Down to Earth is a podcast about hope. As climate change collides with our industrial food system, we focus not on doom but instead on people who are developing practical, innovative solutions. We invite you to meet farmers, ranchers, scientists, land managers, writers, and many others on a mission to create a world in which the food we eat is healthy—for us, for the land and water from which it springs, for the lives and livelihoods of the producers, and for the planet.
Episode 70 -Hopi farming: a 2000-year-long agriculture experiment
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.
Episode 69 – American Zion: Religion and rebellion on Western public lands
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.
Episode 68 – Why the biggest reservoirs in the west are running low–and what to do about it
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.
Episode 67 – Food, farmers, and the virus–navigating the difficulties and disconnects
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.
Episode 66 – Restoring Public Lands Through Grazing
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.
Episode 65 – Health, profit, and beauty on the farm in Minnesota
Grant and Dawn Breitkreutz didn’t know they were cultivating soil health when they started doing Holistic Management of their livestock. But as they learned to work with nature rather than fighting it their soil–and their farm–began to thrive in ways they’d never dreamed of.
Episode 64 – A small New Mexico garlic farmer takes on a Chinese ag giant
Farmer and writer Stanley Crawford got involved in a legal action that challenged a huge firm that wasn’t paying duties, and was “dumping” garlic onto the US market. What was supposed to take one year turned into a multi-year drama that is still ongoing.
Episode 63 – Grassroots Rising: A holistic vision for a healthy food system and climate
Ronnie Cummins analyzes what’s not working about our food system and lays out a blueprint for change — while reminding us that regenerative agriculture is ultimately a necessity.
Episode 62 – Growing food for healthy communities in Indian Country
Kelsey Ducheneaux is a fourth generation regenerative beef cattle rancher, and she works with the Intertribal Agriculture Council helping producers to work within the current system–and reinvigorate native foods and practices.
Episode 61 – Organic and sustainable agriculture in the Southern US
Brennan Washington is an agriculture Renaissance man. He farms, promotes farmers markets, provides resources to limited-resource producers, and produces the Sustainable Ag Rider podcast.
Episode 60 – Farming and fire in Australia today
Farmers in Australia work as fire fighters–but they don’t always do effective fire prevention. We talk to farm planner Darren Doherty talks about the devastation, causes, and opportunities arising from the bush fires.
Episode 59 – Regenerative vs. Degenerative Agriculture
We talk to Kevin Watt from TomKat Ranch about the practice and benefits of regenerative agriculture, how to incentivize it, and the dire long-term consequences of the degenerative practices of industrial agriculture.
Episode 58 – The Science of Water
Kate Zeigler is a geologist who works with farmers and ranchers in the arid Southwest to monitor their wells and the water table that keeps them flowing–and helps them to come up with water conservation strategies.
Episode 57 – Know the law…save the farm
Jillian Hishaw works with farmers to protect themselves, their families, and their land–legally and financially. Attorney and food systems strategist, she provides free or low-cost services, particularly to African American farmers.
Episode 56 -Hemp: Growing into the future
The hemp plant is amazingly versatile and resilient, and it can be used to produce innumerable healthy products and services. So why was it made illegal, and what does the future hold? We talk to hemp farmers Ed Berg and Scott Perez.
Episode 55 – Paul Neubauer – From apprentice to foreman—building a career in farming
What does it take to be an apprentice on a farm or ranch? What does it take to mentor the apprentices? Paul Neubauer knows both sides, and talks about learning–and teaching–both practical and personal skills on the land.
Episode 54 – Diana Rodgers – Red meat, where does it fit into a healthy diet/healthy planet?
Diana Rodgers is the author of several books and is working on a new book and documentary film project, Sacred Cow. She hosts the Sustainable Dish podcast, and she lives and works on an organic farm in Massachusetts.
Episode 53 – Robert Fetsch – How to deal with mental and physical challenges–on the farm and beyond
Dr. Robert Fetsch has for decades been helping farmers and ranchers deal with disabilities — from injuries brought on by hard work, to mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and anger.
Episode 52 – Nicole Masters – For the Love of Soil
Nicole Masters is an agro-ecologist and educator in regenerative agriculture. She’s founder of Integrity Soils, and author of the new book, For the Love of Soil.
Episode 51 – Meriwether Hardie: Making the Business Case for Regenerative Agriculture
The food business is beginning to realize that they’re unsustainable — but don’t really know how to transition. Bio-Logical Capital provides demonstrations and research that point to possible paths forward.
Episode 50 – Graeme Hand: How to regenerate land with livestock and still make a steady profit
Graeme Hand teaches Holistic Management, and how to restore grasslands with cattle–and his techniques might surprise you!
Episode 49 – Joel Benson Holistic Management: It’s Not Just for Land
Joel Benson applied his training in holistic management to his business, and then to the government of his small town where he was mayor for eight years. The results are inspiring — and remind us of the power of systems thinking.
Episode 48 -Rodrigo Sierra Corona, Conservation Cattle on the California Coast
While cows can be destructive, they can also be effective management tools for improving land health. We talk to Rodrigo Sierra Corona about his work to improve grasslands and preserve species at the Santa Lucia Conservancy.
Episode 47 – Kate Greenberg, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture
A long-time Quivira Coalition leader and proponent of regenerative agriculture, Kate Greenberg is now the Commissioner of Agriculture for the state of Colorado. We talk about what it means to take a regenerative and “Radical Center” approach from her position in government.
Episode 46 – Richard Teague: the Science of Holistic Grazing
Richard Teague is Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Texas A&M University. He shares with us his deep understanding of the science of holistic management, soil science, and the psychology of changing over to new practices and paradigms.
Episode 45 – Mountain and Prairie host Ed Roberson on innovative approaches to water in the West
Ed Roberson is conservation director at the Palmer Land Trust, and he’s host of the Mountain and Prairie podcast. We talk about some of the problems surrounding water in the West–and some new approaches to balancing urban and agricultural water needs.
Episode 44 – A regenerative farmer in Kenya
Emmanuel Karisa Baya was an orphan in rural Kenya by the time he was nine years old. His mother had taught him to farm, and after going into another profession, he was called to return to the land.
Episode 43 – Envisioning a post-carbon food system
Many assume that renewable energy will seamlessly replace fossil fuels. But what if that’s not the case? We talk to Dr. Jason Bradford, author of the new report, The Future is Rural: Food System Adaptations to the Great Simplification from the Post Carbon Institute.
Episode 42 – Incentivizing healthy soils through sensible policy
Healthy soil is a win-win for everyone, but converting from conventional to regenerative agriculture is a process that needs to be incentivized. Land Core is an organization that’s doing just that.
Episode 41 – Zombie Agriculture
Industrial agriculture looks like it’s alive, but often the soil is dead, animals are living in excruciating conditions, and the food looks good but is not as nutritious as food grown from living soils in humane circumstances.