228: Sheri McLane on Soil and Plant Testing.
Improving plant yields through expert analysis of growing mediums.
In this podcast: Soil scientist Sheri explains how she found her calling in an agronomy and is driven to help farmers and gardeners with their soil questions. There is a great deal of science in determining the chemical make-up of soil samples and figuring out what is needed for different crops, and she knows how to help explain it for the rest of us. Sheri also helps by sharing a few tips for some basic soil remediation in this interview.
Sheri was interested in science and how things worked from a young age. She was fascinated with paleontology in middle school and even participated in archeology digs with the local museum. In high school, she loved geology and marine biology which led her to the University of San Diego where she obtained a major in marine science with an emphasis in biology and a minor in environmental science. Upon graduation, she worked for environmental labs learning new analytical techniques and her thirst for science knowledge grew.
She was planning on pursuing a career in marine mammal rescue and habitation, however, her undergrad studies caused a change in her career path. She decided to learn more about soil and plant science, a topic of interest from her undergrad course work. She went to work for IAS Laboratories and studied under Dr. Paul Eberhart for many years.
Sheri has been working in the agriculture field for the last fifteen years and is now the president of IAS Laboratories. Her focus on soil and plants has held firm and she’s earned her masters in agronomy through Iowa State and is in the process obtaining her soil scientist and CPAg certification.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/ias for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
227: Jan Dohner on Predators on the Urban Farm
Adjusting to a new normal with predators near our farms.
In This Podcast: We learn quite a bit from Jan who has spent four decades researching livestock guardians and the predators they guard against. She helps explain why there has been a resurgence in these wild predators and what steps can be taken to guard our precious farm resources for both urban and rural farms.
Jan is a researcher and writer concerned with historic livestock breeds and husbandry, as well as issues surrounding predator control and the use of livestock guardians. She makes presentations on these topics at various conferences, including Mother Earth Fairs and The Common Fair in Maine. She has written several books and maintains a blog you can find on her website. She is also a longtime member of the American Livestock Conservancy.
Jan lives on her family farm in Michigan and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/farmdogs for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
226: Kevin Van Eekeren on Store Bought vs Home Raised Eggs
Recognizing eggs from lovingly raised hens and factory raised, regardless of labeling.
In this podcast: We get to know the personal motivations behind Kevin Van Eekeren, a tactical advisor and egg farmer with a focus on clear visioning 10 years into the future. He tells us how his experience developing tactical training has helped him with his farm. He also explains about some of the labeling misperceptions of eggs, and why there is such a marked difference in eggs depending on how the hens are raised.
Kevin is not your typical farmer. He was a SWAT team logistics officer; started Fulcrum Tactical- a charity that specialized in training SWAT teams nationwide; and couple years ago he started Fulcrum Investing- a venture capital fund investing in startups. He most recently started hosting a podcast called State of Logic which has a planned release date of mid 2017 with a duel focus on both the startup world and topics that affect our world, and not just in business.
In the middle of it all Kevin started Fulcrum Farms with just 28 chickens raised for personal use which gave him 20 eggs a day. So, of course he started giving eggs away and that is when restaurants and families started offering to buy them. To meet demand, he grew the operation to what it is today, 30 pigs, a few hundred quail, 100 ducks, 100 chickens, a few cows and two goats named Thelma and Louise. They quickly learned the best practice was to follow Joel Salatin's example and use the nitrogen cycle for their own benefit.
Now they keep most of their animals rotating constantly to give them new pasture to graze and allow the land they just grazed to rest. Their biggest seller are his eggs and the reason is clear, there is a visual and taste difference between their eggs and those bought at the store.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/fulcrum for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
225: Edward Griffin on Indoor Smart Gardens
Solving some space and time issues around growing fresh food.
In This Podcast: We meet Edward, a millennial concerned about sustainability and food equity issues, who also wanted to have an active lifestyle and still grow his own food. Not having a backyard did not stop Edward as he took agricultural and sustainability concepts he learned in college and created his own solution.
Edward graduated from Arizona State University in 2013 double majoring in Sustainability and Political Science. During this time, he studied some of the hardest questions relating to sustainability at a social, economic, and environmental level. The area of global sustainability that always spoke to him was the complex issue of agriculture, specifically food deserts because it was something he dealt with his entire life.
Faced with environmental and time constraints he began experimenting and developing new ways to integrate technology and grow food inside his apartment. This quickly became a new-found passion of his, and with this new obsession he founded the company Lyfbox, which has just released the first fully intelligent indoor smart garden to automatically grow fresh organic food inside your home year-round and is controlled using the Lyfbox app on your phone.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/lyfbox for more information and links to our other guests!
224: Lisa Steele on Gardening with Chickens
Incorporating chickens into the gardening process as willing workers.
In This Podcast: We connect again with Lisa Steele to get some great suggestions on how to bring the chickens out of the coop and into the garden. She explains how these feathered friends can do even more to earn their keep and become true gardening partners.
Lisa is a 5th-generation chicken keeper, nationally recognized author and the creative mind behind the Better Homes & Gardens award-winning blog - Fresh Eggs Daily. Lisa inspires both the newcomer as well as the seasoned chicken keeper and engages almost a million fans worldwide on her Facebook page of the same name with her easy, fun, and accessible approach to raising backyard flocks naturally.
The author of three top-selling books, Lisa’s writing can also been found in such publications as Chickens, Backyard Poultry, the Farmers Almanac, and Hobby Farm as well as at HGTVGardens.com. She’s been featured in American Farmhouse Style, Down East and Cottage Journal magazines plus has appeared on numerous national radio and television programs and most recently is hosting her own 30-minute “chicken lifestyle” television show called Fresh Eggs Daily with Lisa Steele which airs on the local CW affiliate in Portland Maine.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/gardeningwithchickens for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
223: Paten Hughes on Heirloom:
Tomatoes and a Web Series.
Growing tomatoes when life gives you lemons
In This Podcast: We get the inside scoop from actress Paten Hughes on the inspiration for her new web-series which is based on her transition of actor-to-tomato-farmer. She did not just plant a few, she planted more tomato plants than most people can even conceive and now she has several restaurants that order from her.
Paten is the star and co-creator of the hit digital series HEIRLOOM on Vimeo, written by Bekah Brunstetter (NBC's This Is Us) and co-starring Margaret Colin, Tom Wopat, Pascale Armand, Ryan Cooper, and John Lavelle.
This semi-autobiographical web series follows the character Emily who gives up her struggling acting career in New York to move to California and farm heirloom tomatoes on a property she inherits. Paten, who really moved to Northern California and become a first-time farmer, sells her juicy organic tomatoes to several local restaurants in Sonoma. She is very committed to preserving nature, supporting local and organic farming. The show’s flavor carries her pro-environment, sustainability, and organic preferences.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/heirloom for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
222: Heather Szymura on Hydroponic Container Farming.
Growing limited-season crops year-round regardless of climate extremes.
In This Podcast: We meet Heather who decided to change directions away from a professional one towards one more in tune with nature and healing and to her surprise ended up becoming a farmer! She is selling lettuce and kale she is growing year-round in the suburbs near Phoenix and tells Greg how she is doing that in a shipping container in her backyard.
After 15 years in the corporate business world and a degree in Global Business Marketing, Heather decided it was time for a shift. She resigned from her position at UPS, went back to school to pursue a degree in Naturopathic Medicine and at the same time delved more into her hobby of urban farming. It was in here that she found her life’s passion unearthing the amazing benefits growing herbs and veggies.
Her business, Twisted Infusions, became a reality in 2016 when the container farm arrived on their doorstep! They sell non-GMO, pesticide free, hydroponically grown lettuce, kale and herbs! Now, being a farmer and business owner is Heather’s full time job. She and Brian, her husband and best friend, live in Glendale, Arizona with their two children, Killian and Mary. Throw in two snakes, a pink tarantula, a bearded dragon, and a leopard gecko and that’s the Szymura family.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/twisted for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to our other great guests.
221: Ocean Robbins on the Food Revolution Summit.
Finding a path of health, hope, and possibility through better food choices.
In This Podcast: This is a special podcast interview with food activist Ocean Robbins about his Food Revolution Summit happening April 29 to May 7.
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.
220: Ben Raskin on Practical Advice for Community Gardens
In This Podcast: For those envisioning a perfect community garden, Ben Raskin has put together a fabulous resource to guide, inspire, and empower the designers and leaders of future neighborhood plots. He tells Greg about the purpose he had for writing his latest book and some of the lessons he’s learned during his years of farming.
Organizing a community garden from scratch with smart planning and long-term goals.
Ben has been working in horticulture for more than 20 years and has been with the Soil Association in the United Kingdom, since 2006. His own experience includes; running a walled garden in Sussex which supplied a Michelin starred restaurant, and working for Garden Organic at their gardens in Kent. He also set up and ran the 10-acre horticultural production at Daylesford Organic Farm before moving to the Welsh College of Horticulture as commercial manager.
Ben also works on a range of other projects and over the years these have included working as Horticultural Advisor and founder Board Member of The Community Farm near Bristol, and running a program of biochar trials with organic growers. He is currently managing a new agroforestry planting on Helen Browning’s farm near Swindon.
He is also a board member of the Community Supported Agriculture Network UK and committee member for the Organic Growers Alliance. With all of this experience, he is also an author and has written The Community Gardening Handbook, and two family gardening books titled Grow, and Compost.
Teaching back to basics food preparation and preserving skills.
In this podcast: Jennifer tells about the importance of self-reliance skills and why they are becoming needed once again. She explains what led her to this place in her life where she teaches some of these old traditions that traditional homesteaders relied on daily.
Jennifer is the author of the Preparedness Planner series, lead teacher at the online Self Reliant School (which is dedicated to teaching preparedness and self-reliance skills), host of the weekly live Self Reliant Living Show (which I was a guest on in Nov 2016), and a homeschooling mom. She is dedicated to teaching back-to-basics food preparation and preserving skills that help people eat healthy, save money, live greener and be prepared for anything.
Jennifer and her husband turned to the old-school basics when they found themselves in mountains of debt, two of their three boys suffering from asthma and allergies, and she, herself, struggling for years with her own weight management. She knows from experience that eating real food when you're watching every penny is not easy, and trying to put healthy food into storage is almost impossible.
Jennifer, her husband and her three teenaged boys live in Texas. She is on a mission to save the knowledge and wisdom of our grandparents, and to help people apply it to their lives today.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/selfreliant for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
218: Nafsika Antypas on Living a Plant-Based Life.
Understanding the reasons and options for choosing a vegan lifestyle.
Nafsika is the Host and Creator of the world’s first plant based lifestyle TV series that focuses on a plant-based diet living. She has studied about olive oil and the Mediterranean diet in Greece through her father’s business, Pilaros Inc, a Mediterranean food importer, where she has been involved for over twenty years. She created the TV show, Plant-Based by Nafsika which aired nationally in 2016, to change the world through food. This has not only sparked the interest of viewers around the globe but has planted some seeds helping veganism become more “mainstream,”
In 2015, she founded, The Struggling Vegan, which helps people transition to a plant-based/vegan lifestyle while strengthening the community in a public forum called, Veg Room. The organization offers daily menu plans, recipes, health tips and direct messaging to plant-based doctors and coaches.
Nafsika spends her spare time with her family, which includes her two young boys. She and her husband both cook plant-based meals at home and she’ll educate just about anyone who would listen about why it’s healthier to switch to a plant-based diet and why veganism is not just a diet but a way of life.
In this podcast: Greg talks to television host Nafsika Antypas about living a plant-based life and how she was inspired to start her own television show all about living a vegan lifestyle. She helps explain some of the core beliefs behind veganism as well as some of the basics of living a cruelty-free way of life. Go to www.urbanfarm.org/nafsika for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
217: Sine Lindholm on an Urban Farming 'Growroom'
Creating and sharing an open-sourced growing sphere to create poetic spaces.
Sine is from Denmark and has a degree in architecture from Aarhus School of Architecture along with an emphasis on psychology. This shows in her projects where she is combining the two, with her main focus on the theoretical and abstract part of architecture.
She grew up on an organic farm with milking cows, however she had never worked with agriculture or urban farming before, until she won an architecture competition together with architect and carpenter Mads-Ulrik Husum. They had designed an Urban Farming pavilion, which received great attention that led to the further development of the project. They teamed up with SPACE10, a future living-lab, where they developed and released an open source design of their pavilion.
Together they started the company Husum & Lindholm, where for the moment they primarily focus on further development of combining architecture with gardening. On the basis of a spatial experimentation with the Urban Farming concept, they strive towards creating architecture where atmosphere and sensuousness - acts as the primary design factors. Their goal - to generate poetic spaces where a symbiotic relationship with vegetation arises.
In This Podcast: Greg sought out this interview with Sine Lindholm after seeing an article about a gorgeous growing sphere design and so today she tells us about the inspiration behind the design. Sine also explains why they hope an open-sourced design will encourage others to improve on their model.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/growroom for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.
216: Emiley Kight on Loving Natural Foods.
Making little changes towards more real foods and feeling better.
Emiley has always loved food, and wanting to share this passion she dove into a Culinology® degree to explore a role as an R&D chef at SW Minnesota State University. That was until her mom became sick and she put her career on hold to act as her mom’s caretaker throughout her treatment for multiple myeloma cancer.
To her surprise, the doctors provided little information on what to eat as a cancer patient, and so Emiley started doing her own research on the effects that food have on chronic disease. Through trial and error in the kitchen, she discovered how whole plants can be used to combat side effects of medication, create pleasure by surprising and challenging your taste buds, and help your body work as efficiently as possible. Completely changing her mother's eating habits (as well as her own) helped her develop a brand-new love affair with foods in their natural state. Now, she is devoted to sharing her story and this information with others to inspire anyone who eats, to fall in love with food again.
In This Podcast: A chance meeting at the Farmers Market connected Greg to Emiley Kight, a Nutrition Consultant who tells about how she helps people to make little changes and enjoy natural foods. She explains about how her focus on food was taking her towards the kitchens of large food corporations until her mom’s illness and the realization that real food information and options were not included in recovery discussions and she decided to work on changing that.
Go to www.urbanfarm.org/emiley for more information, photos and links on this podcast and to hear from our other great guests.