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50: Food Rescue with Jess Palmer Transcript

Listen to the full podcast.

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

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

[Background music].

Hallie: This week we have Jess Palmer who is a programs coordinator with Keep Austin Fed here in our hometown and I’m so excited to have her on. Welcome to the show, Jess.

Jess: Thank you, guys. I’m really happy to be here.

Chris: I mean, I think the first thing that everyone is wondering, the obvious question is why does food need to be rescued?

Jess: [Laughs]. Well, food needs to be rescued because actually, there’s a lot of food going to waste. I think people may not realize it, but in this country, we waste 40% of the food that is grown and processed and that can be kind of hard to visualize. But if you think about going out and buying a pizza and you come home and you immediately throw away three slices, that’s perfectly good food, but it’s getting tossed and a lot of that food that is getting wasted is happening at home. But there’s still a significant amount that’s wasted at larger distribution points like grocery stores and restaurants and so that’s where Keep Austin Fed comes in. We are based here in Austin, Texas and we’re just a local food recovery nonprofit with the mission of diverting that edible surplus food from the landfill and redistributing it to people who are food insecure in our communities.

Chris: Now, see. That’s the kind of guest you want to have on a podcast is when you ask a dumb question, it’s supposed to sound funny and they give you a real answer that’s perfect.

[Laughter].

Jess: I may have given away all my answers for the whole interview now.

Chris: Yeah, we’re done. The show is sort of over.

Jess: There we go.

Hallie: Yes, that’s it. That’s the show.

[Laughter].

Hallie: I’m really curious, like what a day in your work looks like? How does that function?

Jess: Well, it’s interesting because my title is programs coordinator with an S and that’s because there’s a lot of logistics and coordination that goes into the programming of food rescue. We are a heavily volunteer oriented organization. We have around 200 active volunteers and they all donate their time, their cars and the gas to go pick up the surplus food and drive it to the recipient organizations to drop off. I mean, yeah, there’s no middlemen. Food is getting picked up and directly taken to a recipient organization. There’s a lot that goes into coordinating that kind of stuff. We have a schedule of food pickups that volunteers can register for and those runs happen on a weekly basis. I think right now we have about 75 food runs every week that we have filled by our volunteers. There’s a lot of volunteer coordination both sort of corresponding with current volunteers and then also familiarizing new volunteers with how we work. There’s managing the food run schedule. We use a platform called GiftPulse that was actually developed here in Austin too, but we use them as our volunteer database and our scheduling platform. There’s always some data management to be done and also we have to have places who are contributing food and places to bring that food. So we’re always reaching out to new places to see if they are interested in donating food, if they’re interested in receiving food. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes into onboarding those new partners. That’s sort of the basic of our scheduled runs. There’s more on top of that too because we can go into unscheduled food runs.

Hallie: [Laughs]. Peek behind the curtain for listeners, that’s actually how Jess and I met. I was running a program that involves food and she sent me a very polite email asking if we had any surplus that we’d like to donate.

Jess: That’s right.

Hallie: I’d known a little bit about Keep Austin Fed, but I didn’t know that much about it and actually I did not realize until I was preparing for this interview, that one of my sister’s best friend’s moms apparently helped start Keep Austin Fed.

Jess: Oh, really?

Hallie: Yeah.

Jess: Wow.

Hallie: I mean, Austin is such a small town. People always talk about how big and growing it is, but also it’s very small.

Jess: Yes, it is. I’m from Central Texas. I grew up in the very rural Hill Country, but I went to college outside of Austin and lived here for a little while and then left in 2005 and then just came back last year. It’s interesting the city has totally changed, but there’s still pockets. When we first moved back, I was running into college acquaintances in the grocery store. [Laughs].

Hallie: Yeah, that happens to me all the time and it’s so weird because it’s like this massive town of like millions of people and it feels like a tiny town.

Jess: It does.

Chris: How did you end up getting into this stuff?

Jess: Honestly, I kind of fell into food systems work and I haven’t done food access work for a long time. This is actually the first time I have worked in food insecurity and food access. My background is actually more in natural resources management. I have a bachelor’s in environmental studies and then I went to the University of Michigan for a masters in natural resources really focusing on land restoration, but food and agriculture has really always had a role in my life. Like I mentioned, I grew up in rural Texas and that was 45 minutes from the nearest ATB. Many of our neighbors, we grew up with a really big garden that helped feed us in the summers and I carried that with me too. Every place that I’ve lived, I’ve always found a way to put in a backyard garden somewhere and throughout school, I was working for student groups that ran community gardens on campuses and things like that and also I just really love to cook. I eventually landed a position at a land trust in Central Virginia about 10 years ago and I started out there coordinating their local food branding and marketing program and eventually turned it into a farm and food program that focused on things like strengthening farmer access to land and capital and training and market access. I was there for about nine years and then we moved to Austin for a change of scenery and work and I started working for Keep Austin Fed and it’s been really exciting to work on sort of the opposite end of the food system spectrum. There’s a lot in food access and food insecurity for me to learn.

Hallie: That is so cool. Can you tell me some of the organizations that you’ve been working with since you started working in food access?

Jess: Yeah, we work with a wide range of organizations actually on the food contributors’ side. Like I mentioned, food waste happens at every point of food distribution, but we’re really focused on the larger scale not necessarily individuals. So we’re working with places like grocery stores Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, AGV. We also work with a lot of restaurants occasionally with caterers. That’s a little bit different now because of the pandemic and then smaller cafes and bakeries and really we’ll talk to anybody who has surplus food that they want to donate rather than toss. Actually, I wanted to mention that when we talk about surplus food, I want to be really clear that we are not out there dumpster diving. [Laughs]. We are picking up perfectly edible food. Food that may be close to an expiration date or it’s just leftover and anybody would be happily willing to eat it. I just wanted to make sure that everybody understood that this is perfectly good food that we’re picking up and redistributing. Tangent, but important. That’s really who we’re working with on the contributor side and then on the recipient side, we don’t distribute directly to individuals. We work with nonprofits who provide services to their clients. We will work with places like foundation communities. They provide affordable housing and we donate food to them and they distribute it to their clients. Other places like family elder care facilities that work with seniors, support organizations for folks facing homelessness, domestic abuse shelters, refugee service organizations, addiction recovery homes. I mean, we will work really with a bunch of food pantries. We’ll work with them. As long as if you’re a nonprofit and you’re serving food to clients for free, then we’re able to try to find a way to work you into our schedules. Right now, we work with about 30 to 40 food contributors and about 50 recipient organizations and that’s on a weekly basis.

Chris: I agree. Wow. That sounds like a lot of people you’re working with. Now I’m wondering, how much food is it that you’re sending through this supply chain that you have set up?

Jess: Last year in 2019, we distributed just over 800,000 pounds of surplus food.

Chris: Wow!

Hallie: That’s amazing.

Jess: It’s like 13,000 meals per week that our volunteers are redistributing to folks in need in the Austin area.

Hallie: How many volunteers do you guys have that run this every day or every week?

Jess: We have probably around 200 active volunteers. You know people take breaks or people come back on and offline, so it just really depends, but I mean, our volunteers are why we can do what we do. They are the heart and soul of this organization. Last year, they made 3,500 food runs to distribute all those 800,000 pounds of food. They are the reason we do what we do and they’re so dedicated. They really are. We have folks who adopt food runs and they are there every week at the same time, same day to pick up food from one place and take it to another.

Hallie: That is so cool. Has Keep Austin Fed always had this many volunteers?

Jess: No, it hasn’t. We actually started in 2004 and our founder is a man named Randy Rosens and I think he was at a fundraising event and noticed that the food that was being catered for the event was going to get tossed and he was like, no, thank you. That’s not going to happen. So he rescued the food right there from the event and delivered it to a woman’s shelter in South Austin and that’s sort of how Keep Austin Fed was born. It’s just a small group of folks who felt that this was really important and they wanted to make sure that people could get involved in doing food rescue and redistribution. Over the last 16 years, we’ve gone from that small group of folks to a nonprofit with two paid staff and this really giant group of volunteers.

Hallie: That’s amazing.

Jess: Yes.

Hallie: I have so many questions that I’m trying to figure out which one to ask.

Jess: [Laughs].

Hallie: I think my first question and I think I know some of the answers to this, but I would love to hear the actual answer. I guess it makes sense if it’s a catering event, but most of the organizations you’re talking about, this rescue from is for profit companies who are trying to make a profit. How does it make sense for a company to throw food out?

Jess: Well, I mean, I think part of it is some folks just want to give back to the community and if they know that they’re going to be tossing food, but there’s another outlet for it through us. A lot of the places that we work with are smaller caterers and food places that just want to give back and also I think too in Austin you have to pay to have composting material picked up, so it’s a way for them to cut down on the amount of food that is getting thrown out.

Hallie: Yeah, that totally makes sense, but I wonder if the food is edible and it’s perfectly fine, then why is it getting tossed out in the first place, whether it’s being composted or given to KAF?

Chris: I was going to say, I used to work at a bakery and they’d make pastries every morning and they wouldn’t necessarily sell them all and so at the end of the day, we’d have to throw them all out, all the ones that we didn’t sell and sometimes people would call us for donations and then they could come pick up what was left in the event that we had any left, but that wasn’t every day. Sometimes we take a couple home, but most of the time we just tossed everything out.

Jess: Like I mentioned, the food is perfectly edible. It just may be close to expiration date. I think with the grocery stores, it’s more about nearing expiration date and just when they’re getting new shipments of food and having to make space.

Hallie:
No, that totally makes sense.

[Background music].

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Chris: K-N-I-C-K-E-Y. Oh man, that is amazing spelling. I love that.

Hallie: Thank you. I worked very hard on learning to spell when I was a child.

Chris: [Laughs]. Well, no, I mean, I love the way they spell their name. That’s very clever.

Hallie: No, that’s also great. It’s great.

Chris: You know who else is great is our patrons, especially our starfruit patrons, Vikram, Lindsay, Mama Casey, Patrick, and Shianne.

Hallie: Also our newest patron, Jessica. Thank you guys so much for your support of the show. You absolutely make our world go round. If you listener are interested in learning more about Patreon and the tiers that we have, you can go to patreon.com/onetogrowonpod. We do lots of cool and fun stuff over there and we just have a blast. You can listen to outtakes. You can get extra research and bonus content. All of it at patreon.com/onetogrowonpod.

Chris: Back to the episode.

[Background music].

Hallie: You mentioned that you have this massive fleet. I think you said 200 volunteers. I mean, that’s a huge amount of volunteers for a nonprofit with only two employees. I’m just wondering what your perspective is on why people are so excited and compelled by KAF’s work and mission.

Jess: I mean, from conversations that I’ve had with volunteers being able to do something like this, you can do a food run in easily less than an hour. We have it set up to where our pickup locations and our delivery locations are pretty close to each other and we’ve gone through not necessarily trainings, but we’ve gone through an overview with both the contributors and the recipient organizations about how everything’s going to work. So everyone’s pretty well-versed on what a food pickup and drop off is going to entail and so I think that a lot of it is because that in a really short period of a time, a volunteer can pick up. Especially if you’re at a grocery store, you can pick up hundreds of pounds of surplus food and take it to a group of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. I think it’s really about understanding how food connects us and that by their actions, they’re able to help provide nourishment to our neighbors and really, it just comes down to it. It feels good to be able to give back to our community like that.

Hallie: I love that.

Chris: In such an impactful way as well.

Jess: Right. Because a lot of times this food it’s not going to be going somewhere and sitting. It’s going to be eaten that day or the next morning when you drop it off. It’s not going to sit around and you’re not going to have to wonder where it went or if it got eaten. It will be eaten.

Hallie: We’ve talked about food waste and food loss on the show before and I feel like that is one of the things I don’t know what it is, but it just aches at this inner part of people when they think about the food system. That is one thing that, especially people who are really conscious of the climate and conscious of how we’re going to be feeding people in the future. It tugs at you. You’re like, how are we waiting this food? I don’t know what it is, but it’s just like, there’s something internal. It just drives you crazy about it and I think your mission is so cool.

Jess: I mean, I think too. That’s something that I feel is really important right now that we’re having and it’s largely because of this pandemic that we’re just having a larger national conversation about food access and food insecurity.

Hallie: Totally.

Jess: We’re hearing more and more about individuals and families falling into food insecurity. I mean, we’ve all seen the photos of thousands of cars lined up for a food pantry distribution and there’s multitudes of articles about families struggling to put food on the table and it’s really distressing to see that kind of suffering, right? I think having this kind of topic move into the spotlight, it makes me hopeful that this conversation continues because food insecurity was here before the pandemic and it will be here after the pandemic. It’s a complex problem and it’s tied to a lot of other things. It doesn’t work in a silo. It’s tied to things like affordable housing and income and transportation and it’s so big, but maybe with a larger conversation happening now and being in the forefront, it’s hopefully an opportunity to really tackle the issue.

Chris: Despite the fact that Hallie has said we’re not doing anymore COVID content, how have you seen your operation changed or impacted in any new ways this year?

Jess: This year has definitely been different. Like I said, I actually started at Keep Austin Fed a year ago, next week or two weeks from now.

Chris: Okay.

Jess: So I had about four months under my belt before the pandemic hit. [Laughs]. But I mean, I’ve seen a lot of change just in this amount of time that I’ve been at Keep Austin Fed. We’ve really had to pivot in terms of what kind of foods we’re able to provide our recipients mainly because things like large group dining or buffets or the general congregation of people has really stopped. We would work with catering companies and just pick up large catering size trays of food from them and we could just go take it and drop it off. We had a dozen different recipient organizations who we could go drop it off to and we’re not really able to do that anymore. There’s a huge need for food that is grab and go, individually packaged and very easy to distribute, so we’re not creating groups of people hanging around together and eating. That’s been a really big change and it’s interesting too because at the beginning of the year, we were starting a pilot project, the repack it project where we were going to be bringing together high school college students with senior populations and having them work together to take those large catered trays and repackage it into this individual serving size meals. One, it’s a volunteer opportunity, it’s intergenerational and then also the individual meals are generally easier for us to distribute to our recipient organizations, but obviously, that project got put on hold because of COVID. We’ve seen some changes in the food that we’re able to distribute in some of our programming. We’ve also seen differences in how we can bring on volunteers. Traditionally, we would have an in-person volunteer orientation where we go through a quick training session taught by one of our volunteer trainers and then they would do a shadow food run. So this is basically actually doing a food run together, going through the boxes at Trader Joe’s and divvying it out and then taking it to a recipient organization. But now, we’re having to do trainings online and forego that shadow food run. That’s definitely different. We’re not getting as much contact right now I guess with the recipients and the contributing organizations and even with the volunteers. Those things have definitely changed.

Chris: With all the change that’s been going on, is there anything you see that you’re hopeful about or excited about?

Jess: Yes, I’m excited. Even though we have had to move our volunteer orientations and all this stuff to a virtual setting, I have been so excited to see the number of people who want to join us and start volunteering for Keep Austin Fed. Probably, at the end of the summer, we started bringing on the virtual orientations and every single orientation, there’s 9, 10, 11 volunteers signed up to learn more about Keep Austin Fed and really excited to get involved in the work that we’re doing. I also think too and it’s not necessarily food rescue work, but I am also very excited to see this renewed interest in backyard or victory gardens because I think any opportunity for people to get their hands in the dirt is a good one. Even if it’s just a few container gardens and just connecting people to how their food is grown is always a step in the right direction plus it’s really great therapy right now.

[Laughter].

Hallie: Yes, I totally agree.

Jess: That’s how I got out my initial pandemic anx. I had tackled a plot of my backyard and I was like, well, you get a little bit of sun, you’re going to turn into a garden.

[Laughter].

Hallie: That’s amazing. How’s it been doing?

Jess: It’s doing great actually. It’s been really fun. We had lots of tomatoes and green beans over the summer and now have my little spinach and kale and things are popping up, so it’s great. I love it and it’s really fun to introduce my kids to it as well.

Hallie: Oh my gosh. I love it.

Chris: That’s great.

Hallie: I love it so much. I’ve got my kale out-front. I live in Lincoln, small duplex with no backyard and so my kale is out front for all the world to see.

Jess: There you go. That’s awesome.

Hallie: Stand it up straight.

[Laughter].

Hallie: I love it. Jess, I’m curious. Do you have any words of advice or wisdom for our listeners who might be wanting to take this idea of food rescue into their daily lives?

Jess: Sure. Definitely because like I mentioned before too, like a lot of food waste happens in our kitchens. So how do we help combat all that food waste? I think the number one thing folks can do is meal plan and that’s just a really great way to help you buy only what you know you’re going to use and it cuts down on waste in your kitchen and you can also make sure that you’re storing your food correctly because not all fruits and vegetables should be refrigerated. If they are, where you put them in the fridge matters and knowing those kinds of things can help maximize the freshness. Then also reduce spoilage of that food. If you do have more food that you can eat, try finding ways to preserve it. You could freeze it. You could dry it. You don’t necessarily need to toss an over ripe banana, you could cut it up and freeze it for a smoothie or banana bread later. You can chop up herbs and freeze them in ice cubes so you can use them later. Little things like that. You can also purchase ugly produce. Those imperfect fruits and vegetables so that they’re not getting thrown out. It’s maybe a little bit easier if you shop at a farmer’s market and vendors there will sometimes have those kinds of seconds, fruits and vegetables that they’ll sell for a lower cost and it’s still fresh, healthy edible food and it won’t get thrown out and you can always compost. Either set one up at your home or if your city has a composting program like Austin does, make sure you have a bin.

Chris: I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone in my life suggest that I should compost before.

Hallie: Oh my God. Jess, we talk about composting here on the show. Almost every episode, I’m constantly trying to talk my dad into starting a home compost.

Jess: [Laughs]. Wait, you have all different kinds of options too.

Hallie: I know.

Chris: It’s true.

Jess: You just have compost [inaudible], Burma composting. One gets some worms.

Hallie: It’s so fun. It’s like a pet, but less work.

Jess: Exactly.

Chris: [Laughs].

Hallie: It doesn’t love you back.

Chris: That is pretty good spam.

Jess: You still have to feed it though.

Hallie: Yes, you do. Definitely, you have to feed it. Well, Jess, thank you so much for your time today. How can people support Keep Austin Fed and where can they find you?

Jess: You can find us on Instagram, on Facebook. You can go to our website, keepaustinfed.org and there, you can learn more about us and you can learn how to become a volunteer and you can also find our donate button on our website, which helps support our daily food pickups in our programming.

Hallie: Fabulous. Thank you so much. This was amazing.

Jess: I know. Thank you guys so much for having me on.

Chris: Loved it.

[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].

50: Food Rescue with Jess Palmer

This week we’re talking to Jess Palmer of Keep Austin Fed about food rescue. Why is food rescue something we need to worry about, and what can we do to help?

Image courtesy of Keep Austin Fed.

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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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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.
onetogrowonpod.com

Woman cutting watermelon in what looks like an industrial kitchen

27: Navajo Food Sovereignty with Andi Murphy

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with us!
twitter.com/onetogrowonpod
instagram.com/onetogrowonpod
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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.

26: Navajo Food Sovereignty with Nate Etsitty & Felix Earle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

onetogrowonpod.com

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

18: Organic Agriculture, Part 3

It’s time to learn more about organics! In part three of the series, Hallie and Chris discuss how organic agriculture impacts farms, farmers, and farmworkers. We learn about organic pesticides, why some farmers find organic farming controlling, and how well both Hallie and Chris can imitate cartoon Texans.

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

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

onetogrowonpod.com

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

12: Farmworkers Rights

*Content warning: this episode mentions sexual violence and traumatic death*

In honor of Cesar Chavez day this coming Sunday, Hallie and Chris talk about the struggles farmworkers face and the efforts individuals and organizations have made to try to elevate these struggles. We also learn about why farmworkers rights are intertwined with immigration policy and who exactly Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta are.

The documentary Hallie mentions in the episode is Food Chains and is available on iTunes and Amazon Prime

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

Tweet with #AskOnetoGrowOn

onetogrowonpod.com

About us
One to Grow On is a podcast where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. One to Grow On is hosted by Hallie Casey and Chris Casey, and is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey. Music is “Something Elated” by Broke For Free licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. Show art is by Mariah Coley.