On this week's episode, we meet two farmers who, at first glance, seem very different. One is a first-generation farmer in upstate New York raising fruits and vegetables for the local community. The other is a third generation farmer in Minnesota who sells commodity crops—corn and soybeans—to big industrial processors. But they share something in common. They’re both bucking modern conventions on how to farm. And they're paying close attention to something that is frequently overlooked: the soil. We explore how making simple changes in the way we farm can harness the incredible power of soil to help save the planet. (This episode first aired on January 7, 2021.)
Thanks to our guests Leah Penniman and Dawn and Grant Breitkreutz
Calls to action
- The new US Congress will be considering the Farm Bill at some point soon, and there are lots of subsidies in there that could incentivize adoption of regenerative practices and restore and conserve agricultural lands. So keep your eyes peeled for windows of opportunity to push your elected officials to get on board with this. For now, there’s a helpful blog post from the World Resources Institute that will get you up to speed.
- Also, keep your eyes out for the Justice for Black Farmers Act to be reintroduced in this new Congress, which would support training and access to land for Black farmers.
- Support farmers of color through the National Black Food and Justice Alliance.
Want to learn more about regenerative farming?
- Check out The Soil Health Institute.
- Watch these videos from Gabe Brown and Dr. Allen Williams, teachers who helped Grant and Dawn learn about regenerative farming.
- Read Leah Penniman’s book Farming While Black, which is brimming with great information on her Afro-Indigenous-inspired approach to farming.
- Watch the new film Kiss the Ground, which is all about how agriculture, and the carbon-sequestering power of soil, is a powerful climate solution.
- Ayana’s mom, an organic and regenerative farmer, recommends the book Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown. Her review: “Excellent job of demonstrating best regenerative farm practices. Great for gardeners and every food consumer to know.” She also recommends checking out the farming magazine called Acres and the array of great books published by Chelsea Green.
If you take an action we recommend in one of our episodes, do us a favor and tell us about it! We’d love to hear how it went and what it felt like. Record a short voice memo on your phone and send it to us via our Listener Mail Form. We might use it in an upcoming episode.
How to Save a Planet is a Spotify original podcast and Gimlet production hosted by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Alex Blumberg. Our reporters and producers are Kendra Pierre-Louis, Rachel Waldholz and Anna Ladd. Our senior producer is Lauren Silverman. Our editor is Caitlin Kenney. Sound design and mixing by Peter Leonard with original music by Emma Munger. Our fact checker this episode is James Gaines.