The #1 podcast in Eco-Agriculture. From your friends at Acres U.S.A., the Voice of Eco-Agriculture since 1971, Tractor Time is a conversation between farmers, authors, advocates and legendary voices in the world of eco-agriculture. Hosted by Ben Trollinger, editor of Acres U.S.A. magazine. Since it started in 2017, this podcast has been downloaded more than 120,000 times around the world.
Tractor Time #66: The Most Famous Farm in the World
On this episode we welcome Anneliese Abbott.
Her name may be familiar to Acres U.S.A. readers. She writes a monthly column called History of Organic Agriculture in America. It’s a must read that’s always full of surprises — and so is her first book, Malabar Farm: Louis Bromfield, Friends of the Land, and the Rise of Sustainable Agriculture.
The book explores the life and legacy of a famous, Pulitzer Prize-wining novelist who became an Ohio-based, hard-partying prophet of a new kind of agriculture in the post-war era. It’s fascinating story that involves everything from Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall to wild parties, boxer dogs and techniques that now make up the foundation of sustainable agriculture.
Abbott studied plant and soil science at The Ohio State University. She ran a Michigan CSA for four years. She’s now a graduate student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Tractor Time #65: Rick Clark on Soil Health, Cover Crops and No-Till Techniques
Rick Clark is a fifth-generation farmer based in Warren County, Indiana, but he’s been spreading the no-till, organic gospel far and wide for the last few years. He gave a keynote address at the Acres U.S.A. Healthy Soil Summit back in the summer. And just this month he was a featured speaker at the Acres U.S.A. Eco-Ag Conference in Columbus, Ohio.
And if you’ve ever heard Rick speak, you know how much of an evangelist he is for soil health and ecological farming. His enthusiasm is infectious. He’s definitely not hiding his light under a bushel.
In fact, big food brands have started taking notice of Clark’s production methods. Rick was named Danone’s Sustainable Farmer of the Year in 2017. And Land O’ Lakes recently recognized his work with an Outstanding Sustainability Award.
So why is Clark getting this attention? Because he’s proving that an obsessive focus on soil health — and not just on yield — can work at a commercial scale.
His family has farmed near Williamsport, Indiana since the 1880s. Today, the family is producing organic corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and more on 7,000 acres. Clark is quick to point out that they were, historically, among the worst offenders in terms of excessive tillage and toxic chemistry.
But over the last 15 years or so, that’s all changed. Today, Clark is proving that no-till organic production methods can lead to both a profitable business and a healthy, balanced ecosystem. Yes, that means no till, no pesticides, no herbicides, no synthetic fertilizers. But it isn’t just about what he isn’t doing. Clark is also perfecting the craft of cover crops as well as the use of livestock within cropping systems. Clark says his strategy is to work with Mother Earth to create self-sustaining, closed loop ecological systems that are teeming with biodiversity. But he’s also obsessed with collecting data and using technology to his benefit. What he’s not obsessed with is yield. To him, it’s almost a five-letter word. The most important consideration, for Clark, is the long-term health of his land. And his vision might just be the future of agriculture.
To find our more about Rick Clark, visit www.farmgreen.land.
Tractor Time #64: Defending Beef, with Nicolette Hahn Niman
On this episode we welcome Nicolette Hahn Niman.
The name might sound familiar to some of you. She’s married to the pioneering California rancher Bill Niman, for one, but you might also know her as the author of two seminal works on ethical meat production, Righteous Porkchop and Defending Beef.
Over the years, the former vegetarian and environmental attorney has become a passionate and outspoken advocate for sustainable food production and improved animal welfare. She’s published pieces on those topics in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, HuffPost, and The Atlantic.
And Chelsea Green has just published a new and expanded edition of Defending Beef: The Ecological and Nutritional Case for Meat. A lot has happened since the first edition of the book was published back in 2007. Since then, cattle have become nearly synonymous with human-caused climate change and environmental destruction. But are cattle inherently bad? Or … is there another side to the argument?
In this conversation, you’ll hear why she believes cattle, and other grazing animals, can be used as tools for restoring both human health and ecological balance. Beef, Niman argues, doesn’t have to remain an environmental villain. She believes that wisely managed livestock can help repair ecosystems, fight climate change and improve human health — all at the same time.
Tractor Time #63: Beth Hoffman, author of ‘Bet the Farm: The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America‘
For the last twenty years, Beth Hoffman has worked as a journalist covering food and farming. Her work has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, The Guardian, Latino USA, and the News Hour. She’s also taught journalism at university. And now she considers herself a full-time farmer. Although she lived much of her life on the west coast, in the San Francisco area specifically, she and her husband moved to rural Iowa a few years ago with the dream of taking over his family’s 530-acre farm.
She tells that story in her new book, Bet the Farm: The Dollars and Sense of Growing Food in America, out now from Island Press. The book is part memoir and part exploration of the current state of the family farm.
Use the coupon code NOVPOD at the acresusa.com bookstore for 10 % off on all titles.
Tractor Time #62: André Leu, Vandana Shiva and Ronnie Cummins
On this episode we’re listening in on a recent virtual event for André Leu’s new book, Growing Life: Regenerating Farming and Ranching. And he’s getting a little help from his friends, Vandana Shiva and Ronnie Cummins. Leu, Shiva and Cummins go way back and co-founded Regeneration International back in 2015. The organization promotes food, farming and land-use systems that regenerate and stabilize climate systems, the health of the planet and people. In addition to being the international director for that group, Leu is also a farmer in Australia and the author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides and Poisoning Our Children. We here at Acres U.S.A. are proud to be the publisher of all of his books. I should also mention that he’s speaking at our Eco-Ag Conference in Columbus Ohio in December. Go to ecoag.acresusa.com for more information on that.
Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker, activist, feminist, philosopher of science, writer and science policy advocate. She is the founder of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in India and President of Navdanya International. She is a prolific writer, speaker and author, and recipient of numerous awards. Find her books Food, Farming & Health and Oneness vs the 1% in the Acres U.S.A. bookstore.
Ronnie Cummins is co-founder and International Director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica. Cummins has been active as a writer and activist since the 1960s. Over the past two decades he has served as director of US and international campaigns dealing with sustainable agriculture issues including food safety, genetic engineering, factory farming, and global warming. You can find his book, Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food and Green New Deal in the acresusa.com bookstore.
Tractor Time #61:Indigenous Agriculture (w/ Kelsey Ducheneux-Scott)
On this episode of Tractor Time we welcome fourth generation South Dakota rancher Kelsey Ducheneaux-Scott. Kelsey is the director of programs for the Intertribal Agriculture Council, which seeks to build and restore indigenous foodways in Native American communities. She’s also a co-owner of DX Beef, a direct-to-consumer grassfed beef operation on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. That’s where she grew up and that’s where she ranches today with her family.
She’s passionate about soil health, land stewardship, education and bringing nutritious food to her community. She received a bachelor’s in Rangeland Management from South Dakota State University, a master’s of agriculture in Integrated Resource Management from Colorado State University, and she’s currently closing in on a doctorate in education at Northcentral University.
Even though she’s still only in her 20s, she’s emerged as an important voice within the regenerative agriculture.
For more information about Kelsey, visit dxbeef.com.
Thanks for Knowledge & Wisdom
Thank you for sharing the wisdom and knowledge from Biological/Ecological Farmers. Tractor Time, thanks for being the voice of Acres USA, which does a great job of sharing old and new information that contributes to an ongoing understanding and learning of how we can grow healthy quality food in alignment with the awesome power and dynamic qualities of nature. Thank you for standing up for a healthy quality life for people and a beautiful healthy natural environment.
Thanks for playing Jeff Moyer’s talk from the 2018 conference. That should be aired nationally during prime time on TV for everyone to hear!!
Great Subjects But Needs Some Improvement
Acres USA and its conference archives has an incredible wealth of ecological and sustainable agriculture knowledge! Some of which has been shared on this podcast. Cannot wait for the next broadcast.
Yet, the voice quality and volume has been at times sub-par. You control the volume in production and yet the introductions and wrap-ups can be low or too loud compared to the rest of the broadcast.
A suggestion ... given your vast archives why not offer a weekly "archives" podcast that would deal with some of the higher level agricultural science issues and concepts Acres is known for. Maybe call it "Acres Eco-Ag Archives." Plus, keep the "Tractor Time" podcast for timely interviews and more hands-on agriculture information.