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
When Ryland Engelhart learned that restoring soil health was a key to reversing climate change, he became an advocate for regeneration –– resulting in a film that has been seen by over six million people in 26 languages.
Trees are an important part of most ecosystems, and they can actually make a great contribution to agriculture by providing everything from shade to soil health, water retention, wind breaks, and marketable products.
Wildfires across the West are burning out of control and causing catastrophic losses to landscapes and communities. How did we get here, and how can we better manage fire in the future? Lesli Allison walks us through the complexities and dangers––and the critical importance of land management.
For the US to have a resilient food system at a large scale will require changes in national policy. Aria McLauchlan and Harley Cross of Land Core lay out how the Farm Bill, which will be reauthorized in 2023, can stimulate healthy–and long-term sustainable–farming practices.
Healthy-soil agriculture has the potential to solve a lot of big problems from climate to nutrition. But how do you bring it to scale within the realities of a competitive market system with narrow profit margins? Jessica Chiartas of Regen1 tells us––and it’s not easy or fast.
Landscapes evolved with animals and need animals to thrive. “Goatscaping” substitutes animals for machines and toxic chemicals to produce more resilient and healthy soil, plants, and even beneficial insect populations. They’re also incredibly cute.
For over 25 years Santa Ana Pueblo has been engaged in a large scale project to restore wildlife, plants, and watersheds long degraded by invasive practices. The results for agriculture, culture, and the land itself have been dramatic.
Cooling the earth’s climate is not just about cutting emissions––it’s about removing masses of carbon from the air. Karl Thidemann of Soil4Climate makes the case that the secret of sequestration is in the soil––with win-win benefits for ecosystems, nutrition, profitability, and community.
Zach Weiss has seen land so degraded that even weeds couldn’t grow…and helped transform it into healthy, living landscapes by changing the flow of water and letting nature do most of the work. The implications for agriculture, wildlife, and climate are huge.
The name of Pamela Tanner Boll‘s new film, To Which We Belong, comes from the great naturalist and conservationist Aldo Leopold, who understood the interconnection among all living beings, and the need to treat land with respect––and a deep sense of belonging.
Biologist Eva Stricker works with hog farmer Zach Withers and rancher Emily Cornell to study—and quantify—how compost works to heal degraded agricultural lands. So far the results are promising.
Minor Morgan and Matt Draper are intergenerational farmers in Albuquerque’s North Valley. Cultivating diversity and healthy soil, their goal is to grow food that’s healthy for people and the earth.
Tejinder and Juliana Ciano founded Reunity Resources on land in Santa Fe where a veteran had grown food for the hungry. Now they have a thriving compost, farming, educational, and community organizing operation—all founded on regenerative principles.
Soil microbiologist David Johnson has been collaborating with pecan farmer Josh Bowman to cultivate healthy soil that retains water and produces a more abundant—and more profitable—harvest. Josh in turn works with other growers to help them improve their operations.
Renard Turner and his wife are agrarian entrepreneurs who produce local, sustainable, regenerative food at their Virginia goat farm–and they provide a model for future farmers and homesteaders.
Latashia Redhouse helps Native American food producers get their products out into the world—and supports their traditional and regenerative agriculture practices.