The Foodie Farmer- Jenny Schmidt and Her Husband Hans.

The Schmidt’s are extremely active in the farm industry as advocates for agriculture in general and are focused on trying to dispel some of the myths they see as villainizing family farms and larger farm enterprises.

Visit Jenny’s Facebook page and her blog The Foodie Farmer.

This is a fascinating conversation with the owners of an extremely large farm and believe me, it’s all about family. I think they think just like I do with just some extra zeros on the ends of their numbers.

A Traditional Seedsman- Steve Freeman

I visited several food industry people on the Eastern Shore of Maryland this spring. This is my conversation with Steve Freeman a traditional seedsman who supplies his farmer clients with seeds and service. This is an interesting discussion about the practical aspects of supplying seeds and the seed industry. A big takeaway from this is that selling GMO seed isn’t always easy. This episode is brought to you by the generous support of Technology Management Phoenixville, Pa.

Fruit Geeks- Lisa Kershner from North Star Orchard

Recently I talked with Lisa Kershner from North Star Orchard in Cochranville, Pa.
North Star is synonymous with fruit and producer only farmers markets in the Philadelphia area.

They seem to be at all the best, busiest markets.
Lisa and her husband Ike have grown their orchard business along with the growth in the local food movement.
North Star is no hobby farm; it’s the real deal.

This is an innovative business. They aren’t afraid to try new things; they are excellent marketers and they aren’t afraid to evolve as the local food industry changes.

This episode is brought to you with the generous support of Technology Management, Phoenixville, PA.
Email: support@tekmgmt.com or call 484-393-4843

 

Reminiscing about The Family Farm

Today my cousin David Runk joins me to reminisce about the family farm. My mom grew up on the farm that David grew up on. We talk about David’s childhood and the farm stories he remembers about the good old days.

Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture- The Start of My Journey to Understand

Jon Entine from the Genetic Literacy Project joins me today to discuss his decidedly pro- point of view on GMO (genetically modified organism) seed and farming. This topic tends to bring strong emotional reactions no matter what side of the argument you are on. According to the USDA over 75% of corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the USA is GMO and the USA accounts for over half of the global production in acres.

It is quite difficult to to get unbiased, trustworthy information about this controversial topic. The extremes seem to rule the information on the internet. The World Health Organization appears to take a fairly centrist point of view, recognizing that there have been no studies to overtly discredit the safety of GMO agriculture yet at the same time acknowledging there could be potential problems. They also have recommended protocols for the companies engaged in the modification process.

As for me, I’m still not entirely sure what I believe on the subject. I have made what I consider the safest choice for now I LIVE IT; I own and opperate a USDA Certified Organic vegetable farm. No GMO seed is allowed.

This episode is the beginning of my journey to talk with multiple people with multiple points of view about the subject of GMO. At some point I’m going to form a definitive opinion.

Each person must make their own choice though and I recognize as a reasonable person, that the arguments for and against are not clear. The unintended consequences that are potentially harmful to the environment appear to be the biggest risks from my point of view. Uncontrolled pollination, what the WHO calls “outcrossing” seems to be a genuine issue. The potential effects of outcrossing or pollen drift, are highlighted in the fight by Organic farmers to prevent contamination by cross pollination.

In another episode I will talk with an anti-GMO person and we’ll get their point of view.

The food industry is fascinating. Thanks for listening to JACK’S FARM RADIO please subscribe at iTunes.

 

Tianna Dupont- Co-op Extension Service

Tianna Dupont of the Penn State Cooperative Extension joins me on this episode for a fun and informative conversation.

The Coop Extension Service plays an integral role in supporting agriculture throughout the United States. If you’re a farmer and you have a problem or question, the extension is a great resource. Folks like Tianna are  the behind the scenes people who make agg. hum.

In this episode of JACK’S FARM RADIO you get a lesson in some of the basic terms, trends and issues of agriculture. Tianna is articulate, thoughtful and quite objective. Listen carefully as she characterizes the word, sustainable, as existing in both the organic and the conventional agricultural paradigms. I think that way of looking at the word makes sense.

As an eater, ultimately, it’s your choice of food that drives the methods that food producers use. Supply follows demand. At the same time food producers, as business people, must constantly strive to maintain and reduce the costs of production. This dance between consumers and producers leads to the innovations we see in agricultural production. The practices and concepts of Integrated Pest Management and No Till are terrific examples of the both the benefits and complex outcomes that drive the agg research – training cycle. While pesticide use has dropped dramatically under the no till concept; the use of Genetically Modified Seed has played a major part in it’s success as a production method.

It may surprise you just how much firepower in terms of people and money are behind the agricultural industry in the United States. There are a ton of federal, state and local programs that are available to farmers at little or no cost to help them stay in business. While this episode does not dwell on them’ here’s a random sampling of the help available to the agg. industry.

The most publicized and as a result, controversial program, is direct farm subsidies.  These subsidies are basically a form of insurance that are pegged to the risk of reduced yield or entire loss of a crop due to weather. Other federally funded programs are research based S.A.R.E. grants, Rural Development grants and grants and loans through the Farm Service Agency’s New Farmer and Rancher program. 

Plus there’s money and services to protect wet lands, build fences, heck even offset costs of greenhouses. Even farmland preservation is, quite frankly, a subsidy of sorts. The support and research that goes into food production is monumental.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide your position on what type and how much help the agricultural industry needs.
Just remember, agriculture is 1% of GDP in the US as of 2011.

I mentioned Tim Stark on the podcast and here’s a link to his book: [amazon text=Heirloom: Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer&asin=B005UVUXKG].

Thank you Tin Bird Choir for my intro and outro music. You can subscribe to JACKS FARM RADIO on i Tunes and please rate the show when you do.