Organic and Sustainable Farming in the Southern US
Brennan Washington worked in information technology and gardened with his wife just for fun and relaxation. When they moved to Georgia, they produced so much food that they got involved with farmers markets and CSAs–and started seeing the problems as well as the strengths of these outlets. Washington now works with Southern SARE, where he goes all over the Southern US and the Caribbean, talking to farmers and sharing knowledge to promote sustainable and profitable agricultural practices, as well as cultural sensitivity and understanding.
He is co-owner of Phoenix Gardens along with his wife, Gwendolyn. He has served as a board member of Southern SARE, the sustainable research arm of the USDA, Georgia Organics, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) and is the co-founder and farmer Board Chair of the Georgia Farmers Market Association. Check out his new podcast, The Sustainable Ag Rider.
0’53 starting in IT in New York and moving to agriculture in Georgia
2’08 transforming a small farmers market into a thriving one
3’00 techniques for building the farmers market
4’12 farmers markets in Georgia and how they’re doing
5’13 the problem of farmers markets being for upper income people
7’13 junk food subsidized, healthy food not
7’26 USDA programs for low-income consumers
8’09 Marker 8
9’07 “pinhooking” explained
9’52 “double-buck” programs
10’52 the limits of non-profits
11’15 consumers wanting more prepared foods at farmers markets
12’51 CSA (community supported agriculture) and its limitations
14’23 urban agriculture and its ups and downs
16’35 demand for different foods from new immigrant communities
19’01 are local food markets making a difference in people’s health
19’18 doctors presribing fresh food
20’53 the importance of “baselining” metrics
21’38 healthy food cooked in unhealthy ways
22’17 urban agriculture vs. gentrification
23’53 the soaring price of urban land in Atlanta
24’58 farmers’ land loss because of development and taxes
25’34 problems facing small and medium regenerative/organic farmers
26’04 getting younger farmers onto land
27’33 lack of housing
27’50 lack of broadband
28’18 farmers in the middle being squeezed out
28’47 lack of processing infrastructure
31’28 need for retail outlets for healthy food
32’24 barriers to building processing facilities
36’30 racism in agriculture then and now
38’17 cultural and language sensitivity
40’15 “heirs’ property”
43’40 seed saving
49’08 Native American seed story
51’02 the Sustainable Ag Rider podcast
Sanjay Rawal‘s new film, Gather, explores how Native Americans across the U.S. are rediscovering their food traditions–and building on them in the context of present-day realities.
LaKisha Odom of The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is helping to fund the research behind healthy soil practices so that more farmers can make the transition to regenerative agriculture and long-term sustainability and resilience.
For millennia local and indigenous farmers have been producing healthy food worldwide. In less than a century that food system has been decimated, We talk to Dr. Vandana Shiva about restoring health, democracy, species, and local knowledge.
Roberto Meza was an artist and MIT graduate student who took some time off to deal with health concerns—and found that fresh greens made such a difference in his life that he started growing them. Now he runs a thriving business and focuses on food sovereignty and equity.
Part of the experience of colonization for Native people has been the denial of their long-standing practices of agriculture. Now indigenous voices are becoming part of the conversation about how to think in a healthy and holistic manner about food.
Many food producers spend so much on interest to banks that they can’t pay for improvements to make their farms more resilient and regenerative. Zach Ducheneaux talks about an alternative that’s already having some success in Indian country.
In her new book, Judith Schwartz takes us to five continents and tell us stories of people restoring devastated landscapes–and overcoming deep conflicts that stem from degraded ecosystems. The results are phenomenal.
“What’s good for the bird is good for the herd”–that’s the basis of a win-win initiative to preserve bird habitat on ranches and grasslands. We speak with Audubon Society VP Marshall Johnson about grassland ecology and their successful conservation collaborations.
Vanessa García Polanco is from a farming family that emigrated to the US when she was a teenager. She explores the challenges that young and beginning farmers, and farmers of color, are dealing with–especially during the global pandemic.
The Eastern Shoshone people traditionally survived with the buffalo, and their way of life suffered when tens of millions of buffalo were killed by the US government. But now they’re returning to the land–and starting to renew a culture.
When the “green revolution” offered the promise of better agriculture through chemical-intensive farming, J.I. Rodale was skeptical. He started an organic farm and then an institute to study how farming could improve the land and human health. Now they’re doing great work from coast to coast.
Hopi farmers must be doing something right: they have survived and grown their own food for hundreds of generations. We talk to Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson about their regenerative farming and cultural practices––and the challenges to maintaining them.
Betsy Gaines Quammen has been researching the history of Mormonism and its relationship to Western landscapes for years. We talk about her new book, American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God and Public Lands in the West.
Water expert Brian Richter walks us through the history of these great man-made lakes, and how we can ensure that they will continue to provide water through man-made crises like climate change.
There’s plenty of food, but with Covid-19 it’s not getting where it needs to go, and everyone–especially farmers–is paying the price. Rachel Armstrong of Farm Commons walks us through the problems–and some solutions–to the many dilemmas facing the food system.
Grazing on public lands is controversial–for good reason. But when it’s done right, adaptive grazing can greatly improve land health–from overgrazed land, to former oil fields, to bombing ranges. Gregory Horner tells the stories.