190: Grace Gershuny on The Organic Revolution.
Recollecting early food system activism.
Grace is widely known as an author, educator and organic consultant. In the 1990's she served on the staff of the USDA’s National Organic Program, where she helped write the regulations. She learned much of what she knows through her longtime involvement with the grassroots organic movement, where she organized conferences and educational events and developed an early organic certification program for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA).
She currently teaches in the Green Mountain College online Masters in Sustainable Food Systems program and serves on the Board of the Institute for Social Ecology. She has a Masters in Extension Education from the University of Vermont, with a self-designed concentration in Ecological Agriculture.
Doing business as GAIA Service she works as an independent organic inspector. She also does consulting for private and non-profit clients on all aspects of organic certification, developing related standards and certification systems, and training programs. A reformed market gardener, Grace still grows her own veggies and chicken in Barnet, Vermont.
In this podcast: Greg is impressed when he gets a chance to talk with Grace who tells about being part of the early organic food movement and her part in writing the first standards for organic food regulation. Her story is important for anyone who is interested in being active in writing food policy for our legislators.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/grace for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear our other great guests.
189: Manuel Gonzalez on Innovation in Food and Ag.
Pitching food and agriculture related business ideas to potential investors.
Manuel is the North America Head of StartUp Innovation at Rabobank, where he leads the growth of their start-up platform build through FoodBytes! and new Accelerator, Terra. At the same time, he focuses on developing plans around how relationships with startup firms can benefit corporate clients. Manuel has been Head of the San Francisco Office of StartUp Innovation since 2012, where he led a process that greatly strengthened relationships with corporate clients in the Western Region of the US.
He joined Rabobank in 1996 as a project manager. In 2003, he was named Head of Credit, and a year later became Head of Credit and Legal. Manuel was appointed Deputy General Manager in 2007, and just a year later promoted to General Manager in 2008.
Under his leadership, the Mexico franchise significantly strengthened business performance, achieving considerable increases in revenue, cross-sell and net income. Manuel was instrumental in building a strong local investment banking team, and in fostering a high-performance culture focused on enhancing client relationships.
In this podcast: Manuel is someone who works to help people with food-and-ag related business ideas connect with investors and start the process towards funding those ideas. He tells Greg about the FoodBytes business pitch event that is focused on food and ag, as well as Terra and Rabobank with their focus on innovation in this business field. His take on how to deal with failure is something every person who runs or hopes to run their own business should hear.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/foodbytes for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to find interviews with our other great guests.
188: Megan Whatton on The Urban Habitat Network.
Mapping the habitats of wildlife around the world a section at a time.
Megan is the Urban Habitat Network Manager for The Nature Conservancy. She works with scientists, partners, private landowners, citizen scientists and volunteers to re-imagine their properties as habitat for the benefit of wildlife and people. Most recently she was the volunteer coordinator for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute on the eMammal project to monitor mammal populations in the mid-Atlantic region. Megan has a M.S. Degree in Environmental Science and Policy from George Mason University and B.S. Degree from Ball State University.
In this podcast: Megan introduces Greg and his listeners to the Nature Conservancy and the Habitat Network Project. This project creates citizen scientists around the globe and is working to map the globe with their data to paint a picture of the wildlife in every part of the world. Megan explains how this project got started and how easy, fun and rewarding being a member of the network can be.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/HabitatNetwork to see our list of podcasts and to sign up for weekly updates.
187: Sherrie Pelsma on Macro Photography in the Garden.
Looking at garden wildlife from a whole new perspective.
Sherrie grew up on the rural Oregon Coast before moving to Portland to finish her degree. She has spent the last 10 years in Community Education, and runs a program where participants learn Do-It-Yourself skills to make homes safer and more energy efficient. As an environmentalist who loves macro photography, she took a special interest in pollinators and other insects which quickly blossomed into the love that drove the founding of the project Pollinator Parkways.
In this podcast: Greg gets a chance to talk with Sherrie about her garden photography. Sheri has been developing her skills with macro photography and loves to share the results with her projects and her community. Here she helps explains the basics of garden photography, and tells how looking through the camera lens has given her a whole new perspective on the tiny lifeforms around her.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/macro for more information, photos and links on this podcast and our other great guests.
186: Robin Kelson on Seed Saving-Resiliency.
Keeping the strength of genetic traits through community sharing of seeds.
Robin is the owner of the Good Seed Company - “heirloom seeds for common use,” a small heirloom vegetable, flower and herb seed company based in Whitefish, MT and dedicated to helping re-establish the community practice of selecting, saving and sharing seeds for common use.
The Good Seed Company envisions becoming a model for cultivating community-grown resilient seeds, seed savers and gardeners, and offers “workshops from soil to seed” under the trade name: “DIY:GROW”, including a one-year “seed steward” internship. DIY:GROW seeks to reduce the barrier to entry for anyone wanting to take control of their food.
A biochemist and attorney by training, Robin has spent over 30 years exploring human vitality, resiliency, and patterns in the natural world. In support of cultivating a sustainability perspective for our common future, she also offers "The Resiliency Dialogues", presentations for all audiences that introduce simple tools from nature for practicing resiliency in any context and to invite dialogue on this subject.
In this podcast: Greg talks to a former lawyer Robin Kelson who now runs The Good Seed Company. She shares her story about the unexpected transition in her life leading her to her work around seeds. One of the big events in her new life is an epic community event focused on seed saving and sharing. She also explains why the company is using seeds from backyard growers.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/goodseed for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to find our other great guest interviews.
185: Elaine Ingham on Life in the Soil.
Examining the biology of healthy soil to improve plant growth.
Dr. Elaine Ingham is the Founder, President and Director of Research for Soil Foodweb Inc., a business that grew out of her Oregon State University research program. Behind her user-friendly approach to soil lies a wealth of knowledge gained from years of research into the organisms which make up the soil food web. Her goal is to translate this knowledge into actions that ensure a healthy food web that promotes plant growth and reduces reliance on inorganic chemicals. Elaine also offers a pioneering vision for sustainable farming, improving our current soils to a healthier state, without damaging any other ecosystem.
In her spare time, Elaine publishes scientific papers, writes book chapters and gives talks at symposia around the world. Elaine and her husband Russ (who also has a Doctorate from Colorado State University in Zoology, emphasizing nematology,) live in Corvallis Oregon.
In this podcast: Greg talks with one of the foremost experts on soil health Dr. Elaine Ingham and learns a lot about the world of microbiological life in the soil. Her studies have been amazing and it is easy to see how being a student in one of her classes can be quite informative. She tells about how she became so focused on the microbiological life in the soil and educates us on the importance of those first few dozen inches of earth our food is grown in. This is a mini course of science in just one podcast.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/lifeinthesoil for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to learn from our other great guests
184: Michael Phillips on Holistic Orcharding.
Growing fruit trees by creating a healthy ecosystem.
Michael is known across the country for helping people grow healthy apples and understand the healing virtues of plant medicines. The “community orchard movement” he helped institute can be found at GrowOrganicApples.com and provides a full immersion into the holistic approach to orcharding. His farm, Lost Nation Orchard, is part of a diversified medicinal herb farm in northern New Hampshire. There, two acres of trees supply local families with many varieties of organic apples, and has a cider mill in the planning stages.
Michael is the author of The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist, and The Holistic Orchard and co-author with his wife Nancy for The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines. His newest book, Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility, will be available in March 2017. Michael was honored by Slow Food USA to receive the first Betsy Lydon Ark Award for his work promoting healthy ways to grow fruit.
IN THIS PODCAST: Greg has found an east coast twin when he talks to a fruit tree farmer named Michael Phillips who has been growing apple trees in New Hampshire with a care that works for the health of the trees and the ecosystem in which they live. Michael grows and sells fruit trees and he focuses a lot of offering tree growing education as well. He shares his main points of growing healthy fruit trees and explains why some of the steps are so beneficial to trees.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/herbsandapples to see our list of podcasts and to sign up for weekly updates.
183: Shawn Jadrnicek on The Bio-Integrated Farm.
Maximizing functions from landscape elements to save time, energy and money.
Shawn has nourished his interest in sustainability through work as an organic farmer, nursery grower, extension agent, arborist, and landscaper, and now as the manager of Clemson University’s Student Organic Farm. From his earliest permaculture experiments with no-till farming in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California to his highly functional bio-integrated designs in the Southeast, Shawn has learned how to cultivate food in a variety of climates and landscapes. He shares his creative solutions through teaching, consulting, design work and his book The Bio-Integrated Farm: A Revolutionary Permaculture Based System Using Greenhouses, Ponds, Compost Piles, Aquaponics, Chickens and More - Published by Chelsea Green.
IN THIS PODCAST: Greg meets Shawn who explains a key permaculture concept of having multiple functions from one element. Shawn tells how he has designed many projects focusing on elements that have at least seven functions each. With his experience, he has brought together several examples in his new book and so he shares some ideas in this interview.
182: Matthew Shepherd on Planting to Feed Bees.
Expanding the habitat of an essential pollinator through our garden choices.
Matthew’s career began in England where he established a successful community-based conservation program in Essex and helped to create Samfire Hoe, an award-winning nature park. He has also worked with local communities and government agencies in Kenya to improve the management of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, on the coast north of Mombasa. He has created and maintained gardens that provide for insects and other wildlife everywhere he has lived, a passion that began when he learned gardening at his mother’s side.
Matthew’s introduction to pollinator conservation actually came two decades ago, on a sunny hillside in southern England, while working on a project to protect disappearing grasslands. He was manually using an artist’s paintbrush to transfer pollen between endangered orchids and realized there was obviously something missing in that ecosystem. Five years later, after marrying an American and moving to Oregon, Matthew was working for the Xerces Society at the vanguard of a new effort to protect pollinators.
In the past 15 years, he has collaborated with people from all walks of life to promote awareness about, and protection of, pollinator insects, especially native bees. Matthew is author of numerous articles and other publications, including Attracting Native Pollinators and Gardening for Butterflies. He is now the Society’s Communications Director, reducing the amount of time spent with pollinators, but increasing the time supporting the many other aspects of Xerces conservation work.
IN THIS PODCAST: Greg chats with Matthew Shepherd of the Xerces Society to learn more about their latest book titled 100 Plants to Feed the Bees, as well as some of the projects the Society has been working on. Matthew’s story of how he got to work for the Xerces Society is a little world tour and then he helps explain more about different bees and what they need.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/feedthebees for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to find links to our other great guests.
181: Quita Jackson on Thrifty Self Sufficiency.
Taking small steps to being green and making a difference.
Quita is one of the founders of GreenDesert.org. And while some would call her an urban farmer or a gardener, she prefers to consider herself spiritually connected to mother earth and her environment. She loves everything about nature! GreenDesert.org is all about showing people ways to be more self-sufficient, whether you’re gardening, making your own clothes, recycling, or making your own cleaning products… every little bit counts.
Quita is all about living the lifestyle…everything from maintaining a garden rich with herbs, vegetables and fruit, to raising chickens and tilapia, to using a water generator to make water from the humidity in the air, to collecting rainwater and The list goes on. She is quite passionate about this topic because she believes we are all in this together… and must recognize how our actions about the environment affects others. In addition, saving money is a huge priority for her and of course that’s a huge part of being green.
IN THIS PODCAST: Being green is all about having less of a negative impact on the planet and here Greg chats with Quita who has fully adopted a new lifestyle and loves helping others find their way into it as well. Quita tells how she got the courage to start gardening, and how that gave her confidence to try new ways to become self-sufficient even while living in a major city. Her encouraging attitude and caring nature helps as she spreads the word about little steps people can take in their own lives.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/blog/podcast/greendesert for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to sign up for emails about our other great guests.
180: Brian Smith on Biochar.
Enhancing your soils through an ancient, carbon-sequestering, process.
Brian is a systems engineer and project manager living in north Phoenix. For the past 30 years, he has worked for GE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Honeywell on software for flight control systems in commercial and military aircraft. Recently, he became an entrepreneur and started a small software development company. To balance his high-tech career, he has enjoyed more simple hobbies like making beer, woodworking, and organic gardening.
During the Great Recession, he purchased a foreclosed property that had been neglected and abused for many years and he has spent the last 8 years renovating both the indoors and outdoors. After removing 5 layers of different landscaping stone that previous owners had covered the yard with, he spread several inches of arborist wood chips over the dirt to reduce water loss and increase soil fertility. In the backyard he converted a broken-down diving pool into a private aquifer by filling it with rock and gravel, connecting a pump to the drain pipe and covering it with topsoil. He now has several fruit trees and a vegie garden growing on top of 3000 or 4000 gallons of secure rainwater.
IN THIS PODCAST: Greg talks to Brian, a transplant to Arizona who needed to improve his gardening results and found out about biochar. Brian explains the process that was used over 2000 years ago, to transform burned wood into a long lasting organic super buffet with nutrients galore. He tells how he was so interested in the results that he took his research to the point that he can now make his own biochar in his backyard.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/biochar for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear our other great guests
179: Penn Parmenter on Passive Solar Greenhouses.
Designing greenhouses using the natural laws of nature as allies and resources.
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,
Together they build smart greenhouses all over the Rocky Mountain West at even the highest elevations. Their greenhouses are 100% sustainable as they heat, cool and ventilate themselves without the use of fossil fuel. Penn and Cord are also co-instructors at the Denver Botanic Gardens teaching a slew of high-altitude growing classes there and around the region. Their very popular day-long Sustainable Greenhouse Design class is held on their 43-acre property and at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
IN THIS PODCAST: Greg connects again with Penn to talk about the greenhouse designs she and her husband create, sell and teach about. Penn tells how her husband Cord took passive solar concepts and implemented them into the first greenhouse they built from reclaimed and scrap materials, and how they have made many improvements over time. Their greenhouse once kept her precious tomatoes safe and growing during a week of temperatures 10 and 20 degrees below zero. High altitude growing was the impetus for their greenhouse designs, and Cord’s skills and need for perfection have created some results that would make any gardener rethink their calendars.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/greenhouse for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to find our other great guests.
178: Jayson Matthews on Solutions to Hunger.
Discussing food insecurity in urban communities and how to improve resilience against hunger.
Jayson is currently the Director of Ending Hunger for the Valley of the Sun United Way and has been with the organization since September 2014. Before joining the United Way, Jayson served as Executive Assistant to former Tempe Mayor Neil Guiliano, as the Assistant Director and Chief Program Officer of Tempe Community Council, and as the Chief Development Officer for United Food Bank.
Jayson earned a Bachelors of Arts in English Literature and Political Science from the University of Arizona in 1999 and a Masters in Public Administration from Arizona State University in 2003. He is also a graduate of Tempe Leadership, a trained facilitator specializing in nonprofit board development and community development, and recently became a Certified Poverty Coach.
He is a fierce advocate for human services and public service and demonstrates this through his volunteer work on various municipal boards, commissions, and nonprofit boards in Phoenix and Tempe. In his free time, he enjoys going on adventures with his dear wife and partner Emma and their adorable dog, Daisy.
IN THIS PODCAST: The complex and oft misunderstood situation of food insecurity and hunger are the discussion focus in Greg’s interview with Jayson Matthews. Jayson’s personal history growing up as the son of a young single mother gave him the empathy he needed to fill his role at the United Way. Jayson helps to explain many of the distinctions of hunger as well as how prevalent the reality is in the urban communities in America.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/PhxUnitedWay for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to find our other great guests.