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All episodes that are part of One to Grow On multi-episode series.

Crates of produce at a local market.

39: Good Food and Supply Chains 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. 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

Read the full transcript.

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.

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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.
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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.

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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

A small local farm

37: Urban Farming with Sophia Buggs Transcript

Listen to the full episode.

Chris: Hey listener. Editing Chris here. We interviewed the wonderful Sophia Buggs of Lady Buggs Farm over a Zoom call and the Zoom audio is just all the audio that we had available. It sounds like a Zoom call, but it’s a really good interview, so sit back, relax, stick with it and enjoy.

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 focusing on urban farming.

[Background music].

Hallie: This week we have Miss Sophia Buggs.

Sophia: Hello everybody. Thank you for having me.

Hallie: Do you want to introduce yourself and tell the folks a little bit about what you do?

Sophia: My name is Sophia Buggs.

I’m the owner and operator of Lady Buggs Farm that’s located on the South side of Youngstown, Ohio.

Chris: Hang on. Can I just say that is an amazing name for your farm? I love that.

Sophia: [Laughs] thank you. It’s one of the nicknames that people called me in my past, Lady Buggs, because my last name is Buggs and so I figured that would be an awesome time for me to fully admit that this is my purpose and this is what I’m doing as far as how my name is connected to nature and how much I love nature. Currently, I’m revamping my urban ag program to something more around plant medicine and something more specific on healing and helping people to regenerate their lives. I’m really basing it all on my own personal experiences of how I use urban agriculture to help me through a lot of challenging moments and times, but the positive piece to that is there’s more green space to expand in Youngstown and I love the fact that my farm is really located in a really big park. So not only am I working with really amazing soil, I’m also working with high dense nutrient soil that I can pretty much grow, whatever I want. I’m probably considered a specialty crop farmer because I grow a variety of flowers and herbs and produce from a myriad of different ways. Specialty crop is also a way for us in Ohio to describe smaller growers and I used to go to market, but there are many challenges to go on a market beyond just your achy knees and hips. There are some social context that goes into when you want to be at a market that is specifically in your area and other people come and they have the ideas of what they feel markets are.

I’m absolutely a farmer who has the capacity of going to a farmer’s market and selling a lot of produce, but I’m choosing to scale back, figure out my own purpose more so the whole reason why I actually got started and to focus more on the medicinals and the perennials.

Hallie: Amazing. Can you tell me a little bit more about how you became a farmer? I don’t know that story.

Sophia: My story in short is that I basically was laid off of both of my amazing jobs in Orlando, Florida. Teaching and one was also as a breastfeeding peer counselor working for Wicked Nutrition. When I was laid off of both of those jobs, I returned back to the town which I was born, which is Youngstown, Ohio, and discovered along the process that I had heard at my grandma’s home, the house that I was raised in, and this was after I lost my grandmother. I talk about this in my TED talk about my threes. My threes, where I lost my grandmother and I lost two of my amazing jobs. Those were all the things that spiraled me into my higher purpose, where I had to finally decide, am I going to give my own intellect, my own skill sets to chance? I’ve done a lot of different types of jobs. I’ve always gotten a gold sticker. I felt like I’ve always been a great worker in other places, but I never put that kind of effort in my own stuff. I thought, while you have an opportunity let’s work on what you love. I worked on my master’s and discovered that I really want to go deeper into natural medicine. I know if people know me and they’re watching this, I know they’re like I’ve always loved plants and I’ve always loved nature. That has been a known fact throughout my life. I don’t know why I didn’t get it, but I absolutely believe that I actually manifested a farm right behind my grandmother’s home that I inherited. One Katie pool at a time.

I just got adventurous and invested in myself a little bit more and learned some more about agriculture and decided to just jump in there and be a grower. I didn’t know urban agriculture was a thing. I didn’t know about victory gardens. I just knew that I garden because my grandmother gardened, I love plants because nature experiences were supported in my family and nature was always a place to restore me no matter what. Even if it was a flower on a magazine, it always restored me. I just wanted more of it because I felt like I was in a space where that was the only thing that understood me and I completely fell in love with it and moved forward, had a chance to talk with some folk from the city who worked with the land. At the time it was Learning Forward Ohio, who is now our current County land bank and struck up a partnership to start growing on 9 to 10 lots that literally sit directly behind my home. I’m fortunate that it just all happened. Kind of happening spiraled me into growing. Of course, when I decided to do that, taking a specialty crop apprenticing through OSU, which was the first introduction of my experience in what urban agriculture was. For me, it wasn’t a social context in the beginning. It may have been because it was helping myself, but then when I realized like, oh, this is profitable, I really dug in, like I wanted to do it.

Hallie: Yeah, what would you say to someone who asked you, who didn’t know, what is urban agriculture?

Sophia: Well, interesting that you bring that up. I didn’t mention too, that I’m also a partner on a couple of different organizations here. One is Healthy Community Partnership. I’m also the food access coordinator here in Mahoney.

Urban agriculture is described in a myriad of ways for a lot of places and I know I can’t speak globally, but for some, market gardening is just a side a lot. For some is urban ag where there’s profit community gardening. Urban ag has a myriad of things, not just community gardens or pocket parks or green space where people are doing projects, but these are also spaces where people are making an income off of farming. I’m so grateful now that the USDA has an urban ag program where they can assist. I wanted to say real growers, but real growers. When I say that, I guess what I’m talking about is people in spite of what’s going on in the world, still wake up and grow to feed themselves because we don’t understand how food has been used as a weapon in the past to cut through all the red tape of what that looks like. Still today, it’s a bit daunting and challenging. Pushing forward to me explaining what urban agriculture and what it means like now for me, it is absolutely saving my whole life. Urban ag is saving lives right now, because was there a place where you’re not judged and it’s always fair and you’re only utilized for exactly what you’re good for is nature. I live amongst city dwellers who have maybe forgotten the connection, the deeper interweaving with nature. Therefore, nature can be used as a weapon against people in city dwellings because they’re interested in paying bills, not necessarily restoring their bodies to having high quality lives, high quality foods. There’s a distraction happening in the world and specifically with people who are already over pleased, people who are already at a disadvantage. I see now people are like, okay, now I see why you got involved I think I want to too, but it’s so much happening that you have to be very careful and very patient and very loving with people who choose something that they assume that is so easy. Then they get out there and it’s like, wow, I’ve cried in my soil. I thought for sure this was the thing that broke me.

Chris: Wow.

Sophia: Who wants to say a rock broke you? Who wants to say your compact soil made you cry all day?

Hallie: Yeah.

Chris: [Laughs].

Sophia: For a woman who is not open about showing her vulnerability and who’s open about their tears, that is a real challenge because not only are you trying to grow to feed yourself, you’re realizing that all the soil is the same. Urban agriculture is a myriad of green things, green space, community gardens, side luck projects, urban farms, market gardens, pocket park in city dwellings.

Chris: That sounds amazing. In your particular case, how urban is it? Are you just outside the city limits or are you in a suburban neighborhood or next to an office building?

Sophia: Good question. I’m in a neighborhood and I am also just a street over from a major park, Mill Creek Park where there are tons of glaciers and it’s a beautiful park.

Chris: Okay. Oh, wow. I didn’t know Ohio had glaciers.

Sophia: Really? [Laughs].

Chris: I had no idea.

Sophia: Yeah, we got some glaciers.

Chris: Oh, that’s awesome.

Sophia: Most of our natural parks do have them because over a period of time that’s pretty much how our parks are parks. Because of the glaciers, I have high pH too, but I’d also get deer and rabbit. I’m not really worried about those. It’s the two legged creatures that I’m always concerned that might walk away with something.

[Laughter].

Hallie: This episode is going to be the first in a series that we’re doing, talking about local food. One of the things I’m really trying to discuss in this series is the way that local food can be used as a tool of community development. You mentioned earlier that concept of food being used as a weapon and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about how you’ve seen those two concepts throughout your career in specifically urban farming?

Sophia: Well, I will be honest to say that I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read a little bit on Michelle Obama’s, Becoming, her book.

I had a chance to view a little bit of the video that she has on Netflix. I’m only bringing that up because that’s the first thing that I think of when I relate to another person who is trying to express what it is or how they’re trying to define specifically the work that they are doing. She had mentioned several times how challenging it was to take on a charge that she felt like really important and to be believed to supported as a black woman or as someone doing the work that she was doing and she absolutely did that move campaign, which I thought was so amazing. I loved how in her book, I don’t want to say grown in America. It highlighted how she had to push to have the White House kitchen garden. I mean, really?

[Laughter].

Chris: It’s for her house, right?

Sophia: That’s what I thought, but apparently it’s a national park, the White House grounds I must say on that level, and therefore you have to have certain clearance. She made sense when it was like, listen, there was a time where this house was not here or was torn out or damaged and you had to feed people. There was a garden to feed people. Make sense to lead that charge, but food as being a weapon is very similar to that experience that here we are shaking our finger at the first lady of the United States, who is absolutely saying that we have a hunger issue and it is not going to be solved overnight. We need to incorporate it into our lifestyle. This is how we’ve used food as a weapon is standing in the way of things like land ownership or overpricing produce or using in my opinion, language in areas that clearly deflates people.

I get that a lot of people mean well to say, “I want to teach about organic and permaculture and hipster language,” but many of the people are so far removed with these languages that it comes so overwhelming they don’t do it. As food is absolutely evolving and making people healthier, it is also being used to marginalize people. In doing that, I say, I know that there was a whole campaign where they were returning funds to farmers that weren’t given fair treatment when it came to resources and grants and support. Food as a weapon could simply mean something like you are standing in a way of another person’s best life by using a very essential tool that is needed to nurture them to say, “Oh, you can’t do that, Sophia. However, you’re supposed to know how to grow tomatoes. You should go and buy hydroponic tomatoes at the grocery store all year round.” We have to be careful and there are these, I don’t want to seem petty, but it’s ridiculous now. It’s now infiltrated into a whole system. I’m grateful that there is a food assistance program, but I don’t know if you’ve ever applied for food stamps before. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the conversations that they have with poor people, but they do not make people feel that they are proud to live in a first world country with food assistance. You have to darn there big and be sad and become broke, and scraping through the door for them to give you the maximum that you and your family do, in spite of it only needing to really be according to your household income. We still live in those times and you will be surprised at how even people who are discriminated against how food is a weapon are the same people that do it to you too, because they don’t know. It’s a whole of the process, but basically, how to make better with that is stay out of the way of people who are trying to be self-sufficient and sustainable when it comes to land based activities. I know I went off talking about Michelle, but I wanted to put that there only because I was so grateful, honestly, for another black woman in the world who has stressed that healthy eating and lifestyle is a part, not the total package.

But as a piece and a part of her family lifestyle, which is a challenge and it’s food for crying out loud. For her to share her wisdom to other young brown faces, other children, other people in the world on this is the way it should be done, which is children gardening. So when you grow up, maybe you could keep doing this for yourself. Just standing in a way of people’s opportunities to do it affordably, healthier. It’s sort of like breastfeeding. How do we promote breastfeeding? By doing it. By showing other women that this is safe. This is healthy. This is good. This is a nurturing and it’s free from your body. But if you’re stressed, somebody, something is blocking for your baby to get this nourishment because you’re so stressed out and your milk ducks are dried up early. Then you quit early because there are a lot of challenges. I would also like to see that kind of change in the world. I know we talked about food being a weapon from agricultural base but because I’m absolutely a breastfeeding supporter, I think that’s another way we stand in the way of using food as a weapon. Social service agency spaces who have to ask these thousands of questions to how she’s using her body or how she’s using her breasts. That’s typically short lived in a lot of urban areas because it’s just hard to keep up with the social demands of the world and still offer your baby a healthy supply of breast milk. That’s a whole another subject.

Hallie: No, but it’s still tied in for sure. I’d like to know a little bit more about what the local food ecosystem of Youngstown looks like. You mentioned you don’t go to markets. Are there a lot of other urban farmers? Was that an easy way for you to plug in? Was there a lot of support?

Sophia: Weren’t you going to ask all the great questions?

[Laughter].

Sophia: Yeah, there are other growers. There are not a lot of urban farmers, but I consider it an urban farmers’ because at some point there was at least five growers locally that was growing for profit.

Hallie: Oh, wow.

Sophia: This was not in light of what’s happening with the pandemic. Just over course of time, I’ve been growing for about a decade and I’ve also sold produce on my table for other growers who just didn’t make it to the market. I consider those farmers. There is a lot of synergy around local foods here and Healthy Community Partnership is an organization that I’m the healthy food access coordinator of Mahoney. We’re often meeting about how to dismantle what’s going on when it comes to food insecurity. Our challenges, I think is first, we need to change the language. I am one of a few that sit on the board, that’s a person of color. I know we are trying to diversify that and make it more inclusive, but that’s the truth of where we are. I’ve tried to make a parent to say, “Hey, listen, we need to shift the language in the way we’re having a conversation, not just about poor people, but about people of color and about food access.” Food deserts is one of those things that just makes me cringe for a whole lot of reasons. I will, again, state that, I didn’t know that this was a thing in the world. I was just in my own bubble. I just wanted to grow some food and be healthy. I didn’t know urban ag was this hip movement, but people were pushing against the powers that be in resistance. I didn’t know that. I experienced it and then fell into, why is this happening to me? Then I met people and it was like, oh, it’s a thing.

Being able to sit on the steering committee, in the action team and be the coordinator, I feel like I am capable to giving them the intel of what growers black people prefer to use when it comes to talking about agriculture. Food insecurity or food apartheid is more appropriate than food desert. We don’t need another check mark. That’s a negative word against the people. We just don’t. It doesn’t even make sense, but because that’s a great coin to get funding, it’s used.

Hallie: I have a lot of faith in the desert. I hate that term.

Chris: [Laughs].

Sophia: Thank you.

Chris: For those of you who are just listening right now, Hallie and I are just mostly nodding our heads a whole lot.

[Laughter].

Sophia: Thank you so much. It’s so much fun in the desert. It’s great.

Hallie: It’s another negative connotation about who we are as Americans. I really do feel that and our ignorance of our own geographical landscape.

Sophia: Yes, you’re absolutely right. The issue that I’m having is the language.

Now that in light of the pandemic, we know we need these brands, right? All the hard work that we’ve done to work towards to be more inclusive in our focus, I find that out of all of the Zoom meetings of all kind of organizations that I’m sitting in Mahoney, we’ve gone back to settle to the ways. When you’re stressed, in my opinion, I feel that you should absolutely have a practice. Whatever your practice is, you will always resort to it when you feel fearful. That’s why meditation is important. That’s why spirituality is important. That’s why gardening is important because although you don’t think it’s a spiritual practice, it is a practice and it’s safe. It is gentle and it is loving and it doesn’t harm other people. I’m saying that to say in light of what’s going on, I’m hearing the language now about those people, you people. Food desert, is slowly sneaking in. A language sets the tone for a lot of how movements can be that or for us to actually do what we’re saying we’re going to stop doing. Let’s start with the language shift. We had a shift, but now it’s shifted back and to be on calls and meetings and hear it, I just want to get off the call because I feel like all that I’ve worked so hard to say, don’t do that. It’s not appropriate. There are so many better words and terms that could be used. Oh, by the way, did you know that this is a catchphrase word that really is working against the people? Or working with a partner or organization that has saw the slow crawling process that I’ve had in urban agriculture being on the scene, be a part of the movement, trying to do the work only for it to just not be quick enough for them to just say, “Well, I’ll take the ideas and do it myself.” There’s an article I posted on my Lady Buggs Farm page. It’s a whole blog with this girl who just lets it go. I was like, oh my gosh, she sounds like me, which was, she’s always worked at really good nonprofit organizations. Many of the people are very intentional, but a lot of the work was not the right way of doing it.

So because we have a way with communicating or as they would may think, the token black people are comfortable with us approaching or confronting, like this is how we should do this in dealing with people like this. They don’t have to, but it’ll be done just enough to get the resources then off to the next project. There was a project that actually was needed to build on this project or we needed these resources to actually start up that. My concerns is that I live in this city with all this green space and there are a handful of organizations that are taking up some of the different projects whether it’s grass cutting, supporting gardeners, small farms, pop up markets. There are a handful of us that are really pushing that charge, which is really good, but my concerns is we aren’t moving quick enough. My concerns is that the language puts us in such a vulnerable place that a bigger organization can come and take over the green space this year. I know that blight is a problem for many people, but I wish I could stand on the porches of many of the boomers. What did they call that group of people?

Hallie: Yeah, the boomers.

Sophia: Say to them that it’s okay. That the weeds are Northeastern Ohio’s varieties that are growing into Finland, it’s okay. The air is cleaner. The pollinators are going to come and maybe we can get some ordinances so that you could have some wild flowers, but nature is not working against you. She’s working with you and it’s a blessing that we are in an incredible shrinking cities. I don’t want people to lose jobs, but sort of like COVID and I worked so hard to not say that name. It has forced us to simply go within and figure out who you are and how much more sweat equity did you have to give to somebody else. We have a chance to reboot. The air is cleaner. We’ve discovered new species of animals and plants now.

Hallie: What?

Sophia: We got roadways cleared and stuff fixed. We got a lot of stuff done and this is a blink. This isn’t even a blink in the universe. But my point is, and again, I don’t want to leave somebody without, I’m talking to someone in their own pain body experiences and discover nature the way I did it, which is I reached out to say, I don’t have anywhere else to go. One thing I know for sure is to be somebody that is always looking for a safe place. Nature has always provided that for me and it’s something that I’m hoping that Youngstownians can embrace the fact that we are turning into a greener city, let us be the change. Let us lead the way. With California not having water, we’ve got the Great Lakes. Ohio is the Heartland, but I do feel because certain circles I’m in with OSU and extension and in corporations and nonprofits, I hear that language, which is green space is only for an elite group of people and not you all. If we kick back then like, we don’t appreciate it, then we may lose these beautiful, vacant, green plush, lots of all kind of medicinal plants.

Hallie: I’ve got so many thoughts right now. I’m trying to process that.

[Laughter].

Chris: Right. I’m curious about the languages that you keep referring to. If there’s like one or two things that you just, oh, I just heard that again or if there’s like a tone you hear, or something like that, I would love to hear something that needs to be changed.

Sophia: Yeah, what needs to be changed is the way that we continue to build this great nation. We must do it with the acknowledgement of the natives and the people who are here and with food being essential. I hadn’t thought that was a light bulb for people. We’re frontline responders, regardless if there is a pandemic or not. I think we take for granted about food and even in my own house, I see it. I have a teenager who just graduated with a high school diploma and an associates.

Chris: Congratulations.

Sophia: Thank you. She’s pursuing to finish a degree at OSU as well, but I see in our own first world problems where I’m always checking her about making sure she’s not wasting food, making sure that we’re being mindful of the things that we’re putting in our body, in spite of us having a smaller budget than others. But food has always been my bigger stint. I think that’s because I come from a people where food was everything. It was our conversation. It was the comfort, it was the collaboration, it was all of those things. My grandmother’s kitchen provided I can explain. In such a tiny place in the world, she did so much for us. It is not that my grandmother wasn’t magical, she was, but what made it even more magical were the things inside that kitchen, which was food. I know some people fell hippity about calling food medicine, but I think when we do that, it makes us sound more important to people. It gets your attention. Like when I say food is medicine, people are like, “Wow, you know what? That’s nice.” But we would need doctors to also support that. Doctors don’t say food is medicine.

We’re fortunate here we have RX program where the doctors do prescription writing for people who are in challenged areas on certain foods to nourish them. That’s great, but it will really be nice too if those doctors do exactly what the RX prescription program was to.

Chris: [Laughs].

Sophia: It’s just one of those things like, “Oh, we should do this for the people. It’s your work and you do it.” The doctor is like, “What am I prescribing? Here’s the paper, fill this out.” Are these questions really being asked? Does the doctor really feel that food is medicine and that is the missing element from this diabetic woman or it is hypertension then or a personal mental health fog?” The truth of the matter is how I end up farming I didn’t say it, all of that is because I got tired of going to the powers of b and then talking to me like I didn’t know my own body. You really want to know what that feels like to be a mother and be a poor mother and go into an office where they tell you, you don’t know what’s best for your own baby. You don’t know what allergies your daughter has or how they respond to it. Just take these little vouchers and be glad somebody’s giving you food. I knew then, I wouldn’t be that. I did accept I did have WIC when Passion was a baby and I absolutely in my own struggle and my own sacrifice, didn’t do it because don’t tell me what my daughter is supposed to have or not. If you don’t help me here, you’re not going to help me, but that issue I want to say absolutely is one of the reasons why I’m farming because my daughter has so many allergies and I couldn’t afford it then so the whole foods was mine, pharmacy, but I was spending like $25, $30 on a calendula bottle which is little. I thought, man, there has to be an affordable way and there was for me to do it myself.

So that’s why I grow marigolds every year so I could submerge them into oil and let them sit for six weeks in a dark bottle in a cool place for my daughter to have a year round Sal for her eczema breakout.

Chris: I think it was in the last episode, Hallie, occasionally says that growing your own food is a radical act. I think that’s a perfect example of it right there. I’ve got this problem. I need to have my own solution. I don’t need any of these other people involved. I’m just going to do it myself and that’s really cool. I love that. How do you think that growing and eating locally impacts individuals and the people in the communities and the people around the communities?

Sophia: Well, I would like to talk about mental health because I know we want to go to the direct root cause, which is, it is absolutely healthier to do that and it’s healthier because you share the same space with the pollinators and all that other good stuff. You name all of the health factors that happen, that boost when you garden from movement of the body first of all. It’s such an educational experience. Cognitively, you’re always reaching to learn more. On top of that, the food is I feel higher in quality than what you get from the grocery store, because I think those are the other aspects we don’t talk about. Nature, which is the spiritual part of it. It’s something about the mystery that has also in these foods that is akin to where you live, but this is why they tell you to eat local honey, because you and those bees have a relationship. That’s what it is. You’re building your immune system for this relationship, which is bigger than what you assume it to be, but it’s still flowery and clean and protective for us. Eating local not only strengthens the economy, but it also puts competence in the people who live there. It’s food that they’re growing, not t-shirts. It’s food that they’re growing. It puts beautification in spaces.

It gives you confidence. It makes you stronger. It boosts your immune system and it’s always accessible and you have to learn every season, I do not eat all of what I could eat in Northeast Ohio because my taste buds primarily dislike what it likes. However, it also allows you to say, “Well, since I can’t get strawberries, maybe I’ll eat my last little bit of cherry tomatoes in my salad or since we’re all out of Swiss chard, maybe I can figure out what collards are doing since it’s later in the season.” Having a variety of greens to choose from. I love the fact that we’re just strengthening even the relationship with Mother Nature. I feel like it’s almost a checking where nature is like, who’s here? Who’s still with me? Who still supports me? You’re like, how are you? I am a garbage. I am a bucket. How many birds I have honeybees?

Hallie: [Laughs].

Sophia: I feel like it’s our way of saying we’re having a communal relationship that keeps us stronger and healthier as a team, as a globe as opposed to not being connected with her. I absolutely feel that we are the midwives also of what’s happening. She’s heating up for a reason.

Chris: [Laughs].

Sophia: It is not because something’s wrong with her. If we don’t get it together, we aren’t going to make it. She’s going to make it.

Chris: That’s true.

Sophia: She has proven she has survived freezes and heat up and you name it. This is a drop in the bucket for her. She will let us go and create a whole new people. It’s almost like this dance that is, I want to say require. Give her the respect. When I saw people still throwing their stuff out of the windows, in light of the pandemic, I thought people don’t get it. You’re still throwing trash out of the window, still? Don’t you know that that the harms nature? That’s the whole point of what’s going on. It’s not because they did it or you got it or you touched me, it’s because she can’t keep up with so much of the processing, the overproduction that we do for her, she can’t keep up so much because she’s doing what she can. This little rest that we’re getting, this little break is supposed to be her springing forward for us to be better. But I really do feel that those who want to hold onto old systems and old ways, she just doesn’t make room for them. I don’t have to be upset anymore. I have to be concerned if I’m going against. I do feel the love and support that nature has offered me. I’ve been more deeply connected than I’ve ever been before. I spend more outdoor times in my life now than I did before. I asked myself what stopped me before. With all the stresses in the world, all the distractions, I still write hobby farm for magazines. I still will go to Barnes & Noble and just go through all the books and just dream. I wouldn’t doubt that that dream is the manifestation that is happening now, but that’s a different experience with nature from a page as opposed to actually doing the work and even now, it’s the next level. Can I farm enjoy now instead of demanding it? Can I just wake up and go on my fields, plant something and heal some people without needing to dodge bullets, harmful words, ignorance? When this happened, I felt that fear pissed the people who are peppers and who are trying to be sufficient, try to get away from that. We try to just get in our own bubble to just survive. When I went to the grocery stores, I had to just leave. The craziness that people were bringing to the stores and bringing their fears.

It’s just you get your supplies and go, but people have other agendas when they’re doing what they’re doing. I was shocked, but I felt like we had scaled back a couple decades. When I went to the grocery store, the way people were treating me. I’m not saying I’m over that, but I do feel I’m over that. I get treated that way, oh my goodness. I know the masses are. My patience allows me to come home alive and safe and my spiritual practice stops me from wishing harmful things on other people. I always tell people, “You should leave me alone in nature.” Nature protects you from me because if I was here for a real human being, not in love with nature, not being this loving, it would have already been some mess from my life. Nature completely has saved me. I’ve watched to save other people. I hope that this is good medicine for the city dwellers to take in a little bit of greenness in your life, like a little bit here and there. A smoothie here and there. A wild leaf here and there. Maybe a potted plant that can be all year round on your porch and in the house, brought some things. They slowed me down and they stopped me from being so fearful from others and they expanded my vulnerability. Although I said, I don’t like to be vulnerable when I did that TED talk that was absolutely my vulnerability. That was a whole process too, by the way, to do a TED talk.

Hallie: [Laughs].

Sophia: One day, I’m going to do a video on what it’s like to be a TED recipient. To talk exactly about what you know specifically, and then find some pushback, even in the process of doing TED. That’s all I was going to say.

Hallie: Wow, I can imagine.

Chris: I can’t wait to see that.

Hallie: I want to thank you so much for your time and your knowledge. It’s been so awesome to have you on the show. Do you want to plug any social media or anything? Is there anything else you want to leave our listeners with?

Sophia: Sure. I want to absolutely want to thank you for taking the time to allow me to share my story and including me in this process, by the way, it takes a lot. It takes a lot from somebody to say, you know what? I’m going to scale back and allow someone else to take this platform because that doesn’t come easy for you all either. I’m definitely identified as a brown woman and people might not know that that’s where you two are doing, but when people hear that you are possibly supporting something that might not be favorable to them, there is no pushback. I commend you for jumping in there to also allow us to tell the real story about the ups and downs and the challenges and the lifestyle of someone who is in urban agriculture. My plugs are I’m on Instagram as Lady, L-A-D-Y, my last name, Buggs, B as in boy, U-G-G-S, Farm, F-A-R-M. I’m also on there as Mama Sophia’s Wisdom. I’m also with both of those names on Facebook and I’m also on Twitter as Lady Buggs Farm.

Chris: Wow. Awesome. Yeah, thank you so much for being here. This has been wonderful.

Hallie: It has totally been either. You’re amazing. You’re fantastic.

Sophia: Thank you. I’m glad you made the connection. Please stay in touch.

[Background music].

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

Hallie: This show is hosted by me, Hallie Casey and Chris Casey.

Chris: It is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey.

Hallie: Our music is Something Elated by Broke For Free.

Chris: Connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod.

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

Chris: Join our community and learn more about each episode at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups and even custom art created just for you.

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

Chris: Be sure to check out the next episode in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.

Chris: Bye everybody.

[Background music].

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.

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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.
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34: Super Foods V Transcript

Listen to the full audio.

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 it’s superfoods number five.


[Background music].


Chris: Okay, but will we be able to use the confirming it’s a superfood song. Let’s find out.

Hallie: All right. Superfoods. I am so excited to do another superfood episode today.

Chris: Looking at this list, there is definitely one food on here that I enjoy eating and I really hope it’s a superfood.  

Hallie: Oh, okay.

Chris: I bet it’s probably not, but I hope it is.

Hallie: We’ll find out. Should we kick off with our first food? 

Chris: Let’s kick off with our first food, which is wheatgrass.

Hallie: What do you know about wheatgrass? 

Chris: Well, I know it’s a grass. 

Hallie: Cool. 

Chris: I know it has the word wheat in it, but I don’t know if it’s actually wheat. I guess I assume that maybe it’s wheat. I don’t know. Is it part of wheat? Who could tell me? I bet you could tell me, and I know it’s an expensive add on in smoothie joints. 

Hallie: Yes, it is in smoothies sometimes. 

Chris: It’s green. 

Hallie: You are not wrong about that. 

Chris: All right.

Hallie: Wheatgrass is the grass of wheat. It is the leaves of Triticum aestivum, which is wheat.

Chris: Wait a minute. It’s the leaves? I thought it was the stocks. 

Hallie: It’s the leaves.

Chris: Wow. Okay, so I’ve already learned something new. 

Hallie: Wheatgrass, you can get it fresh, which is often what you see at smoothie joints. You can also get it freeze dried, which is often also incorporated into drinks as well. Wheatgrass was actually made popular by a woman named Ann Wigmore who apparently lived in Boston, was originally from Lithuania and she was one of the first folks according to this book that I skimmed about her to popularize the idea of raw foods in US diets, which was around the 1940s. Raw food is generally not considered a negative thing in diet. It’s good to eat raw fruits and vegetables, but this lady, Miss Wigmore also promoted a lot of other fake and harmful claims that were just fake pseudoscience. She claimed she had a cure for diabetes and she claimed she had a cure for all these things that it was just lies and it was really harmful. Not a fan of her.

Big fan of raw food. Wheatgrass falls into the category of sprouts similar to bean sprouts and stuff like that.

Chris: Like alfalfa sprouts?

Hallie: Yeah, similar to alfalfa sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts are both leguminous sprouts that are dicotyledonous and these wheatgrass sprouts are monocotyledonous, so the grasses that you’re eating are basically the little embryos that have just germinated from the seeds of the wheat, but they’re very, very young. We talked about micro greens and in that episode we talked about sprouts and how there are some food safety concerns around sprouts and micro greens. You can have some food safety concerns around the wheatgrass as well as bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts because they’re so young and tender that they can have food safety issues around fungus. That can be an issue. 

Chris: Oh wow.

Hallie: Yeah, we talked about this. Particularly with bean sprouts there have been some high profile cases of food borne illness. It’s a concern. If you have these young sprouts, it can happen.

Chris: Okay. Real quick, cotyledon is a word which you have defined on the show before and it means something.

Hallie: Correct.

Chris: Now there’re these sprouts with one or two of them.

Hallie: Inside of a seed you have different parts. Part of that is the embryo and the cotyledon. Basically, once the little plant pops up from inside of the seed, you get one or two little leaf looking guys that don’t look like the rest of the leaves on the plant. That’s because they were actually inside of the seed and are part of the seed embryo that have kind of pushed out and are starting to grow. If you have a grass, it only has one of these leaf guys and it’s called monocotyledonous and then if you have two, which is pretty much the rest of plants they’re called dicotyledonous.

Chris: Cool. All right. Moving on. 

Hallie: Around wheatgrass, there are a lot of claims similar to once we’ve heard on other superfoods, quote unquote, that it’s anticarcinogenic, anti-anemia, that it can clear your skin, that it helps with joint pain. There’s not a lot of studies, however, around wheatgrass, so we don’t have a lot of info. 

Chris: All the like anticancer, anti whatever. Yeah, that sounds like a whole lot of bull sprouts.

Hallie: Oh my God. Generally, wheatgrass has good nutritional benefits as a leafy green. It can be dangerous to folks with celiac disease or who are allergic to grass or wheat products because it is wheat, but it’s leaves. Leaves are good for us generally. 

Chris: All right. Eat your leaves, eat a salad, and eat some wheatgrass. It’s good for you. It’s fine.

Hallie: That’s fine. Yeah, go for it. Get some nutrients. 

Chris: But it sounds like we’re not going to put a cape on this one. 

Hallie: No, I don’t think so. Well, there’s not a lot of science, so who knows.

We might come back in 10 years and there might be some great science showing some miraculous things that wheatgrass does. At this point, there is absolutely no evidence of that.

Chris: All right. Sounds good.  

Hallie: You ready for the next food?

Chris: I am so ready for the next food.

Hallie: It is avocado. 

Chris: Give me some guacamole, please and let it cure my [inaudible]. 

Hallie: We’re talking of course about the wonderful avocado, which is Persea Americana in the Lauraceae family, which is the Laurel trees. Love that. What do you know? 

Chris: Oh, well I just looked at the show prep notes and I see that it’s a berry, which is awesome because after all, what even is a berry as we’re asked so many times? 

Hallie: Something that’s very specific.

Chris: Yeah, it’s a berry. I don’t know. It’s good on sandwiches. It’s good on toast. It’s good mixed with jalapeno and cilantro. Maybe a little mayo and some salt and pepper and some lime juice and put on a tortilla or on a chip or whatever and it’s good. 

Hallie: Agreed. 

Chris: That’s what I know about avocados. 

Hallie: It is good. True. The word avocado actually comes from an indigenous language the Nahuatl language, which is an indigenous people from Mexico and Central America. The word is Ahuacatl and then that got translated into Spanish, which originally is a fairly anatomical description of a human body part that the avocado resembles somewhat. 

Chris: Oh, so people in native Mexico were perpetually 14 also. 

Hallie: You see it and you say it. Keep it simple. Another English name for it is the alligator pear, which is also fairly literal and I like. 

Chris: Oh, I like that because I’m sure alligators love pears too.

Hallie: Yeah, I’m sure the carnivorous reptile, the alligator loves the pear. Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America. They’re enjoyed widely around the world though on account of how delicious they are. 

Chris: They are. They’re grown pretty widely in California, are they not? 

Hallie: Yes, there are a lot of avocados grown in California. The most common cultivar of the avocado is the Hass avocado. Those are probably the ones you’re familiar with that are nice and big. Avocados are climacteric which is similar to bananas where for a banana you can buy it when it’s green before it has ripened and it can ripen off of the plant and it’s ready to go as opposed to something like a melon. A grape is non-climacteric. If you harvest those before they are ripened, they just stop maturing and they will not get up to maturity. 

Chris: Got it. There are people who actually like green bananas and they are just wrong. 

Hallie: Hey, don’t knock it. A green banana is lovely and starchy. 

Chris: Okay. If you say so.

Hallie: We don’t need to yuck a yum. People like what they like. 

Chris: I think there are just certain truths in the world.

Hallie: Avocados are dichogamous, which is such a fun plant word. Plants have great words. Basically, this means that one plant has both male and female flowers, but the different flower sexes are separated throughout time to try and facilitate cross pollination. 

Chris: Kind of like Doctor Who?

Hallie: Yeah, kind of like Doctor Who except for they’re both aging forward in time, not backwards in time.

Chris: Got it. I’m glad you said that word because I would have said dichogamous, which just sounds kind of weird but dichogamous makes sense. 

Hallie: Yeah, dichogamous. Basically it means that either the male or female flower blooms first and then a week or two weeks later, the other one blooms. This is basically just so that different plants can get on with other plants so that you have more robust mixing of DNA in reproduction, which is fine. Except for that it’s a really annoying thing for breeders because if you want to cross pollinate something that’s blooming at the same time, it’s on the same schedule, you have to go and collect pollen and then artificially pollinate it two weeks later.

It’s just a whole thing. It’s very annoying.

Chris: You never know if either the male or the female is going to be the late bloomer. 

Hallie: What? Is this a joke? 

Chris: The late bloomer.

Hallie: Is it a joke? 

Chris: Late bloomer. 

Hallie: I’m assuming this is a joke.  

Chris: Obviously.

Hallie: Flowers bloom dad. Also you can’t have flowers that are just late bloomers. 

Chris: But one of them comes later than the other one. Isn’t that what you’re saying? 

Hallie: Yeah, but it comes in order. It’s not like you’re guessing every year. I’m just taking your joke very literally. 

Chris: Okay. One of them happens first and the other one happens later. 

Hallie: Yeah, but you do know which one’s going to be the late bloomer. You can anticipate it is what I’m saying. Anyway.

Chris: Moving on. 

Hallie: You can propagate avocados by seed. Traditionally, they’re propagated asexually. Most often grafted just because it takes a really long time and if you’re growing a fruit tree by seed, then you’re going to have changes in the phenotype. If you want to propagate an avocado by seed, dad, do you know how you do this? 

Chris: You take out the seed and you plant it in the ground. 

Hallie: No, you take out the seed, you rinse it off in the sink and you poke some toothpicks in it and then you put it over a glass of water. Have you ever seen this happen? It’s like a science project that a lot of kids do. 

Chris: Maybe. You kind of make it like a little sea urchin. Oh, is this one of the things where it grows out and then it grows down into the thing and then that becomes a plant or something?

Hallie: That’s how seeds generally operate. It grows out of the seed and then down and then becomes a plant. 

Chris: Well, I’m thinking of the trees where the leaves sort of go down into the ground and then become roots. 

Hallie: Oh, no. Basically, the propagation method, whether you’re doing it at home, in a science class or you’re breeding from seed is pretty much the same where you take out the pit of the avocado, like the seed and you rinse off the outside and then you stick toothpicks in it so that it’s kind of suspended just in or over water like a glass of water. Then the radical pops out of the seed coat and goes down into the water. That’s how you propagate from seed.

Chris: It’s wild.

Hallie: Yeah, it’s very cool. That’s why a lot of science classes do it in like middle school or whenever because the seed is so big and it puts out this enormous radical, so it’s a very visual thing for kids to see and it’s just also super fun.

Chris: It sounds to me like avocado breeding is the pits. That’s it.

Hallie: That was really, really good. I liked that. 

Chris: It was all right.

Hallie: If you would like to grow your own avocado tree from seed, that’s how you do it. It will take a long time though because on account of how long trees take to get big. 

Chris: Then at some point once it’s been growing in the glass, you just transfer it to a pod or the ground or something. 

Hallie: Yeah, pretty much. The leaves of the avocado tree can actually also be used in cooking as like a little spice.

Chris: What? I have no idea. 

Hallie: It’s closely related to the bay laurel, so it makes sense.

Chris: Oh, okay. Even more praise for the avocado.


Hallie: Absolutely.

Chris: Sounds like we’re going to put a cape on it. Maybe. 

Hallie: We’ll see. The claims around the avocado, it stimulates the immune system. It helps with your hair health. Hair can’t be healthy because skin cells are dead. I don’t need to get into that. It can stimulate the immune system. It helps with hair healthiness. Prevents cataracts, maintains regularity.

Chris: Whenever I hear stimulate the immune system, that’s when my bull sprouts meter goes off. 

Hallie: All in all, there’s not a ton of evidence that it’s doing any of these things. It is however, very high in fat.


Chris: How high?

Hallie: 75% fat. 

Chris: To me that’s a wild level like when I was wowed that quinoa was 27% protein or something ridiculous like that. 

Hallie: Yeah, it’s something like that. 

Chris: Or 27 grams of protein. I don’t know. It was a high amount of protein for a little old plant and now we’ve got a plant that has a high amount of fat and I’m like, wow. 

Hallie: It is 75% fat. It’s also very high in fiber and has a good amount of potassium.

Chris: Well, potassium is important.

Hallie: It is. As berries go and fruits in general, this is pretty uncommon. Olives are also a fruit that’s pretty high in fat, but we don’t see a lot of these lovely, good fatty, oily fruits out there that we eat. Avocado oil has a pretty high heat point, so it’s really good for cooking. Generally, people often don’t lack oil/fat in their diet, but as a food, I think it’s pretty cool. I wouldn’t probably put a cape on it because you can get good fats from a lot of places. It’s not super unique as these things go. It is extremely delicious and I am a huge fan. 

Chris: Well as much as I would like for my guacamole to be a superfood, I guess I’ll just have to live with the facts. Again, it’s a decent food, but nothing super special about it except it’s deliciousness.

Hallie: Which is extreme. It’s pretty extreme. 

Chris: Well, you know what happens to tortilla chips when you put them in a good thick guacamole is they break. 

Hallie: Hey, let’s go on a break.

Chris: That’s what we’re about to do right now. 

[Background music].

Hallie: Dad did you know that we had a Facebook group?

Chris: I do because I posted some stuff there just last week and commented on another post and it’s a lot of fun. 

Hallie: Did you know that we also have a Discord group? 

Chris: I do because that too is a place where I interact with listeners much like yourself and we talk about everything and we talk about plant problems and we talk about plant jokes and all kinds of stuff. 

Hallie: Right now, my favorite part of the Discord is the wild flowers channel where I post pictures of the coolest flowers I see on my evening walks after work. 

Chris: That’s only going to last for what? Another couple of weeks? I don’t know. How long do you think we’ll have wild flowers? Not much longer. Go and see some of those pictures people. 

Hallie: It was a warm winter. The flowers came out early in this year. 

Chris: They did indeed.


Hallie: If you’d like to come give us a shout, hang around, say hi, you can find the One to Grow On Facebook group at onetogrowonpod.com/group or by searching, One to Grow On on Facebook and you can find the One to Grow On Discord group at onetogrowonpod.com/discord. That’s onetogrowonpod.com/Facebook and onetogrowonpod.com/discord.

Chris: Thank you very much to our starfruit patrons, Lindsay, Vikram, Mama Casey, Patrick and Shianne. 

Hallie: Thank you guys so much. Your support means so much to us and we really appreciate it.

Chris: Well, I’m about out of guac. I don’t know about you. I’m ready to get back to the episode.

[Background music].

Hallie: Dad, do you have a nature of fact for us today? 

Chris: I do have a nature fact for us. Our next superfood candidate is bee pollen. 

Hallie: Yes. 

Chris: Bee pollen comes from bees as the name suggests.

Hallie: Correct again. 

Chris: In the DC universe, there was a superhero who was a member of the Teen Titans in the early seventies called Bumblebee and she was DC comics’ first black female superhero. 

Hallie: Oh, that’s cool. Is that the one that’s married to Paul Rudd in the movies? 

Chris: No. 

Hallie: Oh, that’s Marvel. 

Chris: Totally different universe. Listener, on Easter we were having a discussion. 

Hallie: Oh my gosh, I cannot believe you’re bringing this up on the podcast right now.

Chris: If me and Mama Casey had finished our Millennium Falcon. Me and Mama Casey have been working on a Lego Enterprise, not Millennium Falcon. Starship Enterprise, completely different universe. Once again, here we are completely different universe, getting our universes crossed. 

Hallie: Oh my God. Listen, we all have our different talents, different skill sets. This is [inaudible].

Chris: Okay. I don’t know. I think it’s something you were pretty good at once in your life.

Hallie: The plants have overrun my mind. It’s only plants up there. 

Chris: That’s true. It’s all vegetable matter.

Hallie: Are you ready for some bee pollen?

Chris: Yeah, but I can’t believe you didn’t react to that sick pan.

Hallie: Was it a joke on gray matter? It would have been funny if you said it’s all organic matter. See there you get a soil joke a little bit too.

Chris: Oh, I guess. Now I know what plant people think is funny and they will burn. Oh well, okay. Yes, bee pollen. Give us the low down on the bee pollen, which is, all that comes from bees. 

Hallie: Yes, what else do you know about bee pollen generally?

Chris: I said it’s pollen that comes from bees kind of as a joke, but obviously the pollen comes from plants and then the bees fly around and they get the pollen on their little legs and mix it with other plants or something, correct?

Hallie: Yes, what do you know about how it is marketed/consumed? 

Chris: What? 

Hallie: We’re doing a superfood episode.

Chris: It has never really been on my radar. Maybe now that I think about it, it’s something I’ve seen at a smoothie place, which gives me low hopes for its superfood status, but I don’t really know that much about it. Wait. Let me talk to you this.

If it’s just plant pollen then why does it matter if it comes from bees or not, I guess is kind of where my head is at right now?

Hallie: It’s a very good question. Bee pollen, I guess you could put it in smoothies. Usually, I think you put it over like yogurt or a granola or something like that. I think it’s crunchy. I’ve honestly never eaten it. Pollen itself is a gametophyte, which as you mentioned comes from plants. The bee pollen is like a dusty little pellet of field gathered like you mentioned. Flower pollen that bees go and get pollen has a lot of nitrogen and this pollen serves as the bee’s primary source of protein whereas honey serves as the hives source of sugar. 

Chris: I had no idea pollen was a source of protein for bees. That’s awesome.

Hallie: It is as you mentioned gathered as opposed to something like bees wax, which is also a byproduct of bees. But bees wax is actually secreted by the bees themselves. They just go and pick up and collect into pellet shapes. I could not find a lot of info about the agricultural significance of this. I looked all over the place to find how to start farming bee pollen. There was very little information, so I think it’s pretty niche. It’s like a specialty crop that not a lot of people are growing right now. Business Insider actually in an article about bee pollen credited the popularity of it as a product to a Victoria Beckham tweet.

Chris: Oh bull sprouts. I’m just going to start using that for everything. Can I make an anti-claim?

Hallie: Sure. Is it an anti-Victoria Beckham because if so, I will not hear it?

Chris: No, it’s just an anti-claim. It’s speculation on my part to be sure. But I bet the bees don’t even really come into the mix. I bet they just get some pollen from some plants that the bees probably would’ve liked just fine and say, “Hey, look. Bee pollen.”

Hallie: Pretty much. This is just a dusty little ball of pollen and there’s not bee gunk on there or anything. It’s just pollen, so it’s just plant stuff. The claims around pollen are, again, similar to what we’ve heard before, it protects from cancer, it boosts liver function, it’s anti-inflammatory, it helps with hot flashes, helps with allergies, which we hear with honey. However, bee pollen is field gathered, right? The bees are just doing their own thing. The actual makeup of the pollen itself can vary from hive to hive. It can vary from bee to bee. It can vary from hour to hour on the same bee within the same hive because the bees are just going about their business and so you can have all kinds of stuff up in there in terms of pollen. There’s not really any clear evidence that it can treat or prevent any ailment because it’s harvested by bees. There are a lot of variables that are extremely difficult to control because you know the bees go where the bees go, so it can be contaminated and it can be dangerous if you have serious allergies because the bee goes where the bee goes.

Chris: You can’t control the bee.

Hallie: Perhaps one day we can control the bee, but should we control the bee?

Chris: That’s a good question, but if we could, maybe we could save them from extinction because of our modern cultures and such things.

Hallie: Who knows?

Chris: I don’t know.

Hallie: Probably it wise, if I have learned anything from movies, it’s not a good idea.

Chris: That’s probably true. That probably would lead to a bee revolt and then we’d all be in real trouble.

Hallie: Honestly, the bees can rule me.

Chris: Now we’re just getting political.

Hallie: Is it political to say the bees can rule me?

Chris: Yes, because it implies that you’re not happy with the current administration.

Hallie: I’m not happy with the current humanity.

Chris: Fair enough. All right, so in bee pollen, maybe it’s fine, but nothing special.

Hallie: Yeah, nothing special. There’s not a lot of nutrition associated with it. It is some I think crunchy guys. If you are looking for crunchy guys, this seems to be an option, but it doesn’t really seem like they have a lot to bring to the table according to current science.

Chris: That’s kind of a bummer. But bees make honey and pollinate our plants so it’s not their fault.

Hallie: More like a buzzer.

Chris: Nice one.

Hallie: Thank you. Should we talk about spelt?

Chris: Let’s talk about spelt.

Hallie: The scientific name for spelt is Triticum spelta. It’s in the same genus as wheat. Another common name for spelt is actually dinkel wheat.

Chris: That sounds like a derogatory term for wheat. No, it’s just some dinkel wheat.

Hallie: Interestingly in Greek mythology, spelt was actually given by Demeter to humans and humans have been eating spelt for thousands of years. This is something we have been eating for a long time.

Chris: Nice. Thanks Demeter. I know on the Spirits Podcast produced by Catherine was talking about Demeter as one of her favorite goddesses.

Hallie: Demeter is great. Demeter is extremely good and for more information on how great Demeter is, you can find our episode where we guested on the Spirits Podcast and gushed about Demeter for like 25 minutes.

Chris: All right.

Hallie: Spelt has been eaten in the US for a long time, but it got replaced by wheat just because wheat is easier to grow and a little bit more delicious. However, the biodynamic/organic farming movement of the 1970s revived the popularity of spelt because it requires less added soil nutrition than wheat.

Chris: Oh, it’s easier to grow.

Hallie: Yeah, it can be easier to grow. It’s arguably less delicious. I don’t want to drag spelt here. I’m not that much of a fan, but it can be a bit hardier and it can just stand up to a bit more. Today, we eat some spelts in America. It’s much more popular in Germany than most other places. It’s more in the cuisine in Germany, but people eat it in different places, in small amounts. It’s not terribly common. We do also use it for a feed grain for the cows and horses and stuff like that.

Chris: It’s popular in Germany. It’s coming back here so maybe for just a time here, we miss spelt. I miss spelt.

Hallie: No, I got it dad. I did get the joke.

Chris: All right. I’m glad.

Hallie: The claims around spelt are that it lowers the risk of stroke. It lowers the risk of heart attack. It can help with diabetes and cancer. There’s not really a lot of evidence here. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to have any cape worthy foods in this episode. Sorry to bum you guys out. It is high in protein, has some good fiber, and has some good phosphorus. It has gluten, so it’s not great if you are trying to avoid gluten, but generally whole grains are good for you. This is kind of similar to a whole grain oat or a whole grain wheat or something like that. It’s good to have whole grains.

Chris: If you want some spelt, eat some spelt, it’ll be good for you, but don’t expect all the big stuff.

Hallie: Don’t expect some big stuff. Do eat avocados on account of how delicious they are. Perhaps enjoy you some wheatgrass or other small little friends. Have a lovely afternoon perhaps including some avocados.

Chris: Have a lovely afternoon. Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.

Hallie: This show is hosted by me, Hallie Casey and Chris Casey.

Chris: It is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey.

Hallie: Our music is Something Elated by Broke For Free.

Chris: Connect with us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at One to Grow On Pod.

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

Chris: Join our community and learn more about each episode at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. There you can get access to audio extras, fascinating follow-ups and even custom art created just for you.

Hallie: If you like the show, please share it with your friends. Sharing is the best way to help us reach more ears.

Chris: Be sure to check out the next episode in two weeks.

Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.

Chris: Bye everybody.

[Background music].

34: Super Foods V – Wheatgrass, Avocado, Bee Pollen and Spelt

It’s super foods time again! This week, Hallie and Chris discuss the health claims and realities of wheatgrass, avocado, bee pollen and spelt. We learn where these foods come from and how they’re used, as well as some choice vintage Teen Titan’s trivia.

Read the 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

aerial view of agricultural fields

31: Water – Modern Challenges

It’s time to learn more about water! This week Hallie and Chris are tackling some of the issues facing both modern farmers and everyone who uses water. They discuss the impacts of climate change, overuse, and new technology and policies. We also learn just how much water it takes to produce one day’s worth of food.

Take our survey at onetogrowonpod.com/survey

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

30: Water – History of Irrigation

In the first of a two-part series on water, Hallie and Chris discuss irrigation and water use. We learn it’s history, dating from prehistory to today, how it’s used and why it’s so important. We also learn that Chris is still confused about what is and is not a berry.

You can check out the stellar podcast the future of agriculture at futureofag.com or wherever you get your podcasts.

Take our survey at onetogrowonpod.com/survey

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