OwlTail

Cover image of Dirt Rich
Arts
Education
Food
How To

Dirt Rich

Updated 1 day ago

Arts
Education
Food
How To
Read more

Seasonal conversations on food and farming.Produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. www.sfa-mn.org

Read more

Seasonal conversations on food and farming.Produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota. www.sfa-mn.org

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

Cover image of Dirt Rich

Dirt Rich

Latest release on Jan 20, 2021

Best weekly hand curated episodes for learning

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 1 day ago

Warning: This podcast data isn't working.

This means that the episode rankings aren't working properly. Please revisit us at a later time to get the best episodes of this podcast!

Rank #1: 22: Matchmaking for Livestock & Land

Podcast cover
Read more

“I think the future of farming looks more collaborative. It looks like working together, and it’s about stacking enterprises.” Meghan Filbert of Practical Farmers of Iowa (and a beginning farmer to boot) joins Dirt Rich to talk about an online tool facilitating just that. 

Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) is a nonprofit in Ames, Iowa with a mission to equip farmers to build more resilient farms and communities. They believe that farmers learn best from other farmers, so it’s no surprise that the online platform they helped create brings farmers together.

The Midwest Grazing Exchange is billed as “a matchmaking website for livestock and land.” Farmers in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin can use the website to connect with folks looking for rural or urban land to graze their livestock on and vice versa. “It’s like Tinder for cows,” Meghan quips. 

There isn’t a lot of livestock on the land in Minnesota, so the website creates a great opportunity for beginning farmers and row crop farmers to partner and both reap the economic benefits. For host and farmer Jared Luhman, there’s definitely a draw. “Every day that my cattle are grazing is a day that I’m not feeding hay, and that day that I’m not feeding hay is saving me quite a bit of money. For me as a livestock producer, if I can find somewhere to graze my cattle on somebody else’s land for cheaper than I can feed it at my own farm, then I’m going to do it.” This matchmaking tool can also be an asset to beginning farmers in starting a custom grazing business.

In addition to the soil health benefits that come along with properly managed grazing, there’s even solid potential for an income stream for participating landowners. Meghan adds that “if you plant cover crops as a row crop producer, we know that by grazing those cover crops that is a way that you’re going to benefit economically in the short term. Within the same year...you can turn a profit and then some.” 

The Midwest Grazing Exchange website also includes other resources to help farmers make these grazing partnerships, such as templates for leases and agreements. In the episode, Meghan and Jared also have some pointers in figuring out your rate, and Meghan does a basic walkthrough on how to use the website and start finding opportunities in your area. If you’re looking to extend your grazing season, save some money, make some money, or improve your soil health with grazing--give the Midwest Grazing Exchange a gander!

Jared Luhman, SFA Soil Health LeadMeghan Filbert, Practical Farmers of Iowa Livestock Program Managermeghan@practicalfarmers.org (515) 232-5661 Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

Jan 20 2021

30mins

Play

Rank #2: 21: Seed Saving & Collectives

Podcast cover
Read more

As we begin a new year and a new season of Dirt Rich, we thought it would be fitting to start with seeds. Zachary Paige farms and operates North Circle Seeds in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. North Circle Seeds is newly certified organic and is committed to creating an ecologically diverse, equitable, and inclusive food system.

A deep interest in seeds and seed saving sparked for Zachary about eight years ago after working on farms and noticing that seed saving was not necessarily a part of many operations who otherwise used sustainable practices. He pursued a variety of seed saving and sustainable food production education opportunities, including a master’s degree plant breeding. After arriving in Minnesota, he found a home with fellow growers and seed savers. He also worked with the White Earth Land Recovery Project, an experience that highlighted the value of community and diversity in seed saving. To him, “the magic happens” when folks meet up, sit in a circle, and share what they’re working on and learning.

Drawing on his experiences and knowledge passed on from Native seed keepers and other Minnesota growers, he started North Circle Seeds as a company and seed collective in 2019. In our conversation, Zachary shares his passion for seed saving: the biology and genetics, the camaraderie, the curiosity and constant learning, the ecological value, and the good food that can come from it. He also offers advice for aspiring seed savers. “It’s a glass half-full kind of thing to get into.”

Reach out to Zachary and get involved in North Circle Seeds at

https://northcircleseeds.com.  He loves questions! And, check out the Seed Stories podcast.

Katie Feterl, SFA Communications Director

Zachary Paige, North Circle Seeds and SFA Member

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

Jan 06 2021

46mins

Play

Similar Podcasts

Regenerative Agriculture Podcast

Field Work

Rank #3: 20: That's a Wrap!

Podcast cover
Read more

After nineteen episodes, we’ve wrapped up the first season of Dirt Rich and are preparing for the next. Thank you for listening! It has truly been a joy to have and share these conversations on food and farming with you. Season two of Dirt Rich will include conversations on seed saving, silvopasture, the Midwest Grazing Exchange, and more--so stay tuned! Check your podcast feeds on January 6, 2021 for the next episode.  In the meantime, if you’d like to support this ad-free series and the Sustainable Farming Association’s other programs, consider making a tax-deductible year-end gift. Every donation is honored with an annual membership to SFA. SFA’s Annual Conference (to be held virtually Feb. 8-13, 2021) will be FREE for all members, making it a really great time to join. We’ve got sessions on the economics of silvopasture, agriculture in the metro, plenaries on meat processing with MN Ag Commissioner Thom Petersen and Attorney General Keith Ellison, and plenty more planned. Check out the full schedule, details, and registration on the SFA website.

We’d love to hear what you think. Please leave us a rating & review wherever you listen! You can also submit your feedback and suggestions in our virtual comment box. Until next time--have a happy and safe holiday season! We’ll talk soon. Katie Feterl, SFA Communications DirectorJared Luhman, SFA Soil Health Lead Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

Dec 23 2020

1min

Play

Rank #4: 19: Family Dairies & Apprenticeships

Podcast cover
Read more

“My hope for dairy in the future...is trying to keep these small family farms alive.”

Angie Walter runs an organic, grazing dairy farm with her family in central Minnesota. The family of four raises 100 Norwegian Red, Red Holstein, and Guernsey crosses on 370 acres. Angie is also the Central Minnesota Education Coordinator for the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, which links current and aspiring dairy farmers to support the transfer of knowledge and skills (and sometimes even farms) to the budding generation of dairy farmers. In today’s episode, she shares her experiences in dairy, as a woman in agriculture, and with apprentices.

DGA is actually the first formal agricultural apprenticeship in the US, and there are real benefits for both masters and apprentices who participate. Masters get the value of having skilled, invested labor on their farm, and build a relationship with someone who could be a candidate for potential farm transfer. Apprentices get to develop day-to-day skills and learn from a practicing farmer who can share their past experiences and work through challenges together in real time.

The DGA program can be a hands-on, on-the-job complement to a college program, but is certainly not limited to students. An internship or apprenticeship can be valuable for those considering a career change, and DGA offers a program for veterans.

The “grazing” piece of DGA is not to be ignored. DGA believes that grazing is essential because of the health benefits to the animals, farmer, and soils. Grazing also reduces the amount of off-farm inputs, builds farm profitability, and is beneficial to water resources. The Walters concur--their family farm has been grazed since the 1980s.

Before officially working for DGA, Angie and her husband joined the program as master graziers. They consider their first apprentice a lifelong friend, and continue to keep in touch after he finished his apprenticeship. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but they all learned from their time together--the apprentice introduced new projects to the Walter’s farm, too.

Angie didn’t grow up farming, and finds that many DGA apprentices didn’t either. Regardless, they can still find success with the skills and relationships they develop through their apprenticeships: “It’s really exciting just to see these dreams come true for people, it’s amazing to be a part of it.” This farmer-to-farmer format builds support within the farming community, not only in terms of education and networking, but also emotionally. “A lot of times we think of farming just as physically, but there’s a very big emotional piece there too. You need to have support from people around you,” she says.

Dairy has been a rewarding career for Angie: the family farm lifestyle, seeing a calf grow, and helping new dairy farmers achieve their goals. She hopes to see more women find their place in agriculture, and to see more family farms prosper in the future. “It’s really good to give back. It’s just a good feeling in knowing that we can help someone else who didn’t have the same opportunity.”

Katie Feterl, SFA Communications Director

Angie Walter, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Central Minnesota Education Coordinator, angie@sfa-mn.org

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

Resources:

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship

Angie’s Blog Archive & SFA/DGA Events

Dirt Rich: Beginning Farmer Finance episode

Dec 09 2020

24mins

Play

Most Popular Podcasts

The Joe Rogan Experience

TED Talks Daily

The Tim Ferriss Show

The Daily

Stuff You Should Know

Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

Rank #5: 18: Beginning Farmer Finance

Podcast cover
Read more

“Agriculture is a capital intensive industry, regardless of the margins,” says Paul Peterson, farmer and Farm Loan Manager for the Farm Service Agency. For a farmer just starting out, financing a business can be daunting, especially for young folks. Today, Jared Luhman discusses financing options for other young and beginning farmers like himself with Paul Peterson and Chris Fitzloff, a Financial Officer for Compeer Financial. 

A lack of net worth, collateral cash, and experience are common barriers for beginning farmers in financing an agribusiness. Paul and Chris share some recommendations for overcoming these challenges, including bartering labor for equipment sharing with established farmers, doing custom work to reduce purchase costs, and getting organized and knowledgeable on your financials and business plan. There are also programs specifically available to beginning farmers, such as Compeer’s “Groundbreaker Program” and loans focused on character, rather than a stellar credit score. 

Wherever you’re starting from, both Paul and Chris emphasize the importance of being organized, coming with a plan, and demonstrating a willingness to learn when approaching lenders. Don’t hesitate to reach out, either. Even if you don’t initially qualify, you’ll be advised on what you need to do to get there. As Paul says, “If farming’s your dream, we want to help you accomplish that.”

Jared Luhman, SFA Soil Health Lead

Chris Fitzloff, Financial Officer, Compeer Financial

Paul Peterson, Farm Loan Manager, Farm Service Agency (Mankato)

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

Additional Resources:

SFA Beginning Farmer Resources

USDA Support for Ag in the Metro Presentation

Nov 25 2020

34mins

Play

Rank #6: 17: Wintering Cattle Roundtable

Podcast cover
Read more

Winter can be the most expensive time to own a cow in the Midwest. As the season changes, five of our staff who also raise beef and dairy cows gathered to share the ways that they’ve found to reduce the cost (and labor) of wintering cattle on their unique operations. All five live in different parts of Minnesota and run pasture-based farms, some raising organic dairy, some grass-fed or grass-finished beef.

While there’s no one-size fits all management style to wintering livestock, the team discusses a variety of practices that have worked for them, including bale grazing, stockpiling perennial pasture to extend the grazing season, and the timing of calving. They’ve also found benefits extending beyond the cost savings of quality winter feed: Doug Voss finds that by bale grazing, he also saves on labor and improves the health of his herd. And farmers certainly don’t need to outwinter their cattle 100% of the time to start seeing the benefits--just making a few changes can show cost savings, a boost to herd health, and improvements in soil biology.

Jared Luhman, SFA Soil Health Lead

Angie Walter, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Central Minnesota Education Coordinator

Doug Voss, SFA Grazing Lead

Tyler Carlson, SFA Silvopasture & Agroforestry Lead

Kent Solberg, SFA Senior Technical Advisor

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

Nov 11 2020

55mins

Play

Rank #7: 16: Pastured Turkeys

Podcast cover
Read more

Kathy Zeman pasture-raises a veritable menagerie: goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, geese, turkeys, broilers, hens, meat rabbits, and honeybees graze her twenty acres at Simple Harvest Farm Organics. She grew up farming, and first got started on poultry with her brother for a 4-H project. “Nick’s Eggs” continues today, available at the Just Food Co-op in Northfield. 

The array of animals she raises now ensures she never has to buy fertilizer--the manure production keeps pastures lush, and is a piece of her vision of resiliency and being self-sustaining. In fact, Kathy says that the grass actually grows back thicker and healthier behind a well-paced turkey tractor. Her Bourbon Red and Broad Breasted White turkeys happily graze in cattle panel hoop tractors, enjoying fresh grass once or twice a day safe from predators.

Kathy built her farm business on her values. She’s certified organic, and raises a heritage breed in part to keep the genetic diversity going. They’re “spendy,” but her customers are willing to pay for that fresher turkey flavor and the value of the environmental stewardship that the birds provide. “I always tell people when they buy from us, they’re really protecting these 20 acres. These little 20 acres on this planet are going to be no soil erosion, no water pollution, we’re not building antibiotic-resisting bacteria. That’s what they’re supporting.”

In addition to farming, Kathy Zeman is also the executive director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association. That work aligns with her values, too. MFMA has been able to advance policy important to local foods. She describes farmers markets as the place “where community eats and meets.” They shorten food miles and keep money circulating locally. The community of people surrounding farmers markets are her crowd, too--resilient, boots-on-the-ground folks.

Host Jared Luhman’s conversation with Kathy Zeman naturally branches out from pastured turkey production and into thoughts about farm/land/life sustainability, pricing and food access, and the need for more BIPOC voices at the agricultural table. Listen in for comical stories, seasoned advice, and reflections on topics that are top-of-mind for many growers these days.

Kathy Zeman, Simple Harvest Farm Organics, Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association

Jared Luhman, Soil Health Lead of SFA

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota.

Oct 28 2020

42mins

Play

Rank #8: 15: The Value of Pasture Plant Diversity

Podcast cover
Read more

“We want a vast array of solar collectors out there.” Kent Solberg and Doug Voss are striving to get as much plant diversity in their pastures as possible. The benefits for animal performance, soil microbes, profitability, resiliency, and the function of the ecosystem as a whole are exponential. 

Prairielands can have upwards of 150 varieties of plants, with a healthy balance of all three plant functional groups: grasses, forbs, and legumes. A dream pasture! This range of plant life helps stimulate soil microbe populations and mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi are tied to only certain species of plants, and play an important role in making minerals and nutrients plant-available.

Different plants offer different benefits at different times. Kent says that if given the opportunity, grazing animals will select from 30-75 different plant species for their meal. They are going after the unique phytochemicals that they need, which are produced by a variety of different plant species. Having a diverse array of plants available gives animals the ability to select exactly what they need at that time, and boosts their performance, nutrition, and health. Additionally, better animal performance means more nutrient-dense food for us as eaters. Kent and Doug also note that many issues in the field disappear and there are much fewer vet visits when farmers build pasture plant diversity--saving time and money.

Grazing management is also a key part of encouraging plant diversity. Adjusting rest periods and stock density can produce the results you’re looking for without dropping a lot of money. Proper grazing management can create the environment to tap into the latent seed bank. Kent also describes in the episode how frost (or stomp) seeding, which can be done in the late fall in addition to the spring, and no-till techniques can help expand the diversity of the pasture. Doug notes that grazing is not only instinctive, it is a learned behavior as well. If animals haven’t grazed before, that will need to be factored into the management plan.

Overall, plant diversity builds health and resiliency. As the soil biology flourishes, the soil aggregate makes the land less vulnerable to heavy rainfall events, improves water quality downstream and for your animals, and reduces the risk of nutrient runoff. Being able to select from a wide variety of plants improves animal health, nutrition, and boosts performance, creating more nutrient-dense food and reducing vet visits. Resilient land and animals boosts financial resiliency. The benefits continue to ripple out from what can be relatively simple changes, and Kent & Doug give advice on where to start.

Kent’s Seed Suggestions for Building Plant Diversity:TimothyClovers, particularly red cloverAlfalfaAdding a new variety of a species that’s already present

Doug Voss, SFA Grazing Lead, Voss Farms

Kent Solberg, SFA Senior Technical Advisor, Seven Pines Farm & Fence

Katie Feterl, SFA Communications Director

Reach out to Kent, Doug, Katie or any other member of the SFA team here. SFA has a variety of resources on soil health and grazing available on our website.

Suggestions, comments? Drop us a line.

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.

Oct 14 2020

37mins

Play

Rank #9: 14: Renovation Ideas for Poorly Performing Pasture

Podcast cover
Read more

Kent Solberg has yet to see a piece of land that can’t be renovated, even an old gravel pit. With the right tools, vision, and management system, Kent Solberg and Doug Voss believe that we can almost always make a piece of land more productive.

To get started they recommend “looking at the entire context” of the particular pasture, including physical characteristics like soil type, slope, and aspect, as well as the history of the land that shaped it into what you’re seeing today like rainfall events, cattle class, and grazing duration. Once what you want to work on is identified, using the resources you already have and targeting the “low-hanging fruit” is a great place to start. Oftentimes, changing management practices such as stock density and grazing periods is the cheapest way to improve pasture performance, and you can see changes relatively quickly.

It’s important to remember that conditions change, so being adaptable is critical. There isn’t a silver bullet kind of recipe that will work every time. That’s why it’s important to have a long term vision, understand carbon cycling and rest & recovery periods, and to start small. Here are just a few tools that you might use:

-Animal diversity in pasture

-Bale grazing

-Systematic outwintering (keep an eye out for a future episode on this)

-Long rest/recovery periods

-High stock density grazing

Doug Voss - SFA Grazing Lead, Voss Farms

Kent Solberg - SFA Senior Technical Advisor, Seven Pines Farm and Fence

Katie Feterl - SFA Communications Director

Reach out to Kent, Doug, Katie or any other member of the SFA team here. SFA has a variety of resources on soil health and grazing available on our website.

Suggestions, comments? Drop us a line.

Dirt Rich is produced by the Sustainable Farming Association.

Sep 30 2020

24mins

Play

Rank #10: 13: Planting Minnesota Garlic

Podcast cover
Read more

“Minnesotans don’t like that garlic. They don’t eat that spicy stuff, dontcha know?” Jerry and Sunny and their sold-out-by-August harvest beg to differ!

Jerry Ford and Sunny Ruthchild  are longtime friends in Minnesota garlic and organic farming. Sunny runs Merryweather Gardens near Walnut Grove, raising garlic, poultry, vegetables, and pigs who are happy to be the clean-up crew for her orchard. Jerry raises replacement dairy heifers, grass-fed beef, and garlic with his family at Living Song Farm near Howard Lake.

Before they get back out there to plant next year’s garlic crop, they’re taking some time to compare notes and philosophies as they prepare for the next season and climate unknowns. They get into:

  • Site Selection - Jerry’s land is hilly, Sunny’s land is flat. They both make it work.
  • Soil Prep - “If you need to add chemicals to the soil, you need a different site.”
  • Timing of planting
  • Seed garlic and varietal selection - Seed garlic grown in Minnesota does well in Minnesota.
  • First-time growers & gardeners - Porcelain varieties are a great place to start
  • Dip treatments - Nah.
  • Their agriculture philosophies
  • Mulching
  • Being adaptable to change in markets and climate

Garlic is a high-value, premium crop here in Minnesota. As Sunny says, “the truth is, Minnesota can grow garlic. And the other truth is, people in Minnesota love good garlic, don’t let anybody tell you anything else.”

Jerry Ford - Living Song Farm, SFA Network Coordinator

Sunny Ruthchild - Merryweather Farm

Katie Feterl - SFA Communications Director

Resources:

Minnesota Premium Garlic Project

Minnesota Garlic Festival & Virtual Directory

Dirt Rich Episode 6: Harvesting Minnesota Garlic

SFA Garlic Videos

Sep 16 2020

58mins

Play