Transcript for Our Farms, Our Future Podcast episode 002 – Agroforestry featuring Michael Gold and Chuck Talbott
Mike Gold: So even though agroforestry is very common in the tropics and has been done for millennia, when we brought in our modern agricultural concepts it’s always been monoculture. Agroforestry is trying to work more on the concept of agroecology, where we look at a system that’s much more self-maintaining, works a lot more with perennials, perennial grasses, shrubs, and trees, integrated as a system with annuals.
Mallory Daily: Welcome to Our Farms, Our Future. I’m your host, Mal. This time on the show: raising pigs in a forest, growing chestnut trees, and encouraging farmers to embrace more ongoing, active land management. All in the name of agroforestry. You just heard Mike Gold, interim director of the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri. He’s been involved in agroforestry research and education since the early-80s. Mike will be in conversation with Chuck Talbott, an Extension Agent for West Virginia University who raises pigs under 70-acres of tree canopy. But before I let them take away the show, I want to tell you about a little field trip I took in late-August to the University of Missouri Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center, or HARC, in New Franklin, Missouri. I pull up to the Center’s office around 8:30 am – it’s a humid Missouri morning, and we’re trying to beat the afternoon heat. Hannah Hemmelgarn, the Center’s Education Program Coordinator and my personal tour guide for the day, waves to an empty parking spot. I chug what’s left in my coffee mug and follow her inside to learn a bit about what they do here.
Hannah Hemmelgarn: Temperate agroforestry is really our focus area here at the Center for Agroforestry. Temperate agroforestry by definition consists of five main practices: alley cropping, forest farming, silvopasture, windbreaks, and riparian buffer forest buffers and upland forest buffers. But essentially agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees or shrubs in a system where there are also crops and livestock. Because it is this diverse, complete system, there is energy cycling and water cycling in a way that we don’t see in purely annual and often monoculture cropping systems.
Mallory Daily: Hannah is working on a project to make the abundance of agroforestry more accessible to the Center’s visitors, workers and researchers.
Hannah Hemmelgarn: This is just right now being developed on paper and we’ll start planting this fall. It’s about a quarter-acre and it’s right between what will be our new forest farming demonstration area. So forest farming, again, we’re thinking of medicinals and mushrooms and other edible and floral crops in the understory of a forest canopy. And then on the other side of the food forest is an edible landscaping demonstration right next to the office here. So in that, in-between space, you’ll sort of get to see what succession looks like in a very human relationship with the land way.
Mallory Daily: Right now that quarter acre is just a lawn with some mulch, pines, and tarps covering the grass, so it kills back. But relatively soon the mulch patch under these pines will see the fruiting bodies of bluet, oyster, and wine cap mushrooms intermingling with native woody perennials.
Hannah Hemmelgarn: Like currents and elderberries and maybe pawpaw. Service Berry for sure, amelanchier species, American plumbs might be in the mix, hazelnuts definitely.
Mallory Daily: I have to admit, it’s really fun to imagine this manicured lawn dripping with edibles. But before I get too lost in my daydream, Hannah reminds me the real reason we’re here: to pick pawpaws. On our drive to the pawpaw patch, we pass a multitude of experimental plots, a watershed buffer study with cattle and cottonwood trees, black walnut plantings, a chestnut repository, a shade tolerant alleycrop study, and an old apple orchard.
Hannah Hemmelgarn: So many fruits! Try to separate the pawpaws by cultivar. So we’ll see how that goes.
Mallory Daily: We’re at the base of a variety of pawpaw called Susquehanna. It’s one of about a dozen trees in this orchard, slightly conical in shape with simple, alternate leaves with a slightly rippled texture, similar to magnolia leaves. These pawpaw trees stand about 15 to 20 feet high. I have never seen pawpaw fruits this big, and I am antsy for a taste.
Hannah Hemmelgarn: So a pawpaw looks a little bit like a mango, like a really, a really good lookin’ mango, with a light green skin. If they’re dark green, they’re probably not ready. As they ripen they get a little bit yellowish-green and might have some brown spots on them. And then the flesh inside is this beautiful custardy, golden, buttery, yellow color, and there are large black seeds or dark brown seeds and then, what do they taste like? They’re delicious, especially right off the tree. Yeah, they’re actually closely related to the custard apple, which is probably a better descriptor. It tastes like a banana custard or something like that. It’s so good and sweet. This is basically our only tropical- relative tree in temporary Missouri.
Mallory Daily: So good.
Hannah Hemmelgarn: It is so good.
Mallory Daily: Back in the office, Hannah tells me that Midwest farmers can get started in agroforestry by planting this delicious fruiting tree on a hillside that isn’t hospitable to conventional crops. Or if this pawpaw tree doesn’t appeal to producers, they could plant a variety of species: chestnuts, black walnuts or pecans, all of which are studied.
Hannah Hemmelgarn: We can have our cake and eat it too, in a way, with agroforestry. You can have a riparian forest buffer and be growing elderberries and have a harvestable crop from that. You could have a windbreak that includes pecans and a timber crop, then you really get the conservation benefit and you have an opportunity to be growing food and fiber. And I think it’s really a nice way to think about agriculture entirely. You know, we don’t have to grow food at the expense of the land. We can grow food in harmony with the land and wildlife. And, and that’s agroforestry.
Mallory Daily: In the hollers of West Virginia, Chuck Talbot is attempting to do just that. He raises pigs under 70-acres of forest canopy, letting the animals forage tree nuts, turtles, whatever they can find for sustenance while grooming the forest floor.
Chuck Talbot: It’s not for the faint of heart, you know, it’s checking on the fences every day. It’s calling, it’s going back, you know, it’ll take an hour to go look for the pigs at times. I’ve enjoyed that. It’s in the fall. It’s beautiful. You’re back there and all the colors and it’s really an exciting time, but it’s a lot of responsibility.
Mallory Daily: As Hannah briefly mentioned, the practice of raising livestock in the forest is referred to as “silvopasture”. It’s one of the five main practices of agroforestry. Mike Gold, Hannah’s colleague and the interim director of Mizzou’s Agroforestry Center, who you heard at the beginning of the show, revisits those practices at the start of his conversation with chuck,
Mike Gold: We’ve identified, in the broad sense, five agroforestry practices. The most well known historically is windbreaks with big long rows of trees that were planted to hold down the soil and break the wind back in the dustbowl and still have a lot of viability. There’s also silvopasture, which we’ve been talking about, which is integrating trees and forages and all kinds of different livestock in systems that have open pasture and underneath the forest canopy silvopasture. We have alley cropping, which is sort of like shoving windbreaks more tightly together, say 60, 40, 80 feet apart. And the trees become more important because the trees are typically nut trees or economic producing trees themselves. And then you can plant any kind of intercrop that fits your own production needs, your equipment, your familiarity–corn, soybeans, wheat, sweet corn, pumpkins, you name it. So there’s a lot of opportunity with, with alley cropping and there’s also something known as riparian forest buffers and upland buffers, and those are becoming very popular, especially with NRCS because we have problems with nonpoint source pollution, excess atrazine, soil nitrogen and phosphorous run-off into our streams and creeks, which ultimately ends up as, as a hypoxic dead zone. And so if we put buffers of warm season grasses next to shrubs, next to trees next to the creek in sort of organized zones, what we find is that you can have very, very heavy reduction in these nonpoint source pollutants. But at the same time, these have economic value. So the grasses can be flash grazed or hayed. And the shrubs can have value, whether they’re Hazels or whether they’re Scarlet Curls, Willows for the floraculture industry or elderberries. And then of course the trees can also be managed. And the interesting thing about buffers is the more you manage it and the more these trees, grasses and shrubs are forced to regrow, the more demand they put on the site, the more effective they are as a living filter.
So the management really matters economically and environmentally. And then another practice, I think it’s the last one that I haven’t talked about is called forest farming. And basically what we’re doing is managing the understory of a woodland in order to produce valuable medicinal herbal, horticultural, floracultural kind of crops. So a place like Virginia, West Virginia, Appalachians, many parts of the Ozarks, people are very familiar with Ginseng and Goldenseal and Black Cohosh, but there’s many other things. So the first thing you do is you’re managing the overstory to create a healthy woodland, but you can also then have other crops that are perennials that are these woodland medicinals. So agroforestry really provides the opportunity, even on a large scale farm, there’s lots of niches, problem niches, wet niches, erosive niches, places where you need break of the wind that these agroforestry practices can actually be integrated into a larger traditional farm system and add value both again, economically and environmentally.
So Chuck, in working in agroforestry for a long time, I realize that you don’t have to go back too many years before it was a very strange and different kind of thing for our typical production system and our typical discipline-based world that we live in. And so working in silvopasture and working under trees and working with pigs that are going to be fed from acorns and hickory nuts and things, I’m sure there were some interesting twists and challenges along the way of your journey. I wonder if you might share a bit of your experiences when you started and what it took to get to today.
Chuck Talbot: Well, you’re right, Mike. It still is interesting and challenging. You know, there’s an issue with feral pigs all over the country and I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to be part of the solution. So that means really managing these pigs in a system that, you pretty much need to know those pigs and develop a relationship from the start so that they’re not in somebody’s cornfield down along the river. When I first started, I learned this method from the Spaniards and the Dehesa region. They raised Iberian hogs under these trees. It’s a billion dollar market and that’s just phenomenal. The flavor of the meat, it’s a two year cure. And these pigs at about 360-pounds are eating acorns. They’re managed by a herdsman. The herdsman will go around with a long stick and knock down the acorns, so you can imagine the care and the interest and the economics of that, that it’s worthy of this.
And so I got a rural development grant to go overseas with my partner and see how they did it. He was interested originally in bringing in, importing the Spanish hands into the U.S. and the USDA wouldn’t allow that at the time. And so he read this book that I’m in called Pig Perfect. And decided that, you know, we could do it in the United States when he read this book. And so he contacted me. I had a farm that I bought in Mason County in 1978. And I, you know, I had no idea when I bought it at 27 or so that it would be perfect for my life ambition and passion. But anyway, even then, the foresters were not interested at the time when I did this.
Mike Gold: Because you wanted to put pigs into the woodland deliberately?
Chuck Talbot: Right.
Mike Gold: So the foresters, that’s the absolute no, not pigs. And actually nothing.
Chuck Talbot: Right. That’s right. But anyway. And so I wrote a SARE grant that had a component that would monitor the impact of the pigs in the woods. We only had them in there for six to eight weeks, basically from end of August to November. And after three years of doing this and monitoring the impact, there was no indication that we had any degradation.
Mike Gold: Did you create paddocks within the woods so that they were sort of moved on a regular basis? Was there just a large area that they were turned out in? Or did that evolve over time?
Chuck Talbot: Well, that’s a good question. And looking back at it, I would have liked to have done that. It’s 70 acres and up and down the ridges and in the hollers, and it’s tough enough to have to fence the perimeter, which we did with two strands and then 6,000 volts of power going through it with well-trained pigs. They know that fence. And of course, part of the management component is to make sure you know the fence is off before they do. So, no, it was basically open. The first years we did this, we had a 20-acre plot and we only put 20 pigs in it and started with that. And then we opened it up to 70-acres. And it’s interesting because I also did a crop tree release program in our woods, which you remove the competition from your main oak and hickory trees. And you try to encourage the canopy, plus the mast, to increase. And we had little funnels underneath the trees and we collected the acorns. And what I learned from that experience is that it’s so isolated. The mass production. I have one ridge, you’ll have an abundance of mast and then one ridge over you won’t. Can you tell me why?
Mike Gold: No, in short.
Chuck Talbot: Is that typical?
Mike Gold: Yeah, that’s typical. I mean, oak masting, especially, is just always very irregular. And I don’t think we understand why. Now something that we’re doing in our Center that you might find really interesting: we have developed a Swamp White Oak that is trademarked and we call it “Bucks Unlimited” and it is consistently heavy bearing masting from age six. And from then on, very consistent. This was done in conjunction with Forest Keeling Nursery. So one of the things that we’ve learned in agroforestry when we talk about both getting the right breed of the livestock is also you can select for trees that actually will serve your purpose. Historically, we’ve never cared to try to find oak trees that bear regularly. We’ve done that for pecan trees. We’ve done that for all nut trees. We’ve done that for a lot of trees because we want to eat the nuts. But now we’re interested in livestock eating the acorn. So we actually have a selection out there. And I don’t know how they would do in West Virginia, but I can get you nuts.
Chuck Talbot: Good!
Mike Gold: So you can try them.
Chuck Talbot: You know, it was hard to find information on this. Very hard.
Mike Gold: Yeah. You were breaking new ground.
Chuck Talbot: The best information I got was from the Foxfire books. The chestnut. They said that the chestnut made the best meat. It was dark and rich and flavorful. They talked about other trees involved. But, so that’s where I’ve–actually, we have a tree nursery in Mason County run by the Department of Forestry and they have resistant varieties of chestnuts that they’re working on. And I use the Chinese Chestnut.
Mike Gold: Right. That’s what we produce as well.
Chuck Talbot: And I planted a hundred along the creek beds of both species, but I didn’t take care of it. And the deer are awful in West Virginia and you know, I feed more deer than I feed pigs.
Mike Gold: Yeah. In last, as you know, 40-50 years, we’ve gone from deer being fairly rare to deer being roadkill like squirrels. And that creates a gigantic problem for forestry and for tree horticulture and for agroforestry because we have to put in a lot of extra effort to get the trees above deer browse and even protect them from when they’re young and kind of flexible against buck rub. Once we have achieved those two things, we’re home free. That’s a lot more, that’s a lot of extra work, but you can’t, you can’t avoid it. So there’s weeds, there’s bunnies, there’s deer, there’s buck rub and then you’re home free.
Chuck Talbot: Voles.
Mike Gold: Yeah, depending on the ground cover. That’s true, too. So, I mean your experience with, with silvopasture and pork mirrors the experience, I think, with all the different agroforestry practices that we’ve been involved with over the last couple of decades. And that is that everything was breaking new ground. So even though agroforestry is very common in the tropics and has been done for millennia–you can find temperate agroforestry writings in the Roman literature from 2000 years ago when we brought in our modern agricultural concepts. It’s always been monoculture. And we imported a lot of this from our European mindset. And as we all know in the yield sense, it’s very, very productive. But in the ecosystem sense and in the longterm, it’s got a lot of drawbacks. So agroforestry is trying to work more on the concept of agroecology where we look at a system that’s much more self-maintaining, works a lot more with perennials, perennial grasses, shrubs and trees integrated as a system with annuals. My light bulb moment was when I read J. Russell Smith’s Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. And so I read that back in 1979, just as I was starting my graduate work and I had been a forestry undergrad and I was interested in tree genetics and he was talking about these institutes of hill culture to improve trees like oak and hickory and chestnut and honey locust, et cetera, for human and livestock food. So really, I’ve been very fortunate since I’ve been at University of Missouri to actually begin to do that. So 20-years ago when we started with the chestnut work, there were really no improved or tested chestnut cultivated varieties in our region. And now we’ve got that database. So at least within our geographic area, people are starting to pick up and plant these grafted varieties and doing very well. Problem is, unless we have all of our universities collaborating, I don’t know if it’s going to work in West Virginia or Michigan or Northern Iowa or Northeast Oklahoma. Because when you find something that’s genetically correct for an area, it probably doesn’t hold for more than a couple hundred miles in any direction. That may be less.
So you need a lot of collaboration. But we’ve got one of the anchors there and your work with silvopasture and pork, something we’re very interested in silvopasture in Missouri. Our Missouri Department of Conservation likes to work with us, but when we talk about doing anything in the woods, and I’m a forester, so I know that foresters have two golden rules. One: smokey the bear. Don’t play with matches in the forest. And two: cordon off the woods from all the livestock. And here we’re saying, “Well, if you do it in a carefully managed, integrated, rotational grazing system and use pieces of the woods as paddocks to your open pasture system, it can be really great.” But you got to manage, you’ve got to do exactly what you did, which is go in and manage the canopy to thin to the best trees. You’re going to get a lot more light in there. You’re going to get a lot more growth on the trees, create that understory opportunity to put in forages and mast. But it’s all management. And so the fear is that landowners are going to say, “Oh, now they’re saying we can run cattle in the woods and so we’re gonna ruin it.” Well, they’re ruining it now, right? Most of our rural livestock, rural forest landowners, grazers have a small number of head and they turn their livestock loose all year round in their pastures and their woods and there’s no management. So this is a step in the right direction. We’d like to work with people who are already familiar with managed, intensive rotational grazing. And all we’re trying to do is say, “Well, look into your woods and add some paddocks along the edges. In the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter, where would you rather be? In the protection. Where would the livestock rather be? In the protection.” So it stretches to season, it’s more ecologically balanced and you get more yield and more volume.
Chuck Talbot: We noticed that stilt grass, Japanese Stilt Grass was a real issue. And when I turned those pigs in there in August, that stilt grass is almost thigh high. And within two to three weeks it’s down. I count on that every year. And a better option would be to turn them in there before it goes to seed. There’s been very positive attitudes in terms of the positive influence of pigs in the woods. We haven’t seen any girdling, but they’re only in there six weeks. And there’s, you know, there’s a lot in those woods–70 acres–besides acorns. There’s slow moving turtles. I see them turned over and they have that for an appetizer, I’m sure. But for the most part they’re breaking down logs with bugs in it.
Mike Gold: Yeah, as long as there’s a food source, then they’re not going to root and plow your forest floor, which is bad.
Chuck Talbot: Right. And I haven’t seen really any of that. I see them, like I say, around rotting trees and then, you know, getting the grubs out of it.
Mike Gold: One of the issues that we’re always interested in agroforestry is adaption. So the fact that you’ve got your home place and your own wealth of experience now over many years, how have you found, have you put on workshops, you have landowners picking up their own version of your work and how does that go?
Chuck Talbot: Well, there’s still obstacles in the way and one of them is processing. It takes two years, three years by the time you breed the animal until the time that it’s sold. It cures for two years, particularly the hams. And we use a salt curer. It’s much like the Spanish hams and the prosciuttos. How does it compare? It’s a whole different area, but it’s an incredible taste.
Mike Gold: So when you work with venders, are you trying to have them go from raising the livestock, the pigs in the silvopasture system, all the way to have them do all the value-added themselves?
Chuck Talbot: No, no. That’s the problem is…
Mike Gold: So is there a bottleneck on just who’s going to, you know, just to have butchers?
Chuck Talbot: It’s not butchers. It’s a longterm curing, you know, a good processing plan. I mean, everything we do to socialize those animals so that they come like dogs when we call them, but a processor can ruin everything in five minutes with a bad kill. And we’ve had issues. We’ve had issues with electric prods that we’ve had to reject our hams. And so we take our pigs to Kentucky and they are cured there, they’re process and cured there. And right now it’s a bottleneck in terms of processing and curing it.
Mike Gold: So what is the proper way to terminate a pig so that it’s ready for processing? Do you have to do like the equivalent of a kosher kill or a halal kill, that kind of kill or?
Chuck Talbot: Well, Temple Grandin, who wrote the book literally on animal welfare, you know, she says that a good kill renders the animal senseless. And so, even if you go out and kill a hog or if I do in a pen, you need to make sure that it’s still, and you get it right in the forehead. And when it drops immediately, then you know that it’s a good kill. And with the ones that aren’t, the missed, the wrong shot and they run around the pen, then you end up with meat that is basically worthless.
Mike Gold: That’s critical.
Chuck Talbot: The meat that you see in the stores that have all the water around it and that are for sale, you know, reduced. Don’t buy that, except maybe for the dogs. And that’s typically the reason, the adrenaline that breaks down the membranes and you lose all your flavor, you lose everything. The Spanish euthanize their pigs in a CO2, kinda like a ferris wheel. And by the time they come out, they’re unconscious and then they just cut the throat. They’re asleep essentially. And there’s no stress with that.
Mike Gold: So assuming you can iron out the processing bottlenecks, do you see that there could be a whole bunch of landowners that would pick up on this as an alternative, you know, way to make money on their farms to do this silvopastured, high-end pork product?
Chuck Talbot: Hopefully, I mean, but it’s not for the faint of heart. You know, it’s checking on the fences every day. It’s calling, it’s going back, you know. It’ll take an hour to go look for the pigs at times. And I’ve enjoyed that. It’s in the fall. It’s beautiful. You’re back there and all the colors and it’s really an exciting time, but it’s a lot of responsibility. Livestock owners get a lot of problems because they neglect the animals.
Mike Gold: When we think about agroforestry, we are thinking about deliberate integration, trees, shrubs, crops. But basically these are in managed, pretty much intensive systems. So when you do agroforestry, it’s not a walkaway. It’s not, you’re planted and you come back in three months, you turn them loose, the livestock, and come back in three months. This is an ongoing active management. So if that’s not the kind of thing folks are interested in doing, agroforestry is probably not for them.
Chuck Talbot: No. And It should not be.
Mike Gold: And even when it comes to alley cropping, if you want to have winter wheat under your chestnut, trees, there are still things you got to be doing all throughout the season. It just not a walkaway.
Chuck Talbot: Right.
Mike Gold: And then harvest time, as many of us know, is a daily basis. Because when chestnuts fall, they’re very high in moisture content. They need to get into refrigeration immediately. So basically you’re out harvesting every single day from the time the first cultivar is dropping it’s nuts to the end. So in most of these practices, there’s a lot of work ongoing. And I do think that a lot of young farmers are particularly interested in and willing to do a smaller scale, more intensive kind of integrated multi-stacked enterprise practice rather than just do a monoculture of corn or soybeans.
Chuck Talbot: Like you mentioned earlier, I’ve had a lot of people call me to say, you know, “Can I take the mast to the pigs?” And I said, “Of course you can.” And that may, you know, how that affects the meat. You know, there’s a lot of exercise involved, a lot of muscle development going up over this ridge and down the next ridge and hearing some acorns drop over here and you’ll see them run to it.
Mike Gold: Or if you actually broke your woodlands into relatively small paddocks and you’re really never going to chase them down because you’re moving them from paddock to paddock to paddock. And so you know exactly where they are.
Chuck Talbot: But you turned them into a paddock that didn’t have a mast fall, you know. And then, it’s better to let them–to me, you know, that’s probably a better management system and watering would have to be an issue. And there’s a lot of other mass. There’s persimmons. There’s pawpaw. That amazed me. One day I saw this pig holding onto a grapevine and it was just shaking it and shaking it and shaking it. And it was trying to get the pawpaws to drop so it would eat it. And it was just fascinating how smart pigs are. And you mentioned chasing the pigs in the woods. You’d never chase a pig. You call a pig and you heard that. You’ll never catch a pig, particularly in the woods. And, and particularly when they’re smaller, too. You always want “here comes Chuck, somethings good is gonna happen. Must be food.” And sometimes, you know, when it’s time to harvest them, we’ll have a separate little gate to catch them in and we’ll start feeding them in there, you know, two or three days. The first day: I’m not sure about this. And then just kind of put some more feed in there and then you close it and you can get them out. But you’ve got to think ahead when you want these animals.
Mike Gold: Yeah. What comes to mind immediately, for example, would be chestnuts or acorns from oaks or hickory nuts or walnuts. But the potential to have them feed on Persimmons and pawpaws that just that’s much more diversity. I don’t know what that does to the meat.
Chuck Talbot: Pretty good. It’s got to help. What has been the most important progress you’ve seen in agroforestry in recent years?
Mike Gold: Having the benefit of a couple of decades of hindsight, like you do, that really have been a lot of pieces that need to come together for agroforestry or any of the particular agroforestry practices like silvopasture or alley cropping to begin to get traction with landowners. So one of the basic questions has been just on the research side. So what is the right breed of pig? What is the right cultivar of chestnut? What is the right spacing? How do you, how do you put the intercrop in so that both the tree and the crop do well? So the science behind the practice, it’s just been developed in the last couple of decades and a lot of that is now beginning to be known. So we’re beginning to get some confidence there. We’re also getting financial information because the farmer says, “Oh, that really looks good, but where’s the bottom line?” So we’re developing these Excel-based spreadsheet tools so that the landowner can play with scenarios and see what seems to be best for them. So you need the basic science, you need the financial side, you need a lot of training programs for landowners. And you also, once you get a few key landowners on board, then you need landowner-to-landowner, farmer-to-farmer exchange. And that’s where you finally get the real takeoff point because it’s great for them to see what we do on our research farms and to listen to us and say, “Your science is good. Your guidebooks are good. But Farmer Jane over there is doing it. And when I talked to her, she comes up with the real nuance and it’s real. And she talks about the markets and she’s talking about all the problems and all the failures.” And so now we’ve reached a point where all those, what I call “the knowledge network” is beginning to frame itself.
A lot of young people are involved, nongovernmental organizations. We have one in us in central states called, The Savannah Institute. So their purpose is to work with landowners to take these practices in this knowledge and get it on the ground. This didn’t exist 10 years ago, but we didn’t have a lot of the science and we didn’t have a lot of these other things. So putting all the pieces together, I’m beginning to see take off. It’s still, there’s still more to go, but I’m beginning, you know, I can see it. It’s happening. Many more alternative crop producers, a lot more perennials in the landscape. Huge interest in silvopasture. Sheep, pigs, cattle, chickens pasture-raised and the market supports it much more than commodity prices. So all of these things are helping to drive this forward.
Chuck Talbot: I’d love to have you come and visit our farm.
Mike Gold: And we have to make acorns to share with you, too.
Mallory Daily: That’s a wrap for this week’s episode. And you heard it first, folks. Never chase a pig. If you’d like to learn more about pork farmer Chuck Talbott and agroforestry expert Mike Gold, take a look at our show notes where we have links to their projects. This show was produced in The Pod at KOPN 89.5 FM in beautiful downtown Columbia, MO. Tim Pilcher is our producer, and I’m your host Mallory Daily. You can subscribe to our show on your favorite podcast platform, like iTunes or Stitcher. We’re releasing two new shows each month. Our Farms, Our Future is presented by SARE – the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. SARE invests in groundbreaking research and education projects in sustainable agriculture. Grants are available to producers, scientists, educators, graduate students and others in the agricultural community. Learn more at sare.org. SARE is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this recording are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect the view of the USDA or SARE. Come back for our next episode! Thank you for listening.
Table of Contents
- Land-based Livelihood
- Everybody Eats
- Water Challenges
- Creative Succession Planning
- Farming as Heritage
- The Early Years and Lasting Impact
- Building Community in Rural America
- Quality of Life in Farming Communities
- Maintaining Values While Making a Profit
- Finding a Better Way: Engineering On The Farm
- Making A Difference: Teaching Sustainability
- Production on Pasture
- Accessible Food Systems
- The Heart of Our Farms
- Serving Our Land: Veterans in Agriculture
- The Fight for Equal Rights in Agriculture
- Sustainable Agriculture: Nourishing Communities
- Sustainability on the Farm
- Advocating for Sustainable Agriculture
- Finding a Catalyst for Change in Agriculture
- Bridging the Rural-Urban Divide
- Women in Agriculture
- Protecting Our Pollinators
- Building Resilience
- Why On Farm Research Matters