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podcast 179: farming practices

Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Paul Wheaton talks to "Jocelyn Campbell in the Forks, WA. They talk about working with north-facing slope. They respond to more listener questions. Paul talks about his food rating system, and his TV show idea. They wonder about reusing used motor oil. They talk about discerning quality somewhere like a farmers market, and the triggers that turn them off from certain farmers. Some triggers include level fields, flood plains, and poop too close to the garden. Paul talks about poop-a-phobia. They talk about good animal husbandry practices.

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Location: USDA Zone 5
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Another info-filled podcast!

On used motor oil and other petrol waste: Paul Stamets PhD has done a lot of work on myco-remediation,
using fungi that actually breaks down the molecular bonds petroleum products (from crude oil through a wide
array of petro-chemicals), rendering them non-toxic- EXCEPT for the heavy metal contaminants that are
found in many (most?) petro-chemicals. Still, this is amazing, and worth checking our his work. His
book, 'Mycellium Running' has more info, and also provides info on growing mushrooms for food.

In case is is unclear to listeners, many gov'ts in rural areas spray oil on dirt roads to keep down dust,
including the Pacific Northwest (used motor oil, oil from electric transformers, etc). It's hard to imagine
that this would still happen these days, but it does.

The issue of human waste is important. While some of the examples were... less than ideal (!), the
sewage systems are likely as bad or worse than anything mentioned. Many municiple water systems
get their water from the same rivers that they discharge their 'treated' sewage, or the towns upstream-
- usually undertreated due to overloaded
sewage treatment plants, (not to mention that these plants have NO provisions to handle chemicals that
wash off pavements and into storm drains; OR the myriad of household chemicals that end up going
down the drain). That water is treated with even MORE chemicals, of course, to make it 'safe' for us
to drink...

On finding 'your' farmer, some great ideas here about letting farmers/growers know what you want
and are willing to pay for. Two thoughts, 1) it is difficult for one farmer to produce everything a family
will want to eat, even if a family is also growing an extensive garden, so each family will probably
need a local network of food producers. That said, more CSAs are working to provide a wider range
of crops and, as mentioned, in some cases meat, too.

2) While 'USDA Certified Organic' has been 'dumbed down', it is still almost always waaaaay better
than the alternative. Good, better, best... each step a family takes away from synthetic chemical
dependand agriculture, including large-scale CAFOs, is a step in the right direction.

Sadly, a local veg & fruit grower in our area says that 'you can't grow organically without pests and
blemishes, and nobody wants that'. I've tried to tactfully let them know that it can be done, but
they are simply not open to the idea of not dousing everything with chemicals. In this case, conventional
USDA Cert Organic would be a HUGE step in the more eco-friendly direction.

Growing 100% of the feed for livestock on a small farm can be a challenge! As I make my way through
the podcasts, I hope to find more and more info on how we can get ever closer to that goal. Currently,
our land produces 75% or more of the animal's feed needs during the growing season, but winters are
long here, the temps cold, and the snows get deep. Step by step...

Posts: 344
Location: New Zealand
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So I look forward to hearing about development as you implement these practices on your land Paul.
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