• Building an Off-Grid Homestead in Austrailia - Interview #60

    Shudra is working hard everyday to build up his 10 acre homestead in Australia. If water wasn't already an issue, his property sits on top of an old gravel pit, so the ground doesn't hold water.

    Can he build up enough top soil to reduce the water from passing right through into the ground?

    Can he collect enough rain water from his roof during monsoon season to make it through the year?

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    58m | Sep 22, 2023
  • F*ck Around Find Out When Farming

    Clint and Christine Rarey started FAFO Farms near Austin, Texas this year. And even with some hard learned lessons already, they're still eager to get to work everyday to provide their community with raw milk, cheese, soap, and pastured poultry.

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    1h 12m | Sep 5, 2023
  • Famous Farmer - Allan Savory

    Clifford Allan Redin Savory (born 15 September 1935 in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) educated in South Africa (University of Natal, BS in Zoology and Botany) pursued an early career as a research biologist and game ranger in the British Colonial Service of what was then Northern Rhodesia (today Zambia) and later as a farmer and game rancher in Zimbabwe.

    “The Wild Life of Allan Savory”

    C.J. Hadley

    Reprinted from the Fall issue of Range Magazine, 1999

    "Throughout that," says Savory, "there was constantly just one theme-poor land means poor people, social upheaval, political unrest. We farmers and ranchers have destroyed more civilizations than armies have done. Armies change civilizations. We farmers and ranchers destroy them, they never rise again. And I've been obsessed with this problem of why this is happening, why it's happened for 10-15,000 years, and why we've never been able to stop it.”

    Allan Savory's memoir reveals his involvement in preparing for guerrilla warfare through the British Colonial Service in the Northern Rhodesian Game Department. He learned local bush skills and animal tracking techniques that could be adapted for military use. Initially, his recommendations for military training were rejected, but his ideas gained traction when the elite all-white Special Air Service (SAS) incorporated his tracking and bush craft courses for counter-insurgency purposes.

    During the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, Savory was a Captain in the Territorial Army. He quietly opposed this move. He proposed forming a Guerrilla Anti-terrorist Unit (GATU) to infiltrate and eliminate African nationalist insurgent groups, but internal disputes led to the unit's disbandment. Instead, the Tracker Combat Unit (TCU) was created, focusing on tracking and targeting insurgents.

    In 1970, Savory was elected to the Rhodesian Parliament, representing Matobo constituency. He later reformed the Rhodesia Party, aiming to secure the future of white Europeans in Rhodesia through strong government and economic superiority. However, his party supported racial segregation, and his controversial statements led to his removal from leadership.

    In 1977, Savory led the National Unifying Force (NUF) against Ian Smith's policies, but the party didn't win any seats. Savory opposed the Internal Settlement under Bishop Abel Muzorewa and, due to conflicts with the government, left Rhodesia in 1979 for self-imposed exile to focus on his scientific work.

    After leaving Zimbabwe, Allan Savory introduced holistic planned grazing to reverse desertification in grasslands. He co-founded the Center for Holistic Management in 1984, later forming the Savory Institute in 2009. He also established the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe in 1992, aimed at training holistic land management techniques.

    Four principles

    Savory stated four key principles of Holistic Management® planned grazing, which he intended to take advantage of the symbiotic relationship between large herds of grazing animals and the grasslands that support them

    Nature functions as a holistic community with a mutualistic relationship between people, animals and the land. If you remove or change the behavior of any keystone species like the large grazing herds, you have an unexpected and wide-ranging negative impact on other areas of the environment.

    It is absolutely crucial that any agricultural planning system must be flexible enough to adapt to nature’s complexity, since all environments are different and have constantly changing local conditions.

    Animal husbandry using domestic species can be used as a substitute for lost keystone species. Thus when managed properly in a way that mimics nature, agriculture can heal the land and even benefit wildlife, while at the same time benefiting people.

    Time and timing is the most important factor when planning land use. Not only is it crucial to understand how long to use the land for agriculture and how long to rest, it is equally important to understand exactly when and where the land is ready for that use and rest.

    In his TED talk “How to fight desertification and reverse climate change” in February of 2013 Savory shares the story of when he was a biologist in Africa in the 1950s tasked with improving the landscape for national parks. After reviewing evidence at the time, he comes to the conclusion that they must reduce the number elephants in an effort to help the land maintain stability. The government had a team of experts to evaluate his research, and they agreed. Savory says “Over the following years, we shot 40,000 elephants to try to stop the damage. And it got worse, not better. Loving elephants as I do, that was the saddest and greatest blunder of my life, and I will carry that to my grave.” Since then, he’s determined to devoting his life to finding solutions. 

    His system for livestock management mimicking nature works like this… Greatly increase the number of cattle, sheep, or goats confined on a fenced off piece of land for a short period of time. The animals will eat the grass, then pee, poop, and smash the remaining grass into the ground. At that time, they’re moved to another paddock to repeat the cycle. This stores carbon and breaks down methane. In nature, large herds of animals are pushed out of an area due to predation. But with intensive rotational grazing, this is done manually using physical barriers.

    Still, Criticism of Allan savory stems from the methane gasses produced by the cattle needed for his regeneration efforts. As well as the claims cattle are still the problem and should be reduced, not increased. Sounds like the critics missed the part about getting rid of the elephants not working… 

    Allan Savory and his wife Jody Butterfield live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is currently 87 years old

    Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4

    Image Credit: menub.earth

    7m | Aug 28, 2023
  • Interview #58 - Buffalo Guy Ron

    Ron Miskin and his family have been raising bison in Texas for over 40 years, selling the meat and making great socks (and other items!) with the fibers. They also have some cows, pigs, turkeys, and chickens for home production.

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    37m | Aug 18, 2023
  • Famous Farmer - Toby Hemenway

    Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway

    Permaculture City by Toby Hemenway

    Toby Hemenway born April 23, 1952

    In grade school, he loved reading and writing, would entertain his fellow students with a series of short stories about the adventures of a boy genius, according to his sister, Ann

    “He studied a lot and read on his own,” she said of his early days growing up in the Detroit and Chicago areas where his father was in marketing and sales for General Electric and auto companies.

    “He was a busy kid, a brilliant, busy child, always doing science experiments. Things were blowing up in the basement a lot,” she said.

    After obtaining a degree in biology from Tufts University, Toby worked for many years as a researcher in genetics and immunology, first in academic laboratories including Harvard and the University of Washington in Seattle, and then at Immunex, a major medical biotech company. At about the time he was growing dissatisfied with the direction biotechnology was taking, he discovered permaculture, a design approach based on ecological principles that creates sustainable landscapes, homes, and workplaces. A career change followed, and Toby and his wife, Kiel, spent ten years creating a rural permaculture site in southern Oregon. He was the editor of Permaculture Activist, a journal of ecological design and sustainable culture, from 1999 to 2004. He moved to Portland, Oregon in 2004, and spent six years developing urban sustainability resources there. 

    He served as an adjunct professor at Portland State University, Scholar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and field director at the Permaculture Institute (USA).

    In 2009, he published his first book “Gaia's Garden: a guide to home scale permaculture” still the best selling book on ecological gardening

    From Permies.com,

    Paul reviews the third [permaculture] ethic with Toby Hemengway [return of surplus]. Toby finds it ironic that people are quick to tell him he should be giving away his book as surplus. Toby goes through some history on how he got his first workshop paid for. When people come to Toby looking for a break on a price he gets upset when people are able bodied and intelligent. Asking for a subsidy should be a last resort.

    Paul explains that some people are taking advantage of the third ethic and surplus. People do not have the right to come in and tell you what you have in surplus and how you should give things away. Paul and Toby discuss the difference between a gift economy and a theft economy. Toby explains how an ethic works and how it is meant to serve the community. Ethics are not meant to serve a person.

    An interview by Chelsea Green, publisher of Toby Hemenway’s new book The Permaculture City, published in 2015, provides a new way of thinking about urban living, with practical examples for creating abundant food, energy security, close-knit communities, local and meaningful livelihoods, and sustainable policies in our cities and towns.

    CG: You started off in Seattle, moved to rural Oregon, and then to Portland, and you now live in the Bay Area. How did this follow your own evolution in terms of using permaculture design principles to guide your own daily life and choosing where to live – rural versus urban?

    TH: I met my wife in Seattle in 1990 when I was working in biotech and she was at Microsoft. We both soon realized that our lives, stressful and busy, had strayed far from giving us what we desired in life. I had just discovered permaculture, and at that time, it was being applied mainly on large, rural properties. So we bailed on city life and moved to ten acres in southern Oregon. In retrospect, being such a newbie to permaculture, the move was a hasty decision that wasn’t well grounded in permaculture principles: our property didn’t have good water or soil, for example. But I believed firmly that by using permaculture design, I could make up for that. And we did, to a large extent. So it was a trial by fire and I made a lot of mistakes. One thing I learned, very much the hard way, was that each time I violated a permaculture principle, it didn’t work out well. Because we had a lot of land, I planted far more fruit trees than I needed—I didn’t do a good assessment of my needs, I just wanted it all—and put them far from the house. So I wasn’t following the principles of start small and start at your doorstep. And once all my other systems started producing, those trees got neglected and suffered.


    I also was trying to run a large homestead by myself, not following the principle of “each function should be supported in multiple ways.” And the land itself didn’t really want to be a food forest; the soil and microclimate were much more suited to being conifer forest. Thus I wasn’t working with nature but against it. In spite of all those mistakes, the land became very productive and diverse, and we accomplished a lot—pretty much everything we had gone there to do. That’s when we realized we were driving everywhere and burning tons of fuel and other resources to sustain this supposedly sustainable lifestyle, and we were lonely. So we moved to Portland and were amazed at how much our resource consumption shrank. I was still able to grow a huge amount of food in a 6000-square foot yard, but we didn’t need to drive long distances to have a social or cultural life. That brought us back in tune with the principle of relative location: placing the things you use the most near where you spend your time. Thus I really learned the power of permaculture’s principles by breaking most of them and being taught by that why they were worth following.

    Sadly, tragedy struck Toby and his family in 2015. In the fall of that year, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. After undergoing chemotherapy, he was nevertheless told that his cancer had spread from his pancreas to his liver. While Toby had begun his second round of chemo in October, he developed septic shock. Septic shock occurs when an immune system weakened by cancer allows for a widespread infection in the blood, as well as dangerously low blood pressure. Since, additional scans show the cancer continued to spread.

    Toby passed away December 20th, 2016 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

    However, there are many recorded presentations and podcasts of Toby so that his teachings will continue to inspire the next generation of those working to restore and repair the land we live with.

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    Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4, Source 5

    Image credit: permacultureacademy.com

    9m | Aug 11, 2023
  • Famous Farmer - Robert Emmett "Bob" Fletcher Jr

    Robert Fletcher Jr. 

    The only child of walnut farmers, was born July 26, 1911 in San Francisco and grew up in Brentwood, graduating from high school in 1929. He then attended the University of California, Davis beginning in 1930 where he earned a degree in agriculture.

    After college, Fletcher ran a peach orchard in Red Bluff, California, and then became a state shipping point inspector (agriculture inspector). Starting in 1942, Fletcher began working for the Florin Fire Department. 

    Executive Order 9066, by FDR, in 1942 forced relocation of 122,000 Japanese-Americans, most of them citizens, to internment camps, where they were held without charges out of a misguided suspicion that they might be disloyal. In addition to losing their liberty, the Japanese-American internees often lost the homes and businesses that they had to leave behind. In particular, Japanese-American farmers, who had to leave their crops untended.

    Near Sacramento, many of the Japanese who were relocated were farmers who had worked land around the town of Florin since at least the 1890s. Mr. Fletcher, who was single and in his early 30s at the time, knew many of them through his work inspecting fruit for the government. The farmers regarded him as honest, and he respected their operations.

    Al Tsukamoto, whose parents arrived in the United States in 1905, approached Mr. Fletcher with a business proposal: would he be willing to manage the farms of two family friends of Mr. Tsukamoto’s, and to pay the taxes and mortgages while they were away? In return, he could keep all the profits.

    Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Tsukamoto had not been close, and Mr. Fletcher had no experience growing the farmers’ specialty, flame tokay grapes, but he accepted the offer and soon quit his job.

    For the next three years he worked a total of 90 acres on three farms — he had also decided to run Mr. Tsukamoto’s farm. He worked 18-hour days and lived in the bunkhouse Mr. Tsukamoto had reserved for migrant workers. He paid the bills of all three families — the Tsukamotos, the Okamotos and the Nittas. He kept only half of the profits.

    But Mr. Fletcher’s efforts put him at personal risk, in a community where many viewed the Japanese-Americans with suspicion and resentment, in the wake of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. He was reviled as a "Jap lover," and was nearly hit by a rifle shot that someone fired into the Tsukamoto family's barn.

    Many Japanese-American families lost property while they were in the camps because they could not pay their bills. Most in the Florin area moved elsewhere after the war. When the Tsukamotos returned in 1945, they found that Mr. Fletcher had left them money in the bank and that his new wife, Teresa, had cleaned the Tsukamotos’ house in preparation for their return. She had chosen to join her husband in the bunkhouse instead of accepting the Tsukamotos’ offer to live in the family’s house.

    “Teresa’s response was, ‘It’s the Tsukamotos’ house,’ ” recalled Marielle Tsukamoto, who was 5 when she and her family were sent to the Jerome center. 

    “Few people in history exemplify the best ideals the way that Bob did,” said Tsukamoto’s daughter, Marielle “He was honest and hardworking and had integrity. Whenever you asked him about it, he just said, ‘It was the right thing to do.’ ”

    But Fletcher's efforts put him at personal risk, in a community where many viewed the Japanese-Americans with suspicion and resentment, in the wake of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. He was reviled as a "Jap lover," and was nearly hit by a rifle shot that someone fired into the Tsukamoto family's barn.

    “I did know a few of them pretty well and never did agree with the evacuation,” he told The Sacramento Bee in 2010. “They were the same as anybody else. It was obvious they had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor.”

    After the war, resentment against the Japanese in Florin continued. If Mr. Tsukamoto tried to buy a part at the hardware store only to be told that the part was not in stock, he would ask Mr. Fletcher to buy it for him.

    The Fletchers bought their own land in Florin after the war and raised hay and cattle. Mr. Fletcher was a volunteer firefighter in Florin for many decades before becoming the paid fire chief. He was also active in historical groups.

    He was never much for celebrating his role in the war, and he noted that other Florin residents had helped their Japanese neighbors.

    “I don’t know about courage,” he said in 2010 as Florin was preparing to honor him in a ceremony. “It took a devil of a lot of work.”

    Mr. Fletcher, who was in good health until a recent leg infection, was a reserved man of simple tastes. He drank more than a quart of milk a day and enjoyed spending time with his wife or working.

    “I did know a few of them pretty well and never agreed with the evacuation,” he told the Sacramento Bee in 2010. “They were the same as anybody else. It was obvious they had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor.”

    At Fletcher's 100th birthday celebration in 2011, Doris Taketa, who was just 12 when her family was sent off to a camp in Arkansas, recalled how they had viewed him as a hero. "My mother called him God, because only God would do something like that," she said.

    Mr. Fletcher, who settled in Sacramento as a farmer after the war, also served people in other ways. He spent 20 years as a volunteer firefighter with the Florin Fire Department and retired in 1974 after another 12 years as paid chief. He helped start the Florin Water District in 1959 and was a board member for 50 years.

    “He never stopped working hard — but not for himself,” said Rick Martinez, a former Florin and Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District chief. “He worked hard to get done whatever needed to be done for others.”

    His inspirational story is recounted in history books, including “We The People: A Story of Internment in America” by Elizabeth Pinkerton and Mary Tsukamoto, whose family farm he saved.

    “I don’t know about courage,” he said in 2010 as Florin was preparing to honor him in a ceremony. “It took a devil of a lot of work.”

    Mr. Fletcher, who was in good health until a recent leg infection, was a reserved man of simple tastes. He drank more than a quart of milk a day and enjoyed spending time with his wife or working.

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    One , Two , Three , Four , Five , Six , Seven , Eight

    Image credit: Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee

    8m | Jul 31, 2023
  • Men's Forum #54 - Killing With Kindness

    Sometimes it's best to just bite your tongue. Sometimes it's best to say sorry first. But sometimes, a person just gets under your skin and you'd like to throw a punch.

    Christopher de Vidal on MeWe

    SecureCoop website [DISCOUNT CODE IN EPISODE]

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    *Agora Crops was here

    1h 4m | Jul 25, 2023
  • Interview #57 - Alex Vanassa the Farmgineer

    Looking at problems a different way may help you come to solutions faster in the long run. Using his engineering background, Alex tackles the same problems everyday homesteaders face and coming with something better than a "farmers fix."

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    1h 5m | Jul 14, 2023
  • Interview #56 - Dead Eye 2 Tongues

    Can fungi help heal a badly wounded body? Dead Eye 2 Tongues talks about his injuries and how he turned to natural medicine to get his life back.

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    1h 31m | Jul 7, 2023
  • Interview #55 - Dan Vanderpool

    Cooking, farm hopping, and the future of food. Dan got into cooking from going to the farmers market. Then got into farms from cooking. Full circle.

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    Tomato clips

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    1h 6m | Jun 30, 2023
  • Men's Forum #50 - Where the Buffalo Roam

    How would we get the bison population up to 10 million? What would happen? Same with elk. How would you increase wildlife to your area without it being destructive?

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    1h 4m | Jun 27, 2023
  • Interview #54 - Drake of Three Ridges Ecological Farm

    Are you listening? The land is telling you what works and will fight you if you try to force fit something. Drake moved to Canada with his wife where they have cows, sheep, and pigs on silvopasture.

    Drake on Twitter

    Three Ridges Ecological Farm

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    1h 22m | Jun 23, 2023
  • Interview #53 - John Pantalone

    Amber Oaks Ranch, 35 minutes outside of Austin, TX, offers grass fed beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and seasonal turkeys. John and his wife Molly operate their 70 acres by themselves thanks to a lot of systems thinking and planning ahead of time, years before they even bought their current property.

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    1h 1m | Jun 15, 2023
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