The Urban Farm Podcast with Greg Peterson

Welcome to The Urban Farm Podcast, your partner in the Grow Your Own Food revolution! This audio only podcast features special guests like Jason Mraz, Lisa Steele, and Kari Spencer as we discuss the art and value of growing food in urban areas. We'll explore topics such as urban beekeeping and chicken farming, permaculture, successful composting, monetizing your farm, and much more! Each episode will bring you tips and tricks on how to overcome common challenges, opportunities to learn from the experience of people just like you, and plenty of resources to ensure you're informed, equipped, and empowered to participate more mindfully in your local food system... and to have a great time doing it!
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The Urban Farm Podcast with Greg Peterson






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Visit our podcast page here to find photos, links and more information on this podcast as well as each of our other guest interviews.

Dec 31, 2016

177: Drew Taddia on Reducing Stress and Detoxing Smartly.

Making long lasting changes a little at a time and using a plant-based diet to avoid toxins.

Drew has traveled the world as a professional athlete coming from Canada, working through the US, and overseas into Australia and Germany following his dreams and passion of baseball.  He quickly became the ‘go to’ guy regarding fitness and nutrition as he continually experimented on his own body to find out what foods would help him recover quicker or build muscle more efficiently, and how to exercise to help him jump higher, run faster, and help him stand out on the field.

He soon found out stress played a vital role in what he was putting both in and on his body. He learned that by reducing stress through a plant based diet and avoiding toxins both on and off the field, he could improve as an athlete and stand out from the competition.

Using what he learned, Drew wrote the best-selling book Detoxify Yourself, which is a 30-day plant-based meal plan teaching readers how to avoid toxins, chose foods to help heal and recover, and how to prepare the meals with recipes and grocery lists.  Concerned about the toxins on the market in conventional protein supplements, he designed his own plant based protein powder made with quinoa and hemp hearts. Drew has also been on air for 5 years as a radio host (96.5 ckfm) where he interviews world renowned experts in health, fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and more.

In this podcast: Greg interviews health and fitness advocate and radio show host Drew Taddia, and they talk about the importance of reducing stress and making sustainable lifestyle changes that work. Drew teaches about using a different mindset when making lifestyle changes, and how that can be the difference in succeeding or failing. He tackles health and fitness in three areas of nutrition, exercise and environment and explains how to keep it from becoming overwhelming.  “If you never start, you're never going to get anywhere”

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Dec 29, 2016

176: Cory Williams on Tropical Fruit Trees.

Growing a tropical fruit forest paradise in spite of a harsh climate.

Cory lives in Chandler, Arizona and owns a video production company called Studio 9 Production. Prior to that, he spent 5 years in radio in Flagstaff, AZ, and 12 years on TV in Phoenix, as a Sports Anchor / Reporter for the local news channels. Cory got into farming and gardening after a trip to Napa Valley in Sonoma, California, about 15 years ago, at which time he was inspired to start growing his own grapes. Following that trip, every time he moved he planted more and more grapevines at each house.  Until 4 years ago, when he and his wife purchased a home on an acre and a half.  

As soon as they moved in, they started planting. He began by just focusing on gardening and some vines, and then over the last couple years, he’s jumped head-first into full-fledged tree farming. He now has over 150 trees, vines and fruiting plants, and he is proud to claim that he planted every one himself and maintains them all. Cory is happily married and they have four kids ages 6, 4, 2, and just welcomed a brand-new baby to their family.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Greg meets Cory Williams, a man who could not take ‘You can’t do that’ for an answer. Cory has transformed his home just outside of Phoenix to his own tropical fruit forest paradise using microclimates, observation, experimentation, and frankly ignoring naysayers.  His interest started with a few wine grapes and he got bit by the growing bug as he now has over 150 trees on his urban property and is not done trying new things.  His can-do attitude is infectious and you might have new goals after listening to this podcast.

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Dec 27, 2016

175: Kaye Kittrell on Urban Gardening.

Discovering organic gardening alongside a determined learner.

In the fall of 2011, Kaye converted the front yard and parkway of her home in Pacific Palisades, CA, into an edible garden. She removed all non-edible grass, small trees and bushes that occupied approximately 300 square feet of valuable sunny area, and planted citrus trees and herbs. In April 2012, Kaye began her urban garden blog, “Late Bloomer Show”, sharing her results with other urban gardeners, food bloggers and family farmers. With her photography skills and on-camera likeability from 30 years as a working actor in New York and Hollywood, Kaye created a web show, also titled “Late Bloomer,” chronicling her discovering how to grow food. A year later, her summer garden produced over 150 lbs. of produce, about 40 percent of which was given away. She also wrote her first e-book, “10 Steps to a Great First Garden.”

And, in 2015, Kaye created her first DVD, “Growing Heirloom Tomatoes,” a compilation of her five-part series on YouTube.  “Late Bloomer” now has 96 episodes on YouTube and in 2015 won Best Edutainment Series at Miami Web Fest 2015. In 2016, Kaye added a vlog to the channel, which includes 50 videos and offers Kaye an opportunity to visit and share other gardens and urban farms with her audience.  Kaye’s goal is to inspire anyone to grow their own food and take charge of their food security.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Greg chats with a new friend Kaye, a recent convert to organic gardening who has been chronicling her challenges and amazing successes in her small garden.  Living in California on the beach has it benefits, but it also comes with a challenging microclimate due to early morning fogs that limit the sun to her small garden. Kaye shares how she was inspired to start a vlog about her learning curve and has won several accolades for her work. She is still learning, but she is willing to share both the challenges and the answers she is finding on this new journey to food security.

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Dec 24, 2016

174: Shaun Keesee on Biointensive Farming

A beginner's experience converting to larger scale organic farming.

Shaun has an upstart one-acre mini-farm called BioManna Farms in Warrenton, NC. On his farm he grows using a combination of conventional and bio-intensive techniques, slowly moving towards a completely organic set up and is growing in all four seasons, with majority of production coming during the typical growing season.

He is planning to expand to three acres in the future, and into other ventures to diversify, such as beekeeping, vermicomposting, and nursery growing.  Shaun is in the process of starting a CSA, has taken agricultural entrepreneurship classes at his local community college, and has secured three local restaurants to buy his produce.

IN THIS PODCAST:  In this podcast:  Greg talks to a newer farmer in Shaun who is having some success using biointensive farming techniques.  Shaun shares how he reclaimed the land his family was leasing out to a hay farmer and starting growing crops to sell to markets and restaurants. He is applying the skills he has learned through his reading, internet and agriculture courses at his local college.  His interest in organic farming is taking root in his community and he is gladly sharing a few tips here.

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Dec 22, 2016

173: Brendan Gaughran on Liver and Gut Health

Understanding the sequence of food driven diseases

Brendan holds a degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Connecticut and his MBA from Bentley University. He has spent 15 years in the Healthcare field and was an executive for a major nutraceutical manufacturer before starting multiple companies of his own, the latest being Liver Medic. He conducts health lectures to both physicians and the public. His research focuses primarily on gut health, liver health, endocrine system, adrenal fatigue and optimum diets.

IN THIS PODCAST: Brendan teaches Greg a lot about the functions and dysfunctions of the liver and gut, and how a cascade of medical issues can be traced back to the health of the gut. Brendan explains why he gave up his well-paying career to focus on finding answers on the treatment of metabolic syndrome. He describes what his research has revealed and how our foods we eat are a huge contributor to our health, starting with our gut bacteria.

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Dec 20, 2016

172: Ocean Robbins on Changing our Food Future

Finding the motivation to make changes in our diets 

At 15, Ocean was a co-founder of the Creating Our Future environmental speaking tour, on which he and three other participants spoke in person to more than 30,000 students, presented for 2,000 people at the United Nations, and opened for the Jerry Garcia band in San Francisco.

In 1990 at age 16, Ocean founded YES!, an organization he directed for the next 20 years with the goal of connecting, inspiring and mobilizing visionary young leaders worldwide.  He has since spoken to hundreds of thousands of people, led hundreds of retreats, workshops and Jams for leaders in over 65 nations, written books, mentored (and learned from) changemakers, and been a creative partner and lead editor for several bestsellers.

In 2012 Ocean founded the Food Revolution Network, which now has more than 350,000 members working for healthy, sustainable, humane and delicious food.  He currently serves as adjunct professor in the Peace Studies department at Chapman University.  Ocean has personally spoken and facilitated leadership gatherings in Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Singapore, Costa Rica, Russia, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, India, Peru, and across the USA.

All this and he is also an active and proud father of special needs twins, a lover of life, and a human being who is trying to live in a good way on this earth.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Greg chats with Ocean Robbins of the Food Revolution Network to talk about changing our food future and how important it is to make a change in today’s diets.  Starting at a very young age, Ocean had been motivated and inspired to help others eat better for their own health.  Now as an adult and father, his drive has only grown stronger and deeper to spread a message of education on the food choices being made today.

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Dec 17, 2016

171: Robbie Shell on Honeybees and Colony Collapse Disorder.

A researcher's perspective on the marvelous efficiency of honeybees.

Robbie was a business journalist and co-author of a book on leadership, who turned her attention to honeybees when her brother, a beekeeper, brought her jars of honey harvested from his backyard hives. Inspired by the teamwork and efficiency displayed by these tiny pollinators, she left her job as a business editor/writer and wrote “Bees on the Roof.”

The middle-grade environmental fiction novel tells the story of four seventh graders competing in a science competition but also educates young readers about the importance of honeybees to our environment and the dangers they face from the still mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder.

Robbie, who graduated from Princeton University with a degree in history, grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Charlottesville, Va., Boston, Mass., New York City and Washington, D.C.  She and her husband now live in Philadelphia, where they raised their two sons.  She has never been stung by a honeybee (Wasps are a different story.)

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg meets Robbie who is not a farmer or gardener but really has a story to tell that can make a difference. Robbie was inspired by some honeybees and decided to learn more about them. Her research eventually led her to write an environmental fiction book for middle school kids to help them understand and appreciate the honeybees and the challenge of colony collapse disorder. She shares with Greg some of the amazing details she learned through her research and talks about how adults and kids can help the bees.

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Dec 15, 2016

170: Don Tipping on Seeds and Plant Breeding

Cultivating the future through seed saving and education

Don has been offering hands-on, practical workshops at Seven Seeds Farm since 1997.  His farm is a small, organic family farm in the Siskiyou Mountains of SW Oregon; situated at 2,000 feet elevation on a 7,000-foot-tall-forested mountain with rushing spring fed creeks flowing through the land and nestled among old growth forests.

Don helped to found the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative, which manages a 300 share CSA, a commercial seed growing operation, and an equipment co-op and internship curriculum among the 12 cooperating farms. He also co-founded the Family Farmers Seed Cooperative, a seed growing, marketing and distribution cooperative comprised of 10 western organic farms. 

He sits on the board of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance and is a regular contributor to the Oregon State University Small Farms educational program.  Don is also a charter member of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) as a plant breeder and a seed company advocate.  Don is regularly sought out as a teacher, collaborator and consultant in the Pacific Northwest.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Greg chats with an organic seed farmer and educator Don  also explains how and why a couple cooperatives got started including the Open Source Seed Initiative.  He has been able to open his farm to host intensive seed academy classes and he guides Greg through the topics that are covered.

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Dec 13, 2016

169: Sarah Highlen on Farm Marketing

Offering cost-effective marketing for small farms and food producers

Sarah spent 17 years in the marketing industry, working with clients across diverse industries. As her values evolved, her career in marketing became dispiriting — until she realized she could use her marketing skills for something she felt really good about: good food. 

Sarah founded Grapevine Local Food Marketing in 2016 to help small farms, local food producers, and other small food businesses.   In August, Katy Horst joined the Grapevine team, and together Sarah and Katy provide websites, logos, Facebook marketing, email newsletters, and other marketing services to clients in Indiana and beyond.

When Sarah's not working on marketing projects, she's usually growing food, buying food, cooking food, photographing food, or eating food. Sarah also enjoys helping people develop an appreciation for real food through education and recipes, and she's a founding member and board president of her local food council (NWI Food Council).

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg hears from a woman who got tired of marketing food “products” and figured out it was much more rewarding to market for small family farms and local food producers instead.  Sarah tells how her desire to eat better and be healthier led her to a farm that needed some help.  This led to a very satisfying career change and a chance to make a difference for local people who make real food and help regular people find the sources of the good food.

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Dec 10, 2016

168: Kerry Audisho on Locally Grown Foods

Connecting a community to a healthier diet and access to locally grown foods.

Kerry is a wife, mother, certified Dr. Sears health coach, local food advocate, and lover of food growing. She spends her time visiting various farms and gardens in and around Phoenix, and connecting consumers directly to local growers.

She organizes three Meetup groups, Your Farm Foods, Arizona Natural Food Group and Food as Medicine.

She blogs at and has created an online open marketplace, that allows users to buy, sell and share our locally grown foods.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Greg talks with Kerry to find out why she is so committed to helping others improve their diets and connect with locally grown foods.  Kerry shares the story of her conversion to healthy foods and then how even that diet was improved after a trip to a restaurant with a friend.  Her experience giving up sugar is a startling one. She also explains how she started her meet-up group to help her community connect with locally grown foods.

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Dec 8, 2016

Kristin Nikodemski on the Grow it Yourself Revolution

Encouraging growth in the community of organic gardeners

As the Product Marketing Manager for Arborjet and The Dirt on Dirt, Kristin divides her time between marketing, supporting, and developing products for the horticulture industry. From her early days helping her father in the yard, working for garden centers, and professionally managing consumer garden brands since 2010, Kristin brings a wealth of experience.

In her free time, Kristin is an avid indoor & outdoor gardener, artist, and foodie. She is a graduate of Salve Regina University.

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg learns more about some organic gardening resources from Kristin who tells her story of how she joined a sustainability focused horticulture company. Kristin has found a way to blend her love of gardening with a care of community by helping create the Dirt on Dirt community. She also helps explain some of the Arborjet products and why they work.

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Dec 6, 2016

166: Susan Poizner on Fruit Tree Care

Nurturing relationships with community and nature through orchards and fruit trees.

Susan is an urban orchardist in Toronto, Canada. She is the author of the award-winning fruit tree care book “Growing Urban Orchards” and the creator of an award-winning online fruit tree care training course. In her in-person and online workshops Susan has trained hundreds of students from across North America. Her students include Master Gardeners, arborists and people who are completely new to gardening and fruit tree care.  Susan is also the host and creator of The Urban Forestry Radio Show and Podcast on

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg meets another lover of fruit trees with Susan who founded a community orchard in her home town and found her calling as well. Susan tells how she got the idea to start an orchard in her neighborhood park, and how learning everything she could about fruit trees has morphed into her popular education program.  Her down-to-earth nature is very apparent as she explains some highs and lows on this journey and how her love for her community of people and trees has grown beyond her expectations. 

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Dec 3, 2016

165: Penn Parmenter on High Altitude Tomatoes

Growing and saving seeds for extreme or challenging climates

Since 1992 Penn and her husband Cord have been growing food just above the 8,000 feet level in the Wet Mountains of South Central Colorado.  With many years of research and development, they founded Smart Greenhouses LLC and Miss Penn’s Mountain Seeds in 2013,

Miss Penn’s Mountain Seeds is a small, high-altitude, bio-regional seed company servicing the mountain people.  As a tomato specialist, she offers over 200 varieties of adapted tomatoes – the Holy Grail of the mountains; as well as around 50 native wildflowers along with a mix of garden flowers, herbs and wild foods.

Penn and Cord have three famished sons, Maximilian, Beauregard and Wulfgar who help them in all aspects of their work.

IN THIS PODCAST: we hear an enthusiastic and fun guest as Penn chats with Greg about her passion for growing and saving seeds.  Penn tells how she got started in the seed business and why she enjoys her job so much.  Besides making the act of saving seeds sound really fun, she also explains why it is so important.  Her upbeat and positive nature has a great effect, and with the way she describes her crops, it must be like adopting a loved one when you order seeds from her.  And if you have a garden, her explanation of how seeds adapt for the area they are grown might just be enough to encourage you to try seed saving on your own.

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Dec 1, 2016

164: Jeff Moyer on Organic Farmers Association

Giving a larger voice to organic farmers in national policy discussions.

Jeff is a world-renowned authority in organic agriculture. His expertise includes organic crop production systems with a focus on weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design.

Jeff is perhaps most well-known for conceptualizing and popularizing the No-Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture. In 2011, he wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.

In September 2015, Jeff was appointed as Executive Director of Rodale Institute after spending the last four decades there, helping countless farmers make the transition from conventional, chemical-based farming to organic methods.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Author Jeff Moyer chats with Greg about the importance of organic farming, the role and purpose of the Rodale Institute, and the new Organic Famers Association.  Jeff has a great passion for a change in food production to a healthier method, and it is obvious as he explains the history of the Rodale Institute.  He explains why it is important to have organic agriculture and how consumers change affect the whole food system with just a simple act. 

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Nov 29, 2016

163: Melinda Adkins on Learning Homesteading Skills

Rekindling skills of past generations and sharing thrifty gardening tips

Melinda’s Urban Homesteader journey began as a child watching her mother and grandmother tend their gardens which instilled in her a love and appreciation for gardening.  After college she purchased a home in the city and secured employment with the local school district as well as a part-time Park Ranger.  The park had an 1880's working farm on the property which gave her the opportunity to visit and observe vintage skills. 

It was during her time as a Park Ranger that her love for the outdoors and living a simpler life really grew. She has a great love of nature, has earned a Wildlife Habitat Certification as a result.  Eventually, she began incorporating skills she learned from the farm staff into her own urban homestead. Somehow she finds time to watch documentaries in her spare time to continue her learning. Melinda is highly invested in helping her community and is the founder of 

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg talks to community homesteader Melinda who founded a community group to share tips and experiences while learning about homesteading. Melinda was a bit of a groundbreaker in her town with some unorthodox thinking, so in order to find others with similar preparedness and vintage skills interests she created an online group.  Her goal is to share gardening and preparedness information affordably.

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Nov 26, 2016

162: Jesse Sparks on Neighborhood Harvesting

Harvesting fruits and friends from your neighborhood community

Jesse is a sixth-generation Arizona native. His great-grandfather owned and operated a farm in Tempe, AZ, and Jesse’s mother’s side comes from farming heritage in Iowa, so he has been surrounded by gardens, fruit trees, and fresh produce his entire life. 

He and his wife had a townhouse where they started growing food by converting the lawn area in the back into a little 5ft square garden. Then, after moving and expanding to a larger area with more garden space, he noticed he physically felt better after eating home-grown produce. He travels a lot for work and is constantly on airplanes with recirculated air, but he credits having never come home with “travel crud” to his healthier, home-grown eating style.

Jesse lives in the Northwest valley of Phoenix Arizona with his wife Heather, their 2 sons, and is expecting twin daughters due early 2017.

IN THIS PODCAST: An inspiring young father Jesse shares his story with Greg about how he has started harvesting the unwanted fruit from his neighbor’s front yard and is developing a stronger community as well.  Jesse’s story is delightful, and uplifting as he and his young son collect fruit, make jellies, and bring the harvest back to share.  He shares how he started and it is not as hard as you might think. 

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Nov 24, 2016

161: Vanessa Simkins on Juicing Deliciously

Connecting healthy and flavorful juicing combinations for health and a good diet

Vanessa, is the founder of a website and newsletter serving up fresh, tested juicing advice for getting a hot body, glowing skin, and lifelong health through a straw. She is also the founder of Vanessa’s Juice Club and the author of the Juice Lover’s Big Book of Juices: 425 recipes for super nutritious and crazy delicious juices.

Her newsletters, products and site reach over a quarter-million readers each month – a veritable army, inspired to juice for better health.  A juicing trendsetter known for her inventive and tasty juice recipes, Vanessa has an undying thirst for connecting people back to what makes them healthy, one drink at a time.

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg finds many connections with Vanessa as she shares why she started juicing and why she runs her own business helping others learn about juicing. Vanessa tells about how she got started with her blog and her recipe book. She also tells about her love for mixing juices blends, and how she can serve up delicious drink combinations even from some normally challenging ingredient flavors.

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Nov 22, 2016

160: Jim Loomis on Lifestyle Medicine

Connecting a plant-based diet and lifestyle to positive health benefits 

Jim Loomis Jr., M.D., M.B.A., received his medical degree from the University of Arkansas, where he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society and graduated with honors.  He subsequently completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital/ Washington University in St. Louis, MO. and received an M.B.A. from the Olin School of Business at Washington University.

Jim is the medical director at the Barnard Medical Center in Washington DC.  He is board certified in internal medicine and has also completed the certification program in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University.  Before coming to the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, DC, Jim practiced internal medicine and was the director of prevention and wellness at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis.  Jim is on the clinical faculty of the department of internal medicine at Washington University School of Medicine and also serves on the board of directors of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

When not practicing medicine, Jim enjoys reading history books, cooking, and teaching plant-based cooking classes. He also enjoys running, biking, and swimming, and has completed numerous half marathons, marathons, and triathlons.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Greg talks to a Doctor that he met a few months back.  Dr. Jim is fabulous at bringing the complexities of healthy eating to simple and memorable analogies. Transitioning from a standard American diet to a plant based one to improve health and vitality is something that Dr. Jim can talk about because he did just that.  He was one of the worst kind of patients because he already knew the side effects of the meds he was prescribed, and his search for a healthier lifestyle is now what he shares with others.

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Nov 19, 2016

159: Brandon Peterman on Natural Building

Constructing buildings and materials from locally sourced ingredients 

Brandon grew up in Southern California and went to University of Southern California Riverside.  Always feeling a connection to nature, he has been living on homesteads in the woods for the past four years and has been actively doing natural building for the past three years.  He has participated in the building of over two dozen natural structures from cottages to bread ovens, garden walls, to covered benches and other homestead based structures.

His goal is to create a fully functioning working farm with a gardening education program and a year-round school program.  After his own apprenticeship, Brandon joined Kirk Mobert at the Sundog School of Natural Building which is based on 50 acres in Gualala, California. The school offers classes and on a rotating basis and apprenticeships in natural building.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Greg gets to hear about a new topic on the podcast when he chats with Brandon who shares the basics about Natural Building.  A life-long lover of the outdoors, Brandon tells how he found what he had been looking for in a building process that has been around for many centuries. This process is one that embodies several permaculture principles and has many time-tested examples existing around the world. Brandon tells about this method and the school that offers apprentice positions.

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Nov 17, 2016

158: Andrew Millison on Scaling up Permaculture

Sharing a regenerative design system and the medicine our planet needs.

Andrew has been studying, teaching and practicing permaculture since he took his first design course in 1996. He began teaching permaculture design at the college level in 2001 and has been an instructor at Oregon State University in the Horticulture Department since 2009. Andrew currently teaches the Permaculture Design Course at OSU on campus and online.

Andrew first learned permaculture design in the drylands of Arizona, where he studied for his undergraduate and master's degrees at Prescott College focusing on rainwater harvesting, greywater systems and desert agriculture.

In recent years, his focus has been more on broad scale farm planning, permaculture housing developments and obtaining water rights. In 2015 he founded Permaculture Design International, a collaborative design firm that works on large-scale global projects. And, he runs a free Intro to Permaculture course that has had over 20,000 enrollments to date.

IN THIS PODCAST:  Andrew catches up with Greg and brings him up to speed on what he has done since they took a permaculture class together 20 years ago.  This is an inspiring and EPIC story of someone who was ready to take permaculture to the next level and beyond.  The ultimate part of this adventure is that there is room for others to join in an online aspect.

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Nov 15, 2016

Elena Ortiz on Nature Education for Adults

Making connections to nature through working in a college garden.

Elena has been teaching with the Phoenix College Biosciences Department in the Maricopa Community College System for eleven years. She has taught environmental biology and general biology for non-majors. Her newest class is Plants and Society, a basic botany course for non-majors.

As part of teaching this class, she brings her personal interest for gardening into the classroom. She says the garden is a great place to introduce, or reintroduce, students to nature and ecology. Elena has a PhD in Plant Biology from ASU, a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Her interests in ecology and gardening were both heavily influenced by her maternal grandfather who was a family doctor and gentleman farmer in Puerto Rico who retired on his farm. As a young girl, she would follow him around as he would spend the day working on projects, in his garden and orchid collection, or his farm. She credits him for most of the knowledge of the natural history of Puerto Rico that she still remembers today.

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg chats with an old college friend who is now teaching botany at Phoenix College. Elena shares what she is doing now and how she has brought her classrooms outdoors and into the garden.  She describes how she believes it is important to make a connection with nature right outside your door, and how some of her students are surprised how easy it is to grow things in the desert.  She also depicts how her students make the connections and take ownership of the garden enough that they want to stay working even after the class ends.

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Nov 12, 2016

Keri Fox on SPIN Farming

Starting a farming business in an urban area and making it work.

Keri grew up on an organic farm in a small Saskatchewan community when organic wasn’t cool or trendy. After feeling like an outcast, and perceiving her parents as “poor,” she decided to pursue a more profitable career.  After getting her electrician journeyperson license, she ran an electrical contracting business for 8 years and made good money doing this. However, she felt her business was contributing to the destruction of the planet.  Knowing she needed a change, and having recently been introduced to permaculture, she took a leap of faith and sold her business to search for a lifestyle that would help heal the planet.

Keri took a series of permaculture based workshops over the next couple of years and eventually found herself in a SPIN farming workshop. Having found what she was looking for, she immediately returned home with a “crazy idea” to farm in the city. The idea got around and she started her new business with veggies in 8 different yards in return for a weekly box of vegetables, and sold the rest at the local farmers market. Now, at the end of 5th growing season, she works 1/3 of an acre including 7 outdoor garden spaces, one hoop house style greenhouse and an indoor micro-green operation, offers a salad box subscription that delivers to 9 restaurants as well as the weekly farmers market.

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg talks to Keri, a former electrician who quit to be a farmer because it was better for the planet. She tells why she left her successful business to run a small plot farm, and how she has developed that into quite the impressive and sustainable venture.  She describes how she rides her bike from plot to plot, sells to restaurants and farmers markets, and has a salad box subscription.  Farming with little-to-no land of your own can work, and she proves it in her story.

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Nov 10, 2016

155: Lawrence Parkhill of the Veteran Farmers of America 

Helping our returning veterans heal through farming and agriculture.

Lawrence signed up for the infantry at age 16 when the towers fell, and left at age 18 to go to Camp Pendleton. He was deployed twice to Iraq with India Company, Third Battalion, First Marines.  Lawrence extended his contract by six months or so to deploy with the Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC) to Afghanistan. He has a total of five year’s active duty as a machine gunner and got out as E5 (sergeant) with two Purple Hearts, and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with V device for valor. 

Lawrence is the President and Co-Founder of Veteran Farmers of America. He is also the National Maintenance Support Manager at Mission Produce in Oxnard where he lives.

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg is honored to talk to Sargent Lawrence Parkhill who shares his story of how he founded a new non-profit which is helping veterans reintegrate into non-combat life with jobs in agriculture. Veteran Farmers of America is working with returning servicemen and women to find internships and jobs in various aspects of the agriculture industry.

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Nov 8, 2016

Julian Awad on Backyard Riches and SPIN Farming

Taking a Small Plot and with Intensive Farming generate income.

Julian experienced entrepreneurship early at the age of 12 when he first started importing candy from Singapore to Malaysia where his family was living at the time. At 19 he started his first company in real estate. Since then, his interest for business and social responsibility has taken him from refugee trips in Sumatra, Indonesia to driving new innovative genetic risk assessments.

It was while working with Google on marketing and advertising, that Julian realized the need for marketing agencies which focused on a Return On Investment or were performance oriented.  Eventually he formed JSA Interactive Inc. to meet the growing demand for his marketing and commercialization services.

Julian has over 15 years of professional experience in marketing, strategic planning, project management, and internet technologies. He also has 10 years of entrepreneurial experience in marketing companies, launching consumer focused internet startups, and financing small businesses. He states his greatest achievements are finding and marrying his wife/best friend and having his new son and twin daughters.

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg talks to Julian Awad of Backyard Riches, who breaks down some of the intricacies of turning a backyard plot into a profitable urban farm business.  As an entrepreneur who has figured out how to turn ideas into businesses, Julian describes the models that he offers to help urban farmers become successful in a sustainable way.  The method of Small Plot INtensive Farming is the new way of being a farmer – especially in urban areas.

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Nov 5, 2016

Forest started urban farming in 1969 in Berkeley, California. Through the People’s Park Movement, he was launched into gardening and got the basic training and motivation for becoming a seedman. 

He has been a full time, independent, professions seed provider since 1972 and has owned, led, or helped launch at least four seed companies, and founded the nonprofit Abundant Life Seed Foundation which produced and distributed up to 600 types of open-pollinated vegetable, herb and flower seeds

Since 1974 Forest has been giving workshops on seed saving and the importance of genetic diversity, and was the keynote speaker for the 2012 Northwest Permaculture Convergence and, also the Regenerations Seed and Plant Exchange in Hawaii.  Forest had a radio show for a couple of years with 30 minute interviews featuring a variety of people including many permaculturists.

IN THIS PODCAST: Greg is enthralled by the story telling of Forest who brings us along on the adventures of a seedman.  Forest felt the pull of his calling in the late 1960’s and has been actively gardening and harvesting seeds ever since. Moving through a few seed company projects over the years, he has also harvested skills, friends, experiences, and an appreciation for the importance of native seeds.  With so much experienced focused on the tiny seeds that are essential to all gardeners and farmers, Forest’s story connects with everyone in one way or another.  Listen in and harvest your own kernels to save.

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