated they were able to produce a book.  It’ a great read or a listen to the audio book format. Josh Tickell is a journalist, thought leader, author, and award winning film director. In this conversation on Farm to Talk, Josh take us with him to large and small farmers and experts, from North Dakota to France to plumb the depths of this new movement  and inspire us all on this regenerative journey.,

Jose Salazar

Restaurant food everywhere and in every way is getting better than ever- thanks to a new crop of Chefs who who care about their ingredients, know their farmers and give their more discerning customers the authentic experience that they crave. One of those Chefs on this ever-growing farm to table frontier is Cincinnati Chef Jose Salazar. Born in Colombia. Raised in Queens, New York., trained in some of the top restaurant kitchens in New York City Jose Salazar could have opened his eponymous restaurant anywhere. He landed in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine.
It was a big leap to a Midwestern community for a big-city boy who’d worked for top chefs like Georges Vongerichten and Thomas Keller. At his small Over-the-Rhine bistro, Salazar New American Restaurant, and his downtown Latin-Spanish spot, Mita’s, the food is rooted in the Ohio Valley with most of it coming from within a 40 mile radius. Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood has become this new dining scene’s epicenter. Today authentic farm to table dining experiences are available in almost every part of the country–a bonanza to consumers and the farmers who grow for them. Chef Jose Salazar sets down at the table to share one Chef’s journey in linking locally farmed foods with an appreciative community.

Food and Farming Resilience – Ray Archuleta and Tim LaSalle

The future of life on earth may hinge on society embracing, supporting and promoting resilience in our soils. That is why Resilient Agriculture is  becoming one of the most important food and farming topics. Researchers, policy makers, farmers and the public are sobered by the challenge of feeding billions of hungry people in a rapidly changing climate. Ray Archuleta, alias “The Soil Guy” and Tim LaSalle of Chico State Regenerative Agriculture Innitiative joined Rodger Wasson at Eco Farm to talk about regenerative agriculture in a previously released podcast.  Since embracing Regenerative Agriculture  can be a critical step that society or individuals  can take to address climate change by how they farm or eat, we revisit this important discussion with Ray Archuletta and Tim LaSalle. Ray Archuleta is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist with the Soil Science Society of America and has over 30 years of experience as a Soil Conservationist, Water Quality Specialist and Conservation Agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  After retirement from the NRCS, Ray founded Soil Health Consultants, LLC and Soil Health Academy LLC.  He also owns and operates a farm in Missouri with his wife and family. Tim LaSalle is a regenerative agriculture leader from Chico State University and the Chico Regenerative Agriculture Initiative. Tm has served as the first CEO of Rodale Institute, Executive Director of the Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management, consultant, advisor, and research coordinator for the Howard Buffett Foundation in Africa on soils and food security for smallholder farmers. He is Professor Emeritus of California Polytechnic State University, and former President/CEO, of the California Agriculture Leadership. Regenerative Agriculture is the primary theme of the 2019 Eco Farm.