The Farm Report
Heritage Radio Network
The Farm Report is a show about the people, processes, and policies that shape how food is produced today. From the latest agricultural innovations to the day-to-day challenges of running a viable business growing vegetables and grazing cattle, host Lisa Elaine Held engages in conversations with farmers and farmworkers and the people who work alongside them—like chefs, researchers, activists, and investors. Expect from-the-field insights paired with real-world context as guests explore how producing fresh, delicious food relates to environmental and community sustainability, equality and justice, politics and policy, and better health.
Before the news of the fires in the Amazon drew national attention, environmental organization Mighty Earth was calling out American agricultural giant Cargill for its contributions to deforestation in South America, among numerous other environmentally destructive practices. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz about the scathing report the organization released (and the New York Times covered) in July—Cargill: The Worst Company in the World. They discuss why Cargill is such a standout offender when it comes to environmental degradation, how industrial animal agriculture contributes to deforestation and other issues, and what can be done.

Chris Starkus owns Lost Creek Micro Farm in Denver, Colorado, where he is a beekeeper and grower of vegetables. He’s also the executive chef at the restaurant Urban Farmer, where he’s created a “locally focused, sustainably sourced steakhouse menu influenced by the bounty of Colorado.” During a trip to New York City to cook at the James Beard House, Starkus stopped by the studio to talk to host Lisa Held about his own farm, how he supports other farmers in Colorado as a chef, and what agriculture looks like in and around Denver.

This week's show is a special collaboration between The Farm Report and Cutting the Curd. Together, host Lisa Held and fellow Heritage Radio Network host and producer Elena Santogade talk to farmer and cheesemaker Celeste Nolan. Nolan and her husband purchased a family dairy farm 15 years ago. After struggling to sustain the farm business based on fluid milk production alone, they added cheesemaking to the operation. The Nolan family’s farm and cheese will soon be featured on Farmsteaders, an episode of PBS's POV series. In advance of that portrait, Nolan talks to Held and Santogade about the realities of revitalizing and running a dairy farm, how making cheese fits into the farm’s economic and day-to-day picture, and more.

Created by renowned chef Dan Barber, breeder Michael Mazourek, and seedsman Matthew Goldfarb, Row 7 is “a seed company grounded in the notion that deliciousness might just change the world.” In this episode, host Lisa Held sits down with Mazourek to talk about how the company has been working with a network of chefs and farmers to develop vegetables like the Badger Flame Beet and the Purple Beauregarde Snow Pea. They also tackle why breeding for flavor can produce more nutritious vegetables, how to breed plants for resilience in the face of climate change, and what seed farming really looks like. It's HRN's annual summer fund drive, this is when we turn to our listeners and ask that you make a donation to help ensure a bright future for food radio. Help us keep broadcasting the most thought provoking, entertaining, and educational conversations happening in the world of food and beverage. Become a member today! To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have brand new member gifts available. So snag your favorite new pizza - themed tee shirt or enamel pin today and show the world how much you love HRN, just go to heritageradionetwork.org/donate

Jonathan Sumner has a unique job for a farmer. At Riverpark, one of celebrity chef Tom Colicchio’s restaurants, he runs what is likely Manhattan’s biggest outdoor farm, organically growing around 100 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowers in 3,200 milk crates. His predecessor, Zach Pickens, now runs Farm Tournant in upstate New York and provides the restaurant with whatever the city farm can’t grow. In this episode, Sumner, Pickens, and Riverpark executive chef Andrew Smith to host Lisa Held about the unique design of Riverpark’s farm and how the farmers and chefs work together to craft menus that revolve around the harvest, both in the city and upstate.

“Brownsville is a food desert,” one student says while standing against a backdrop of dozens of giant cucumbers ready to be harvested. “We want to help the community by giving them healthy food access.” In this episode, student farmers give host Lisa Held a tour of the hydroponic farm they built inside an empty classroom at their Brooklyn middle school, where 25,000 pounds of produce now grows annually. After the tour, Teens for Food Justice president Katherine Soll is in studio to talk about what went into building the farm, how it has impacted the students and community, and how it fits into the bigger picture of the organization’s work.

Meriwether Hardie is the chief of staff at Bio-Logical Capital, where her work focuses on developing new models for regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, and climate-positive land use. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Hardie about how the company invests in farms and projects that “un-scale” the food system, how small farms and diversified, regenerative agriculture operations can compete for investment when up against commodity agriculture and ag-tech operations, and her upcoming participation in “The Innovative Farmer” summit at Slow Food Nations, the food and agriculture festival happening in Denver, Colorado July 19–21. It's HRN's annual summer fund drive, this is when we turn to our listeners and ask that you make a donation to help ensure a bright future for food radio. Help us keep broadcasting the most thought provoking, entertaining, and educational conversations happening in the world of food and beverage. Become a member today! To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have brand new member gifts available. So snag your favorite new pizza - themed tee shirt or enamel pin today and show the world how much you love HRN, just go to heritageradionetwork.org/donate

Naomi Starkman is the founder and editor-in-chief of Civil Eats, a “daily news source for critical thought about the American food system” that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Starkman about how agriculture and conversations about farming have changed over the past decade, how media companies should be covering agriculture and the many important issues it intersects with, and what she thinks the next ten years have in store for farmers and eaters.

Based in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Shenandoah Valley Organic sells USDA-certified organic chicken grown on a network of small farms. In this episode, host Lisa Held sits down with Jefferson Heatwole, chief sales and marketing officer, and Jason Daugherty, a fourth generation farmer who raises chickens for SVO. They discuss how the company’s “Farmer Focus” model is designed to give growers more power in an industry known for taking advantage of contract farmers, their “Farm ID” program that traces each chicken back to the farm it was raised on, and more.

Founded by former Blue Apron co-founder and COO Matthew Wadiak, Cooks Venture is a “next generation food company committed to regenerative agriculture and a truly transparent supply chain for the future.” The company launched March of 2019 and its “pasture-raised, slow-growth, heirloom” chickens hit the market soon after. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Wadiak and EVP and farmer Blake Evans about the overall agricultural model, Cooks Venture’s chicken farming practices, and the company’s bigger plans to impact the food system and address the climate emergency. It's HRN's annual summer fund drive, this is when we turn to our listeners and ask that you make a donation to help ensure a bright future for food radio. Help us keep broadcasting the most thought provoking, entertaining, and educational conversations happening in the world of food and beverage. Become a member today! To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we have brand new member gifts available. So snag your favorite new pizza - themed tee shirt or enamel pin today and show the world how much you love HRN, just go to heritageradionetwork.org/donate

In this episode, Saveur editor-in-chief Stacy Adimando joins host Lisa Held to talk about the magazine’s recently released “Grower’s Issue,” which features stories of the intricacies of hop farming in San Diego, how India’s saffron farmers are suffering during a multi-year drought, and how sheep farming could revive rural regions of the US that once relied on coal mining. According to Adimando’s Editor’s Note, “When you look at the world farmer-first, you’ll find a story behind every bite.”

For more than 20 years, Just Food has been at the forefront of building a sustainable regional food system in New York City and advocating for the same elsewhere, via developing CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) networks that create long-term relationships between small farms and city eaters. Now, the organization is sharpening its focus to hone in on cultivating a food system rooted in racial, social and economic justice. In this episode, Lisa Held talks to executive director Qiana Mickie about what’s changing and why, whether CSAs are still one of the best models to connect growers and eaters in ways that prioritize equity and sustainability, and how organizations can work to enable more people from underrepresented groups to succeed as farmers in a field that is still dominated by aging white men.

It’s been almost a decade since New York City legalized beekeeping, and the city is now buzzing with activity. There are hives at rooftop farms, community gardens, and schools in all five boroughs. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Brooklyn Grange Farm’s head beekeeper Geraldine Simonis and City Growers beekeeper and educator Renel Saint Jour about what beekeeping in an urban environment looks like, how city bees benefit urban farms and other green spaces, and whether cities can contribute to reversing the worldwide decline of pollinators.

Tom Gamble is a third-generation farmer, and while he’s the first in his family to make wine, he founded Gamble Family Vineyards with a mission to carry on his family’s farming legacy in the Napa Valley. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Gamble about Napa’s agricultural history, what sustainable farming practices look like at a vineyard, and how he’s one of the region’s farmer-winemakers promoting efforts to preserve and protect Napa farmland via programs like Napa Green Certified and Fish-Friendly Farming.

Debuting in theaters on May 10, The Biggest Little Farm is a film that follows two urban professionals, John and Mary Chester, as they leave Los Angeles on a mission to build a farm that exists in harmony with nature. Eight years later, the pair owns and operates Apricot Lane Farms, a thriving diversified, organic, biodynamic farm. In this episode, farmer and filmmaker John Chester joins host Lisa Held in the studio to talk about the challenges they faced as new farmers (from foxes and snails to depleted soil and wildfires), the process of making a movie while building a farm, and lessons they learned about building systems alongside the brutality—but also wisdom and intricacies—of nature.

Due to intensive, extractive agriculture techniques, soil across the United States is incredibly depleted. Healthy soil, on the other hand, produces nutrient-dense food, requires less chemical fertilizer (and therefore helps prevent water pollution), and sequesters carbon (which helps reverse climate change). Kiss the Ground is one organization that is calling attention to that fact by “inspiring participation in the regeneration of the planet, starting with soil.” In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to executive director Lauren Frances Tucker about the fascinating science of soil and the methods that Kiss the Ground believes will be effective in restoring soil across the country (and around the world).

Over the past 40 years, ownership of the American food supply chain has become concentrated in the hands of a continuously shrinking number of giant multinational corporations. In a new report, the Open Markets Institute details the degree of consolidation in agriculture and its related industries, from seed and chemical inputs and farm equipment to meat processing to grocery sellers. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to one of the report’s authors, Claire Kelloway, about the scope of consolidation, the consequences for farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities, and potential solutions.

On April 26, Portland, Maine kicks off its first annual Seaweed Week to celebrate the harvest and showcase seaweed’s culinary versatility, from kelp purees to seaweed beers. While seaweed aquaculture was non-existent in the US just a decade ago, it’s now on the rise, and Maine is at the forefront of the growing industry. Heritage Seaweed founder Josh Rogers sits down with host Lisa Held to discuss what kelp farming looks like, how it can contribute to a more resilient, sustainable food system, and why Maine is becoming the country’s hub for seaweed aquaculture.

When she isn’t responding to farmers’ emergency texts about fennel, director of supply and sustainability Taylor Lanzet is lining up producers and streamlining logistics at Dig Inn, a New York-based fast casual restaurant chain with a strong focus on sourcing from local farms. Meanwhile, Lanzet works alongside farmer Larry Tse, who runs the restaurant’s organic farm 60 miles north of the city. In this episode, host Lisa Held sits down Lanzet and Tse to talk about what growing and sourcing local, farm-fresh food at high volumes for a fast casual restaurant chain looks like, what the value of the model is, and the biggest challenges.

Farm Forward is the rare animal rights group that doesn’t advocate for veganism. Instead, its programs focus on ending animal suffering on factory farms and developing agricultural systems and markets that prioritize animal welfare. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to executive director Andrew deCoriolis about the organization’s work—from establishing farm standards and educating consumers to getting high-volume buyers like institutions and fast food companies to commit to buying better meat.

Peter Stein started Peeko Oysters—an oyster farm on Long Island’s North Fork—in 2016, after leaving a corporate job. Three years later, his oysters are served at top New York City restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Gramercy Tavern, and Le Bernardin. Host Lisa Elaine Held sits down with Stein to talk about what oyster farming looks like (in terms of the landscape, methods, and labor), how to grow the most delicious, chef-coveted oysters, and why oysters are an environmentally friendly food.

In February, legislators proposed the Green New Deal, “a sweeping attempt to reorient energy production and shift public resources in an urgent bid to make the U.S. carbon-neutral by 2030.” Award-winning journalist Christopher D. Cook, author of Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis, reported on what the plan might mean for food and agriculture in the United States for Civil Eats. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Cook about what he found: Are policymakers starting to take the impact of food production on the environment seriously? How might government policy address food system drivers of climate change? And if the legislation doesn’t go anywhere, are there other ways in which legislators will attempt to tackle the issue?

Bob Quinn was born into a family of farmers who grew wheat and raised cattle in Montana. After he left home to get a PhD, he returned to take over the farm and started doing things differently. He transitioned the farm to organic production and began milling his own grain whole in the 1980s. He also began growing an ancient variety of wheat that is now sold around the world as KAMUT. His book, "Grain by Grain: A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food," comes out in March. Host Lisa Held sits down with Quinn to talk about the book, what he’s learned over decades of growing organic grain, why he chose to bring back ancient khorasan wheat, and more.

Who are the people growing our food, and what are their experiences? How, as informed eaters, can we make food choices that lead to fair wages and safe, humane working conditions? In conversations about building a sustainable food system, these questions are often ignored or overshadowed by other issues; in this episode of The Farm Report, they are front and center. Join host Lisa Held as she leads a panel discussion on agricultural labor in front of a live audience at Brooklyn’s Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), featuring Coalition of Immokalee Workers senior staff member Gerardo Reyes Chavez, Rev. Noelle Damico of the Alliance for Fair Food, "Labor and the Locavore" author Margaret Gray, and Jody Bolluyt, a farmer at Roxbury Farm.

Hemp played an important role in America’s history—it was grown by many of the founding fathers, and the Declaration of Independence was drafted on hemp paper—but its production has been restricted since 1937. That changed with the passage of the Hemp Farming Act, which was attached to the 2018 Farm Bill and legalized hemp farming, processing, and selling in the US. Now, hemp is set to become an important American agricultural crop once again. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Joy Beckerman, president of the Hemp Industries Association, about the growing market for hemp (especially for CBD) and how it will affect farmers. Then, she’s joined by Tara Caton, the director of the Rodale Institute’s Industrial Hemp Trial, to discuss growing hemp, and how as a crop it has the potential to suppress weeds, add diversity to crop rotations (and therefore build soil health), and boost farmers’ bottom lines.

He’s on the board of Tesla and SpaceX, but Kimbal Musk’s current tech entrepreneurship is focused on food and farming, not transportation. Musk (who is Elon Musk’s brother) is the co-founder and executive chairman of three companies that approach food and agriculture from different angles: Square Roots, a vertical farming company that grows hydroponic herbs in shipping containers, the Kitchen Restaurant Group, which operates farm-to-table restaurants, and Big Green, a non-profit that builds learning gardens in classrooms. Host Lisa Elaine Held talks to him about his approach to local food systems, the role of technology in farming, how indoor growing systems might impact the environment and food safety, and more.

In this episode broadcast from Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, farm director Jack Algiere offers a tour of the greenhouse and answers questions big and small about his approach to farming. He talks about his holistic approach that starts with healthy, living soil, experimenting with new crops, working with chef Dan Barber as “collaborating artists,” and thinking about animals in a way that starts with their capacity to service ecosystems. Algiere and host Lisa Held also discuss topics like the term agroecology and how local, regional food systems could prevent food waste.

"Whether it’s a salad, a hamburger or your morning egg sandwich, your meal has an impact on the environment and on the welfare of animals, food/farm workers and people." That message is at the core of the new website FoodPrint, a platform designed to educate eaters about how agriculture and other links in the food supply chain impact people and the planet. Director Jerusha Klemperer joins host Lisa Held to talk about the site's goals, its detailed reports on farming and environmental impact, and what a sustainable diet really looks like.

In this live audience broadcast from the Brooklyn Podcast Festival's Smart Cities series, host Lisa Held talks to two urban agriculture pioneers: Brooklyn Grange co-founder Anastasia Cole Plakias and Gotham Greens co-founder Viraj Puri. They discuss how urban agriculture has changed and expanded over the past ten years, the environmental and community benefits of growing food in cities, and how cities can support and incentive urban farming.

In this special season finale episode of the Farm Report, host Lisa Held sits down with four young farmers during the 2018 Young Farmers Conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture.

With funding from New York State, American Farmland Trust (AFT) recently launched its most ambitious program to help young farmers access land and conserve farmland statewide.

Aquaponics is a system that pairs produce growing with raising fish. At Oko Farms in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Yemi Amu operates the largest outdoor aquaponics farm in New York City.

At Soul Fire Farm, Leah Penniman has been leading a farm-based movement to uproot racism in the food system and seed community food sovereignty for years.

In Newark, NJ, AeroFarms is producing greens using unique growing methods inside massive warehouse farms. Co-founder Marc Oshima sits down with host Lisa Held to talk about the approach, how it compares to traditional agriculture in terms of environmental impact, debates over soil vs. hydroponic growing, and the company's plans for future farms.

The first apple trees were planted at Hicks Orchard, about 200 miles north of New York City, in the 1880s. Since, then multiple generations have grown apples, pears, cherries and plums to sell directly to visitors on the farm.

James Peisker and Chris Carter opened butcher shop Porter Road in order to get better meat from local farms in Kentucky and Tennessee to more restaurants and home kitchens in Nashville.

Agricultural workers play a critical role in feeding people around the world. According to a new United Nations report, “they are, however, among the most food insecure, facing formidable barriers to the realization of their right to food, often working without labour and employment protections and under dangerous conditions.” Host Lisa Held speaks with labor organizers—Emma Kreyche, from Worker Justice Center of NY, and Suzanne Adely, from the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

Is goat meat inherently more sustainable than other meats? Host Lisa Held sits down with James Whetlor, founder of Cabrito and author of the book Goat: Cooking and Eating. They discuss his model of using goats from the dairy industry for meat to cut food waste, and why he thinks getting more people to eat goat would be good for the food system.

Host Lisa Elaine Held sits down with writer-researcher Siena Chrisman to talk about her recent reporting on the dire economic realities facing farmers and rural communities across the United States.

Some organic farmers, including Long Wind Farm’s Dave Chapman (a Vermont tomato grower), started growing food decades ago as part of a back-to-the-land movement focused on building healthier soil and communities. Now, they feel that the integrity of organic agriculture is being undermined due to developments like hydroponic production and factory-farm animal systems (CAFOs) being certified USDA organic. Host Lisa Held talks to Chapman about his views on organic farming, the recent protest movement he helped start (Keep Soil in Organic), and the Real Organic Project, a new certification standard being developed by organic growers.

Why build a massive vault into permafrost on a remote island between Norway and the North Pole? To safeguard sorghum and sweet potatoes, of course. On this episode, host Lisa Held sits down with executive director Marie Haga and Tender Greens founder Erik Oberholtzer to talk about the Crop Trust’s new Food Forever program, an initiative designed to educate people around the world about the importance of crop diversity for the long-term stability of the world’s food supply. They discuss why agricultural biodiversity is disappearing, why the loss of crops is catastrophic, how farmers, chefs, and eaters can participate in saving crop diversity, and how saving seeds in the vault is “the ultimate insurance policy.”

United States Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) is a former organic farmer and currently serves on the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. She's been a longtime advocate for policies that support farmers and contribute to building a healthier, more sustainable food system—in her home state of Maine and across the country. With the Farm Bill deadline of September 30 fast approaching, host Lisa Held caught up with Rep. Pingree to talk about the Farm Bill programs she's been working on—like the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP)—and other pressing policy issues facing farmers right now.

In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to Ridge Shinn about the new company he created—Big Picture Beef—to help move that perspective forward, how he’s helping farmers transition from grain- to grass-finishing, the market impacts of imported grass-fed beef, the environmental benefits (like carbon sequestration) of rotational grazing, and more.

While the growth of farmers markets and CSAs have helped small farms sell their food locally over the past few decades, both models come with challenges that have become increasingly apparent. Hudson Valley Harvest and Local Roots NYC are two businesses that have introduced new channels for farms to sell their food to local eaters and rebuild regional food systems in the process. In this episode, host Lisa Held talks to farmer Paul Alward about how his experiences in the field informed the model for Hudson Valley Harvest and to Wen-Jay Ying about how she created a new kind of CSA after witnessing common barriers to consumer buy-in. They discuss their experiences figuring out what works and doesn't work in terms of getting more local food to local eaters in order to support farmers as efficiently as possible.

For the season premiere of The Farm Report, host Lisa Held sits down with New York City Council Member Rafael Espinal. Born in East New York, Espinal is a lifelong resident of Brooklyn and currently represents the 37th district, which includes Bushwick, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, and East New York. As a Council Member, Espinal has taken on urban agriculture as one of his primary issues. In August 2018, with the support of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, he introduced a new package of legislation that would create a comprehensive urban agriculture plan to promote and support farming across the five boroughs. Together, Held and Espinal discuss the community, economic, and environmental benefits of urban farming, what city government can and should do to encourage it, how to balance the interests of different players—from community gardens to venture capital-backed hydroponic farms—and how New York City’s path towards urban agriculture legislation fits into a larger trend of local governments across the country figuring out how to manage, support, and grow farming and gardening within city limits.

On this special episode of The Farm Report, outgoing host Erin Fairbanks hands the reins to Lisa Held, who will be taking over the show this fall!

This week on The Farm Report, host Erin Fairbanks takes a trip north to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, where she sits down with Brad Matthews and Jeffrey Minard to talk about how they make purchasing decisions for the school.

In this first half of this episode of The Farm Report, host Erin Fairbanks speaks with Becca Rimmel, co-manager of the Ithaca Farmers Market. Becca's experience as a professional naturalist led her to begin questioning the origin of the food on her dinner plate, and how food choices affected the landscape around her. Through this curiosity, she began exploring her own bio regional food system, completing her Masters in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College in 2016, and beginning as the manager of the Ithaca Farmers Market shortly after. When she’s not managing the Ithaca Market, she’s working to build her own business, Bottomland Farm. After the break, we hear a recording from Erin's visit to Fishkill Farms in September. Owner/operator Josh Morgenthau walks us through the history of his family business.

On this week's episode of The Farm Report, June Russell joins host Erin Fairbanks to share a bit of what's exciting in the world of grains. June Russell is the Manager of Farm Inspections and Strategic Development for Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC. Greenmarket is the largest network of farmers’ markets in the country with fifty five locations within the City’s five boroughs. It provides retail outlets for nearly two hundred and thirty local farmers, fishers, and bakers who sell what they grow, raise, catch, and bake themselves.

On an all new episode of The Farm Report, host Erin Fairbanks is joined by farmers Steve Burnett and Austin Maness. Steve Burnett is an extremely well-respected organic farmer of Burnett Farms in Delaware County, an active member of the community, and an advocate for the county, the region and farming in general. A marketing ex-pat from NYC, Steve has been described as a true ambassador for the county, with endless reasons to support local farmers & producers and, most importantly, enjoy all the agritourism that the Great Western Catskills has to offer. Austin Maness is the COO of Harvest Returns, a one-stop shopping site for agriculture investors and farmers who need to raise capital. In his role, Maness manages all facets of the company’s logistics, deal flow, and human resources.