Episode #137: Not Pollyanna

This interview is with Holistic Management practitioner and Oklahoma farmer and rancher Walt Davis. Walt joins Frank to discuss his book “How Not to Go Broke Ranching”. Walt starts with a brief history of ranching in the United States, moving on to how agriculture functions in today’s industrial economy, and then outlines why an industrial view of ranching is both damaging to the environment and not-profitable for the rancher. Recorded in 2011, part one of two.

Useful links below:

Walt Davis: How Not to Go Broke Ranching
C-Realm Podcast #406: Suspect Models and the Photosynthetic Ceiling

And I asked myself, who was Pollyanna? Actually, quite an inspiring story, and seems like she was a grizzled cowboy herself after it was all said and done.


Episode #136: Robot Gardener

Recorded from the floor of the 2014 South by Southwest conference, Frank welcomes three innovators in the arduino for agriculture space: Will Bratton, Luke Iseman, and Sam Bagot to discuss the nature and challenges of the Internet of Things as it applies to agriculture. Topics of discussion include what is arduino, why and how it is useful for sustainable agriculture, the failures of the open source community, competition from megacorporations like Verizon, fragmentation in the agduino space, and how to jump start a movement towards a standard, open platform for managing agricultural microcontrollers.

Relevant links:

Robot Gardener
Horto Domi on Kickstarter


Episode #135: Farm to Cafeteria

Frank is joined by Mary Stein, co-organizer of the biannual Farm to Cafeteria Conference, which will take place on April 15-18 in Austin, Texas. Topics of conversation include the shift from industrial to local food in the cafeteria, health and educational benefits for school children, obstacles to adoption, case studies, impacts on local economies, and some conference highlights.



Episode #134: Brown Tech, the Global Land Grab, Peak Food, and the Agrocollapse

This episode begins with a brief discussion of the status of this podcast and its host.  Frank then launches into a discussion of the global land grab taking place in Africa and elsewhere as Holmgren’s brown tech scenario comes to fruition in the form of industrial, commodity-export agriculture expanding its reach into technologically underdeveloped nations.  This reality is framed in the context of recent research showing that food yield increases have plateaued, which may indicate peak food has arrived.  The discussion concludes with a brief foray into the concept of agrocollapse and its implications for the sustainable food movement.

Links below:
Food, Fuel, and the Global Land Grab
Dramatic decline in industrial agriculture could herald ‘peak food’
What is the Agrocollapse? (via Agroinnovations Blog)
Dimishing Returns (via Wikipedia)


Episode #133: Compost Microbiology

Part II of the Agroinnovations interview with soil microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham. Dr. Ingham discusses the impact of natural disasters on soil microbiology, testing laboratories for soil microbes, aerobic composting techniques, and methods for managing soil microbiology using compost tea. Visit Dr. Ingham’s Soil Food Web Inc. website.


Episode #132: The Soil Food Web

After a 2 year hiatus, the Agroinnovations Podcast is back. First order of business is to get a backlog of interviews from the archives out into the world. Today’s interview features Dr. Elaine Ingham from the company Soil Food Web Inc. Dr. Ingham gives listeners an overview survey of soil microbiology. The scope, scale, and dynamics of the soil food web are discussed. Part One of Two. Interview is from June 2011.


Episode #131: Spiral Ridge Permaculture

Frank is joined by Cliff Davis of Spiral Ridge Permaculture.  Cliff begins by breaking down the natural history, forest composition, soil types, and topography of his permaculture farm in central Tennessee.  The topic then shifts to permacultural strategies for success in this challenging environment, and concludes with a discussion of the political challenges of a establishing a permanent culture in a damaged society.

Spiral Ridge Permaculture

7th Annual Permaculture Design Course in Belize


Episode #128: Biodynamic Agriculture

We are joined by Hugh Courtney of the Josephine Porter Institute for Applied Biodynamics. We discuss the life and ideas of Rudolph Steiner, the life and practice of Josephine Porter, biodynamic preparations and how they are made, the application of these preparations on the land, results one can expect to see, and ways to preserve biodynamic techniques.


Episode #127: Peak Moment Television

Frank Aragona is joined by Janaia Donaldson, host and producer of Peak Moment Television.  Topics of discussion include the production of Peak Moment TV, geodesic domes in Colorado, the strengths and weaknesses of the relocalization movement, Peak Oil as a marginal idea in American society, relocalization as an apolitical phenomenon, and the future of Peak Moment TV.

Peak Moment TV (website)

Peak Moment TV (YouTube)


Episode #126: The Paicines Ranch

Frank is joined by Sallie Calhoun, Owner/Executive Director of the Paicines Ranch.   Sallie is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Holistic Management International, and is a passionate practitioner of and advocate for Holistic Management.  Please visit their website at www.holisticmanagement.org.

Topics of discussion include the ecology and wildlife of central California, the invasion of exotic annual grasses to the detriment of native perennials, oak regeneration in California, perceptions and realities of wild pigs, and the need for greater human capital on the North American land base.

The Paicines Ranch (website)