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Archive | Tractor Time Podcast

Podcasts from the producers at Acres U.S.A.

Tractor Time Episode 21: Daniela Ibarra-Howell, CEO of the Savory Institute

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast. I’m your host, Ryan Slabaugh, the GM of Acres U.S.A., and we are excited to bring you another fun hour of conversation about ecology, agriculture, smart farming, human health – and more.

Daniela Ibarra-Howell

Daniela Ibarra-Howell

I want to thank our listeners. We recently went over the 20,000th download as a podcast, which is exciting for us. The world of eco-growers is always larger than we anticipate, and to us, that means things are changing for the positive. We hear so much about degenerative agriculture and its toxic toll on our world, but there is a silver lining – you. The listeners who are fighting tradition and convention with smart growing tactics, by understanding the soil, are the solution, and slowly but surely, we are making progress. It’s important we all agree on that one. It’s not that we don’t have challenges, and that they are not large and complicated, but we do not that the base-level agreement we want to get to is that the Earth, and its complicated and resilient life forms, will tell us what we need to know to grow our food. But it does require us to listen.

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Tractor Time Episode 20: David Montgomery & Anne Biklé, Authors, Scientists, Conservationists

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time, a podcast brought to you by Acres U.S.A. Today’s podcast features two guests. Both live together in Seattle, and are writers, advocates and change agents and, it should be noted, both are quite brilliant as well – Biologist Anne Biklé and Geologist David Montgomery.

We have interviewed both separately, and will run their interviews back-to-back.

David Montgomery and Anne Bikle

David Montgomery and Anne Bikle

Our second interview you will hear on this episode, Anne Biklé, is a biologist with an interest in environmentalism and, most recently, soil life. She’s an active speaker and author of The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health, which is available in our bookstore at acresusa.com. 

We are going in depth on new science into life in the soil, and discuss the significance of all the new information to farmers and growers.

But to set the stage, we will get to our first guest, David Montgomery, Anne’s co-author on The Hidden Half of Nature, and a writer, geologist, professor, and researcher who will set the stage for Anne’s deep-dive into the soil. It’s also worth noting that David is a recognized genius – or at least, someone who has been recognized as the closest thing to it. David Montgomery is a Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, and a member of the Quaternary Research Center.

In 2008, In 2008 Montgomery received a MacArthur Fellowship, generally known as the “genius grant,” for his work as a researcher and writer.

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Tractor Time Episode 19: Judith McGeary, Founder of Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance

Good day and welcome to Tractor Time podcast brought to you by Acres USA. I am your host, Ryan Slabaugh, and we are excited to bring you another episode – this one will be about advocacy, and how to get involved to make real change happen.

Judith McGeary

Judith McGeary, founder of Farm & Ranching Freedom Alliance

Our guest today embodies that sentiment, Judith McGeary. Those who attend our conference every year should know her name, as she is a frequent speaker. But why we ask her to speak is most important – that she is the founder and leader of the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, and represents about 1,000 ranchers and farmers in Texas who help advocate for government to better represent all of its constituents, not just the huge corporate farming interests. She’s also a rancher herself at the McGeary Family Farm a couple hours outside of Austin, Texas.

How she found her way into this role is something we’ll discuss during the podcast, and her story is inspiring. It involves a career change, and some life-changing moments with farmers and politicians.

Not only does Judith lead FARFA, but she serves as the executive director of the Council for Healthy Food Systems and on the board of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. And this year, she’s leading the Raise Your Voice Tour to learn more about what type of advocacy farmers and ranchers need the most. We’ll get into that, and more, in this 40-minute talk.

You can learn more about FARFA at farmandranchfreedom.org, and their October conference.

You can learn more about the Acres USA conference, where FARFA will be presenting, at www.acresusa.com.

Tractor Time Episode 18: Charles Walters, Then, Today and Tomorrow (from 2006)

Welcome to another episode of Tractor Time, brought to you by Acres USA, the Voice of Eco-Agriculture. I’m your host, Ryan Slabaugh, the GM and publisher of Acres U.S.A.

Charles Walters

Charles Walters. His talk in this podcast was recorded in 2006 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Last week, I took a trip. I spent about 36 hours in the car driving from Colorado to Illinois, down to Columbia, Missouri, back to Illinois, and back home to Colorado. For a few days while I was in Missouri, I spent time at a sacred ground to us. At the University of Missouri, hidden among the tall brick buildings, is an open space called “Sanborn Field,” run by a guy named Tim Reinbott. You probably recognize the name if you’ve ever been to our conference.

There, Tim has built and preserved what a professor named William Albrecht built there a century ago. Prof. Albrecht started test plots in hopes of showing what happens when you grow corn, continuously without fertilizer or manure, and what that does to the soil. I’ll save you the suspense. It looks terrible. The stalks, miniature compared to the other, more well-fed test plots, were brown and only about two feet tall. (Here’s a link to a research site where you can find a lot of Albrecht’s published papers.)

Here’s Tim talking about that field.

The video was captured in July 2018 near these fields that Charles Walters met William Albrecht for the first time. Charles, while trying to piece together the information that would build the foundation for Acres U.S.A.’s belief in ecology-based agriculture, found scientists he kept interviewing telling him about Albrecht. Charles being Charles, he did his research and found out Prof. Albrecht was just down the road a couple hours. He called the university, and they told him not to bother. But, again, Charles being Charles, he got in the car anyway and drove to meet the scientist. When he knocked on the door, a voice boomed out, “Don’t knock when you enter and leave the same way.” Charles walked in – and I learned all this from his son, Fred – and when Charles walked in, without even an introduction, said, “You must be from Western Kansas. You have good teeth.”

Albrecht had pioneered research to connect local food to local health. It’s science that more should understand today. He pulled dental records from the military and matched those with the amount of calcium found in the soil and they matched. It’s an incredible study, still available for free on the University of Missouri’s academic research site.

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Tractor Time Episode 17: Brendon Rockey, Potato Farmer and Speaker on Biodiversity


This episode’s guest is Brendon Rockey, a third-generation Colorado potato farmer. He spoke last October at a soil health conference near Greeley, close to our office, and when I wandered down to hear his talk, I was a bit surprised. We are surrounded by conventional ag folks in the Greeley, Colorado, area, but instead of talks about spraying schedules and storage tanks, I heard a guy talking about a wildly diverse field, about growing at 7,000 feet above sea level, about the importance of microbial life in the soil, and even how his neighbors even called him “weird.” As soon as I heard all that, I was pretty sure we had an Acres U.S.A. guy in Brendon.

Brendon Rockey

Turns out, we did. He will be speaking at our conference this year in Louisville, Kentucky, about what he does on his farm, and how he went from “weird” to the envy of his community.

Today, we’re going to talk to Brendon about this journey, and explore his farming techniques that go against a lot of conventional thought, and talk to him a bit about his quinoa crops as well.

Learn more about Brendon Rockey here, and his farm here.

Learn more about the 2018 Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show, where Brendon Rockey will be speaking in December, here.

Tractor Time Episode 16: Douglass DeCandia, Farmer and Advocate Against Food Apartheid

Welcome to our 16th episode of Tractor Time podcast, brought to you by Acres U.S.A., the voice of eco-agriculture. My name is Ryan Slabaugh, and we are fired up to bring you another hour of conversation about ecology, agriculture, and this hour, we’re even talking about saving the world.

Doug DeCandia

We have two guests on our show today. One is Mary Battjes, and I have the pleasure of working every day with Mary. She’s our project manager, and recently wrapped up a survey of young farmers around the country and world. We spoke with a lot of them, and found their look at the world and their role in the world so inspiring. Speaking generally, they want the same things most of us want — safety, security, family and a healthy environment. Yet, they see the obstacles very clearly. Climate change. Technology disruption. And an economy that favors the big devouring the small.

Yet, there is hope. And it comes in the form of our second guest, Douglass DeCandia, a young farmer from New York. He grows food using natural methods, but he does so with an even greater purpose – to serve those who are forgotten by our food system, who are systematically discriminated against because of who they are, where they are from or where they live. His “farm,” and he uses quotation marks around that so I will ask him about that later, serves youth and adults who are incarcerated, students at a school for the deaf, and young adults who are part of a residential treatment program. He also supports a number of his area’s food growing products, and when we talked to him today, he was wandering around the gardens at the school for the deaf.

Find all of the Tractor Time podcasts here, or for free in the iTunes store.