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 Episode 45: Agroecologist Nicole Masters
With us on our first live episode of Tractor Time is agroecologist Nicole Masters. She has a new book out. It's called, "For the Love of Soil," and there's an excerpt of that book in the August edition of Acres U.S.A. magazine. Go to acresusa.com to subscribe. Nicole has 20 years of experience working in Australia and New Zealand, in North America, to create regenerative food systems.
Tractor Time Episode 44: In Defense of Okra (With Chris Smith)
On this episode of the Tractor Time podcast, we're joined by Chris Smith, author of the James Beard Award-winning book, “The Whole Okra: A Seed to Stem Celebration.” Chris lives in Asheville, North Carolina, where he is the founder and executive director of The Utopia Seed Project.
It seems like a perfect time of year to talk about okra. And I have to say that okra is one of my favorite vegetables. I grew it back when I lived in Texas, and it is just a stunningly beautiful plant. It loves the heat. It’s drought tolerant. I loved serving it at dinner parties because people were always surprised it could be so good.
But, let’s face it. Okra is polarizing. There’s the slime, for one. At the grocery store, you find it in a can, which, no thank you.
But beyond all that, it turns out okra is a powerful vehicle for telling stories about genetic diversity, seed to stem eating and even the American slave trade. Chris weaves all that, and much more, into his book.
Tractor Time Episode 43: Rebecca Burgess on the Farm to Closet Movement
Rebecca Burgess is the co-author of the new book Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy. Her previous book was Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes.
If you listen to Tractor Time, then you likely care about where your food comes from and how it’s grown. But if you’re like us, clothing doesn’t always get the same consideration. We often talk about farm to table, but not farm to closet.
All of us buy clothing. We buy for comfort, for style, for status, for functionality. We have the brands we stick with. And, yes, sometimes we’ll spend a little extra for a garment made of something we feel virtuous about — an organic cotton t-shirt, maybe, or a pair of hemp slacks. But mainly, we look for things that look good, won’t wear out too quickly and protect us from the elements. But what is this often-opaque global supply chain of fast fashion really doing to our world and to us? What Rebecca describes in this interview and in her book is truly stunning and might just change the way you think about clothing forever.
As you listen to this interview, I suggest you do some laundry, or at least take a look in your closet. Are you as conscientious about your clothing as you are about your food?
In this conversation, Rebecca opens up her closet, somewhat literally, to us, and shines a bright light on a system that takes an enormous toll on our environment. She isn’t just exposing a broken system, however — she has a bold and hopeful vision for what a regenerative clothing system could look like. And it isn’t just about persuading big clothing brands to do the right thing. Her Fibershed movement is well underway, with more than 50 communities already participating.
Rebecca is the executive director of Fibershed. You can find out more about it at fibershed.org. Rebecca is also the chairwoman of the board for the Carbon Cycle Institute and a skilled weaver and maker of natural dyes.
Tractor Time Episode 42: Gerry Gillespie on Renewing Soil with 'Waste'
When you think about recycling, what do you see — plastic containers piling up in the garage maybe? The overflowing bin of clinking wine bottles you’re more than a little embarrassed by on pickup day? Do you just see waste? Out of mind once it’s out of sight.
Or … do you see a farm?
Today, we’re talking with Gerry Gillespie. When he thinks about recycling, he sees healthy soil and nutritious food. He sees communities coming together to claim the rightful value of what most of us think of as trash.
In his native Australia, Gillespie saw two big problems he wanted to fix: farmland that had been degraded by years of chemical agriculture and overstuffed landfills that were belching methane into the atmosphere.
The answer to both problems would be to harness a largely untapped resource hiding in plain sight — the massive amounts of organic matter being discarded every day. We’re talking about yard waste, cardboard and newspaper. We’re talking about kitchen scraps — the potato peels, the coffee grounds, the eggshells. What if we could capture these nutrient-rich resources and funnel them into regenerative farming systems?
An internationally recognized recycling expert, Gerry Gillespie wants to challenge our preconceptions about waste. And he’s been doing this kind of work for decades. He’s a pioneer in the Zero Waste movement and the mastermind behind the City to Soil project, which connects household organic matter with farmers. He is the author of a new book from Acres U.S.A. called The Waste Between Our Ears: The Missing Ingredient to Disrupt Climate Change is in the Trash. He’s traveled all over the world to spread the word, but he calls New South Wales home.
Tractor Time Episode 41: Darby Simpson on Finding Opportunity During a Pandemic
On this episode, we’re talking with Darby Simpson. If Tractor Time is only but a part of your farming podcast diet, you may already know who he is. He does the Grassfed Life podcast with Diego Footer. He’s also a contributor to Acres U.S.A. magazine. And what I really value about his perspective is its practicality. Through his podcasts and online courses, it’s clear he wants to help equip farmers with the tools to run successful farms — not just act out a romantic, Instagram version of farm life. He truly puts the economical in eco-agriculture. But he’s a conscientious farmer too, running a pasture-based, non-GMO livestock operation in Indiana, located between Indianapolis and Bloomington. In this interview, we talk about everything from farm diversification to the future of farmers’ market to the impact of COVID-19. Darby’s answers are thoughtful, insightful and, hopefully, prophetic.
Tractor Time Episode 40: Marty Travis on Farming in a Time of Fear
Recently, an Acres U.S.A. reader gave us a piece of sheet music he found while cleaning out his barn. The song’s called “The Farmer Feeds Us All.” It’s an old standard that has been performed in some form or fashion by everyone from Fiddlin’ John Carson to Pete Seeger to Ry Cooder. You should go listen to it. I’ll link to the Fiddlin’ John Carson version in the show notes.
I’ve been thinking about this song as the coronavirus pandemic lays low entire sectors of the U.S. and world economy, spreads sickness to the rich and poor alike, and gathers a dark cloud of fear and uncertainty over our future.
And yet, as national emergencies often are — at least for a time — the pandemic has been clarifying, forcing us to think about what truly matters most. Now, if you watch the evening news, you might assume that’s toilet paper. But for many, this time has been about reconnecting with loved ones. It’s been about reconnecting with the things that nourish us — things like faith, family and food.
Along with “social distancing,” “essential services” has been one of the new phrases to enter our lexicon over the last few months. In addition to health care providers and grocery store workers, we are reminded during this time that farmers, too, are essential to our survival.
We here at Acres U.S.A. have always marveled at the determination and the creativity small farmers show us in their tireless efforts to bring us nutritious food. In preparing for our May issue, which we put together this month, we reached out to many of these men and women to see how they were weathering the storm. What we heard was inspiring. Farmers aren’t panicking. They’re just getting to work.
Marty Travis runs Spence Farm in Illinois along with his wife Kris and son Will. He’s also an Acres U.S.A. author. His book, My Farmer, My Customer can be found at the acresusa.com bookstore. Marty leads a co-op of farmers that serves some of the top restaurants in the Chicago area (watch the documentary Sustainable for more on that). Many of those restaurants went into hibernation during the outbreak, but they didn’t forget about Marty’s group. The chefs put out the word that there was plenty of fresh food for sale. The demand from families was so high that the co-op saw a big spike in its usual revenue. And even though he had barely slept a wink when we talked to him this month, Marty was still finding time to offer farmers words of encouragement. I was really inspired by what he had to say and I hope you are too.
Customer ReviewsSee All
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.