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Today’s guests are Tangy and Matt Bates who operate Blue Creek Livestock in Delta Junction Alaska. They aim to provide their community with fresh, natural meat – beef, lamb, and pork. Since the beginning, Blue Creek Cattle has been building soils and herds. Tangy and Matt talk about the opportunities and challenges of farming in Alaska.  The opportunities are plentiful, providing farmers and ranchers with room for creativity and profitability. The infrastructure, however, is not what it is in the lower 48. For example, there were challenges getting replacement heifers and custom butchering. The Bates faced a “huge learning curve” with the need to process and market their meat. With no one local to handle their volume for processing, they built their own butcher shop. “It has gone extremely well, and it just took that bottleneck out for us.”As they found their input costs higher than their revenues, Matt began researching cover crops and intensive grazing, and it made sense to him. Some in Alaska thought it wouldn’t work there, but it has been very successful – with great forage producing fat cows, as well as lowering input costs.Next, they plan on burning bones from the butcher shop to make biochar.
Dan Macon is a University of California Farm Adviser and also the operator of Flying Mule Farm in Auburn California. Ryan Mahoney is a fifth-generation sheep and cattle rancher who operates Emigh Livestock, in Rio Vista California. Dan and Ryan are also participating in a Western SARE project demonstrating and evaluating how information from both electronic identification tags and better understanding of sheep genetics could be improve sheep production economic viability.Emigh Livestock produces “climate beneficial wool.” They put together a carbon farm plan – carbon emissions minus carbon sequestration. Through this they no longer sell in the bulk auction and receive a price premium. The end product is sold as 100% American processed fiber.“It’s neat to see your wool in that finished product, says Ryan.”Flying Mule is also seeing changing markets.  Dan is beginning to work with a stronger market for replacement ewe lambs that can fit for targeted grazing operations to manage weeds or for reduce fuel loads.  Other opportunities and changing demand face the sheep industry. According to Dan, “real opportunities have been this shift during the pandemic in people eating and preparing food at home.” There is a rebound in interest in lamb at retail level and this has driven opportunities to ramp up production. Additionally, the non-tradition market of selling whole lambs, which are smaller than those sold in the commercial market - primarily due to California’s ethnic diversity has been part of producers’ attempts to adjust to drought and other conditions.  Learn more about the Western SARE project.
In Episode 4, we talk with Zach Thode and Elizabeth Black.Zach manages a large cattle ranch in Livermore Colorado. Elizabeth is an artist in Colorado and manages a Christmas tree farm. Elizabeth is also the project leader for The Citizen Science Soil Health Project, partially funded by a Western SARE grant and Zach is a producer participant in that project. The Citizen Science Soil Health Project is a grower-driven project which uses the collective knowledge of diverse participating growers to apply local solutions to soil health implementation conundrums.In addition to raising cattle, Zach grows forage crops which can be challenging in the high elevation and alkaline soils. Elizabeth was concerned about climate change and started learning about carbon sequestration. This led her to focusing on soil health and taking soil measurements to show what is working. The Citizen Science Soil Health Project originally aimed for 30 growers. The project now has 48 growers who all take soil samples for 10 years. The group is diverse – small organic vegetable growers, ranchers, and large commodity producers. The collaboration brings together agencies such as NRCS, academics, producers, policy makers. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us to learn from each other so that we don’t all have to fail in our efforts,” says Zach.   Building soil health is a complex problem without a simple answer or map. “We’ve tried a lot of things. It’s not easy, but we’re getting better.” It’s important to have recommended best practices backed by on-the-ground data. Letting the data speak for itself helps build trust between producers and agencies. Learn more about The Citizen Science Soil Health Project.
In this episode, we talk with Don McNamara and Donna Rae Faulkner from Oceanside Farms in Homer Alaska. They raise a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, berries, and chickens, ducks and turkeys. They grow all of their produce and nine varieties of Alaska Certified Seed Potatoes without the use of synthetically based chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizers.  The farm serves their local market.Don and Donna Rae practice Small Plot Intensive Farming (SPIN) and started out borrowing space in neighbor’s yard and selling their produce on surf boards places on saw horses. They now have land near a road for their farm stand and built 10 high tunnels with drip irrigation. They have an honesty box at the farm stand and also sell to the local market through the Alaska Food Hub.They have worked in Kodiak Island villages, which typically has expensive imported food available, to set up hydroponics and growing their own food. Donna Rae, “They’ve gone from in many cases no in community veg growing to producing quite a lot of food” some are old airport sitesThey are enthusiastic about Korean Natural Farming, creating their own videos for others to learn from. “We want to be soil farmers as much as plant farmers”, says Don.
Today’s episode features Bashira Muhammad, founder of Zoom Out Mycology as she talks about “Driving Sustainability with Fungi!” Zoom Out Mycology is a fungi farm based in Southern Oregon.   Their mission is to apply mycology towards a sustainable future.When asked “How does fungi save the planet,” Bashira lists “so many ways!”  She and her team focus on medicinal mushroom teas for holistic health, small batch sawdust production so their local community can grow their own food, and community education. They grow 18 different species. Bashira also leads a Western SARE Farmer/Rancher project, Mushroom Farming Research and Education to Bring Greater Equity and Diversity to the Food System. This project  educates farmers about outdoor reishi mushroom cultivation and researches the most water efficient ways to grow reishi mushrooms.         
Austin Allred, talking about his family's Royal Dairy in Washington,  proudly states that rather than contributing to climate change, Royal Dairy shows that farms like his can be an impactful part of the solution — in part by preventing the formation of greenhouse gases and boosting the capacity of his soil to draw down and sequester atmospheric carbon.  In this episode, Austin shares his passion and knowledge about the relationship ruminants have with the soil, which effortlessly leads to regenerative and sustainable farming. You'll hear about the importance of ruminants converting rotational crops to proteins valuable for human consumption. Austin also discusses carbon sequestration and how regenerative farming is the process that brings carbon into the soils. We need to bank carbon in our soils, and the role ruminants have in this process is significant.And you'll hear how Royal Dairy captures 70% of their animals' urine and manure and runs the liquid manure through 8 acres of worms combined with rock and wood chips to capture usable water and  high value worm castings.The family's long term approach has led to fewer inputs  and more outputs with the worm and compost farm.
 Western SARE completed our second season of Fresh Growth. Thank you for listening! As we are working toward Season 3, we are sharing some special podcasts created by Washington State University students.In this podcast, you'll hear from Shepherd's Grain  COO and Director of R&D Jeremy Bunch. He discusses what makes Shepherd's Grain unique and how they work with no-till wheat farmers.  The model links farmers with consumers. You'll learn more about the importance of traceability as well as no-till practices for soil health.Student team:  Mia Berry, Miguel Fuentes, James Pellervo, Mathew Zimmer 
 Western SARE completed our second season of Fresh Growth. Thank you for listening! As we are working toward Season 3, we are sharing some special podcasts by Washington State University students. In this episode, you'll hear from 5th generation farmer Allen Druffel, Bar Star Farm, as he talks about their use of no-till practices since the 1990s.Student team:  Kayleigh Brown, Mathew Morse, Mackenzie Cunningham, Martha Lum 
Western SARE completed our second season of Fresh Growth. Thank you for listening! As we are working toward Season 3, we are sharing some special podcasts. These podcasts were created by students in the Washington State University’s Systems Skills for Agriculture and Food Systems class. The students interviewed producers on topics such as regenerative agriculture, permaculture, marketing, economics, technology and more. We hope you enjoy and learn from their work.In this episode, Palouse wheat growers Kyle and Stacie Schultheis, Diamond S Farms,  discuss the benefits they have seen using no-till practices. Kyle's grandfather started working with no-till in the 1970s when the ideas was very new. The farm has been 100% no-till for 20 years. Reduced soil erosion and moisture savings in the soil are two benefits described.
Western SARE completed our second season of Fresh Growth. Thank you for listening! As we are working toward Season 3, we are sharing some special podcasts. These podcasts were created by students in the Washington State University’s Systems Skills for Agriculture and Food Systems class. The students interviewed producers on topics such as regenerative agriculture, permaculture, marketing, economics, technology and more. We hope you enjoy and learn from their work.In this episode, Tim Nadreau of the Washington State University Economic School's Impact Center discusses how the disruptions of COVID impacted Washington agriculture and the economics behind the decline. He works with commodity groups and government agencies on policy assessments and impact analysis. The Impact Center works on developing new outlets for Washington commodities in export markets. 
Western SARE completed our second season of Fresh Growth. Thank you for listening! As we are working toward Season 3, we are sharing some special podcasts. These podcasts were created by students in the Washington State University’s Systems Skills for Agriculture and Food Systems class. The students interviewed producers on topics such as regenerative agriculture, permaculture, marketing, economics, technology and more. We hope you enjoy and learn from their work.In this episode, Jon Paul Driver, Industry Analyst for Northwest Farm Credit Services in Spokane, curator of the Hay Kings Facebook Group, and host of the Hay Kings Podcast talks about the impact of COVID on the economy, environment, and supply chain. 
Today’s guest is Nathan Hodges, who along with his wife Sage Dilts, runs Barn Owl Bakery on Lopez Island, Washington. He discusses why they are farming and sourcing heritage grains and using them in their baked goods; how the grains are processed locally; how the community plays a big role in their success; the results of his Western SARE research project; and what “right livelihood” means to them.The bakery came first, and then the growing of the grains. Nathan searches for grains that grow well in his climate and soils, taste good, and are highly nutritious. After learning about heirloom grains and doing their own research finding seed and growing them, “we fell in love with these old grains...  and developed a relationship with the grains,  appreciating what the old grains bring to our bakery and our farming."Heritage grains grow tall, and their root system mirrors this. Having grain with deep roots to access soil moisture is an advantage in their climate.Learn more at western.sare.org.
Today’s guest is Mike Nolan who, along with Mindy Perkovich, farms in the Mancos Valley in Southwest Colorado. Mountain Roots Produce provides the local and regional community high quality and reasonably priced vegetables.Mike discusses their commitment to building soil health, a strong local food system, and a profitable business, all while facing challenges brought on by COVID and limited water in the high desert climate.Prior to COVID, the farm typically received 60% of their gross income from regional restaurants and retail. They were planning on decreasing their CSA shares. Since COVID hit, they lost much of that business and wound up increasing their CSA shares from 70 to 175. “It was challenging to meet those deliverables every week,” says Mike, due to labor shortages, limited water, and changing protocols in how customers picked up their shares.The farm was “flooded with interest” after 10 years of encouraging the community to see the importance of supporting a local farm. Mike wonders, is this an actual change to buy directly from local producers or about food security during COVID?Mike also discusses the complexity of farming in region with limited water.  “It takes a lot of coordination… to make sure we had enough to push our crops.”  They plan on moving back to growing storage crops and reduce CSA shares due to a predication of even less water for the high succession, high management vegetable crops.Mindy focuses on creating a beautiful website and blog. Last year they took a chance with a sponsored ad. In two weeks with two $60 ads, their online store sold $6,500 in product.Mike also talks about his time in a local incubator program, in which he’s still involved as mentor. Hear his wise farming and marketing  advice for beginning farmers.
Sally Gale, who along with husband Mike, operates Chileno Valley Ranch in Marin County California. She and Mike returned to the family ranch in 1993, restoring buildings, infrastructure, and the land. They planted hundreds of apple and pear trees and started a grass-fed beef business selling directly to the local community.Sally discusses how they learned by reaching out to family ranchers, NRCS, ag extension, and the Marin Resource Conservation District to make progress on restoring the degraded land. About their work to restore eight creeks, improve pastureland, and expand wildlife habitat, she says they definitely didn’t work alone.“I’m a believer in if you want to do something, you’ll find a way to do it.” Sally and Mike jumped in and now have a profitable ranch with restored creeks and habitat.You’ll hear how they were successful by fencing off areas of the creeks, providing off-creek water sources for the cattle, planting native plants, and improving the soil through good carbon farming practices.Sally now works in partnerships with RCD and Extension to help other ranches. She recommends always reaching out for assistance and getting involved in the community, as the land and waterways are all connected.“Our land is not an island… we are all connected.”Be sure to catch the ending when Sally discusses her work with the Chileno Valley Newt Brigade!
Chris Sayer is a successful fifth generation farmer in Ventura County. He grows citrus and avocados, and experiments with other specialty crops such as figs, persimmons, apples, and apricots. Chris returned to the family farm in 2001 and has become passionate about soil health and regenerative agriculture.   “I inherited well-maintained but old trees. So I’ve had to look down the road, replace trees, and get set up for the next 30-40 years.” He discusses his ever evolving soil health and IPM practices as he continues to adapt to climate change and drought and to improve the land. Since the trees will last 30-40 years, he wants to give them the best soil possible, using 20 different species of cover crops over the past 15 years. Chris has seen organic matter greatly increase. Petty Ranch uses beneficial insects to manage pests and reduce chemical inputs. Lastly, Chris focuses on water efficiency, which has allowed him to continue farming successfully during times of drought. It’s important to Chris to work with nature and find a balance. “We should always be looking at impacts on the farm and keep them as minimal as possible, and localized to farm, with maximized benefits.”Photo by Chris Sayer
In this episode, Emily Cornell and Sarah Bangert discuss prescriptive grazing effects on rangeland.  Emily is a cow-calf rancher with Sol Ranch and Cornell Ranch in Northeastern New Mexico. She markets grass fed beef and also manages an apprenticeship program for beginning ranchers. She talks about the importance of soil health, especially in an area with limited water, as well as impacts on processing and marketing due to COVID-19.  About soil health, Emily says, ““Paying attention to soil health is the most important thing a rancher can do,” especially in such a brittle environment with limited water and low decomposition. Sarah runs a prescriptive grazing business with goats. She talks about her work with Emily and one other rancher on a SARE project studying the effects on the landscape with targeted grazing. Listen in as Emily and Sarah talk about the importance of thinking about how nature does things, and still produce a profit every year.Learn more at westernsare.org 
Today’s guest is Taylor Larson, who along with his two brothers and parents, operates My Brothers’ Farm in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. First generation farmers, they raise bison, pigs, and hazelnuts on the land on which they were raised. Taylor describes creating effective frameworks to determine a vision of regenerative agriculture with multiple partners and the importance of returning to the frameworks for decision-making. "We looking at what we are bringing into this world through our operations," says Taylor. "And it has grown beyond my wildest dreams."You’ll also hear why Taylor views the partnerships between farmers and researchers as crucial to moving sustainable agriculture forward. Taylor has Western SARE farmer-rancher grant to study the potential for shake and catch harvesting in hazelnut production. 
Western SARE completed our first season of Fresh Growth. Thank you for listening! As we are working toward Season 2, we are sharing some special podcasts. These podcasts were created as a senior project in Montana State University's Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems class.In this podcast, Jill Falcon Mackin, doctoral candidate at Montana State University, discusses Food Sovereignty for indigenous people. From the Turtle Mountain Band of the Ojibwe Tribe, she focuses on Native American food systems and land management practices.Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.In this podcast, you will learn about the importance of access to land to hunt and harvest traditional foods, the challenges with food processing, key policy needs, and how the idea of food sovereignty connects with the Ojibwe worldview. Jill discusses the significance of "taking control of our health and our land." She also mentions work with the Blackfeet Tribe Agriculture Resource Management Plan, a project Western SARE has been proud to support.
Western SARE completed our first season of Fresh Growth. Thank you for listening! As we are working toward Season 2, we are sharing some special podcasts. These podcasts were created as a senior project in Montana State University's Sustainable Food & Bioenergy Systems class. In this episode, student Nathaniel Bowman talks with Rocky Creek Farm's co-founder Matt Rothschiller about small scale vegetable production, integrating animals, successful marketing, and the importance of diversifying production.Learn more about Western SARE: westernsare.org
Aaron and Hansel Kern are owners along with Sue and Rebecca Kern, of Kern Family Farm. The multi-generational farm is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. In this episode,you’ll hear about their passion for community and conservation; trials with no-till and cover cropping; and the transition to the next generation. The farm is certified organic and they use regenerative farming practices. The Kerns are dedicated to re-cultivating connections between the people and the land in which their food and lives depend upon. They are focused on education, working with apprentices and WWOOFers. The Kerns also operate a grocery store to help provide healthy food to their local community.Roles are changing on this multi-generational farm. Aaron talks about his knowing about wanting to be a farmer from a very early age, and Hansel discusses his "gently relinquishing management to Aaron."The Kerns are big believers in cover cropping; working for 20 years toward getting their organic matter up. Hansel gives credit to the next generation for moving away from mechanical spader, going no-till, and having their organic matter grew even more.Aaron Kern is participating in a Western SARE funded project, Effects of Occultation on Weed Pressure, Labor Costs,  Product Quality, and Yield in Sustainable Vegetable Production in Northern California.Note: this podcast was recorded prior to the impacts on agriculture due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a follow up, Aaron told us that the farm has gone through changes and stresses. However, the community is really supporting local foods with a renewed interest. Their farm store sales have greatly increased, off-setting the loss of restaurant and farmers market sales. People are reaching out to them for advise on starting gardens and even buying plants from them out of their newfound interest in growing their own food. The interns that live on farm are constantly expressing gratitude to be sheltered in place on a farm in nature. The challenge is keeping everyone, especially those in the high-risk category, safe and healthy. Learn more about Western SARE: westernsare.org
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