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Rocks with weeds

48: Xeriscaping with Leah Churner and Colleen Dieter Transcript

Listen to the full episode.

Hallie: Hello and welcome to One to Grow On. A show where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. My name is Hallie Casey and I studied and currently work in agriculture.

Chris: I’m Chris Casey, Hallie’s dad. Each episode we pick an area of agriculture or food production to discuss and this week we’re talking about xeriscaping.

[Background Music].

Hallie: This week we have on the podcast two amazing women. We have Leah Churner, the founder of Delta Dawn Sustainable Gardens here in Austin, Texas. She’s also the creator of Hothouse Podcast and a co-creator of the Horticulturati Podcast. And we also have Colleen Dieter on. She is the creator and brains and brawn and everything behind Red Wheelbarrow Plants and a founder of Central Texas Seed Savers, as well as the second half of the Horticulturati Podcast. Welcome you all.

Chris: Welcome. Thank you for being here.

Colleen: Thanks.

Leah: Thanks for having us.

Hallie: Was there anything that I missed in you all’s intro?

I know you have many accolades to your names.

Colleen: No.

Leah: I think you got it.

Colleen: Generally, awesome people.

Hallie: Yes, absolutely.

[Laughter].

Chris: Those are the only kind of people we ever have on the podcast, so here we go.

Colleen: [Laughs]. Okay. Good. We’re in good company then?

Chris: Absolutely.

Hallie: I know I mentioned that both of you all have two different gardening companies, but I was wondering if you guys could give a little background about the work you do and how you got there.

Leah: Colleen, you start.

Colleen: Oh, okay. Alright. I was going to tell you to go first, but I’ll go first. I help my customers by alleviating their anxieties about their yards. Primarily, I help homeowners who are do it yourselfers who want to garden and want to landscape their properties, but they just don’t know where to start and they just have a lot of worries and trouble and so I can come in and give people advice about what to do and how I got into it was through 20 years of experience as a personal gardener in Austin. Before I had my consulting business, I had a set group of customers who all had really complicated yards and I took care of their yards basically and learned all about plants in Central Texas that way along with a short stint, working at Natural Gardener. I studied horticulture as my minor in college at the Ohio State University and I was a philosophy major. That’s my story.

Leah: I’ll go. I’m Leah speaking here. I’m a landscape designer and gardener and like Coleen, my background is into the maintenance side of things and so I was doing that sort of same personal gardening maintenance for people for a long time. I still do that, but now I also do design and consulting and I’m very hands-on from the point of conceiving of ideas to putting them in to trying to maintain them over time. I’m a control freak in that way. Yeah, that’s what I do and I am also teaching planting design at ACC starting on October 12th and that’s what I do.

Hallie: Super cool.

Chris: Yeah, very nice. I got to ask is the Ohio State University, the only university in Ohio State or the only university called Ohio State or is the, just part of the name?

Colleen: The, the is just part of the name. It’s like a branding thing.

Chris: Got it. Okay.

Colleen: It’s silly when I say it, I’m saying it partly with pride, but also partly sarcastically.

[Laughter].

Chris: Very good.

Leah: It’s like Talking Heads, when you talk about the band Talking Heads, you don’t call them the Talking Heads.

Colleen: Yeah, or Sustainable Food Center. Is it the Sustainable Food Center or is it just Sustainable Food center?

Hallie: A lot of people think there’s a the, but there isn’t. In fact, no the.

Colleen: But with Ohio State, there is a the.

[Laughter].

Leah: I did not know that.

Colleen: It started like around the time when I started in school there. They did that branding thing. It’s just a silly thing.

Hallie: You two both have immense experience and you guys are both so knowledgeable and you guys highlight that beautifully in Horticulturati, your podcast. But I specifically asked you guys here to talk about xeriscaping because one it’s like something we’ve gotten a lot of questions about from our listeners and I know a bit about it, but I was pretty sure you two would have a lot to add.

Leah: Oh, great.

Hallie: Two, it’s like a big buzzword here in Texas. It’s something that a lot of people talk about, but I think that the idea of what it actually is, is very incorrect, so I was wondering if you guys could give a little definition about xeriscaping.

Colleen: That’s a good question.

Leah: Well, I’ll hazard.

Colleen: Go.

Leah: Or do you want to go Colleen?

Colleen: No, you go.

Leah: Okay. So xeriscaping is an approach to landscape design that I believe originated in the eighties in Colorado in Denver and I think it was the Denver watershed protection department that came up with it and trademarked it. I might need to fact check that, but it was definitely out of Denver and it was a trademarked term just to refer to designing landscapes in a way that they require very little water and very little supplemental irrigation. I think there’re seven principles and they include things like using mulch, using plants that are well adapted to the landscape. Colleen, do you remember any of the other xeriscape principles?

Colleen: I think one of them is like keeping plants like do you need more water up closer to the house and grouping them together so that the higher water use plants are up near the house? I’m trying to remember what some of the other ones are, but yeah, it was really laid out. I mean, the spirit is that it really was a concept that was laid out in a really specific way with these seven principles and now has evolved over time to mean something different as a buzzword like you were saying.

Hallie: I guess from you all’s perspective as designers and gardeners, what is the perspective now of xeriscaping? What do you guys hear people referring to when they talk about xeriscaping?

Leah: Well, do you want to go first, Colleen? Then I’ll tell my part.

Colleen: Well, yeah. The term that is being used instead, so xeriscaping is X-E-R-I, like xeri and that refers to a dry environment, but now people hear that and they think it means zeroscaping, like the number zero where it involves removing a lot of plant material from the landscape and then just putting rocks or gravel on top of the soil and then calling it done. People will often call me and say I’m interested in xeriscaping. Excuse the pun, it’s gotten watered down over time.

[Laughter].

Chris: Very good.

Colleen: It has lost a lot of its meaning and has been sort of I guess not purposely co-opted, but sort of transformed into a concept that has been divorced from its original intention I think of creating rich landscapes that use less water than a conventional landscape that has a lot of turf grass in it and plants that demand a lot of water use.

Leah: I had a chance to look up the seven principles and they’re really quick. I’ll just throw them out there. They are planning and design, soil improvement, practical turf area, not having the entire yard be St. Augustine lawn if you don’t need that much turf grass, you would have to irrigate, efficient irrigation, mulch, low water use plants and appropriate maintenance. Never anywhere in that definition is take all the plants out and cover everything with rocks. There is no nowhere in there.

That is what as a buzzword xeriscape has come to mean, unfortunately, is that idea that just put rocks everywhere and gravel and there’s a lot of problems with that.

Hallie: You mentioned problems and you say, unfortunately, can you talk a little bit about the issues with this rock scaping and the crushed granite with cactuses look of a landscape?

Leah: There’s a few things and I’ll let Colleen chime in too. First of all, there’s two really big problems. One is that gravel reflects light and heat and raises the ambient temperature, whereas plants and mulch absorb light and heat and they lower the ambient temperature, especially if we’re talking about like trees. There’s a heat Island effect when you use lots of rocks and that can be very uncomfortable during the summer and raise your energy bills and be really hard on the plants and trees that you do have. Then the other issue is that because we’re not actually in the desert and we get what 34 inches of rain a year and the most of those rain events happen in a few big storms throughout the year, things are just going to get super weedy because we don’t live in a desert where we can just cover everything with rocks and have a kind of a Southwestern landscape. Doesn’t quite work where we are because we just get a little too much rain and then plants really want to grow anywhere where there’s a sunny spot.

Chris: I’ve seen people put like trash bags or whatever all over their lawn to sort of kill the grass to put something new and usually, they follow up with covering it with rocks and maybe some succulents, but even giving it that treatment after some time, some weeds are going to sprout up.


Colleen: Yes, for sure because as long as the wind blows and birds fly, there’s going to be weeds because there’s just seeds everywhere.

Chris: Got it.

Colleen: In fact, especially with decomposed granite, the grittiness of decomposed granite, which is almost like sand that grittiness of that texture, catches more seeds and that material holds water for quite a while too and so it’s really a nice place for little tiny plants to start their lives. It becomes really weedy over time. At first it seems fantastic, but it doesn’t take more. Usually, after a year or two it becomes really weedy and can be really high maintenance and it’s counterintuitive because you would think it would be really low maintenance, but as Leah and I have both found as professional gardeners, when we’re caring for those types of yards, they tend to be the highest maintenance yards.

Chris: Oh boy.

Leah: Because it’s not very fun to weed gravel.

[Laughter].

Leah: It hurts your fingers and it’s hot. I mean, also another problem with doing that solarizing thing where you put the plastic down is that one of the principles of xeriscape is soil improvement and if you are basically zapping the landscape with the sun and the plastic, you’re actually really going to degrade the quality of your soil because you’re going to kill not just the grass, but also although microorganisms and the soil biology that you have in the soil, and it’s going to become a real sterile soil and that can also make it hard for plants to do well as I’m sure you guys talk about a lot on One to Grow On.

Colleen: Yeah, and not to mention if there are any trees growing nearby, you can also damage the tree roots by heating up the soil to try to kill other plants. You can inadvertently damage tree roots too and that’s the thing in Austin. We’re so fortunate to have such tree cover in this city and it’s very rare that you find a property that doesn’t have any trees on it and surrounding trees with gravel can have a negative impact on their lives as well.

Leah: I think Colleen and I would both agree that even though it sounds kind of counterintuitive, one way to really, if you want to keep weeds down, plant more trees because you want to shade those weeds out. Then also if you do have a bunch of grass that is growing in the shade or something that you want to get rid of, you can actually do a similar thing. You can smother it by sheet mulching, so that would be using a ton of organic material, cardboard, compost, and mulch just piled up lasagna style on top of the soil and that will actually help do that same thing that the solarizing is doing, but it’ll do it a little more gently and it’ll not harm the soil biology, but it is a little bit harder to do that. It’s just a little bit more intensive.

Chris: How terrible is my St. Augustine?

Leah: You’re saying Augustine? It’s not so terrible.

You don’t have to feel bad about having some grass. I think there’s a place for it.

Chris: Excellent.

Colleen: For sure, like Leah was saying when she was reading off the xeriscaping principles, you could have turf grass where it makes sense. If you have established St. Augustine grass, that’s in a dappled shade situation, which is where St. Augustine grass likes to be and you’re caring for the soil underneath it, which is another one of the principles, you’re caring for the soil underneath it so that the soil is so spongy and will hold water for longer and you’re caring for the turf grass using organic methods and mowing correctly, like mowing with the mower blade on the highest setting possible and leaving the clippings on the grass. If you’re doing all of that, then it’s not the worst. It just depends on what your perspective is and if it’s providing a service for you, then I think it’s fine. [Laughs].

Leah: Sometimes you want a little bit of lawn to be some kind of nice negative space of green and I think there’s a place for that. There might be some tiny little spots in what I would design.

Chris: Awesome.

Colleen: I agree. Like, at my house, I’m a plant collector. I have tons and tons of plants and the grass doesn’t really serve a purpose for me, but if I had dogs or children or I didn’t collect plants, then I would have kept some of the St. Augustine grass that I had in my yard that was really well-established and in the right light and actually didn’t need that much water.

But if you’re trying to grow St. Augustine grass where there’s full hot sun and you have to water it all the time, then that’s a problem. I think that’s the spirit of xeriscaping. I that’s when they developed this in Denver. I think that’s what they were after was just getting people to be cognizant of how much water they’re using on their landscapes and to put a little bit of thoughtfulness into it.

Hallie: That’s what I really wanted to dig into on this episode. We did an episode in the past on turf grass and we talked about the water needs, but I would love to hear you all’s perspective. Like say, you get a client who calls you and says, I want to xeriscape because I want no water and I’m just going to do cactuses. I don’t want any of those stinking flowers that I have to prune and fertilize and all that stuff. What would your response to them be?

Colleen: I would educate them. Sometimes that’s all people need and that’s why as a consultant, people call me because they want ideas and they want to be educated and so sometimes people think that that’s what they want, but when I come to them and I say, okay, listen. In my experience, those landscapes are the highest maintenance and here’s the alternative. You could have some relatively low maintenance plants that only need to be trimmed like once a year, that will attract butterflies and other wildlife and we can design it in a way that we can handle any like erosion problems that you’re having or something like that. I make sure that they understand that what they think they need is not what they actually need because people will usually say, I want a landscape that is really low maintenance, so I’d like to just install rocks over the whole thing. Then I’ll say, well, there’s this misconception that we’re talking about right now and then people are like, oh, okay.

Then I’ll show them photos of other landscapes and tell them what care they require. I have a stable of plants for customers who just really don’t want to do any maintenance at all, who maybe are retired and travel a lot and plants that are like evergreen and need very little care that I’ll do for those particular customers, which is actually a rare situation. Most of my customers are interested in gardening and don’t mind doing some trimming and transplanting and stuff like that, so it just depends on the situation, but I try to really listen to people and hear what they really want and then educate them about the best way to go about getting what they want.

Chris: I’m definitely one of those no maintenance people, if I can help.

Colleen: Sure.

Leah: I actually had someone that I talked to on the phone today say that she wanted to xeriscape part of the yard and like her neighbors had done. When that comes up, I’m like let’s look at it. Let’s talk about it and I try to use the term water-wise, which is a term that I borrow from the sorry, Austin watershed protection department that they use a lot and I like that term because it’s not always appropriate to use Zurich plants. You might need plants that can tolerate periodically wet conditions, like maybe plant something by a downspout or in a low spot in your yard and also just the term Zurich, in terms of ecology, it refers to an upland location, a higher elevation where the most of the water runs downhill. So that’s why it’s so low water because it’s up high and then you have the mesic zone, which is kind of in the middle. Then you have the hydroxyl zone, which is low down in the valleys where the water congregates or whatever. You got to think about not every situation is correct for cacti and succulents.

There’s certain places that it’s going to be much more appropriate and effective to use plants that can handle a little more wet conditions.

[Background music].

Chris: Welcome to the break.

Hallie: Welcome to the break. Dad, did you know that on our Patreon, we have outtakes and extra research.

Chris: We do have outtakes that are frequently hilarious. I’ve heard your sister laugh at them on more than one occasion.

Hallie: [Laughs]. Very often hysterical and hilarious.

Chris: Extra research.

Hallie: Yes, we have extra research from the episodes as well as other miscellaneous cool articles or additional reading. I try to put tons of really cool information into the Patreon and so if anybody is interested in learning more about the topics that we’re talking about on the show, if anyone is interested in laughing out loud, who isn’t? In these times, am I right?

Chris: You are right.

Hallie: You can find all that info on our Patreon, which is patreon.com/onetogrowonpod.

Chris: You can join our wonderful patrons, especially our starfruit patrons, Lindsay, Vikram, Mama Casey, Patrick and Shianne.

Hallie: We are so, so grateful for all of you. You do so many wonderful things to our hearts and brains. When we think about how much we love you, sorry, that turned a little bit weird there at the end, we are grateful for you. You make our world spin and you make this podcast happen and we hope that you are having a wonderful day wherever you are. Shall we get back to the episode?

Chris: Back to the episode.

[Background music].

Hallie: Can you tell me more about water wise gardening? What do gardeners need to think about and you all as professional gardeners need to think about when you’re thinking about water-wise gardening?

Leah: When I think of water wise gardening, I just think of really matching a plant to its site conditions carefully and one of the best resources for figuring out what goes where is the Grow Green Guide that the city puts out and it’s free and you can get it at any nurseries and a lot of different like hardware stores in places. It’s a little booklet that the watershed protection department puts out and has a list of all these native and adopted landscape plants and has their water requirements and pictures of everything and it’s just such a cool resource. Starting to think about, what plant would work here? What’s the right plant for this spot is part of what I think of when I think of water-wise gardening? Like Colleen said, maybe putting some of the wetter plants near the house. Did you say that Coleen?

Colleen: Yeah, near the house and around the downspouts like you said. That’s a great tip putting plants that require more water up near the house. If you have gutters, then you could plant those plants near downspouts and then if you don’t have gutters and you’re going to get more rain off of the roof. So just having higher plants that prefer a little bit more water up closer to the house. By the way, you can download a digital version of the city of Austin’s Grow Green Guide from the Grow Green website. Something else that I always think about too with water-wise landscaping is again building the soil. It’s really important to me. Leah was talking about sheet mulching as a way to eliminate existing grass or plants that are not desirable in a particular landscape. Sheet mulching is a really great way to build soil as well and building soil is important in xeriscaping like I said earlier because you want the soil to be alive with microorganisms and that soil that’s alive and healthy will act like a sponge and will hold water for the plants to be able to use in the long-term as opposed to a degraded soil. Degraded soils are going to be really hard. A lot of the water when it rains, the water will run off of a degraded soil and it won’t be able to soak in as deeply. Sheet mulching is a really good way to build more life into the soil and create a soil that’s going to be spongy and healthy to support the plants and will also reduce runoff during storms and prevent flash flooding.

Chris: I think if Hallie had a battle of cry, it would be soil health.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Colleen: Yeah.

Hallie: I do really like that word spongy though because I feel like talking about soil health is still something that’s harder to get across if you’re talking to newer gardeners because it can be abstract and I think that word spongy is so helpful.

Colleen: Definitely. You have to have metaphor because a lot of people I’ve never even really had the experience of trying to dig a hole before and understanding what it could be like and understanding what their soil is like in their particular situation. You have to use metaphor to make that real for people.

Leah: We’re not saying that Brock’s need to be banned or outlawed either.

Colleen: For sure.

Leah: Just like there is a place for turf. There’s also a place for rocks and one of my favorite things to design is dry creeks for helping storm water runoff and stuff like that, controlling the water in the landscape and doing it in a way that’s pretty more visually appealing than just putting in French drain or some elaborate underground system, making a dry creek bed. Those are really, really fun to design and they involve a lot of rocks, but you can also incorporate plants into those. We’re not against. I don’t think Colleen or I are anti-rocks and we both enjoy using rocks and boulders in the designs.

Colleen: No, for sure. Chris, you were saying that you really want to have a super low maintenance landscape and I often include boulders in my designs for folks who are in that situation because the boulders can add a lot of interest and can be really fun to look at because they attract a lot of lizards and stuff like that and they don’t require any care or watering. [Laughs]. But I don’t want the entire landscape to be just boulders. That would be really expensive and really hot and really weird.

[Laughter].

Colleen: But a boulder like here or there, it can be really, really cool.

Leah: I love boulders. I just wish they weren’t quite so heavy.

Colleen: Agreed.

Chris: Well, when I was a teenager, I was in Colorado with my mom and my cousin and we were driving around and every once in a while she would see a rock that she really liked and she would have me or my cousin get out of the car and pick up the rock and put it in the car and before long, we had a suitcase full of rocks that she really liked and I’m pretty sure they’re still in her garden somewhere, but when we went through airport security, we put it on the conveyor belt and the lady at the x-ray machine probably gave her the exact look that you’re imagining right now and said, mum, are those rocks?

[Laughter].

Leah: I get it. I understand that. I mean, sometimes you just see a rock and you’re like, wow. That rock is nice.

Chris: [Laughs].

Colleen: Definitely, your mom and I share that interest because I definitely have gone through airport security with rocks in my bags more than once.

Leah: I’ve got pictures of rocks in my camera roll on my phone.

Hallie: One time I saw a rock in Costa Rica where I was on vacation and I saw one, I was like, oh, my grandmother would love that rock, so I tried to bring it back and airport security actually confiscated it because they said it was a blunt object that I could use to bash someone’s head in on the plane.

Leah: Oh, no.

Hallie: Which I felt could be said for a lot of contents of suitcases.

Colleen: Seriously?

Chris: It’s true.

Leah: [Laughs]. Wow.

Chris: See the shoe. It’s a blunt object.

Leah: It’s imaginative.

Hallie: I’m curious, did you guys learn this stuff in school? How did you get educated on what xeriscaping is not and water-wise gardening?

Leah: Well, we both worked at the Natural Gardener for a time. I didn’t go to school for horticulture or anything. I studied art history. But I learned a lot of stuff through doing some nursery work at the Natural Gardener, just doing garden maintenance and going to the Grow Green program that the city of Austin puts out. They do it every year, a couple of day seminar that teaches sustainable landscaping and just taking classes here and there, but I don’t have any formal training in this stuff.

Colleen: Yeah, my background is the same as Leah’s and how I picked up this stuff along the way. Just through that experience of firsthand caring for these properties as a personal gardener, one day I would be at a house without a garden that a master gardener put together. I had some customers who were master gardeners for example, and they loved gardening, but they hurt their back or something like that and couldn’t care for the garden. So they would hire me to take care of it while they were recovering and stuff like that and those yards are just so fun and rich to be in and just gave so much back to me as a gardener, but even more to the homeowners that had seen blooms and the animals that would visit and the changing of the seasons, these little subtle differences that you could enjoy throughout the years. Then the next day go to a yard with a much more professionally designed yard. By the way, a professionally designed and installed yard that was full of gravel, the whole thing is gravel and just a few plants here and there and it was hot and miserable and I would work for hours and hours and just feel like I didn’t even make a dent in how much work there was to do in that yard. It just got me thinking like, is this really what we should be doing? Is this really saving water? I noticed too, that even those yards, sometimes they were so poorly designed that they would end up using just as much water as the master gardeners yard that was providing so much joy and so many ecosystem services too. I just wanted to learn more about what the right thing to do was like, how do you create a yard that gives back to the homeowners and how do you create a yard that doesn’t require as many inputs and pays off?

One way that I have learned a lot about is just by talking to other gardeners and other landscapers, especially people who volunteer at the Wildflower Center or people who work at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I learned a lot from just conversations like that.

Like, hey, are you having this experience with decomposed granite that you had to weed it all the time and stuff? People being like, yes. Then just doing my own research too in addition to taking the Grow Green classes and classes at the Wildflower Center and stuff like that. Yeah, just that accumulation of knowledge of just talking with other gardeners and people who work at nurseries and stuff like that is how I learned about water-wise concepts.

Leah: I was just going to say, that’s how I met Colleen as she was teaching a class on perennial maintenance at the Natural Gardener and I was working at the Natural Gardener at the time and they let me sit in on her class. After the class, I went up and asked her some questions about weeding gravel probably and I really think I was asking her about like, how do you get nutgrass out of ARD and how do you do that? That led us to become friends and so that’s a big way of making friends with gardeners and spending a lot of time geeking out about gardening things

Colleen: Especially around here where the climate is so different from so many other parts of the world. It’s so unique here that there’s not a lot written about gardening here. So you really have to ask other people because there’s very few books that you can pick up at that will tell you how to do any gardening in Central Texas. There’s some really good ones, but for the most part, you end up still having to collect information from other gardeners and be friends.

Hallie: I think that’s so beautiful and I think that Colleen your description of different types of gardens and this one garden that’s just so joyful is so evocative. I’m curious, this is my last question that I had. Is there anything that you all are seeing changing or any new things on the horizon for you all’s industries for you all sector?

Leah: I mean, for one thing, I will say that people are spending more time at home because of COVID and they’re thinking about their landscapes a lot so I don’t know. I feel like gardening is on the rise as far as like things on the horizon. I don’t know.

Colleen: What I’m hoping is that people will start to understand more about how regenerative the landscape can be and what’s going on right now with organic farming and people who are practicing regenerative farming to try to combat climate change by sequestering carbon in plants and in the soil. I hope that those ideas and concepts could get carried over to the landscape too because trees are so incredible at sequestering carbon pulling carbon out of the atmosphere to combat climate change. So right now, tree planting is a super-hot thing and it should have been hot all the time. I hope it’s not just a trend. Like we should all be planting trees all the time. What I’m trying to say is everyone’s excited about tree planting right now because of climate change and trees are one of those things where you do so little. It requires so little effort to plant a tree.

Depending on what tree you choose, like you could plant a live Oak tree in Central Texas and it could live for a thousand years, sequestering carbon, mitigating storm water runoff, providing shade, cooling the atmosphere around it, providing habitat for animals, providing food to us as humans. I mean, there’s so many things that trees do for us and they ask for so little in return. To me, that’s the thing I’m most excited about is the tree planting and the concept of regenerative landscaping, where trees are going to be helping to combat climate change and that individual people on their own properties just by planting trees can help fight climate change.

Leah: Colleen, can I piggyback on what you just said just for a minute?

Colleen: Yeah.

Leah: I was just going to add that in addition to planting trees, also just thinking about wildlife habitat and I think that’s because of climate change, I think that’s another thing that people have started to think about and that’s very important to me as well. I mean, definitely planting trees and also just having places for pollinators and birds to be and all kinds of little critters that you can connect with because I think having those connections with plants and animals and insects and stuff, does give you more of a feeling of connectivity toward nature and that is going to make you someone who was hopefully more active in regards to fighting climate change.

Colleen: For sure, oh my God. Almost every day, every new customer who calls me tells me that they want support bees because they’ve heard about the decline in honeybee population or they want to support butterflies because they’ve heard about the decline in the Monarch butterfly population or they’re just really interested in birding because they just want to see something cool out the window. So that’s like really been big lately. Even more, that was always something that my customers told me, but lately it seems everybody’s whose calling is asking for that.

Hallie: Yes, I love that. That’s amazing. Plant all the trees and it attracts all the birds and pollinators.

Colleen: Yeah.

Chris: Love a bee.

Leah: Bees and trees.

Hallie: Absolutely. Well, you all, it was absolutely phenomenal to have you both on. Is there anything that you all would like to plug or any places that people can find you if they want to know more about your work?

Leah: Sure. I’ll plug our podcast, the Horticulturati. It is kind of bi-weekly and we have a website that is horticulturati.com. Let me try to spell that. It’s H-O-R-T-I-C-U-L-T-U-R-A-T-I.com. Did I get that?

Colleen: I think so. It’s like the illuminati or the glitterati, but it’s about plants. So it’s just Horticulturati with an I at the end, without an E.

[Laughter].

Chris: Link in the show notes.

Leah: Yeah, okay. Thanks.

[Laughter].

Leah: Since we know everyone who’s listening to the podcast right now has a pen and paper ready to write it down. [Laughs].

Colleen: They’ve got their pens.

Chris: That’s right.

Leah: Mostly, I’m hoping that we’ll just get some of your listeners will check out our podcast too. That’s the main thing that I’d like to plug.

Hallie: Definitely go check out the Horticulturati. It is wonderful. Thank you guys both so much for being on. It was so wonderful.

Leah: Hallie has been on the Horticulturati, by the way. I’m just going to say that too if you want to hear it where we talked about soil with Hallie.

Hallie: It’s true.

Leah: Yes, it’s fantastic.

Hallie: It was so much fun.

Leah: It was good. Thank you so much for having us.

Colleen: Thanks.

Chris: Thank you for being here.

[Background music].

Chris: Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.

Hallie: This show is made by me Hallie Casey and Chris Casey. Our music is Something Elated by Broke for Free.

Chris: If you’d like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod or join our Discord and Facebook communities and leaf us your thoughts on this episode.

Hallie: You can find all of our episodes and transcripts as well as information about the team and the show on our website, onetogrowonpod.com.

Chris: Help us take root and grow organically by recommending the show to your friends or consider donating to our Patreon at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There, you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups, exclusive bonus content and boxes of our favorite goodies.

Hallie: If you liked the show, please share it with a friend. Sharing is the best way to help us reach more ears.

Chris: Be sure to see what’s sprouting in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.

[Background music].

Rocks with weeds

48: Xeriscaping with Leah Churner and Colleen Dieter

This week we’re talking about xeriscaping! Leah and Colleen join us to talk about what it is, where it came from, and why a yard full of gravel is a terrible idea. Also, did your school ever have any weird branding?

Read the transcript for this episode.

Leah Churner
Founder of Delta Dawn Sustainable Gardens, creator of Hothouse podcast, and co-creator of Horticulturati podcast; http://www.deltadawngardens.com/

Colleen Dieter
Brains and brawn behind Red Wheelbarrow Plants, founder of Central Texas Seed Savers, second half of the Horticulturati podcast; https://www.redwheelbarrowplants.com/

The Horticulturati: https://www.horticulturati.com/

Join our discord our facebook group!

Connect with us!
twitter.com/onetogrowonpod
instagram.com/onetogrowonpod
facebook.com/onetogrowonpod
[email protected]

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

Support us on Patreon!
patreon.com/onetogrowonpod

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
onetogrowonpod.com

Crates of produce at a local market.

39: Good Food and Supply Chains Transcript with FamilyFarmed

Listen to the full episode.

Hallie: Hello and welcome to One to Grow On. A show where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. I’m Hallie Casey and I studied and currently work in agriculture.

Chris: My name is Chris Casey. I’m Hallie’s dad. Each episode we pick an area of agriculture or food production to discuss. This week we are talking about, I don’t know, what are we talking about?

Hallie: [Laughs].

Chris: Local food and supply chains. Something that I don’t understand.

[Background music].

Hallie: Today on the show, we have two awesome folks from the Chicago Good Food non-profit FamilyFarmed. We have Anna Crofts who is a program manager and Bob Benenson the communications manager.

Anna: Hi. Great to be here.

Hallie: Welcome.

Anna: Thanks for having us.

Bob: Yes, thanks a lot. It’s good to be here.

Hallie: Anna, you and I have chatted before, but Bob, you and I actually have never met. Neither of you guys have met dad. I was wondering if you guys could give a little introduction about you and what you do for FamilyFarmed and maybe a little background on FamilyFarmed as an organization.

Chris: Okay. Just for the record, we met 10 minutes ago.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Chris: I don’t know where you were or what you were doing, but we were chatting it up.

[Laughter].

Hallie: Well, then just for the listeners at home.

Bob: We are old friends by now.

Chris: That’s right.

[Laughter].

Anna: Well, I can start and then I can let Bob give the history of FamilyFarmed since he’s been around for quite a while. My name’s Anna. I work on our farmer training and market development programs mainly with the farmer training working with our farmer trainer Atina Diffley to carry out trainings all across the country. We’ve done trainings that are about 48 of the 50 states by now. A lot of those focus heavily on farm food safety and trying to make sure that we’re preparing beginner farmers or even farmers who just want to revamp their operations so that they can practice proper food safety, understand things like the Food Modernization Act and get them prepared for the GAP certification, which is good agricultural practices in case they want to become certified. Our trainings are a mixture of that. Then we also focus on helping them to get into new markets, whether that’s direct marketing, things like CSAs and farmers markets, or wholesale marketing if they want to sell to restaurants or to bigger distributors. On the market development side of things, what we do is we try and partner to get farmers products into stores whether it’s wholesale distributors or smaller retailers. It works across the organization with our other programs, like the Good Food Accelerator, which is a program that focuses on local beginning food entrepreneurs. What a lot of our market development does is it helps them to get opportunities with retailers so we get their products onto the shelf. My job is to just coordinate those programs, to make connections, to help with grant deliverables, make sure that we’re staying on track. That’s majority of my work.

Hallie: Awesome. That is so interesting. Bob, do you want to tell us a little bit about your piece and the rest of FamilyFarmed?

Bob: Okay, sure. I came to this as a second career. I’m a career journalist. I spent 30 years in Washington, DC covering politics, covering elections. My wife grew up in a farm about 45 miles South of Chicago. So I kind of literally inherited the farm after her dad passed away in 2008.

Hallie: Oof.

Bob: I’ve always had a passion for food. When I moved out here in 2011 we just loved Chicago, I decided that I really wanted to work with people who were working at the grassroots community level to affect positive change, and it could have gone a lot of different directions. Unfortunately, I met Jim Slama, our CEO about eight years ago and I was able to build a career in good food advocacy. FamilyFarmed evolved out of an organization. It started earlier in 1996 called Sustain, which was an environmental advocacy and marketing company. They would run up media campaigns and supportive environmental issues. He started working on some campaigns like in 1998 to enforce strong organic standards. This was when they were first creating the USDA organic standards and there were some ridiculous things that agribusiness was trying to push through like you could grow in sewage sludge and still get certified as organic. They played a big role of blocking that. Over the next few years, Jim recognized that there were a lot of major organizations doing environmental advocacy, but practically nobody was doing good food and nobody was working to connect local farmers with buyers. This was before anybody ever heard of the Good Food Movement. Really, it was very embryonic. Then in 2004, they launched the Good Food EXPO, which remained the flagship of FamilyFarmed until last year. Then we discontinued it because we were doing other programming. It was actually called the Local Organic Trade Show. That was its purpose.

It was to connect farmers with buyers. The name was changed to FamilyFarmed officially in 2006. Again, very farmer oriented. The farmer training program that Anna was describing became a reality in 2008. It has been based on a series of manuals that Anna will get into more detail. The first was Wholesale Success, which was aimed at helping farmers who are a little bit more advanced and mature to get into wholesale markets. Then Direct Market Success, which we published in 2016. I was already on board and I played a role in that. That was aimed at early stage farmers get their feet wet and build market by direct marketing, farmers markets and CSAs and direct restaurant, things like that. Then food safety has always been a premier issue and so the On-Farm Food Safety manual and website was created. FamilyFarmed has changed a little bit over the years because the market has changed. Now, there is the Good Food Movement. There’s a massive population that is concerned about health and wellness environmental sustainability. There are a lot of producers and investors involved in it. Other programs like our Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference, Good Food Accelerator, Naturally Chicago, which we started last year. I really engaged a lot in that. But I’ll turn it back over to Anna to tell you what we’re still doing for farmers.

Hallie: Bob, you mentioned the farmer success manuals. I got to say, I’ve used these manuals. They’re good manuals. The other day, like two days ago, I was talking to a farmer and he’s like, “Have you seen this manual? I saw it once. It looked like really good content and I just can’t seem to find it.” I was like, “Oh, do you mean this manual? It’s a great manual.” [Laughs].

Bob: Yeah, so many of the farmers who have used it have told us that it’s dog eared. [Laughs].

Anna: Yeah.

Bob: It’s in their workspace. They use it every day. It’s been a real mainstay.

Chris: I was going to say you talking about the Good Food Movement, I had never heard of the Good Food Movement. I think you described it pretty well, but I had never heard it called that.

Hallie: I was wondering if either of you guys could maybe give a more expanded definition of Good Food, because we’ve never actually talked about it on the show and I know it goes beyond just organic and local and those more commonly heard labels. I was wondering if either of you guys were able to give a more expanded definition of that.

Bob: I’ll jump in because I’ve actually done a lot of work on our mission and vision. We define it as accessible and delicious food that is produced as locally as possible using sustainable humane and fair practices. It covers a lot of ground, it covers environmental issues, it covers labor issues, it covers health and wellness issues and it covers food accessibility. The vision statement that FamilyFarmed has had for a long time is good food on every table. I would underline it all caps every because that’s the intention. Too many people are excluded from this. We’re expanding our programming to reach people in under resourced communities, lower income people to make sure that they have equitable access to the same good, healthy food, sustainable food for everybody and that people get a lot of financial means already have accessible to them. Anna.

Anna: Oh yeah. I agree with all of that.

I think that’s a pretty succinct definition of the Good Food Movement. It’s definitely like an intersectional approach to just providing from the environment to labor, to people, making sure everyone has access to good food and so I think you described it perfectly, Bob.

Bob: Thanks. [Laughs].

Hallie: This interview is going to be part of a larger series. We’re talking about local food. As a part of that, we talked to an urban farmer and we talked to a farmer’s market manager and I wanted to bring you guys on to get that more broader view of what it really looks like to incorporate local food into the food system and into the supply chain. I was wondering, Anna, if you could talk a little bit about your work, but also your views on what drew you to this work. One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed in these interviews is learning how people got to the Good Food Movement and the local food movement because I feel like people just often take the really interesting paths I guess to get here because it’s something that really draws you in.

Anna: After I graduated college, I went to school in New York and then I graduated and I moved down to Buenos Aires, Argentina and I was working for a software company. One thing that really struck me was one of my first grocery shopping experiences in the city. I went and my partner at the time wanted me to pick up some chicken and I went to the store and I realized they had run out of chicken. I asked them at the store. I was like, “Oh, do you have any more chicken left?” They were like, “No, you got to get in early for that.” It was like a big chain grocery store and I was just like, “How do you run out of chicken?” Coming from the United States, this is the land of abundance. There’s restocking the shelves all the time. It was really shocking to me.

After that realization, I met a woman who became a good friend of mine down there. She was really focused on intersectional veganism, and a lot of that had a huge food justice focus and so I just started to learn about all of this. It’s happening in Argentina, but it was definitely happening in the US just like food disparity, “food deserts.” These are things that I never had to think about growing up because I grew up in a privileged background and so we never had to struggle to find food. We had a grocery store less than a mile away from our house. I just started to think like, wow, food is such a fundamental human right. The fact that there are structures in place to prevent people from having access to something that is just so basic, and so really easy or should be easy to provide. It became something I care deeply about. I left the software marketing world and I moved back to the US and became an AmeriCorps VISTA for an organization called the Regional Environmental Council. The name is a bit misleading. They had more of a focus on urban farming and food justice practices. Working with them, I was able to learn a lot about the importance of local food. We did a lot of work around supplemental nutrition benefits, like SNAP, making sure that farmers markets are getting grants that would allow the local farmers markets to accept SNAP. Then doing a lot of advocacy for information outreach. People knew that if they shop at this farmers market their benefits would be doubled. You’re essentially getting $20 extra dollars in free produce. When we think about the importance of local food, it’s important for so many reasons. I think one thing that’s been really illuminating about COVID in this age that we’re living in is that it has really laid bare all of the structural flaws that big ag has caused, like having to ship to all these big grocery stores across the country. Not only is there like a lot of environmental degradation, but it’s just not sustainable. I think that’s what we’re really seeing right now.

There’s the environmental issue, but also like with what Bob said when thinking of labor, when you shop locally, if you go to a farmers market, you’re able to meet the farmer. Usually, the farmer or the people working on the farm are also the ones, I know this because I worked on a farm as well, and they’re the ones at the market selling you the products that they grow. There’s a transparency there. I think that where you spend your money it’s a lot of power and so you can make the choice like I’m going to give my money to this farm and to this farmer, because I know, or I can figure out if they’re using good labor practices whereas with big agriculture, you don’t know. A lot of the time it’s very predatory on migrant farmers and they’re making really low wages in very poor working conditions and our government allows that. There’s the human aspect. But then I think when we shop locally, we also realize like tomatoes aren’t in season in December. I think that seasonality and education around seasonality becomes really important because it can help people. It has all these residual benefits too. It’s like, okay, what’s in season? Like I have to learn how to cook it. I think it can help people to just really deepen their relationship with food. It’s all of these beautiful things coming together that makes shopping locally, so powerful and so important. I do want to add that it’s not always easy, right? I think that sometimes dropping at a farmers market you’re privileged enough if you live near one and sometimes prices are really high. That’s why I think it’s really important for benefits like SNAP and a lot of different farmers markets have double food boxes being able to get these grants so that people who are on supplemental nutrition benefits can get more bang for their buck because local food is great, but it can be expensive for a lot of people. I just think we all need to be mindful about never stopping to push for that fight for access. Sorry, that’s a tangent.

[Laughter].

Hallie: No, it’s so true though. I feel like accesses can be left out of the Good Food discussions. Edwin Marty, actually, I remember one time told me he’s the sustainability manager for the city of Austin. One time he told me, “Yeah, you can buy something organic, but technically something organic could be certified organic and it could still have been grown with slave labor.” That’s true, right? Having this more holistic view of what does it really mean for us as consumers to have these poor labor standards on the food that we’re consuming and how is it considered ethical to basically force poorer folks to have to buy food that can be grown with forced labor or slave labor or other manipulative or other terrible labor practices? How is that ethical? We need to be talking more holistically about how we can all vote with our dollars and eat food ethically and conscionably. Obviously, it’s a human need. Everyone has to eat, but also why do we think it’s okay that if you can’t go to the farmers market, then you just have to buy this food that is unethically produced?

Anna: Right. I think that obviously organic is super important and organic practices are fantastic, but certification is something that can be really complicated and the paperwork is hard. It takes a pretty long time, especially if you bought land that you then have to convert. That can take like three years. A lot of farms, especially if you’re just starting out and you don’t have a ton of capital or you don’t have a lot of money to put into it, the USDA organic certification process can be lengthy and costly and time consuming. What a lot of farms do is, in the farm that I worked on in Massachusetts did this, we followed organic practices. We did not use any pesticides. It was like totally old school, like organic farming, but we would go to the farmers market and people would come up to our table and be is this organic?

We would explain we don’t have the certification, but it’s organic. A lot of people would walk away because they wanted us to have that stamp. It was unfortunate. I’m empathetic because I understand you want to make sure that your food is coming from a place that is using organic pesticides. But I think that more people are becoming aware that USDA organic doesn’t necessarily mean all of these great, wonderful things. I think things like certified naturally grown, which is an alternative to certified organic is really great. It’s a lot less costly. It’s a lot less time consuming and it’s basically like a peer review. Like farmers in your area coming to your farm to ensure that you are in fact using organic practices and I think it’s a great alternative for a lot of farming folks.

Hallie: Right. For sure.

[Background music].

Chris: Wow. This is awesome.

Hallie: Wait, what’s awesome?

Chris: This episode that we’re recording right now with Bob and Anna.

Hallie: You know what else is awesome?

Chris: What is awesome?

Hallie: All of our patrons on this episode. [Laughs]. We just wanted to take a minute to go through and we’re going to be thanking all of our patrons by name. In this episode, we’ve really loved doing the series on local food and these patrons made it possible and they made all of our series possible and they make it possible for us to continue making the show. We wanted to go through and thank them all. If you’re interested in joining our Patreon family and supporting the show, you can find it at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod.

Chris: So thank you to.

Hallie: Lindsay.

Chris: LD.

Hallie: Andrew.

Chris: Vikram.

Hallie: Christopher.

Chris: Shianne.

Hallie: Leah, Nicole.

Chris: Dan.

Hallie: Megan.

Chris: Maggie.

Hallie: Carrie.

Chris: Kate.

Hallie: RC.

Chris: Hope.

Hallie: Tim.

Chris: Pat.

Hallie: Lux

Chris: And Andrew.

Hallie: You guys totally rock our worlds. You make all of this possible and we are so, so, so grateful for you every day and especially today.

Chris: Thank you so much. Back to the episode.

[Background music].

Hallie: I guess it’s a pretty linear line to knowing where your food comes from and shopping at the farmers market. But I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what that looks like when you start to scale up and try to get into retail or institutional purchasing.

Anna: With wholesale, I think the reason that our farmer training program focuses so heavily on food safety is because when you start selling to institutions or selling into wholesale market streams, you need to be able to track everything you’re doing and have a record for everything you’re doing, because if say something like an outbreak happens that can shut your farm down forever. A lot of things that farmers aren’t thinking about when they’re just doing like direct to consumer marketing really becomes a liability and something they have to think about in a very serious way. I think another thing that we talk about when it comes to breaking into wholesale markets is your farm may not be in terms of like the produce that you’re growing or the products that you’re growing, it may not be as diversified as if you were doing direct to consumer marketing, because you might want to figure out what grows really well in your soil and focus on those crops. Because the thing about wholesale markets is that you need to be able to give them the product they want.

It needs to look really great because grocery stores don’t like to have what we call ugly produce. A lot of the focus is about food safety. It’s about figuring out what you grow really well, and then maybe growing more of that, and less of something else. I think the reason in the beginning that they’re resistant towards breaking into the wholesale market is because they have to lower their prices. If you’re selling a bundle of Swiss chard at the farmers market for $4 to $5 a bundle, at wholesale you’re not going to be able to sell it that high because you’re selling it at larger quantities, so you will get the return you want. But I think if you’ve been doing direct marketing for so long and you see those prices cut in half, or sometimes even sliced further, I think it scares a lot of farmers away from moving into wholesale streams because it’s like, oh, well, I’m not going to make any money on this. But the great thing about wholesale is that it usually is a bit more secure. That’s what we try and tell farmers in the long-term, if you can build these relationships and that’s sort of what these workshops will try and help them do and that’s definitely what the manual does. I think that’s why a lot of farmers refer back to it so often. We help them with figuring out a pricing structure. I don’t know if that answers your question.

Chris: My head has gone down a little bit of a path of doom because I’ve heard you all mention food safety several times. The first time you mentioned it I’m like, oh yeah, people need to wash their vegetables. But then you said outbreak and I’m like, oh, it sounds much more complicated and in depth than that.

Anna: Your farm, the operation needs to be laid out in a certain way, and you need to even be washing your vegetables in a certain way.

So that when someone from the health department shows up, because there is an E coli outbreak in romaine and you’re in California and you sell romaine, you need to be able to show them day by day how you were harvesting, how you were washing, they need to come see where your washing stations are, where your compost pile is. All of that matters so much because you want to make sure you want to have a very detailed log that ensures that the outbreak was not from your farm. That’s what these food safety logs really help you do is to avoid any liability. It’s like, look, here’s my log. Our farm is good for this. We are following all of these practices. It’s really, really important especially for folks who want to go and get further certifications.

Hallie: Food safety is an issue for all farms, not just farms that are local and starting to sell into wholesale, but it’s one of those carrying costs that like the bigger you are, the less percentage of the money you’re spending it’s going to cost. It’s just one of those overhead costs. If you’re switching from direct marketing out to a farmers market into something like a wholesale market to a grocery store, then it’s going to be a much larger part of your costs because you’re one, starting all of these practices from scratch. They don’t exist and so you’re having all of this startup labor and then two also, because you’re often coming in with smaller production. It’s a lot of work and it just can freak out farmers sometimes. But because food grows in the world, there is always a risk that there will be some kind of bacteria or something that will start to grow on food at some point.

Chris: Men, farming’s complicated.

[Laughter].

Bob: One of the interesting thing is that the [inaudible] series of studies over the year and they actually say that most food borne illnesses do not happen at the farm. It happens sometimes, and we’ve got all these regulations with our farmers have a really significant burden in making sure that the best practices are followed, but most of the problems that occur are because of food handling after it leaves the farm. The supply chain world, wholesalers, retailers, people at home not washing their vegetables correctly or not storing them correctly. It’s a conundrum that the farmers really face the heaviest regulatory load here and they may not be the people who are really very responsible for a lot of the food borne illnesses [inaudible] that occur.

Chris: What are some of the big challenges that you all face in your line of work?

Bob: Well, one is public awareness. Food has been so readily available and cheap in our society that a lot of people haven’t really given a second thought, especially people who are aware that food insecurity is never an issue. Getting people to understand the health and wellness consequences of what they eat, why they should eat better. The huge rise of food related illness in our society, it’s costing lives. It’s costing a lot of human suffering, it’s raising our healthcare costs enormously and getting that message through the people though is really hard. The high cost of cheap food. If your food is grown with pesticides that will poison the soil, and then the waters maybe get ingested into your system, or it’s grown by cheap labor practices that victimize lower income workers. Most people don’t realize that. They don’t realize that the long-term consequences what they are because they’re in separate buckets. You’ve got the healthcare bucket, you’ve got the labor bucket, you’ve got the equity bucket and all these things.

All they see is the price tag. This bag of apples is $0.99 and that one is $3. People still mostly buy food because they’re price conscious, so this is an educational effort that’s really challenging. The only thing is we’ve always seen a gradual rise in consumer awareness and then caveat it. I think this may be an inflection point. I hope I’m not being over-optimistic when I say that, but people are so much more focused on health and wellness because of the outbreaks, the hotspots that occurred in the factory production of meat, especially they’re are now more aware of factory farming and factory production practices. A lot of people are becoming uneasy about that. That’s a good thing because of the higher level of awareness that not everything is right about our food system and the seemingly infallible supply chain that gets you food to your table like that. There’s never been an issue before. Now, it’s got weaknesses. It’s got flaws. People may be are starting to recognize that buy from local farmers, know your farmer, know your food as the old Anthem is important. Then when you add in the multiplier effect for local anything, buy local. If your dollars stay at home, they actually have a bigger impact on economic health and economic by telling instead of sending your money away to Arkansas or someplace like that. Communication is a big challenge on this aspect, but I think we’re making progress.

Anna: For the farmer’s trainings, the thing that has always been difficult is sometimes just being able to get farmers to come to our trainings. Farmers are really busy. They don’t have vacations, they don’t take breaks, their farm is their life. So we try and structure the trainings in the off season, like in the winter time. January is a pretty good month, but it can be really hard to get folks to get them to come out and that’s just because they have like a ton of work on their plate. I think one thing that I’m excited about and have been talking to Atina Diffley, our farmer trainer is this new opportunity of doing virtual sessions.

Hopefully, a lot of our trainings are grant funded and so we would have to go to specific regions, but I think now this opportunity to host a training and then just have a more national audience attend virtually, I think it’s going to be a really major opportunity. I’m excited about that because I do think the outreach has been a difficult aspect in the past.

Chris: I would just like to take a moment to say thank you, because I have found nothing positive about this COVID-19 outbreak and finding some bright spots is great. Let me tell you.

Bob: Definitely, if we learn from the experience and move in the direction of a [inaudible] society, because one of the things about COVID-19 it’s establishing those people. We’ve said that people with underlying health conditions who are the most likely to contract the disease and most likely suffer severe or fatal consequences. If we can get people to eat better and provide better food for all people, then we’re going to reduce the rise, or maybe even reduce the rate of diarrhea related disease and reduce this degree of vulnerability. There’s one positive takeaway.

Hallie: I just wanted to thank you guys so much for coming on. It’s been such a joy talking with you guys. Do you guys have anything else that you want to leave our listeners with or any calls to action, anywhere to connect with FamilyFarmed or anything like that?

Anna: I think that I just want to make a plug for Illinois, but also it’s a national coalition, but Buy Fresh Buy Local is a really great resource. It’s definitely not in all 50 states, but you can look it up and you can see if your state is participating.

It’s basically an online resource where you can find farmers in your area, farmers markets in your area, retailers that stock their shelves with products from local farms. We are a part of the steering committee for Buy Fresh Buy Local Illinois, and then a lot of amazing folks and organizations have put a lot of work into it. If you’re someone who has moved to a new area, or you’re just not even sure where your local farmers market is and especially if you’re in Illinois, definitely look up, Buy Fresh Buy Local, because that will point you in the right direction to whatever you need in terms of local farms and food.

Bob: If any of your listeners want to reach out to Anna and connect with her on farmer training and market development, just send an email to [email protected] and put farmer training or market development in the subject line. If anybody just needs general information about FamilyFarmed, they can reach out to me on [email protected]

Chris: If you were to say one thing, people should eat local because?

[Laughter].

Bob: One word? Are you kidding me? [Inaudible].

[Laughter].

Chris: Not one word. Sort of the most important reason why you should really eat local because.

Anna: I would say, because it really strengthens your community. I think that building a really strong regional food system, it’s supporting your farmers. That will just provide access to better food and more farmers will be able to flourish. I just think, like getting to know your farmer, going to the farmers markets, it’s these moments that when you’re alone in the aisle at a grocery store, you’re not able to have that exchange and so I think it really does build community. There are a ton of other reasons that we talked about, but I feel like the community building aspect is a really great part of buying and eating local food.

Bob: It’s better in so many ways. That’s the reason we’ve all been discussing, but let’s face it. You’re not going to definitely eat anything if it doesn’t taste good. I’ve often described food for farmers markets or local food as the starter drug for the Good Food Movement.

Chris: [Laughs].

Bob: If all you’ve eaten at a supermarket through your whole life, it’s food that’s been shipped in, unless you’re living in the Southwest or the deep South it’s been shipped for thousands of miles. It’s probably been sitting in a warehouse for many years or even a couple of three weeks, it’s lost its freshness. It’s lost its vitality. When you go to a farmers market, you’re often eating food that was picked yesterday. When you taste that, you’re tasting that food the way it’s supposed to taste, maybe for the first time in your life and it’s a game changer. It really isn’t epiphany.

Chris: That’s awesome. Thank you so much.

Hallie: Thank you guys so much.

Anna: Yeah, of course.

Bob: Thanks. [Inaudible].

Anna: [Inaudible].

[Laughter].

[Background music].

Chris: Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.

Hallie: This show is made by me, Hallie Casey and Chris Casey. Our music is Something Elated by Broke for Free.

Chris: If you’d like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod or join our Discord and Facebook communities and leaf us your thoughts on this episode.

Hallie: You can find all of our episodes and transcripts as well as information about the team and the show on our website, onetogrowonpod.com.

Chris: Help us take root and grow organically by recommending the show to your friends or consider donating to our Patreon at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There, you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups, exclusive bonus content and boxes of our favorite goodies.

Hallie: If you liked the show, please share it with a friend. Sharing is the best way to help us reach more ears.

Chris: Be sure to see what’s sprouting in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.

[Background music].

Crates of produce at a local market.

39: Good Food and Supply Chains with FamilyFarmed

For the third part in our local food series, Hallie and Chris sit down will Anna Crofts and Bob Benenson from the Chicago Good Food non-profit FamilyFarmed. They discuss the Good Food movement, what it means to bring local food into the supply chain, and why you should eat locally when you can. Also, we finally find out if Hallie or Chris show up to an interview first.

Read the full episode transcript.

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About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
onetogrowonpod.com

38: Farmers’ Markets with Amy Gallo Transcript

Listen to the full episode.

Hallie: Hello and welcome to One to Grow On. A show where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. My name is Hallie Casey and I studied and currently work in agriculture.

Chris: I’m Chris Casey, Hallie’s dad and I don’t know anything about it. Each episode we pick an area of agriculture or food production to discuss and this week we’re talking about local food with Amy Gallo.

[Background music].

Amy: Hello.

Chris: Hello.

Hallie: Amy is the farmer’s market programming manager at the Sustainable Food Center, which happens to be where I work.

Amy: Yes.

Hallie: No, are you the marketing manager or the programming manager?

Amy: Yeah, I’m the programming manager.

Hallie: Okay. Good. [Laughs].

Amy: But I can maybe explain a little bit what that actually means.

Hallie: Yeah.

Amy: Sure. I’ve been with SFC since 2017 in various roles. First off, I was just hired to run the Downtown Farmer’s Market and then sort of moved up or maybe sideways into some marketing and communications work for our entire department, the farm viability department, which probably takes its own bit of explaining what that term means. [Laughs].

Chris: Actually, I would love that. I think Hallie has done a cursory job once or twice I’m saying. This is what the Sustainable Food Center does, but I don’t know. There’s other people out there that have no idea. What is this thing?

Amy: Well, the Sustainable Food Center has been around in one form or another for maybe 40 years. In Austin, it’s been a community garden organizing body. It has run farmer’s markets, done some cooking classes and trainings, facilitator programs for both home gardening and home cooking and now sort of pivoting the organization where we’re at the tail end of pivoting the organization away from individual behavior, change programming and towards more of systems level work on food systems and local agriculture.

Right now a main focus of our programming is farm viability, which I take to mean assisting local, small to mid-scale farmers, where they need help to continue to be viable on whether that’s operationally, financially, with backend policy work, maybe some administration, business management, marketing assistance. Wherever small to midsize farmers are feeling that pinch, we’re hoping that we can step in and fulfill a little bit of the help for them.

Chris: Cool. Okay. Yeah, all kinds of good help with agriculture stuff.

Amy: Everybody I think is familiar or under the belief that farming is hard. It’s not just long hundred degree days outside digging holes and stuff like that, but the whole business of it is pretty difficult. We’re sort of finding our niche of where we can provide some relief and support.

Chris: I’m used to being able to type some code into a computer and get something working within a few hours or a few days. I can’t imagine putting something in the ground and waiting months or a year to see the results of your labor.

Amy: Exactly. Dealing with that unknown and with these factors outside of your control, battling the weather constantly, it’s almost biblical.

Hallie: This episode is part of a larger series that we’re doing where we’re trying to talk about local food and what it means and I actually don’t know that much about your background professionally. How did you get into the farmer’s market and local food space?

Amy: I sort of fell sideways into this. This is not maybe where I thought my professional career was going to go. I studied neuroscience in school.

Hallie: Oh, wow.

[Laughter].

Amy: Maybe not a linear trajectory, but I moved to Austin in 2010 from the Northeast. I’m from New York and went to school in Boston. My partner and I moved down here and I started volunteering first at Springdale Farm and then at Johnson’s Backyard Garden. Just a shift for exchange of free, fresh, local delicious vegetables and I really liked it. I picked up a part time job helping out at the farmer’s markets on the weekends and then ended up quitting my full time job in healthcare and helping to run the farmer’s markets department at JBG, so I was there for about four years. I went to California briefly to work on a farm and found myself back here and Sustainable Food Center was hiring. I took the job helping to run the downtown market.

Hallie: That is very interesting.

[Laughter].

Hallie: But I feel like I hear a lot of people who come to the local food scene are kind of more I guess like values based eating area in one of those less linear paths I guess.

It seems like it’s something that really just draws people in and if you believe in it and if you’re into it, then you just have to end up there.

Amy: I’m a pretty emotional person and I have always been better at working at something I really care about and I sort of figured this is the thing that I really care about.

Hallie: That thing being like farmer’s markets specifically?

Amy: Yeah, farmer’s markets are definitely a tangible hands on sort of product that I really thrived in, but I always thought I would be a therapist or doing something to help people individually. When I came to farmer’s markets and just thinking about this connection people have with food and how that can heal both people on a one on one basis and communities and maybe a society to be a dreamer. For a second, I thought this is maybe having more of an impact. People coming together around food, people physically handing food over to one another, seeing how things are grown, eating food that is nutritionally dense and really healthy. All of these things sort of wrapped up and clicked in my mind of this is where I need to be. I need to be helping this process.

Hallie: Wow. In this series, we’re hoping to talk to an urban farmer and we’re hoping to talk to someone higher up who’s doing more like institutional buying, focused on value chains, but I would love to hear your thoughts on where farmer’s markets fit into that and what role they serve both to farmers and to consumers. I know it’s kind of a big question.

Amy: We can dive right in. Where do farmer’s markets fit? Farmer’s markets maybe traditionally, and I’m not exactly studied in this, despite how long I’ve been working with farmer’s markets, we are a way where farmers could sell off sort of excess food. This wasn’t people’s first or only outlet. A lot of people would have their farm growing corn or soy or doing whatever they needed to do and then have their personal garden for their own home use and then come to market with excess stuff. I think it’s always filled sort of that role in a community where you can get a lot of very things, where you can sort of get to know your farmers, where there’s this breakdown of the urban rural divide. Then now I think farmer’s markets fill definitely a different role. A lot of people maybe think markets are a little pretentious or inaccessible or expensive or just some fun thing you do on the weekend and not necessarily your main outlet for groceries. I think maybe a little bit of that perception is breaking down now during this pandemic. Farmer’s markets have been at least in our city and stayed open since the beginning and people have really been coming to market to stock up, to get their groceries, to come to a place where they know is safe. That there’s a high level of trust, where they know the farmers, where they know that they’re going to be supporting local people to feed their families and stay healthy through everything. I don’t know if I actually answered your question.

Hallie: I mean, it was a very big question, but I think that you answered it in a very beautiful way. I think that that part of bringing people together and farmer’s markets as a community building tool beyond just like the economic value that it brings, is something that is so hard to describe and to really get people to buy into and understand the value of.


Amy: To me, it’s definitely been this cultural institution as much as it’s been a true place where financial transactions happen. Farmer’s markets are great at letting people who are maybe smaller or starting out, get their start. Farmers who are just starting, who are maybe trying to pick which crops they will then become known for, or to try to make those initial connections to restaurants because they need to be seen, you can’t just pop up out of nowhere, to maybe figure out their brand identity, to work those kinks out in the sort of like live on the ground. Maybe people in micro economics should study farmer’s markets. [Laughs]. It feels like a really good testing ground for working all of these things out. There’s a real immediate result there.

Hallie: I know it. I definitely hear that. You mentioned inaccessibility earlier, and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that idea as it relates to farmer’s markets and at least in your experience, how the margin that is versus how real it is.

Amy: Farmer’s markets are a little bit inaccessible. They’re temporary popups. They only last a few hours. They’re not necessarily in a place that’s easy to get to. There’s not a huge wide parking lot always outside of a central location where you know that you can just get everything and check everything off of your list. You have to know how to be flexible, how to cook seasonally, how to have a list, but go off of it a little bit. So for all of those reasons, farmer’s markets definitely attract a different crowd. A crowd that’s comfortable and maybe excited about dealing with those challenges, but for most, that’s not really what you think of when you think of food shopping, you don’t want to be challenged maybe.

Hallie: Right.

Amy: I think there’s a little bit inherently of that inaccessibility in a farmer’s market, but I think that the things on the flip side, maybe to challenge that a little bit are the opportunities there to happen upon half price, fresh peaches, first of the season, because there were too many. Though that’s not something that you’re going to necessarily get at a grocery store. To be able to know where your food came from, to meet the farmer who picks something and grows something for you is sort of an invaluable thing. To walk around and just have strangers or market staff shout a recipe at you when you look kind of quizzically at purple green beans or something, you’re not going to necessarily get that in a grocery store. I don’t have as many of those friendly interactions when I’m just shopping for normal things.

Hallie: Right. Totally. For me, at least when I’m shopping at a farmer’s market, I find it so much easier to try new things and experiment with new ingredients because there is someone there who knows literally the entire lifespan of this plant and can tell me everything they know about it just right in front of me.

Amy: Absolutely, that’s always what initially drew me to this work. When I was working at Johnson’s Backyard Garden, I was a market manager and I would drive the box truck downtown and set up and take out hundreds of pounds of produce out and display it all. I was really trying to get inside the mind of the shopper and make everything look beautiful and abundant. Then all day, I would just talk to thousands of people all day. Just every time somebody side eyed a weird looking cauliflower, I’d just be there ready trying to identify it.

[Laughter].

Amy: I definitely came by that. Honestly, that’s my favorite thing to do is to help people with weird food problems. [Laughs].

[Background music].

Chris: Welcome to the break. Who’s excited to go to a farmer’s market? I am.

Hallie: I’m always excited. I go all the time and I’m always excited to go.

Chris: It’s true.

Hallie: This episode is the second in a series of three episodes we’re doing about the local food system. If this is something you’re enjoying, I would really love it if you could share this episode with a friend.

Chris: Sharing this episode with a friend is the best way for us to grow the podcast and get more people involved in the discussion.

Hallie: The more people we have that are listening and engaging with us on Twitter and Discord, the better the show can be. The show is all about learning out loud and growing together, no pun intended.

If you have someone who you think might be interested in what we’re talking about, we would love it if they could show up and join the conversation.

Chris: Speaking of people being involved. Thank you so much to our patrons, especially our starfruit patrons, Lindsay, Vikram, Mama Casey, Patrick, and Shianne.

Hallie: You guys are such superstars and we’re so grateful to you.

Chris: You are a superstar fruit.

Hallie: Hey, all right. Back to the episode.

[Background music].

Chris: Do you know much about the impact of having a pop up and having a bunch of people go to the pop up and all the individual farmers take their food to the pop up versus having some giant truck take a bunch of food to a grocery store and people just go to that larger distribution center?

Amy: The benefit to farmers for farmer’s market is if there’s a nice large central farmer’s market in the town or city where you are and a farmer can make that one stop, and unload a lot of things. The financial benefit for the farmer is pretty great. There are no middlemen, there are no wholesale pricing.

All of that money over $0.90 on the dollar goes directly into the farmer’s pocket. When you start getting into distribution models and wholesaling and selling to grocery stores, or even restaurants or institutions, farmers are going to start incrementally seeing less of the money end up back in their pocket. It’s easier. It’s less personal time or staff time or waiting out in the sun and maybe the unknown. What if you have a rainy day and the farmer’s market isn’t that profitable for you that day? But there’s definitely a sense of less of it is going into your pocket. Unless if it’s going into your pocket also from just being able to personally sell someone on something. If I had all really small zucchinis or something like that, I can unload them at the farmer’s market and I can’t sell those to a grocery store. I can convince people that they’re better for frying or zucchini salad or something and I’m not going to be able to make that same pitch to a school district or something along those lines.

Chris: Interesting. Now I’m curious about tiny zucchini.

Amy: Tiny zucchini are so good.

[Laughter].

Hallie: They can be so much sweeter.

Amy: They’re very tender at that size. I would almost never cook them.


Hallie: Well, I guess me asking you these questions, I’m trying to put myself in our listener’s shoes for folks who don’t work at the Sustainable Food Center and think about these questions that you and I think about all the time, but I was wondering my work and I’ve talked about that on the show before is much more like further down the line I guess. Kind of that next step from the farmer’s market, trying to see how farmers could connect to a school or a grocery store or something like that. We’ve touched on this a little bit, but could you talk a little bit more about the things that farmer’s markets do uniquely for customers beyond just taste and meeting farmers, but more broadly, I guess. Well, now I don’t know. I feel like I had a question now. I don’t really know where I was going.

Amy: Beyond I think the sort of intangibles about going to the farmer’s market just that connection piece and the community building piece, I think there are real benefits to shopping at a farmer’s market. A lot of times produce has been picked very recently. If I’m a farmer and I’m selling to Central Market or something along those lines, I’m sending 24 cases of lettuce on Tuesday, and it’s going to be sold at that grocery store all week. They’ll restock it. They’ll move it. Customers will come pick it up, put it down, but it’s been in and out of cold storage for a week or more. At the farmer’s market, someone picked it, boxed it up and it went to the farmer’s market. I’m the first person who’s really been handling it and taking it home. There’s an argument there for food lasting longer. If people are concerned about food waste, if you’ve ever gotten something home and opened the fridge two days later just made to find that it’s gone bad. I found that that’s a lot more rare at the market than anywhere else.

There’s a sense of the nutritional value being higher in something that was picked ripe versus something that was picked unripe and traveled a long way, but it’s difficult when you start thinking about the difference between local food that’s bought at a farmer’s market and local food that’s procured by a local institution. If it’s coming from the same farm, is there much of a difference? There’s a lot of evidence that the food that you can get that’s local versus conventional or as cross state lines. There’s a big difference there.

Hallie: Totally. I guess I have some more practical questions that I would love your expertise on as a food expert.

Amy: [Laughs].

Hallie: Are there things that you tell people if you’re going to get anything farm-fresh at your local market or from your local farmers here, the specific crops to get, because they’re so much different if you get them fresh. I mean, everything’s better fresh. Don’t get me wrong.

Amy: [Laughs]. I always say carrots definitely.

Hallie: Oh my god.

Amy: You haven’t tried a carrot until you’ve tried a really fresh local carrot. I thought I didn’t like carrots I think until I got it from the market.

[Laughter].

Hallie: Oh yeah.

Amy: Fruit is always popular. It’s rare I would say if you get to know the seasonality of things come to the market early in those times. We have raspberries and blackberries that grow here for maybe three weeks out of the year. [Laughs]. It’s very important to get to the market earlier on.

Chris: I was listening to another podcast the other day, and they were interviewing someone who said they had a friend that grew kale and their fresh kale was just unlike any other kale they’d ever had and it was the best kale and the only kale they ever ate.

Amy: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Chris: I don’t know. Maybe there’s no limit.

Hallie: There are very few limits. Like fresh produce it is so much tastier in my experience.

Amy: Oh, absolutely.

Hallie: I remember the first time I had farm-fresh romanesco and I was like, what is this food? Because I thought I’ve tasted broccoli and this is like nothing I’ve ever tasted.

Chris: Wait, what is that food?

Hallie: Romanesco. It’s like a fancy broccoli. It’s like broccoli, if it like had a Pinterest board.

Chris: [Laughs]. Okay.

Amy: It’s like a broccoli cauliflower. It has beautiful pointy fractals all over it. I think it’s much more convenient to cook as well. I usually just rip it apart with my hands into individual little triangles and throw it in the oven to roast and they just come out perfect.

Hallie: It’s a great vegetable.

Chris: I like the idea of eating fractals.

Amy: Yes.

Hallie: [Laughs]. I don’t think I have any other questions. Dad, do you have any other questions?

Chris: Let’s say you were talking to someone who either had never been to a farmer’s market before, or was sort of reluctant because of things like cost. I guess in your mind, what’s the one thing, like sort of the top item you would say you should try a farmer’s market because of this one thing?

Amy: You should try a farmer’s market to just experience a new way of interacting with your community. I find a lot of joy in just walking the farmer’s market, talking to people, picking up a new recipe or technique, working at the beautiful produce, all aligned straightly in a row just appeals to me, aesthetically, running into neighbors, people you didn’t think you were going to see there. I like to make a morning out of it. I like to go to this place that’s not a bar or work and really get to be with people.

Chris: I love that. Do you have a favorite one?

Amy: Favorite farmer’s market?

Chris: Aha.

Amy: Well, yes. Definitely the SFC Farmers Market downtown. It’s a classic urban market. It’s in a beautiful park.

Chris: Is that the one at Republic Square?

Amy: Yeah, that’s the one at Republic Square.

Chris: I don’t think I realized that was an SFC market.

Amy: That’s sort of our flagship market. It’s been open for 17 years.

Chris: Wow.

Amy: Approaching that coveted heritage status pretty soon.

Hallie: [Laughs]. I would also like to say, Amy, you mentioned running into neighbors that you don’t expect to see, and if I’m not mistaken, I think many of your neighbors are farmers at the market.

Amy: I am living in Bastrop County on a farm and a lot of my neighbors are farmers.

[Laughter].

Chris: Hallie told me you had chickens and you are very excited about them.

Amy: Oh yes. I have many chickens. I’ve been lucky enough for the past year to be living and working on Milagro Farm with Kris Olson. He’s the owner. My partner and I moved out here. Two days a week, we take care of the chickens. We have about 5,000 of them.

Chris: Wow.

Amy: So yeah.

Hallie: They make the best eggs.

Amy: [Laughs].

Hallie: They love to eat their eggs.

Amy: They do make the best eggs.

Hallie: Awesome. Well, Amy, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. This was super fun.

Amy: Thank you. This was great.

[Background music].

Chris: Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.

Hallie: This show is made by me, Hallie Casey and Chris Casey. Our music is Something Elated by Broke For Free.

Chris: If you’d like to connect with us, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod or join our Discord and Facebook communities and leaf us your thoughts on this episode.

Hallie: You can find all of our episodes and transcripts as well as information about the team and the show on our website, onetogrowonpod.com.

Chris: Help us take root and grow organically by recommending the show to your friends or consider donating to our Patreon at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There, you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups, exclusive bonus content and boxes of our favorite goodies.

Hallie: If you liked the show, please share it with a friend. Sharing is the best way to help us reach more ears.

Chris: Be sure to see what sprouting in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then keep on growing.

[Background music].

38: Farmers’ Markets with Amy Gallo

This week Hallie and Chris sit down with Amy Gallo, the Farmers’ Market Programming Manager at the Sustainable Food Center. They discuss how farmers’ markets impact consumers and their communities, as well as what crops are the best to buy fresh. They also develop an interest in tiny zucchini. Who do you have to help you with your weird food problems?

Read the full transcript.

Join our discord our facebook group!

Connect with us!
twitter.com/onetogrowonpod
instagram.com/onetogrowonpod
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[email protected]

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

Support us on Patreon!
patreon.com/onetogrowonpod

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
onetogrowonpod.com

A small local farm

37: Urban Farming with Sophia Buggs

This week we kick off our series on local food and talk about the adventures of urban farming! Find Sophia on instagram, https://www.instagram.com/ladybuggsfarm/, or watch her TEDx talk! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrGSYHl3HfA

Read the transcript.

Join our discord our facebook group!

Connect with us!
twitter.com/onetogrowonpod
instagram.com/onetogrowonpod
facebook.com/onetogrowonpod
[email protected]

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

Support us on Patreon!
patreon.com/onetogrowonpod

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
onetogrowonpod.com

Woman cutting watermelon in what looks like an industrial kitchen

27: Navajo Food Sovereignty with Andi Murphy

In part two of our series of on Navajo food sovereignty, Hallie interviews Andi Murphy, host of the podcast Toasted Sister and producer of the radio show Native American Calling. Hallie and Andi discuss the role food plays in culture, the importance of traditional growing practices, and how a good meal can make you feel great.

To learn more about Andi and her work, check out toastedsisterpodcast.com. You can also follow Andi @andimurphy on Twitter and Toasted Sister @toastedsister on Instagram or @toastedsisterpodcast on Facebook.

You can find Native America Calling at https://www.nativeamericacalling.com/

Andi’s pieces on Pueblo bread, mentioned in the episode:
https://www.eater.com/2019/1/23/18183970/zuni-bread-pueblos-new-mexico
https://toastedsisterpodcast.com/2019/01/23/e47-on-the-pueblo-bread-trail-in-new-mexico/

Resources for buying from Native farmers and artists:
http://www.beyondbuckskin.com/p/buy-native.html
http://www.nativewildricecoalition.com/sources-for-wild-rice-and-ricing-tools.html
http://www.tankabar.com/cgi-bin/nanf/public/main.cvw
https://bedrechocolates.com/

Connect with us!
twitter.com/onetogrowonpod
instagram.com/onetogrowonpod
facebook.com/onetogrowonpod
[email protected]

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

onetogrowonpod.com

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

26: Navajo Food Sovereignty with Nate Etsitty & Felix Earle

*Content warning: there is a PG-13 un-bleeped curse word in this episode*

This week, Hallie brings us an interviewe with two Navajo growers and activists: Nate Etsitty and Felix Earle. Our guests share their perspective on farming and why they do it, discuss food sovereignty and its importance on Navajo, and reflect on the legacy the colonization has left of food systems.

Connect with our guests:
Nate: https://www.instagram.com/nateetsitty/
Felix: https://www.facebook.com/earle.couture
Their organization The Green Team: https://www.facebook.com/navajogreenteam/

If you want more information on supporting Native food sovereignty organizations, we recommend connecting with The Green Team, or researching regional organizations supporting or lead by indigenous farmers in your area.

Additional podcast episodes on food sovereignty and historical farm and food access in the U.S.:
– E45: El Paso — Indigenous food at the border by Toasted Sister: https://toastedsisterpodcast.com/2018/12/22/e45-el-paso-indigenous-food-at-the-border/
– E43: Southwest Intertribal Food Summit by Toasted Sister: https://toastedsisterpodcast.com/2018/10/31/e43-southwest-intertribal-food-summit/
– E31: Navajo Sheep — “They’re my life… I love them.” by Toasted Sister: https://toastedsisterpodcast.com/2018/04/17/e31-navajo-sheep-theyre-my-life-i-love-them/
– Land of Our Fathers by 1619: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/podcasts/1619-slavery-sugar-farm-land.html?action=click&module=audio-series-bar&region=header&pgtype=Article
– Ep1: Gardening is Political with Colleen Dieter by Hothouse: https://www.hothousepodcast.com/eps/2018/5/22/gardening-is-a-political-act-colleen-dieter
– Ep6: Conservation & Identity with LaJuan Tucker by Hothouse: https://www.hothousepodcast.com/eps/2018/7/6/conservation-identity-with-lajuan-tucker
– Heirloom Corn by Sourceress: https://www.sourceresshq.com/corn

Cole Burkhardt mastered this interview audio. They do amazing work and you can hire them here: https://coleburkhardt.carrd.co/

Connect with us!
twitter.com/onetogrowonpod
instagram.com/onetogrowonpod
facebook.com/onetogrowonpod
[email protected]

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

onetogrowonpod.com

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

23: Turfgrass with Vikram Baliga

This week Vikram Baliga of Texas Tech university joins Hallie and Chris to talk about turf grass. We learn where it comes from, what it does, and just how high some grasses can grow.

Connect with us!
twitter.com/onetogrowonpod
instagram.com/onetogrowonpod
facebook.com/onetogrowonpod
[email protected]

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

onetogrowonpod.com

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast that digs into the questions you have about agriculture and tries to understand the impacts of food production on us and our world. We explore fascinating topics including food, gardening, and plant sciences. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Show art is by Ashe Walker. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.