People dream of farming and then when that dream is realized, they dream of their own processing and distribution under their own brand. John & Sukey Jamison have lived that dream and are in transition to a new stage of their journey, without sheep in the meadow and without their own USDA inspected processing plant. Their Jamison Farm journey west of Pittsburgh, has spanned over 40 years, before ‘sustainability’ or ‘regenerative’ terms were common.Farm To Table Talk has featured so many who are at the beginning of their own journeys, it was time to re-visit John and Sukey who after Covid disruptions, then illness led them to sell their sheep and their processing plant. They are doing well now, still serving dinners on the farm and believing some day the sheep will be back in their pastures. Dreamers and beginning farmers might ask what kind of farm journey they want to look back on in 40 Years. JamisonFarm.com
Modern times demand ancient grains for modern tastes, nutrition and climate change. Sorghum is an ancient grain that is hearty, resilient and drought tolerant, needing about one third the water of other grain crops. Nate Blum is the head of Sorghum United, a voluntary organization devoted to research and promotion of this under utilized crop. Sorghum’s role in climate change mitigation: given its inherent drought and heat tolerance, sorghum can significantly contribute to easing the impact of climate change on global food security. For consumers this very ancient grain addresses many modern concerns from non-GMO to Gluten Free. And farmers may find that with their climate traditions shifting to new territory, it’s time for a change.
Regenerative small and mid-size livestock producers are beginning to see potential solutions to their marketing problems. Direct sales are happening on line, at Farmers Markets and to Restaurants but the links to larger institutions where there is need for grinding, braising and stew meats in large quantities is lacking. These are exactly the cuts that small to mid size ranches have trouble marketing so instead they accumulate in their freezers. Michael Dimock, the President of Roots of Change, sees this changing as work begins with the USDA, CA Department of Food and Ag and the University of California System (that feeds up to 600,000 people a day). Ultimately the sufficient quantities of product will be pooled to supply large institutions with regenerative locally produced meat as an alternative to product that may currently be sourced and blended from an assortment of countries on other continents. www.rootsofchange.org
Siri Says that homesteading is a life style of self sufficiency. Siri has her opinion but others see much more. The motivation to pursue homesteading is often hatched by restless folks who are tired of being cooped up inside, staring at a computer screen when they want to get outside and grow something for their personal and family well-being. Angela Ferraro-Fanning is a self-taught first-generation farmer who built Axe & Root Homestead, a six-acre farm in central New Jersey. After the birth of her first child, she realized she wanted to be outdoors, aligning her life with the seasons and with nature. She now grows and preserves her own homegrown produce for her young family and runs a farm bustling with Clydesdales, geese and ducks for eggs, an apiary with ten beehives, sheep, and a small orchard. She shares this love for eco-conscious, self-sufficient living with others through social media as @axeandroothomestead, her books (most recently The Sustainable Homestead) and online homesteading classes, interviews and public speaking.
Human, plant and animal health is sustained by soil health’s capacity to form a bio-living ecosystem. The little ‘things’ that make a huge difference in carbon sequestration, reduced nitrogen needs and even human health are trillions of microbes under our every step. With artificial intelligence and big data the day is arriving when the soil health micro-biome short comings can be addressed with a critical microbe from any where in the world. This dynamic parallels the frontier in humans as we learn how to feed our guts with what we need. This is a world that has long fascinated Pam Marrone has she pursued research and launched successful business. Now with her latest venture, the Invasive Species Corporation, Pam gives a Farm To Table Talk a peak of the magic underfoot.
Smoke, fires and climate are a growing issue world wide, seriously impacting food systems and health spans. For our crops or for our health, there is more recognition that something must be done. One of the youngest County Supervisors in the US, Jaron Brandon sees this as an opportunity to step up, especially if it is not your normal routine. At a conference of the University of California Ag and Natural Resources (UCANR) Brandon identifies the growing problem and the chance for individuals and their local, state and federal governments to make a difference. Research and education will find ways to utilize make creative use of forest sourced biomass for new products and even hydrogen fuels. Beyond damaging our lungs the extremely intense fires are even killing the microbiome and limiting the options for nature to return to what it wants to be again.
The world demand for milk, meat and eggs is projected to increase by over 50% to sustain a global population of 9 billion, despite vocal critics calling for reductions. As in the past, new ideas and technologies will play a roll in achieving that progress. Caleb Wilkins, is the CEO and Co-founder of Regenerative Agriculture where new concepts such as PastureBox are advancing to supplement traditional systems that could lead to a future where consumers will have adequate supplies of food within a hundred miles of where they live. www.renaissanceag.com
Artificial Intelligence is the current buzz, but real breakthroughs will come when it meets up with Natural Intelligence (NI) as can be found in Maui where Eddy Garcia surfs and farms, off the grid. Eddy is the founder of Living Earth Systems going beyond organic to grow food that replenishes nutrients in the soil and heals the land. Self reliant since the age of 10 he would run away from home so he could surf all day, ultimately living off-grid on Molokai, where he taught himself how to hunt, produce energy, build shelters, and live off the land. Now he sees that AI could help create innovative system based on decades of living close to Nature, NI.
Communities are discovering that they can make their part of the world work better for themselves and better for the planet. The Danone Institute of North America (DINA) is fostering that progress with grants for, community-based work that promotes sustainable food systems in local communities. Dr. Leslie Lytle, President of the Board and Adjunct Professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina joins Farm To Table Talk to explain how and why this happens. https://www.danoneinstitutena.org
Rural residents can have high rates of depression, substance abuse and completed suicide, and farmers face additional challenges to maintaining their mental health according to Farm Aid. Mental health professionals point to the nature of farming as one likely cause — it is a business largely influenced by factors that are beyond farmers’ control, including weather, disease, pests, prices and interest rates, and which can come and go without warning. They can be isolated, geographically and socially, since they often work alone. They are self-reliant, independent and can be unlikely to ask for help. For over 30 years Farm Aid has offered a place to call for help and suggestions through the Farm Aid Hotline. Now as we learn in a Farm To Table Talk conversation with Farm Aid’s Hotline Program Manager Caitlin Arnold Stephano they are also able to offer hotlne services in Spanish. When starting or surviving on the farm becomes an existential threat, all farmers can call the hotline at 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243).