A Sense of Humus – Educating, Celebrating and Advocating
A podcast with Regenerative Farmers and Educators – Kate Spry and Charlotte Drinnan
Celia Cavanagh gives us a quick SOIL 101 as she sets up the podcast conversation with two courageous women – both traditional turned regenerative farmers and both educators. And both passionate about soil.
Soil – What is it? How have we cultivated it? And how we’ve used and abused it, releasing its rich organic carbon content into the atmosphere to add to emissions.
Kate Spry and Charlotte Drinnan tell us how they are recapturing that carbon. How to do so to regenerate our depleted soils. And how they are doing it in practice on their land. And in sharing their stories how they are changing the curriculum (The Soil Story) to teach ag students and other farmers about it.
The Outcome: Transforming farming into a practice and sharing it as a science that once again supports the soil to act as a superb carbon sink. In this way they are regenerating their own properties from bare dust and dirt or weed infestations to richer paddocks with diverse plants, teeming in bird life.
As they help protect the planet and grow crops – much to our surprise – with livestock that actually helps the soil get rich again.
Kate was inspired by The Soil Story – Discovering it back in 2015 she knows that healthy soils foster healthy humans. Inspired by the Soil Story Kate developed an Australian module of Kiss the Ground. It took courage – she went to her supervisor when teaching in her town of Tamworth NSW back in 2016/7 and said she couldn’t teach the existing curriculum – that we would save the planet by getting rid of all livestock. She knew she would be teaching a lie.
Kate was given permission to ‘teach what she knew’ and she did. She captured what she was doing – building on the shoulders of some phenomenal Australians before her including Charles Massy and Bruce Pascoe and others – and turned her course into a curriculum. She was supported to launch it in February 2018 see link. It subsequently spread like a virus – picked up by 50 schools in the first few weeks. The curriculum is now online and accessed internationally!
Think: Feel: Do: Kate Spry wants us to:
• Think: Regeneratively, not sustainably, maintaining the status quo but rejuvenating and rehabilitating to the land. ‘It’s not too late!’
• Feel: Get out into the soil and feel it.
o Is it compacted? Is it friable? What’s happening to it? Start analysing it.
• Do: Get amongst it and get into it. Start growing some veggies.
Influenced by Kate’s work, Charlotte, teaches both music and regenerative agriculture at Greater Shepparton Secondary College in Shepparton, Victoria – a very large secondary college with 2300 students. Kate is a connector. Hailing from a Tasmanian sheep farm, she and her husband now farm near Shepparton. At the same time, she links farming families across Australia with others – nationally and internationally. During lockdown last year she linked her 15-17-year-old students with a farming family in Montana USA. This triggered parents to be in touch to learn more.
Describing herself as a facilitator, this year Charlotte is now also teaching year 11 students agriculture and horticulture in a way to inspire the inquiring mind – to ask What if? How can I be healthier? And create a practical approach to a Living Earth.
Think: Feel: Do: Charlotte Drinnan wants us to:
• Think: How regenerative agriculture can help us reverse climate change and get rid of the legacy load in our atmosphere. “Done the right way it can do that!”
• Feel: I feel hopeful that farmers will continue to be curious and open themselves up to the education and research available to them in their communities.
o In this way they can change their practices so together we can continue to assist getting carbon back down into the soil where it belongs.
• Do: I am going to continue my journey on the farm. I am going to continue educating young people.
o I will do more in my community. I have just completed a ‘Farmers for Climate Action Leadership’ course.
o Listeners in the city areas can support regenerative farmers by buying their produce either directly from the regenerative farmer’s website, the Facebook page or existing outlets.
Kate and Charlotte thank you for inspiring us at theBEATS.org – to also continue to do more, to learn more and where we can to inspire us all to be more.