Episode #148: Market Cooperatives

Frank welcomes Luis Sierra of the California Center for Cooperative Development.  Luis introduces the concept of a cooperative, and the rationale for their creation.  He also delves into existing cooperative models and their history in the state of California.  He then describes some of the pitfalls a cooperative can face in its creation and operation.  Part I of II.

The California Center for Cooperative Development


Episode #146: The Open Source Economy

Frank is joined by Marcin Jakubowski, visionary behind the Open Source Ecology Project.  With just a $100 million share of the global economy, open source hardware and manufacturing has quite a bit of scaling up to do if it is to be successful.  Marcin is trying to address this head-on.  Topics of discussion include an update on the OSE Project, Thomas Edison as an archetype for a process of invention, economic models for scaling up, and an upcoming microhouse design workshop to be hosted in late September 2014.  Useful links are below.

Microhouse Workshop 4: Extreme Manufacturing from September 25 to 30, 2014

The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity (via Amazon)


Episode #145: The Failure of Permaculture

Update: My response to some of the criticism of this episode is posted here.

Frank Aragona shares several articles that depict small-scale sustainable agriculture as a financial struggle, even for those with abundant capital and land resources.  With story after story of small-scale sustainable producers struggling to make ends meet, he characterizes the permaculture movement as a failure on socio-economic grounds.  Some suggestions for moving forward are offered.  The episode concludes with a brief clip from an interview with Dr. Joe Kovach on the use of bees as microdelivery mechanisms for a biological fungal control agent.  Thanks again to @ajtarnas for the Kovach clip.

Should You Quit Your Job and Become a Farmer? (via Marketwatch)

Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers (via NY Times)

How To Help Small Farmers: A Farmer’s Words


Episode #144: $90,000 an Acre

This episodes features a listener submitted interview with Dr. Joe Kovach of Ohio State University.  Dr. Kovach describes a small-scale mixed fruit-vegetable polyculture designed to produce steady, high-yields with a good economic return on investment.  Labor inputs, pest pressures, weed control, crop selection, retail sales, and marketing are all discussed in some detail.  Thanks to podcast listener AJ Tarnas for conducting this interview.  Follow AJ on Twitter at @ajtarnas.


Episode #143: The Crisis of Sustainable Agriculture

Frank welcomes Chris Stelzer of the Agricultural Insights Podcast.  Chris outlines the purpose of and previous guests on his podcast.  The conversation then launches into a discussion of the business management crisis in sustainable agriculture.  With so little of our food coming from sustainable agricultural practices, what are the critical factors that are preventing the next leap forward?  And while the sustainable agriculture movement focuses on soil biology and other production techniques, the business and economics aspects are left by the wayside.

Useful Links:

The Elders of Organic Farming (via NY Times)

The Agricultural Insights Podcast


Episode #142: The Black Soldier Fly Concluded

Frank concludes his interview with Jerry of blacksoldierflyblog.com.  Topics of discussion include commercial applications for BSF, the global coverage of BSF, the potential for BSF to serve as a source of protein for humans, and how people living in places besides North America can acquire the black soldier fly larvae.  The episode concludes with a discussion and response to a recent article on cnbc.com.

Frankenstates: Winning the Agriculture Tech War (The title here is curious.  Why is it a war?)

Trends in Ag: Consolidated Capital vs. Open Source Innovations (via Agroinnovations)

OSH Group #44: Open Source Hardware in Resource Management and Agriculture


Episode #140: Farm Hack

Frank interviews New Hampshire farmer and Farm Hack cofounder Dorn Cox. Topics of discussion include the importance of the open source ethos, the use of CNC machines to reduce the marginal cost of open source farm implements, the Farm Hack website platform, and the relationship between open source farm tools and good soil carbon management. Part 2 of 2.

Visit farmhack.net
Join the conversation on twitter at #farmhack
Also see the New Young Farmer’s Coalition


Episode #139: On-Farm Biodiesel

Frank interviews New Hampshire farmer Dorn Cox about his efforts to promote open source agricultural technology. Topics of discussion include his efforts to improve soil health, the open source Rodale crimper-roller, Dorn’s on-farm biodiesel processor, open source as a sociocultural shift for rural America, and how the market-demand for local food is driving change in our agricultural systems.

Visit the Farm Hack website to learn more about Dorn’s work.