17:02:14 Alright. Hello, everyone, and thank you so much for joining our steed story for June.
17:02:22 My name is Renee Perry, and I'm the Education coordinator at seats in common, and your host tonight for seed story.
17:02:27 The purpose of seed story. Conversations with farmers, seed keepers, and activists is to truly uplift the important work done by people and organizations focusing on food growers, workers.
17:02:38 Sea keepers and activists who prioritize a balanced connection with the plan.
17:02:44 And tonight I am pleased to have the executive Director of groundwork, Jeff Wagner, as our guest tonight.
17:02:51 Thank you so much, Jeff, for joining us for scene story.
17:02:54 It's a pleasure to be here.
17:02:56 Well, I want to introduce you a little bit before we dive into the important work that you do.
17:03:01 So a brief little background on Jeff. After university education didn't provide sufficient answers to some really big questions.
17:03:10 Jeff began seeking answers to these question. To these particular questions, how might we reimagine us?
17:03:17 Society in the age of climate change and what does it mean to be a responsible human in an unraveling world for over a decade Jeff found these answers outside of Academia, living at a wolf sanctuary in the Colorado mountains leading outdoor national outdoor
17:03:32 leadership school expeditions across North America and facilitating cross-cultural semesters in the Andes Amazon, Himalaya, and great Mekong River base and Woo.
17:03:42 That's pretty amazing, Jeff's biggest focus has been teaching to the cultural roots of environmental issues and helping students.
17:03:50 Both experience and examine different ways of life that can be applied as cultural activism at home in North America.
17:03:57 As a person dedicated to questioning the mindset mindset, stemming from settler colonialism, Jeff finds inspiration.
17:04:05 The community is working to maintain and strengthen relationships with the natural world and with the sources of food, water clothing, shelter, and meaning.
17:04:14 In addition to being a certified wilderness, first responder, he likes to walk slowly.
17:04:19 We, we fabrics and baskets, and grow beautiful varieties of hair, lum seeds.
17:04:25 Jeff. Founded groundwork and works as executive director, and he, he and his team pursue the goal of becoming ancestors, that their descendants will be proud to still tell stories about.
17:04:37 I mean, this is amazing. This is exactly what we need in this world right now.
17:04:41 So thank you for all of this for setting this up. I'd love to just dive right in.
17:04:48 Tell us about groundwork, and you know, if you want to share your mission and your vision, please.
17:04:54 Yeah, I'll just kind of share a little bit about how groundwork got started.
17:05:01 The year was 2,019, and I was working in Southeast Asia.
17:05:06 On these semester long programs that would travel through different geographic regions.
17:05:13 And this particular semester followed the Mekong River for that 5,000 kilometers, and we would stay for about 2 weeks and villages along the river, who depended upon ecosystem error.
17:05:30 What they're living. And at this time this is like, right around the time when Greta Tunberg is really hitting headlines around the world.
17:05:42 And there's kind of this big sense that like oh, something might actually happen around climate change sometime soon.
17:05:50 And as I was looking around the world and kind of comparing the conversations that we were having with Southeast Asian villagers and environmental leaders there, with the conversations that we're kind of dominating mainstream news sources in North America, Europe, you know, big
17:06:12 carbon emitting places. They were there was this huge disconnect where environmental leaders in Southeast Asia were talking about climate change as kind of a cultural problem and they're like, yeah, it's it's my damage that causes climate change.
17:06:29 We should probably address the root cause, and when you would tune into the conversation happening here on this continent, it was, you kind of get the sense that climate change is like this solar panel deficit, or like we just we misplaced a few electric cars and we just have to
17:06:49 get him back on the road. Everything will be good, so I think that in a lot of ways, groundwork, when it started out was this attempt to take a lot of what I was learning from mentors.
17:07:05 In Southeast Asia and other mental health I had worked with in South America in India and Nepal, and try to translate their work into a Us.
17:07:18 Context, because I think that we need to have broader conversations on climate change.
17:07:23 So that's that's where we started. Since then we kind of broadened out beyond climate change.
17:07:28 Just to look at this question of how do you? How can we live?
17:07:32 Well, because there's there's really these 2 main ports that we're looking at as society.
17:07:40 It's like, do we fully commit to the modern industrial world, and say, like the solution to all of our environmental problems, is more.
17:07:50 Or do you go the other way and start investigating kind of this unknown terrain of in between where you there's a lot of cool stuff that's happened in the world, and also a lot of how do we takes steps in a different direction?
17:08:05 So that's the story, and it's taken us into different places over the years.
17:08:10 Wow! Wow! I love hearing that just the foundation of, and the inception of, how this began, you know, living in this country, we make such a huge impact globally, environmentally, that will impact these people that you were working with directly along the mekong river and other areas that shouldn't be victimized
17:08:37 by our destructive output.
17:08:42 Wow! Well, thank you so much for that. And you know I just have to let our viewers know that Jeff and I actually first met a couple of years ago at a grain school through Rocky Mountain seed alliance held in Cottonwood, where he was facilitating this program called where there
17:09:02 be dragons for students just out of high school, and prior to going into college and really providing the surf the service of being able to immerse yourself into the natural world.
17:09:15 And you know the element that we were helping support, as Rocky Mountain sed alliance was a seed saving component.
17:09:24 And so I, for one, was really impeded by this youth, and the way that I was looking at is future leaders and seeing them just really connect with seed savings.
17:09:38 And it just brought me a lot of joy and a lot of hope for what is to come. And I just wanted to ask you if you want to share some things about where there be dragons, and how that experience will reflected on creating groundwork.
17:09:51 Yeah, yeah, I remember that semester, of course, too, we came and ended the seed school.
17:09:58 It was a really impactful time in my life, and you know where there'd be dragons is. The company?
17:10:05 They're like the Gap year and study Abroad company that I was working for overseas in South America.
17:10:10 Southeast Asia and India, and the Fall, and as an organization they specialize in these kind of longer immersive trips that are largely led by local people, and like, I think now, they typically haven't structured teams that are 2 people from whatever region, you're
17:10:31 working, and one person from North America.
17:10:36 And the goal is to be creating these immersive experiences that are kind of challenging.
17:10:45 That's the tourism economies that are going on there and asking, How do we really build relationships with local people?
17:10:50 And how do you create a program that, instead of kind of romanticizing whatever place you're in dives into the history and culture and.
17:11:04 Gets into like, what would local people want foreigners to know about place where they live?
17:11:11 The things that are proud of struggles they might have. And then there's this big kind of global studies curriculum that goes along with it.
17:11:19 And that's what I first encountered seeds working on those programs.
17:11:25 Because so many places we were going. Our local contacts were seed farms see saving programs and activists who are working on food sovereignty kind of push back multinational corporations as they're making their way into different.
17:11:42 Small communities and pushing on local scenes. So that program that we met on it was during the pandemic.
17:11:51 And what had happened was the capacity for where there'd be dragons to travel internationally had really been impacted heavily by the pandemic.
17:12:02 You couldn't travel anymore. So I haven't pushing for a number of years.
17:12:09 We should have local, courses here in the Us.
17:12:12 Because there's so many of the same issues happening right here at home. And it's a little bit more challenging to get. They kind of imagine what the programs can look like because of.
17:12:28 I don't know. Just traveling with a large group in the Us.
17:12:30 And but it happened, and for that course we follow the Colorado River.
17:12:37 We started over in boulder like up to the source of the river, and then followed the river on foot and on boat and in vehicles all the way down to the border with Mexico, where it ended that a Damn.
17:12:53 And groundwork really came out of that semester, because, as we were it it was a super impactful semester for me and for everyone involved I've been in touch with all the students off that semester.
17:13:07 Some of them have come to graduate school in Colorado and spent the summer, but you kind of galvanize this commitment to place, because, as we went along the river, we just we kept hearing from older people who were activists or permaculture designers, or politicians, whatever it
17:13:32 was farmers, and they all had one thing in common, which is that not all of them, but most of them were in their sixties, seventies, andies, and they're like, where are the young people?
17:13:44 I heard this over and over again on that semester that might.
17:13:49 We need more young people just to be doing something in the world, and we know it's overwhelming but we need more people out there.
17:13:59 And so I think, yeah, ground working. Now, having little farm here in Western Colorado, we're renting kind of this corner of a bigger farm and we're running educational programs here.
17:14:11 And I think that one thing I saw on that semester with that with where there'd be dragons, they rely a lot on needs kind of educational center that built relationships with over decades and in the Us.
17:14:23 We don't have many of those and that's kind of what we've tried to do here is create one of those.
17:14:30 Centers that could host young people. And yeah. So how's that left?
17:14:37 I haven't really fully left whether it be dragons, but I still do stuff with them sometimes. But we posted, I think, now 5 of their programs on the farm here.
17:14:45 Oh, really!
17:14:47 So, yeah, it's really cool to see to design a program like that and realize, wow, we we need to have more of a foundation for this work to be happening.
17:15:02 So, yeah, that's a lot of what we're trying to do here.
17:15:05 Wow! That's really cool, that you have some of those students still doing the work and supporting your organization.
17:15:12 And I'm just curious. You know, some of these students.
17:15:18 They now must be in their early twenties, you know, would you say that a lot of them are kind of still within this realm of work, or or pursuing education?
17:15:28 And in, you know, with the environment. Or I mean, what do you hear from these former students?
17:15:34 Yeah, I hear after that semester, I think almost everybody, students and instructors on that course.
17:15:43 We really change the course of our lives. To be more focused on the call that a river in this region, and there are a night at the end of that program.
17:15:53 We sat down for kind of like a closing ceremony, and people kind of reflected get offered gratitude to the people on the land that had influenced us along the way, and if we had met a lot of people pretty in depth experiences part of the landscape that we
17:16:13 hype through up at the headwaters, at burn in a forest fire, and it was this really visual sense of loss.
17:16:23 And yeah, we were there at the at the end of the course, and people started making as we were talking about moving forward and making intention, people started.
17:16:38 And he kind of chose me up to think about it.
17:16:41 People started saying things like, I'm going to commit my life to this world.
17:16:43 Oh, my God!
17:16:47 So, yeah, it was, it was really powerful. And yeah, I do keep in touch with us students, and they have 3.
17:16:59 That's that's amazing. I one of my takeaways on the final day of that course, was how some of the students were like, you know, it's we've been learning so much.
17:17:13 And it's been really dire, you know, kind of like, just realizing the magnitude of these issues.
17:17:20 And it really warmed my heart when they were like. I see so much hope with seeds, and I'm just so glad to have them connect with that lasting impression.
17:17:33 That seeds really hold for us. I mean, they're near and dear to me.
17:17:36 They're truly near and dear for all of us, and will continue to be in the future.
17:17:42 And I just love that experience. I love that group of kids.
17:17:47 Yeah, they were really great.
17:17:49 Well, I was going to segway into the the programs that you're offering at groundwork because it like you had said, there are certain elements that seem akin to the where there be dragons that I was reading up on groundwork.
17:18:07 So, yeah, if you could tell us a couple about the immersive programs that you have coming up this summer.
17:18:12 Yeah, so the main program we've been running for a number of years now, this is our third summer here on this land where we are.
17:18:20 West from Colorado is it's a 3 month kind of farm.
17:18:27 We're coming in a fellowship because it's not really an internship.
17:18:30 Where you're like just working and doing something. It's more of an immersive experience where we have morenings out in the fields we have a little seat farm here, so we're growing.
17:18:41 I think this year maybe a hundred 50 different varieties of seed, some of it for local seed companies, and some some varieties that are just for us.
17:18:52 Or just for different friends of ours, who they're not commercialized varieties and there we don't plan to commercialize them.
17:19:02 So, yeah, we have mornings out on the Sea Farm, and then afternoons we have kind of different things going on.
17:19:12 We have food, preservation afternoons. We have farmers market that we work once a week.
17:19:17 We have afternoon today, all of the fellows are offering.
17:19:20 Learning about natural dives, using the local plants to create color.
17:19:28 And then we have kind of a seminar afternoon that's a little more academic diving into the region that we're in here, and kind of the different structures in the world that are pushing for.
17:19:42 Different views of what's sustainability looks like.
17:19:47 That's beautiful!
17:19:47 So yeah, that, yeah, so that's our kind of our vocal program.
17:19:53 Right now, and as we've been doing this more and more of our friends keep coming and saying like, Oh, I wanna add this program.
17:20:04 And yeah, looking at the list it's kind of astonishing kind of just taking on a life of its own.
17:20:10 There's this constellation of different programs that have happened.
17:20:15 We have these field courses out on the grand mesa just north of here.
17:20:19 It's a big. It's the biggest black top mountain in the world.
17:20:23 Huge national forest that has amazing ecology all over it.
17:20:29 So these camps are going out, and there ecology and ethnobotany.
17:20:35 Feel so. People are learning about the plants, in the region where they live, and developing relationships with them that are informed by historic relationships.
17:20:47 But I think that all the teacher we work with are really looking at the question of like, how do we build new relationships with these plants going forward and.
17:21:00 Yeah, so those are amazing. We're only 6 of those this summer.
17:21:03 Oh, wow!
17:21:04 Actually, we've already done 3 of them, and there's 3 more at the end of the summer.
17:21:08 That are focused kind of on higher elevations.
17:21:14 Yeah, we have. There's a kind of Napolis Home School program here that we took under the nonprofit.
17:21:24 So they're doing like part academics and parts being out in the natural world and doing whatever the seasons present.
17:21:36 So fall time will be harvest time, and then there'll be indoors kind of working with a lot of materials.
17:21:42 On craft and on projects throughout the winter, we're super excited for that program, and another one that came about this year.
17:21:53 One of our instructors, for that of the ecology.
17:21:58 Camp Mickey Hill, she's been focusing her life on a lot of Hey, Samuel?
17:22:05 Food plants that grow around the American West. A lot of carrot family groups like biscuit leaks and yumper plants like that bye, Nicky has been doing his plan surveys out in Northern Nevada and Southern Oregon where
17:22:23 there's massive open pit lithium lines proposed, and there's really not an understanding about what kind of plant communities there are there, and what historical input people have had on those communities, because a lot of the landscape there is.
17:22:42 I mean, it's kind of like other more and more conversation about how fire has influenced so much of a landscape in the American West over time.
17:22:52 My intentional control. Burns, and in the stage brush areas so much of it has been planted by people I mean there's kind of these remnant gardens that exist.
17:23:03 So Mickey's doing plant surveys out there.
17:23:06 Looking at both like documenting. What they're trying to use, that to oppose some of these massive, destructive models that are going in.
17:23:18 And yeah, working with local tribal communities. There.
17:23:22 Ask, How do we take this knowledge forward? Because a lot of that knowledge about traditional, wild tended foods has actually passed out of tribal hands into the hands of, a few people like Nicky?
17:23:39 And yeah, I think that you know all communities, there's less and less knowledge about those landscape working with.
17:23:46 Some friends out there questions about how do we? How we respect this knowledge and help to keep it alive?
17:23:56 Wow! What an endeavor! I hope that you share with us.
17:24:00 How we can help support in whatever way we can. We'll definitely be sharing this.
17:24:08 But wow! I haven't looked into the lithium lands.
17:24:13 Fellowship, and I really appreciate you getting me up to speed because that's really important, because I hear lithium.
17:24:20 I think lots of dollars, you know, combating what Nikki's trying to do.
17:24:26 So you know, we don't want like what's happening with Black Rock, and what's happened in the Navajo nation with all the nuclear power plants to just be duplicated again.
17:24:36 Which is just kind of how history has unfolded for this country.
17:24:41 Thank you to you and Nikki for this important work.
17:24:44 I think all the credit for that one goes to Nikki.
17:24:48 She's so dedicated to to that landscape, and to sharing the knowledge that she was entrusted with.
17:24:54 So yeah, I think all credit goes to her.
17:24:57 Hello, Nicky! Well, I wanted to segue into one other program.
17:25:04 We don't have to talk about it. I don't know if that you would call it a program, but I just started diving into your ethnobotany podcasts.
17:25:13 And wow! Those are really fun and interesting great discussions. And I'll definitely be sharing that with our network.
17:25:20 But that appears to be just kind of like a summer program from last year.
17:25:27 Or do you continue to expand upon that?
17:25:29 Yeah. So the we have a podcast that we recorded from the live talks last summer and the podcast is called plants and place.
17:25:39 You can find it whenever you get podcasts. And if we ran the talk series to get people an introduction, what they could expect to learn on those ecology and ethnobotany field camps, because those are they're pretty immersive of their 4 days or 7 days long and we acknowledge
17:26:00 that a lot of people cannot make it out there for something like that.
17:26:05 So I think we will probably do some more recordings like that in the future.
17:26:11 But I think in the meantime we're sticking to those for episodes that we did last summer.
17:26:19 And we've got our hands full with a lot of new programs.
17:26:24 Yeah, you have 6 programs to handle before the summer is over.
17:26:27 Right, and these are. These are very immersive and intense programs.
17:26:33 So I think you have your hands full already. At least it's full of joy, too.
17:26:39 Well, good. Okay. And I know that we touched upon this already.
17:26:43 But just to be clear and concise, I just wanted to ask you, how would you say that?
17:26:47 Seeds have changed your approach to the nature of food, education, environmental education.
17:26:53 Yeah, I think you know I've worked in environmental education since I was in college.
17:27:00 I was 18 when I got my first job leading for Young People, and they weren't that much younger than me.
17:27:09 They were in middle school, and there was always I always kind of judge the places I wanted to work based on how much they viewed the natural world of being separate from us.
17:27:25 So I love working at programs where we would run around and like, get dirty play in the leads and stuff like that.
17:27:33 Compared to, I don't know, going like mountain biking and seeing yourself as like.
17:27:39 I think that kind of more adventure, sport, world, and trend towards seeing, like the landscape, as just like a backdrop for your phone instead of something you build a relationship with.
17:27:52 I don't wanna like I don't wanna paint everything with one brush, but I think that there's many ways to approach different ways of being outside.
17:28:01 Bye, yeah, when I first encountered.
17:28:06 Seed saving. I'd always been interested in growing and.
17:28:13 I think the savings really shifted things for me, because it it brings people into this multi-generational relationship with plants and with the soil and with food in general.
17:28:28 And it's multi-generational from both sides.
17:28:30 Alright! It's these lineages of plants that are being tended by lineages of people.
17:28:36 The tending really goes both ways, I think. But I started hearing stories from different people who had some kind of seed.
17:28:48 That was their family, but their communities or their culture, that work with.
17:28:54 For so long and I don't know. It's it's like there's this blowing river that is inviting you to like step into it and become part of it instead of, I think a lot of activism is kind of portrayed as like a some kind of
17:29:14 battle and see they really invite you into a different way of looking at that and are constructing the future.
17:29:22 All you have to do is tend to the seeds and grow them and protect them.
17:29:29 They'll offer something back to you. So I think that's that's a big piece for me. And I think that one other piece for me also, which is.
17:29:41 During the time that I was working internationally I worked overseas for about 6 years, and as I look for answers to how can we really move forward in the world in a good way, the only real convincing answer?
17:29:55 That I heard with the people who are working with.
17:30:00 They? They just seem to have things figured out in a different way.
17:30:04 So I think that's another big piece I have to offer credit to those people that I was working with who have those relationships.
17:30:12 And we're sharing them with me because they certainly knew a lot more.
17:30:20 I think, than the education system that I was brought up in here in the Us.
17:30:26 Yeah, I think that'd be part of that also. Just so pretty.
17:30:31 They sure are some of them smell really good. Some of them.
17:30:37 I mean, I'm surprised constantly by seeds, and you know, just to offer a little insight from me. You know I like to grow food, too, but when I made the jump into seed saving I felt like I was part of the system.
17:30:51 Now I was now part of it, and it was my job to nurture to then obtain the abundance that the seeds so want to give to us and to others it's not exclusive to humans, and it really just helped me feel like i'm part of this heart.
17:31:07 This great big harmony with the plan.
17:31:11 I think that seed savings is also it's a really easy way to kind of tap into the big metaphor about stewarding something that's larger than yourself, because you plant the seed, and it multiplies, and you can share that see with other people, and there's
17:31:32 a I never really have a sense of ownership with.
17:31:36 There is this great sense that I'm just taking care of it for the time being, which I think that I haven't encountered many things that really bring that to life in such a quick way like growing seeds.
17:31:52 Can I think that? That's the kind of attitude we need to take towards the whole world?
17:31:58 Bye, yeah, see? Bring that to like so well.
17:32:03 Definitely. Great insight. You know, we our culture, has really placed, you know, human beings.
17:32:10 That's as a center. And it's just that's not the way when we look at seeds.
17:32:18 And you know you bring up a really great point about seed origins.
17:32:24 And so I wanted to talk to you about you know your thoughts and perspectives of the origin of.
17:32:33 Yeah, I think that because II encountered seeds and see pending outside of the Us.
17:32:45 I got to see this picture that really multifaceted about.
17:32:51 Kind of caring for the stories and tradition behind.
17:32:58 Where? Yeah, the first big seed center that I worked at.
17:33:05 Was in Thailand, where a lot of their core products didn't really come from.
17:33:10 There you have thai chilies there, hey? Originated in this part of the world, and we're brought over to Southeast Asia and the seeds transform themselves over time in something totally new inside Chili are very unique.
17:33:31 Now you can kind of look at a plant and just tell before it even has fruit on it.
17:33:34 You're like, Oh, that's that's a tie chilling!
17:33:39 And yeah, so I've seen these big networks trade and kinship help seeds move around the world.
17:33:51 And then you also see sees that are very particular to a place, and people say like this, these seats can't really travel from here.
17:34:00 So these are our scenes, and I think so in.
17:34:08 In contemporary society we have to be playing between those kind of different extremes where there are seeds that they shouldn't really be traveling, and they need a certain they could. They come with a context that's really specific.
17:34:21 And and, on the other hand, seeds do travel, I mean, that's that's part of their life cycle on the plan.
17:34:28 But they need to travel and.
17:34:33 Yeah, so I think we play with that a lot. And so in the seeds that we can your groundwork with their Rc.
17:34:40 S that have been gifted to us, that we grow.
17:34:43 Just because we're growing them, and we better for food.
17:34:48 And then we don't, intend on commercialized them or using them for anything else.
17:34:53 And then there are see that I mean part of our seed collection here came from different friends around the world, and.
17:35:03 Hey? So far we have one seat in particular. Yeah, I got from a friend who was hoping 10.
17:35:13 The seed library at the Bishop, who sovereignty program in Bishop California, and I got this handful of seeds, and they were actually mislabeled.
17:35:24 And so.
17:35:27 A friend of mine? Asked his friend Rowan White, and she recognized these seeds, and she said, Yes, those seeds are my traditional beans that I gave to this.
17:35:38 I don't think she I forget I'll need to ask about this story, but, like those are my traditional beans.
17:35:46 And he said, Oh, but when we asked the seed library where they came from, the story was actually that they had traveled, they come from someone who had gotten them in the Us.
17:35:58 Travel to Thailand grown them in Thailand.
17:36:02 They came back to the Us. Went to the seed library.
17:36:05 They came to me, and I grew them again in Thailand, and then they came back, and this year I just planted a whole jar of them out in the field, and and so I think that, like those aren't seeds that I plan to commercialize.
17:36:20 But they still have this new story about their life, and I acknowledge that they're not really my seeds.
17:36:28 I think that they're still probably rowing scenes, and there's also there's more that you know, when you start to build on the story and build the relationships, it changes the seeds that changes the people too.
17:36:40 So I think that, yeah, the question of origin is it really it needs to be a question for really deep into the question of like, who are we in relationship to our world?
17:36:55 And in relationship to what we're attending.
17:36:59 So I don't know.
17:37:02 Yeah, no, those are really some big questions. And wow, I'm just imagining this this being seen that, you know, lived and resided in Thailand before coming back.
17:37:15 And I'd I'd love to see the differences of both those seeds like looking at them physically.
17:37:23 As well as what they're producing. And and you know, just notice the commonalities and the differences of the the tie, reflected Bean.
17:37:32 And then the the bean of rowans. I think that would be really interesting.
17:37:38 Well the one that has been to Thailand twice over the years.
17:37:43 I think it was 2 years ago in the garden we planted a lot of them, and they look they're like a very round shape beam that strikes, and Tam colored.
17:37:57 And let me plant them. That year about a third of them grew, and they were purple the seeds were purple, and so they just transformed something for renewal.
17:38:06 Yeah, you would never. I mean beans don't cross that much.
17:38:10 You'd expect to see. Maybe, like a few pods that have cross pollinated, or something.
17:38:15 But this was it was beyond, just like oh, there was some minor cross pollination.
17:38:21 It was like at least a third of the seasons were different.
17:38:25 And and I think that it's important to the CC.
17:38:31 Has something that's not static. They're always changing.
17:38:34 They're alive and just like our society. We have the capacity to change and become something new and adapt to a lot of circumstances.
17:38:46 So, yeah.
17:38:47 Right? Yeah, the power of adaptation. Seeds are masters of it, as we've seen just with our with the modern day food that we love and appreciate today.
17:38:58 But this goes right into you know what is, you know.
17:39:02 Why? Seeds? Right? Because sometimes we have, you know, there's these wild seeds that come out here are introduced in Arizona, and there's a lot of controversy, because it's like, okay, is it out-competing the need of the native plants.
17:39:18 The Flora. You know what animals are being impacted, etcetera, and one of my mentors was like every seed began as a wild seed in essence.
17:39:27 And so I just wanted to discuss that with you and talk about you know what you were talking about about the sagebrush lands.
17:39:34 In regards to that.
17:39:38 Yeah, you know, II feel like I'm just a little baby in the discussion about wild tended foods I find myself through groundwork, working with people who have dedicated large portions of their life to the plants and I've learned a lot from them.
17:39:57 But I still feel like I don't have too much to say.
17:40:00 I think that one thing I'll share is that.
17:40:06 When like you mentioned plants coming from other places and establishing themselves new locations and a lot of the people who are who are tending wild foods, they're also challenging a lot of the ideas around invasive plants, because while attending is so much of
17:40:31 agriculture is creating the environment that your plants want and so many of the plants that have allied themselves with people over our history.
17:40:40 They're our friends because we disturb all the ground for them.
17:40:43 We feed them a lot, and they love that. And then we've also got the weeds that, they also have done that like they follow us around because we disturb the soil for them.
17:40:56 And so I think there's this question of how are we tending the land that different things are growing?
17:41:02 And so, yeah, there are wild tended foods that they require that kind of disturbance, and they require care and replanting when you harvest them, you should harvest them on a certain time, so you can spread their seeds, or you can break certain tubers off and replant part of
17:41:19 the tuber that you run harvesting and it's the same thing with those in basic plants.
17:41:25 You know. There, they're not debating. They're moving into the ecosystem that we've created for them. For the most part.
17:41:35 And so I think when we look at the wild plants, it is this question of like, how, how are we impacting, spacing, and inviting different plants to come? Live?
17:41:47 Yeah, someone I've learned from a lot recently.
17:41:52 He was helping on the farm this spring, and he and Mickey is teaching me lithium lens, fellowship.
17:41:58 They're writing a book about invasive species or invasive plants together.
17:42:01 But his name is Collie Bre, and ask this question.
17:42:08 He says, don't ask where plants come from. Ask where plants are at home.
17:42:14 Because they travel around a lot. Sarah, when you start to ask, like, Where is this plan at home? You'll see.
17:42:21 Oh, yeah, it's a home in this certain type of space that is affected a lot by people in the way that we need, you'd land.
17:42:29 Oh, that's a really good notion to reflect upon.
17:42:33 That's pretty cool. I'm going to definitely be thinking about that as well.
17:42:39 Okay. So you were mentioning how you now have this farm in Colorado. Where? Where are you based? In Colorado?
17:42:46 We're in. It's like, kind of West Central Colorado.
17:42:51 Okay, okay? And so you guys are renting on a farm.
17:42:55 And then this is where you're hosting a lot of your programs.
17:42:58 And then also exploring different views of working with food, and so tell us more about that.
17:43:07 Yeah. So the farm we have to pay our bills.
17:43:13 So we're finding ways to do that through farmers, markets, through wholesale produce.
17:43:20 And we do sell seeds to read different local seed companies and yeah, a lot of the food we have is also, it's just for us.
17:43:32 And we're trying to the models based a lot off of the seed center that I looked at in Thailand, where my mentor, John John, died.
17:43:45 He has this great head talk to kind of blew up.
17:43:48 It's called. Life is easy, why don't we make it so hard?
17:43:53 And changed my life when I watched it, and then within, like the next year, kind of pursuing some of those paths, I finally found myself living next door to yeah.
17:44:02 Oh, wow! Oh, my! Gosh! How cool!
17:44:06 Pretty fun coincidence. But yeah, there's this big question for me of how should people be relating to their food and?
17:44:19 If we don't like giant monoculture farms.
17:44:22 What was an alternative to that? How can people live more closely with the land?
17:44:27 So we're trying to eat really seasonally here. And we're exploring how to cook things.
17:44:33 There growing this region. We're just talking last night about Colorado.
17:44:40 Grows more millet than any other state in the country.
17:44:43 How do we incorporate Millet into our culture?
17:44:48 There's a lot of wild foods that there's kind of a succession in the spring of wild foods that grow around here and learning to eat those.
17:44:58 I think it's a really big piece for us. And greeting just the exploring.
17:45:05 What does life look like outside of industrial systems? It but I really don't believe that industrial systems are the answer to a lot of our ecological problems.
17:45:15 And so, if you don't believe that you have to ask what's beyond those investment systems?
17:45:20 And the answer is, a whole world of stuff there, a lot of our experience and knowledge with it is it's fading away.
17:45:30 So yeah, we're working with with that sort of thing.
17:45:32 Okay, say that again.
17:45:37 Now, we're working with those different kind of views of the food system. We're just exploring a lot.
17:45:42 That's really cool. That's what cool. Yeah, I had a thought, and it just lost me.
17:45:49 But so how many people are generally either at the farm, volunteering, employed, or receiving education doesn't really change and shift, ebb and flow.
17:46:04 Yeah, I think earlier in the season there were just 2 of us here some days, just one.
17:46:15 Right now we have folks who come work on the farm just sometimes during the day, and some people who live here so, and 12 up to like, and some days up to 12, maybe if there's other friends passing through yeah it can vary a lot.
17:46:30 But it feels like a communal space where, yeah, different people pass through on different days.
17:46:37 And we like that, too. I'm trying to. I'm gonna build a more communal vision of food.
17:46:45 Yeah. A big piece of that, I think, is bringing lots of people in when there's planting and harvesting to do.
17:46:52 And then, when you're just kind of pending in a slower season, you don't need so many people so, and kind of.
17:47:01 That's pretty cool. You know, these these communities, these intentional communities are becoming bigger and better and more refined and you know I live in the middle of a very big city, and I can see, like something lacking in my life.
17:47:19 And one of that is community. And so I'm so appreciative to have a seed saving community to help support me.
17:47:26 But these are things that we're happening in our all of our cultures and our ancestors.
17:47:32 For thousands of years that have really changed over the past 100.
17:47:37 So I really appreciate that. And I hope that that becomes more commonplace.
17:47:41 Moving forward in our future.
17:47:43 I hope so too.
17:47:45 Well lead the way, Jeff. So we are coming up close to the top of the hour. And so I wanted to just ask, okay, first and foremost, do you have any fundraising events or activities that you would like to highlight for our community coming up?
17:48:08 Yeah, you know, that's one of the things that we're working on as a nonprofit right now, our main fundraising events are called farmers, markets.
17:48:20 Yeah, as a little. We're a newer nonprofit, and we yeah, we're made up a bunch of teachers.
17:48:30 So we're still learning how to do things like fundraising and.
17:48:34 Getting our story out to the world. More. So. Yeah, right now, we're where our fund raises our farmers markets, and they are ecology camps and things like that.
17:48:51 So, yeah, I think that we're looking toward the end of the season that really reaching out to different people and trying to build more of a support base.
17:49:03 So we can continue some of the work longer. Term.
17:49:07 And I think we're also experimenting with the different models that are.
17:49:14 Not so reliant on donors, because I think that.
17:49:21 In looking at, how do we create a model that people can follow?
17:49:27 Or mimic at small scale or big scale. But I want people to just be involved in their food system, not have to seek out grants to do that.
17:49:37 I think that? Yeah, it shouldn't feel like you need the money in order to be able to grow it right.
17:49:44 What you need is you need time and a place to bring people together to do that.
17:49:51 So, yeah, I think because of that. But a lot of people who are working with groundwork, we don't do it full time.
17:49:59 Part-time thing, and we we get a lot of fulfillment, a lot of food out of it, and it helps support us.
17:50:06 But we're also being supported by so.
17:50:11 I just want to mention something I had seen on your website.
17:50:18 And I'm trying to find it now. And it was something along of lines of you know, like you can donate funds.
17:50:26 But really, just be a server to your, you know. Save a seed, grow some food, be a service to your community, and I can't find it right now.
17:50:35 But I thought that was a really beautiful thought, and I wish I could find it.
17:50:39 But does that ring a bell for you?
17:50:41 You might have been on the podcast.
17:50:42 Oh, that's it! That's what it was!
17:50:44 Yeah. The the person who is hosting those podcasts.
17:50:49 She? She said, that any introduction, I think which yeah, I mean, I really love that, because that I mean as a mission driven organization. That is what we're trying to do is to help people.
17:51:06 Just feel that importance being where they are, and even if they don't have anything to donate like, yeah, you have something to offer, and all of us need to become hi with our food systems more.
17:51:25 I think that's one of the things over the the last couple of years I've come to believe a lot is that everybody needs to be involved in their feed, even if it's going one tomato plant or picking an apple, whatever it is I think that it just helps us understand where our food comes from
17:51:50 Oh yes!
17:51:43 helps us value good food and helps us. Now, you people who are dedicated their lives to it, this mentality of like, Oh, I'm gonna choose the food that costs the least amount of money, and I think that food is the foundation of our physical bodies but also of our cultures and so we need
17:52:06 to be valued so much more, I think, when when you touch the seeds and you grow whatever cabbage plan like it, it creates that bond.
17:52:18 That I think we're lacking a lot. You're mentioning community, and I think so much of what brings.
17:52:25 Oh, yes, wow! You just nailed like all the points that I certainly agree with.
17:52:31 Why we need to maintain a or we need to reconnect with our food source and just thinking about the thousands, the tons of food waste that we have every single day in this country and how our foods neutritional value is 25% of what it was a hundred years ago, and then just
17:52:53 you know, kind of just this attitude of I always can have a banana whenever I want, and it's just ignores so many other things.
17:53:02 And I really appreciate what you had just said.
17:53:06 And I'm fully support and agree completely. And that's why we're here doing that.
17:53:12 I agree.
17:53:14 So I got one question from a participant, Helen, and she was just curious.
17:53:22 If we have a vision of how we can restore more family farms in this country.
17:53:29 Hello! That's a big question. It's growing family farms.
17:53:38 Oh, wow!
17:53:41 Yeah, I think that I mean, there's kind of 2 things that I'm thinking about initially.
17:53:47 I want hearing that question. One is that every family should have a farm, and the question is, how big is it?
17:53:53 Is it a potted basal plant on your windows still, or is it a backyard garden, or is it a larger plot?
17:54:02 I think that's one thing that I like to think about is like 30.
17:54:07 One should be involved with their for me if I didn't have 2 apple trees in my backyard, where I grew up, I would be involved in, because that really to show me that first of all, there's an abundance of food, and when you're involved with it you can go out
17:54:26 and pick 5 giant barrels of apples and share them with people.
17:54:30 Come from this tree in your backyard that you get some water.
17:54:36 I did that.
17:54:35 That is incredible. Yeah, and I think there's another question about land access for farmers, which, yeah, land accesses.
17:54:47 It's a whole separate issue that there's really amazing work being done around.
17:54:52 I know that the National Young Farmers Coalition, working a lot on land access, and there's many organizations working on land access for farmers and I think that land access again gets divided down to 2 things.
17:55:06 There's and this generational land transfer that we're looking at coming up.
17:55:12 Where a lot of farmers are over the age of 65 and their land is gonna be transferred.
17:55:19 In the coming decade. We're looking at a huge land transfer, and Gretchen, who was working with seeds in common, talks a lot about this land transfer because it's a huge opportunity for people who have been dispassessed with their lamb to have the opportunity to come
17:55:38 back into relationship with those places and start stewarding land again.
17:55:44 And it's also a big opportunity for young people from all communities.
17:55:49 To start taking on more of a role in the food system but there's a big risk in that, too.
17:55:56 That land can be bought up by people who have the money in power to do it, and it can be further consolidated.
17:56:02 The larger and larger farms. So I don't know.
17:56:07 I think in this country things like land reform are not very popular.
17:56:13 That's how it's been done in different places in the world, especially in Latin America.
17:56:18 And you look at inland reform programs to kind of reverse that consolidation.
17:56:25 And yeah, I don't think that we're looking at that in this country.
17:56:27 So I would look at. Look to those kind of other. We are doing it, but it's a big challenge.
17:56:37 Yeah. Again, the the mindset question. And you know, we just have so much history with valuing power and money.
17:56:50 You know, over what's really important. And so hopefully, this shift is truly happening at a larger scale.
17:56:56 I feel it every day I see it in the people that I'm interacting with and just comparing to when I was younger, that there are changes happening, and I hope that continues and then there's, you know, populations increasing etcetera.
17:57:10 But you know, I'm still hopeful, and that's, you know, one of the reasons why I'm still doing this work.
17:57:16 But thank you very much for that question, Helen. Just a few minutes left, and I always like to end seeds story with this very important question, which very likely changes every season.
17:57:28 And that would be, what is your favorite seat to save?
17:57:36 I love beans.
17:57:39 II think that they are one of the first seeds that I really started to see and become captivated by.
17:57:48 Huh! I think that they pace great, and they're pretty, and they're fun to grow and really easy.
17:57:54 But yeah, I think that part of why I love them is because.
17:58:00 When you do have a bean, a rare being across it with another one you have a new bean variety.
17:58:06 Emerge, you find, like digging through your bean harbor. There's a different color over there.
17:58:16 I have a friend who works at one of the little tiny fee companies that we grow for, and last winter we were digging through all of our beans together.
17:58:26 We found, I think, 10 different new variety of beans, and the 2 of us we both experiment with methods of combining all the beans and planting them in one big plot to try to encourage them to cross and create that new diversity, but there's just
17:58:42 so much joy in it, and I think that they're one of the most beautiful seeds, but just captivates people where they, you know they've eaten black beans.
17:58:53 And they've eaten pinto beans and white beans, and they're like, Oh, beans are boring.
17:58:58 But when you can transform something of kind of ordinary and boring, and seen as like a commodity, bulk food into something that that's like oh, this is the one precious seed.
17:59:07 And people. They. If you captivate someone, draws them in like that. I think teams have special power in that way.
17:59:16 Great answer, great answer, yes. Beans are they're fun to watch, grow.
17:59:22 They're just there. You just see them change every day, and they have got pretty little flowers, and then Gosh!
17:59:29 Some of those beans are so pretty and like basis for art.
17:59:35 You know they're beautiful and vibrant.
17:59:39 Well, cool. Well, we are at the top of the hour, so I won't take any more of your time, but I just want to let you know that I really appreciate this conversation with you.
17:59:47 I'm definitely gonna be sharing your work. Please include us with any messaging so that we can continue to spotlight your work.
17:59:56 And hopefully, we can get a partnership together once again in the future.
17:59:59 That would be great. And yeah, if people wanna keep in touch with us, they can go to our website.
18:00:05 At laying groundwork.org. And yeah, again, we do have those programs coming up the end of the summer.
18:00:12 4 day and 7 days. Field camps here in Colorado.
18:00:19 And yeah, I'm excited to keep in touch and keep working together.
18:00:29 All this great work. And yeah, let's stay in touch.
18:00:35 Hey? Thanks, so much.
18:00:39 Pleasure is all mine. Thank you so much, and then I will be following up with you.
18:00:44 So just check your email, and I'll share all the links for sharing on social media if you want to share that as well.
18:00:51 And yes, thank you, Jeff. Thank you so much for your time.
18:00:56 Thank you.
18:00:57 Alright. Well, thank you. Everyone have a great rest of your day.
18:01:01 Thanks, Helen, for joining, and your question and seat on.