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.
As Educators 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.
Ecologist, primatologist and director of biodiversity and nature, Guy Michael Williams, connects us to the forest, delights us with stories of nature, and strategies that can work for all of us wanting to save the planet.
A key part of his work is to connect biodiversity and business to understand the immeasurable value of e.g. where your decking timber comes from and how to source it sustainability.
Commission on Ecosystem Management
A network of professionals whose mission is to act as a source of advice on the environmental, economic, social and cultural factors that affect natural resources and biological diversity.
Science Based Targets Network
We enable companies and cities to play a vital role in creating an equitable, nature positive, net-zero future using science-based targets.
Restor is a science-based open data platform to support and connect the global restoration movement
Convention on Biological Diversity
Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live.
The IUCN Red List
Established in 1964, The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species has evolved to become the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species.
The IUCN Red List is a critical indicator of the health of the world’s biodiversity. Far more than a list of species and their status, it is a powerful tool to inform and catalyze action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, critical to protecting the natural resources we need to survive. It provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.
Re:wild protects and restores the wild. We have a singular and powerful focus: the wild as the most effective solution to the interconnected climate, biodiversity and pandemic crises.
Founded by a group of renowned conservation scientists together with Leonardo DiCaprio, Re:wild is a force multiplier that brings together Indigenous peoples, local communities, influential leaders, nongovernmental organizations, governments, companies and the public to protect and rewild at the scale and speed we need. Our vital work has protected and conserved more than 180 million acres benefitting more than 16,000 species in the world’s most irreplaceable places for biodiversity.
Farmer, agroecologist, citizen scientist, and the 2015 Young Farmer of the Year, Dr Anika Molesworth, shares how agriculture can really support biodiversity and is a huge part of how we can tackle climate change as well. She’s also a great storyteller.
Your hosts for this episode of Beating the Drum for Biodiversity are Celia Cavanagh and Louise Denver.
As a young girl, Anika fell in love with the red land she now farms. She was, and still is captivated by its horizons that extend forever. But the Millennial drought that started in the Year 2000, had a huge impact on her family’s farm, on the land around them out Broken Hill way, and on Anika herself.
She became a scientist because of it. She wanted to learn more, and she did. Eventually getting a PhD. At the same time, Anika built an online network: Climate Wise Agriculture.
What WE can do
Because we are all part of the food system, we can all do something about climate change. The choices we make every day at the supermarket, the food we eat and waste, are all critical choices when it comes to protecting our planet.
And ‘hot of the presses’, we get a glimpse of her brand new book Our Sunburnt Country. Filled with stories of farmers and food producers from around the world. They share sustainable and practical solutions to growing our food, protecting the land, and building our future.
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