Learning From and Working With Nature- Interviews, news, and commentary about ecology, permaculture, organic gardening, sustainability, green living, and ethnobotany. Since 2004, Sustainable World has interviewed experts from around the globe; experts who learn from and work with nature. Tune in to discover positive solutions to environmental challenges; solutions that adhere to the Permaculture Ethics of Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share. Visit us at www.sustainableworldradio.com
What if we could heal broken ecosystems, toxic landscapes, and poisoned water?
My guest today is Dr. John Todd, ecological designer and author of the new book, Healing Earth- An Ecologist's Journey of Innovation and Environmental Stewardship. John boldly travels to places that others try to avoid: toxic waste sites, oil spills, leaking landfills, and damaged waterways. Using the tools of nature to remediate these areas, John and his colleagues do good things in bad places.
Join us for a mind and heart expanding conversation with Dr. Monica Gagliano about her research in plant cognition and her direct experiences with the botanical world. A pioneer in the field of Plant BioAcoustics, Monica's peer-reviewed work has furthered the concept of plant sentience. Monica's experiences with plants have altered her life, her research, and are the subject of her new book, Thus Spoke the Plant.
Incredible Edible's co-founder Mary Clear tells the story of how she and her friends turned their worry and fear into action by planting food in public places. With a motto of, "If you eat, you’re in," Incredible Edible turns neglected, unloved places into beautiful food-giving gardens, complete with signs that say "Help Yourself!"
Sanandi Farm is an organic, biodynamic, Permaculture farm located near Valle de Bravo, Mexico. In 1998, two brothers, Dieter and Andreas le Noir, purchased the land and began the work of regenerating the health of the soil. Sanandi is now a beautiful farm with a thriving medicinal herb pharmacy and line of herbal remedies. Communications Director Yolanda Suarez del Real shares with us the story of Sanandi, the importance of biodiversity, and why she believes that agriculture holds a key to human health.
How can we mend our broken relationship with the Earth and create a world where people and land are good medicine for each other?
In this interview, plant ecologist, author, and professor Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer talks about what she has learned from plants, plant intelligence, and how the simple and profound act of paying attention to the living world can change our lives.
Learn about the field of arboreal archaeology and why historic fruit trees are important in this interview with horticulturist John Valenzuela. John is a Permaculture Teacher, Designer, and Educator who specializes in tropical permaculture, rare fruit, and ethnobotany.
Have you heard about Paw Paws, North America's largest indigenous fruit? Paw Paw fruit can weigh up to two pounds each and have a delicious and unusual tropical flavor, reminiscent of a mango, banana, pineapple, and cherimoya blend.
In this fun and informative interview with Edible Landscape and Permaculture Designer Michael Judd, we learn how to propagate, grow, harvest, and prepare Paw Paws, from seed to table.
Do you live in a city and want to grow your own herbal medicine? In this episode, urban farmer and community herbalist Bonnie Rose Weaver shares the joys of growing medicinal plants in an urban environment. Bonnie believes that medicine is all around us, even in the heart of the city and that taking herbs grown locally can be potent medicine.
How would Nature farm? Can degraded, infertile land be regenerated? Can agriculture become a healing beneficial system that mitigates climate change? To answer these questions, I speak with farmer Joel Salatin, co-owner of Polyface Farm located in Swoope, Virginia.
In this inspiring and uplifting interview, Joel shares the joy of being a visceral participant in healing land, why he believes that good farming should increase the commons, and how we can become beneficial participants in legacy ecology.
Have you ever thought of going to the International Permaculture Conference and Convergence (IPC)? Held every two years, switching between continents at different locations, the IPC is a gathering of Permaculture designers, teachers, and enthusiasts. This year, the IPC is held in India, which is celebrating 30 years of permaculture!
Larry Kandarian is an organic farmer and ancient grain advocate. In this episode, Larry takes us on a whirlwind tour of Kandarian Organic Farms where he grows over 200 varieties of plants. Larry Kandarian has been farming for over 25 years and grows ancient grains in the most ecological way possible.
Episode 140: Before 2006, Andrew McMillion wasn’t thinking too much about plants, soil health, or ecology. He was living the American Dream, spending a lot of money, and commuting to work at his job for a large corporation. The only catch? He felt miserable. After taking a test to see how high his carbon footprint was, Andrew committed to make a change. Now residing in Ornes, Norway, Andrew lives on a small ecological farm where he focuses on earth care, people care, and increasing and protecting plant biodiversity. In this thoughtful and inspiring interview, Andrew shares his journey from knowing nothing about plants (in 2013) to growing over 200 varieties of vegetables, trees, and herbs. We talk about some of his favorite plants including Tree Collards, Shetland Kale, Habblizia or Caucasus Spinach, Syrian Homs Squash, Lambsquarters, Ashitaba, Udo, and Achocha (Bolivian Cucumber). Andrew shares his experience of the positive effect of building relationships to individual plants and the many cycles of life in which we are embedded and how changing his focus from matter and production to connections and life quality has been pivotal for the thriving of the web of life on his farm. Andrew also shares his experiences from the Norwegian Seed Savers, the Green Party and the Refugee Greenspace Initiative, the new nonprofit Andrew co-founded, which sets up kitchen gardens at refugee centers. For more information and to contact Andrew, visit: RefugeeGreenSpace.org
Episode 139: Dr. Vandana Shiva, author, activist, and scholar, talks about the forgotten richness of pulses and how growing these plants can help us practice a more biodiverse and permanent agriculture. In this short interview, we talk about Pulses, the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. Common pulses include chickpeas, lentils, beans, and dry peas. Vandana says that growing pulses is an excellent way to begin farming nonviolently. Pulses fix Nitrogen, increase soil fertility, are drought tolerant, and are an excellent source of protein. Vandana talks about the "violence" of fossil fuel-based agriculture, the Green Revolution in India, Bt Cotton, and how she became an activist. Vandana believes that our role is to protect natural systems and to be co-creators with the earth. In one of my favorite quotes from the interview, Vandana says that, "Making peace with the earth means recognizing our creative abilities and not being proud of our destructive capacity." To learn more about Vandana Shiva, visit her website: VandanaShiva.com and Navdanya.org. To read Vandana Shiva's book Pulse of Life: The Rich Biodiversity of Edible Legumes, click here. Special thanks to Camilla Becket of Becket Films for setting up this interview. To see a preview of their new film about Vandana Shiva, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, click here.
Episode 138: Natural building is good for both people and planet. In this episode we hear from natural builders who are committed to their craft and who create beautiful structures using natural locally-sourced materials. Recorded at the Natural Building Colloquium at Quail Springs Permaculture Center in New Cuyama, CA, I speak with many natural builders including Sasha Rabin, Linda Smiley, Patrick Hennebery, Liz Johndrow, and Bob Theis. I visit projects at the Colloquium including a feral straw bale office- created to be an affordable replacement for a trailer, a cob bench and Rumford fireplace- part of an outdoor gathering space, and a plaster wall- a gorgeous butterfly with layers of color derived from natural pigments.
Episode 137: Take a ride around the world with aromatic explorer John Steele. In this interview John talks about the sacred use of fragrance in ancient Egypt and Amazonian shamanism. John draws upon his decades of experience as an archaeologist and aromatherapist to delve deeply into the shamanic use of fragrance. John talks about smell as "direct intuition", how certain plant fragrances can be used to restore flow when stuck in negative thought patterns, and how fragrance can be used as an aromatic tool for conscious transformation. John Steele urges us to think "outside the perfume bottle" and open up to the "floral highway of awareness." John is the owner of Lifetree Aromatix and teaches workshops about the aromatic domain around the globe. To contact John you can email him at info (at) lifetreearomatix.com.
Episode 136: Beth and Shawn Dougherty have been farming together for over thirty years and practice grass-based homesteading in Eastern Ohio. In this interview, Shawn and Beth explain how they use intensive pasture management on a small scale to increase soil fertility, regenerate land, and grow delicious, nutrient-dense food. When the Dougherty's first spotted the place that was to become their home, they weren't impressed. It was "in worse than bad shape" and had been deemed not suitable for agriculture by the state of Ohio. Using grass-based farming, they regenerated this neglected piece of land into a thriving independent homestead where they now grow 90% of their food. In this interview, the Dougherty's explain how to harness the power of the sun into grazing ruminants, how to choose the right animal for your property, (hint, let the land tell you), and the joys and challenges of homesteading with animals. They also talk the detrimental effects that "animal-free" agriculture has had on the world. Shawn and Beth wanted to farm like their great grandparents did and often asked themselves, "How can this be more beautiful and appropriate?" By working with Nature and in partnership with farm animals, they discovered that contrary to modern agriculture (which depletes soil fertility), land farmed properly becomes more capable of supporting the life on it and grows in fertility, biodiversity, and health. You can find the Dougherty's new book, The Independent Farmstead- Growing Soil, Biodiversity, and Nutrient Dense Food with Grassfed Animals and Intensive Pasture Management, online at Chelsea Green Publishing and at local bookstores.
Episode 135: Starhawk is an internally renowned activist, feminist, writer, and Permaculture Designer and Teacher. Founder of the Earth Activist Training, Starhawk travels the globe teaching about Permaculture Design, Social Permaculture, and Earth-based spirituality. In this interview, Starhawk talks about how Permaculture changed her life, how to design beneficial relationships, and why she feels that there is no more vital work we can do than to heal our damaged earth. We learn about the regenerative land management practices that she is doing on her land in Sonoma, CA and why she feels that "trees and veggies are the easy part of Permaculture." We talk about Social Permaculture and the many challenges of working in groups, cultural diversity and sensitivity, group cooperation examples in Nature, and how Permaculture ethics and principles can help us navigate the murky waters of working with others. Starhawk also talks about her latest book, City of Refuge, a sequel to her perennially popular best seller, The Fifth Sacred Thing. To hear the interview I did with Starhawk in 2010, click here.
Episode 134: Have you ever wanted to grow a cornucopia of organic fruit at home? In this episode, Permaculture and Ecological Designer Michael Judd teaches us how to plant a food forest in easy to follow steps. Michael recommends a "patch method" for starting your food forest, shares his recipes for sheet mulching, and talks about how to incorporate existing trees into your new food forest. Michael covers guilds (a selected group of plants that form a small ecosystem to support trees) and talks about the plants he loves to incorporate into food forests including: Comfrey, Strawberry, Lead Plant, Yarrow, Wild Blue Indigo, and many others. Michael shares his favorite Uncommon Fruits and "Edible Landscaping All Stars" which include: Hardy Kiwi, Gooseberry, Juneberry, Goumi, Autumn Olive, Paw Paw, Che Fruit, Elderberry, and Currants. You can read more about Michael and his amazing work at EcologiaDesign.com. Michael is the author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist. You can taste some of Michael's uncommon fruit at his 1st Annual Paw Paw Festival on September 17th, 2016 at Long Creek Homestead. The Fest is a celebration of North America's largest (and many say most delicious) fruit. To hear more from Michael on my podcasts, click here: Have Your Yard and Eat It, Too!, Outdoor Mushroom Cultivation, and Goumi, A Beautiful Bush With Benefits. If you have the Sustainable World Radio App for Mac or Android, included in this interview is a short segment with Michael's recommendations for nurseries that sell uncommon fruit.
Episode 133: Is it time to turn your lawn into a biodiverse meadow? In this interview with John Greenlee, we learn about the many benefits of meadow gardens. An expert in grass ecology and sustainable design, John is the author of the books The American Meadow Garden and The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses. John Greenlee says meadows are the "places you want to be, sunny, soft, and human-friendly" and are an excellent replacement for the typical turf lawn. In this interview, John asks a fundamental question, "Are we just decorating the planet or are we creating habitat?" He outlines how he readies land for planting a meadow, inorganic and organic methods of soil preparation, what grasses work where, plant driven design, and why meadow lawns are a boon to the ecosystem. John also talks about different types of meadows and how to add an edible component to meadows including Heirloom Grains, Berries, and Root Herbs like Salsify. To learn more, visit John's website Greenlee and Associates. com
Episode 132: Can planting lentils be a radical act? Yes, if you live in a small conservative farming town in Montana, circa 1976. That was the year David Oien moved back to his family’s farm and planted a crop of lentils. This marked the beginning of the Lentil Underground, a group of farmers who created a new way of doing business both on the farm and in their community. It wasn’t always easy. Planting lentils in a county known for wheat created waves and they weren’t amber waves of grain. But, what disapproving, wheat-loving onlookers didn’t know, was that the short, squat lentil plant is the “Robin Hood” of the plant world. A Nitrogen fixer, it creates fertilizer and increases soil health by sequestering Nitrogen out of the atmosphere and putting it in the soil in a plant available form. This fixing of Nitrogen is a valuable service to farmers and to plant and soil life. In this interview with author, teacher, and lecturer Dr. Liz Carlisle, we learn what happened when a group of farmers shifted from industrial agriculture to a more ecological farming method. This transition from a “farming up” to a “farming down” model, with a goal of regenerating soil health, is the story of the Lentil Underground. It's also a story about community, agricultural policies, and our food system. Dr. Liz Carlisle is the author of the book Lentil Underground. Liz is a Lecturer in Food Systems at the University of California, Berkeley and in the Thinking Matters program at Stanford University. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography, from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. from Harvard University. You can buy lentils and other products from the farmers mentioned in this interview by visiting their company Timeless Food.