Regen Ray: Hello, soil lovers, and welcome to another episode of Secrets of the Soil, I’m super excited I’m Regen Ray . I’m joined today with very, very special guests. We have some of our members that belong to our farming secrets community, and I’m super excited to dig deeper into their world of soil. Now, I don’t know if you want to all unmute and say hello as a group, you’re ready. Three two one. Oh, excellent, excellent. Good stuff. It’s super fun and this is what we do. Every second week we hang out in a virtual classroom and we just talk about all different things that are happening in the industry. And we share news. We update things and we work through different ideas and we have guest speakers. And tonight you our soil lovers as listeners are our guests. So you’re in on a bit of an E, you’re e dropping into some of the conversations. And I’ve been interviewing a lot of people lately, and it’s been interesting to hear their take on soil and what it’s like to go through the regenerative movement and the journey. And so I’m curious to know, Meghan, I might throw to you first. You had a very unique experience of getting some land and then seeing someone else manage it may be the way you didn’t want. Can you share with our soil lovers listeners like what that was like and then how you’ve taken the land back?
Meghan: Heartbreaking, really? Yeah, it’s probably having Melbonize . We sort of saw things or do see things very differently to farmers around here. So we came to the land, sort of. It was thriving. It was lush. And then we sort of watched it as it sort of started to degrade. We flood a lot, which is heartbreaking to watch, too. But yeah, just watching the soil levels just sort of under fence lines, the gap on the fences just get bigger and bigger. So we haven’t got the irrition in the soil anymore. Wow. So yeah, it’s learning from farming secrets and trying to get as much knowledge as I can is helping me to make decisions on how to move forward.
Regen Ray: So, yeah, awesome. And how important has it been to be around a community of like minded people? Did you feel that support locally in your community or have you had to lean online a little bit for that support?
Meghan: I don’t have anything like that in the community starting to find some people. But yeah, literally had had a permaculture group at my farm a few months ago, and I said to one person, I really wish I could find like minded people around the area. And she goes, Yeah, I know there are many other here. That’s it. I didn’t try to make a hub, let’s say, to try to get people into the regenerative way of things. But yeah, there isn’t many so online has been the only way. Awesome. I now grass preservation.
Regen Ray: Yeah, awesome. And I think, you know, online for me is near and dear because I’ve done a lot of my work online. But I think for farmers and people who have grown up in, you know, regional communities, it’s a little bit of a new thing. Even just getting people used to Zoom has taken a little while and you know, a pandemic has actually fast track a little bit of that where everyone’s doing everything online and via Zoom. Kate I know that you are not a farmer, you’re a retired biodynamic advocate, and we’ve had the pleasure of chatting with you and publishing some videos on our YouTube channel. So from your point of view as, say, a little bit more of not so much a farmer, but someone who is really passionate about soil, how has been in this community and hanging out with us been for yourself?
Kate: I guess the big thing, it’s been the biggest thing actually, that we’ve done. We don’t. We’re not. We are regenerating in a way because this property was always just here is a household thing I think have been rented for a very long time. So there wasn’t much happening in the soil. But the biggest thing and the best thing we’ve ever done is when we signed up for the courses through farming secrets and we started learning about what was in the soil. We knew we had to make it better if we wanted to do what we wanted to do and that which was feed ourselves. And so we we joined up so that we could farm. We bought a microscope and had no idea what we were looking at. So we then decided to do the course and it’s just been amazing. And we we have learned we’ve learned a lot about everything we’ve learned. that the soil is much like us every you know it, you think that the soil and the little bits in it or the little critters are different, that they’re not there, that they follow the same sun and moon and you know, all the seasons that we we suffer or go through ourselves. And so there’s a lot to do that about them and know about them. Did you know about yourself? , yeah, it’s I think that’s the most amazing thing that we’ve learnt is how much like a human and what we want our comfort, so our looking after and knowing when things are help with things are cold when the seasons are here and and the soil does that automatically. We you just have to tune in to it. Yeah. And that’s what we’ve been learning is to tune into all of these other things that live on this property with us. And we’ve taken a big decision that I made was that we would treat everything on on the land, everything that comes and goes to our property as if it’s a gas like it’s like we would treat our friends like we would treat ourselves. So we try to have the same respect for everything that’s here our bays, our worms now and then all the other critters that live under the soil. So yeah, the soil is is a living part of us.
Regen Ray: Absolutely. You couldn’t have said it any better. And we’ve we appreciate that so much so that this year we changed our marketing avatar not to be a human on the planet, but if soil is a living organism, then we wake up every day to serve the soil and make soil better today than what it was yesterday. And it is a living organism, and I think you’ve done a great job at explaining that it is like a human. We, you know, we we want comfort and we want to nurture and we want to be taken care of and our soils need to do the same. Yeah. How do I know Sir Gerhard? I know you are very big on the visual soil assessment side of things. And so I know that sometimes soil is below the ground and it’s out of sight and out of mind. Do you want to just share with everyone a little bit about who you are and what you’re found with soil visual soil assessments?
Gerhard: How long have we got a
Regen Ray: four minutes
Gerhard: walk past? You know, I can certainly make that parallel with the soil and all the other living organisms associated with this and the regeneration of soil being very humanlike and regeneration has to include the composition as well as not just about living life, but also converting that life back into a form that then can give back life again as well. So and part of that is composting. And one of the things that crossed my mind when I was talking about that is that people would often ask me when I do composting workshops and particularly with Landcare groups. But other groups as well is how is it that we can actually make compost? And I say, Well, you’ve got to think about the microbes. And the answer really is in that because if you think like a microbe, you actually do exactly what you said. You think of the temperature, you think about oxygen, you think about food, you think about where you might live. And if you can put it into that context, that becomes a very simple process of understanding how compost happens because it’s made by microbes that had the same requirements that we have the living organisms just like us. So in the context of the Visual soil assessment , once we start digging around in the soil and having a good look at what is taking place down there, we start to visualize not only the microbial components of the soil and with a bit of practice, you can pick up on that, but you can then also smell the soil. And in the case of soil fungi, you can smell the mushrooms that come through as well. So if you’ve got a soil that has most fungi in it and then you don’t necessarily need to go and read a microscope, it’s good to get that visual confirmation, but that independently you can smell the soil. And if it’s nice and earthy and fungally or mushroomy and smell. Then you know you’ve got a friendly, dominant soil that’s working away. There is the texture. The soil is that it’s very sandy, very compact and very little organic bad event. It may have some bacteria in it. So the visual soil assessment process allows us to pick up those cues and work through. And then Graham Sheppard, who’s a soil scientist from New Zealand, was put together in Visual Science Assessment Guide Book, as not only brought in the science, but also the opportunity for each of us to learn to read the soil by counting the earthworms, by doing a smell test, by looking at where the roots are going, by running around and looking at potential reading depth, and that could be done with a terameter or a piece of wire. So you know that that all comes together quite neatly once we go and have a look in that soil factory and take the lid off it. And not no factory manager in his own right would actually consider managing a factory without looking inside and saying Who’s working and who’s slacking off and and what sort of productivity we can potentially get out of that. So without having been look there? Yeah. So the visual soil assessment is very important from that perspective, and it’s not very well done across the board.
Regen Ray: And I feel like it’s our first line of defense, like it’s the first thing that we get to see touch, smell. And then it can create curiosity and say, Well, this feels different. Let me go and get a test done, and then you can start, you know, pun intended, dig deeper. So I definitely think, you know, visual smell they are five senses are the first line of defense, and I know some people who even taste the soil, you know that game and they trust it and they know it. And and there’s lots of healthy benefits in that microbiome. Not can, not cyanide. You need to go and eat soil, but some of it is definitely dirt out there and not even close to soil, so we need to nurture it. Monica, I want to chat to you about a little bit of what you think the word regenerative means. So from your point of view, when someone says the word regenerative, what does that mean for you and maybe even share a little bit about your farm and your journey and regenerative?
Monika: wow, maybe, it is a very broad term and of course, used by many people in many different ways. But then my way of explaining what regenerative is actually comparing it to sustainable, which is one of the other word which is used very often when we talk about farming. And for me, the regenerative part is actually where we should go to because we are regenerating and bringing it forward forward to something better, to something more broader or something more abundant as compared to when we are sustainable. They keep soils at a level which sustains itself, so it keeps it their where it is, which unfortunately, in my view, in these days, it is very often at a sub optimal level, which we can still sustain it or not. Even that is the big problem. So their comes in the regenerative process where we try to improve what is there to bring it to something which is naturally regenerating food and food and getting us to a point where perhaps not so much interference is needed anymore from my human point of view so that there you go back to where it should be or whether it has perhaps been back in the past at some stage. Yeah, and that’s what we see, probably more natural environments still happening rather than me talking farming there. We have, of course, you know, a history of a bit of destruction and not observing the ecosystem as such. Yeah, my journey I’m another farmer at all my home gardener, but I’m very passionate about that. Anything regenerative. And I’m gardening only for about eight years, but have had a very steep curve after being introduced by only working in the herb farm. And after a couple of weeks their, I just got back Garden Bank and could read myself away any more, which means, you know, I have gone from not knowing anything at all to finding it very important to teach people what I know and a little bit what I know and to to share with. I see myself as a link between people who have different ideas to bring together and to find together in collaboration a really nice way to it to share what is actually essential for the survival of our planet and especially for our health. Because in my point of view, soil is the essence or is actually the basis of everything. You know, if we have a soil which is depleted for me knows where do you think that we can have nutrition at nutritious and healthy food from? And if we don’t have the healthy food, how can we thrive? So when we start with the soil, we make actually this little circular system, which is in any ecosystem necessary to be viable. And that’s my way of of treating my soil and myself and hopefully also bringing that to it. Some more people around you.
Regen Ray: Absolutely. And thank you so much for sharing that. And I just want to touch on that sustainability word. And I think, you know, maybe 15, 20 years ago, being sustainable would have been okay. But unfortunately, we’ve continued to deplete everything and systems and mine our soils and get them to a point where maybe nowadays some farms, even if they are sustainable, they’re at a bit of a broken level. And it’s not to say that that’s anything wrong. It’s just now about, well, maybe there’s a new way of healing that and rebuilding it and regenerating it. And I love that, you know, as as soil listeners listening to this podcast like you don’t need to be a farmer to have a super passionate love for soil. And that’s why we call it soil lovers, you know, because we are more than a community of just farmers and growers and producers, you know, myself included, I don’t have land. But I’m definitely connected with so many people who do have land, and that impact is definitely inspiring. Pat I don’t know if you wanted to meet yourself and talk about your journey and what you’re been, what’s been keeping you busy, right?
Pat: Oh, I’m up in Queensland and I’m on a organic grazing yes, with regeneration of of. I find it difficult to organise myself to be able to improve or take my farm where I know it should be going about regenerative AG to me is something that’s not degenerating and and is productive, and that can take many forms and the crops used as a guide. You know, the humans where humanity isn’t really is separate from nature, but we must leave in nature. And the further we take our farms away from nature, the more danger there is that we’re doing something drastically wrong. So that’s sort of I use a bit of a guide myself.
Regen Ray: Excellent. And I think that’s awesome to have like that North Star and say, like, this is where I’m want to go. And these are some of the things that I need to be doing and working daily to to get that. Why did you discover farming secrets and join the community? What were you looking for initially when you set out on on, on on that pathway?
Pat: Well, it sounds very good, but I have been sort of, as I say, trying to educate myself for years, you know, in regenerative sort of way. But I was actually just looking for some podcasts and educational material. And I came on your site to on them and started listening to some of your courses and podcasts and and did your soil 21-Day Soil Challenge with you. And I’ve done some of Elaine Ingham’s , courses and I’ve found it wonderful. All your resources Ray
Regen Ray: now are some pleasure. And I think the 21 day challenge was definitely a good eye opener for a lot of people is like it wasn’t too hard. And it it aligns very much to what Gerhard was saying about the visual soil assessments. You know, it’s about just doing a bug count. It’s about counting the species of grass within a certain perimeter. It’s about getting a wire and pushing it in the ground and seeing how deep it goes and just starting to train your brain to see things from a different paradigm in a different set. So, you know, I’m glad that you bought the 21 day soil challenge up because it is definitely something that, you know, opens up that dialogue to start thinking, Oh, maybe I should look at my soil a little bit differently. So kudos for you for joining and doing the courses. And I know, like sometimes it can be hard to find time to do the courses and they are designed to do at your own pace and then importantly, uses a bit of a database where you can just search and find the information you need. So I’m glad you’re finding those resources, resources, resources useful as merging those two words together. Trina, you’re up next on the hot seat. Do you want to share a little bit about maybe what is been a bit of an aha moment for you around soil and share with the soil lovers listening like a bit of a fun fact or a bit of a trick and tip over of soil? I don’t know if you’re there because I can’t see you, and if not, we’ll jump the question to someone else. Oh, there we go
Trina: on my journey with regenerative is I have a small property, 12 acres to j, and I’m very rundown when I first bought it and I did a soil test and when I got the soil test back, I really did not understand it. So I used some tools, like some farming secrets and stuff, to add some forces to learn as much as I could about understanding what this test proved. And it proved that I don’t have soil. I just have dirt . And so, so even today, I was looking at one of the Elaine Ingham’s soil biology webcast things and yes so I. I learned something today that I’ve got a very bacterial soil, so so I need to get small fungal infection to it. So building up some compost with lots of fungal foods. And so as soon as it’s ready, I’ll go to apply that and hopefully that will help my soil regenerate, improve. And so that’s my journey and regenerative farming as far as I’m aware of the best way to go. feed the soil feed ourselves and everything should be good,
Regen Ray: it will be. I love that and you know, it is a way to go and we are all converted to, you know, getting the word out and spreading it to others. And that’s really what this podcast is all about is, you know, sharing these secrets of the soil. And maybe someone listens one day and goes, Wow, I want to be a bit more curious about that and start digging deeper. So thank you so much for joining us and sharing sharing your journey. And you’re right, most people do have dirt not soil, and that in itself is a massive aha moment. Now you can take away because most people don’t know that there is a difference. So yeah, thanks, Thank you for sharing that, Bella, you think you’re going to get out of this hot seat? You are a regen rock star. And for anyone who’s listening, Bella is our amazing talent behind a lot of the things that happens on our our our internet space and been my lean to for a lot of things so we can keep producing everything. And I know Bella’s because she’s she’s laughing right now. But Bella, I want you’ve had a bit of an interesting experience because with you also working here in farming secrets, you’ve started a little bit of a rooftop garden and your family has become very interested. And you also have a family farm. So just share with the soil lovers listening. Some of the things that you’ve been learning and experiencing while being a regen rock star admin and everything in between.
Bella: Oh my god, I’m in a hot seat right now so I can escape this one anyway. I’m not an expert, really, it’s just that. It’s just that my I saw my dad, you know, he’s a farmer before he we have this like corn fields or that’s the right thing to say. Rice field is in the Philippines, we produce corn rice, and then I also experience planting coconut trees when I was young because our father taught us because we are two. I mean, I have one sibling, you know, we’re just two. And he wanted to to teach us, you know, how important it is to to know or to learn how to grow your own food, if not depending on like buying your foods in the market and everywhere, you know, he taught us to like, you have to know where your food can come from. It’s like that excellent just to make sure that you’re eating healthy, healthy stuff, you know, because you can’t say that, Oh, I bought that food from the market. It stays organic, but you’re not sure that these are gonna be great. Yes. We don’t know. So that’s the reason why, and I really appreciate what my father taught us. And until then, at least I know how to dig deeper. Yeah, as in to our soil, you know? And then until I became a part of farming secrets, I was able to explore more about this regenerative thing, you know, because I’m so guilty because I’ve been also using like sprays before pesticides, chemicals like the fertilizer, you know, to to make the plants produce more. So that’s a time that I was able to to learn that it’s it’s not good, you know, it’s not good for for the soil and most especially for our health. So I’m really, really happy to be a part of farming secrets and to to spend time with you all guys in this virtual regen classroom. Because every time we have this meeting, I’m learning, I’m discovering things from you because you’ve been sharing lots heaps of, you know, your expertise, your experience. It was like, Oh my God, I want to have my own farm. So that’s my mindset. Now I want to have my own regenerative farm, the future, and I hope I can . I’ll be saving for that so I can apply everything that I am learning hear in farming secrets.
Regen Ray: But you guys are soil lovers you now. You know why we call the regen rock star because, you know, Bella has definitely grabbed the passion of soil as much as I have and. Ran with it, and, you know, I call her my boss because she definitely has got her mind in the right area and tells me, no ray you are committed to this, you need to do it and keeps me in line. So definitely super appreciative and gel . Other staff member is also, you know, working on the farm and learning the practices and, you know, wrote a blog article at her own will on our On Our Farming Secrets dot com blog, where she spoke about having to transition her parents into a more natural and regenerative, even biological way of thinking. So, you know, this is the type of people that we love hanging out with, and I’m just super blessed every day to hang out with that and also, importantly, Helen and Hugo in the legacy that they’ve created. They were very early adopters in getting into what was then back then called biological farming, you know, and natural farming. There were no sexy words called Regen AG or Regenerative this or sin Tropic, that it was literally just about understanding the biology of the soil and going to trade shows and being like, Oh, you’re those are hippie regen or no regen like natural people like you, there’s a table in the back corner for you. And they just pushed through. They cut through that, and I resisted and stuck at it for many, many years. And kudos to everyone. I met amazing people. And you know, some of our early day videos that he’s now living in the Soil Learning Center are things recorded on a handy cam at the back of a show or back of a trade exhibition or on someone’s farm. And we used to call them walk the talks because it was literally like walking along the paddock and just talking and going, Oh, what’s this plant? And why are you doing this? And what is this truck to do in that curiosity of Helen and Hugo? And to interview all these people really created, you know what farming secrets is today? We were sharing the secrets of farmers right around the world, and it was a DVD business, you know, would burn DVDs and ship them to anyone who wanted to watch it. And then we digitalized about three years ago, and this is where we’ve created these virtual spaces and what we call our virtual regen classroom, which is what you’re experiencing tonight as we are asking our members and mentors some of the questions. So our signature question on the podcast is for you to be the voice of the soil, so we might go around the room and we’ll start off with. We’ll go to the same order. So Meghan, if you were the voice of our soils, what would you say to us on the planet?
Meghan: Oh, hello, I’m probably stop killing me.
Regen Ray: Yes, love that. More awesome. Let’s keep him punchy. Kate, what would you say if you were the soil of our voice, the voice of our soil? You need un mute first.
Kate: I would say I feel sick, but don’t give me what you think you’re going to give me. Just just help me get there. One you don’t. You don’t need to give me anything.
Regen Ray: Not that medicine. That’s poison.
Kate: That’s right. That’s what I’m thinking.
Regen Ray: Yeah, no, I got it. I got it. Gerhard yourself. What would you be? What would you say if you’re the voice of our soils?
Gerhard: I’d say treat me humanely and with respect, and I will give to you.
Regen Ray: Love that. Love that I’ll give to you. That’s so important. You know, treat with respect and it will nurture us forever. Monica, if you were the voice of our soils, what would you say?
Monika: Well, I would say Gerhard has just taken my words out of the mouth. Sorry, I had to say, and I gave what you want to see or what we want you to receive. So it is really there’s mutual mutual respect and the interconnected interconnectedness, which I find which is a bit lacking in which I would like to have addressed to me if I must have soil,
Regen Ray: just love that as yet also, and it’s true, what you put in is what you get out, you know, you put poisons in. Poisons will come out and I love that. That articulation, pat, if you were the monica,
Monika: well, perhaps to say something to that because I find it also interesting that we look at soil and we change only one letter, which is that E and putting U it in a um, it is very connected. That’s right. So if we have soil and soul, that’s right, which brings the human into it. So it has so much, so much together.
Regen Ray: Yeah, I love that you said that. I’ve got a quote, God going around. And it’s like the only difference between soul and soil is you and I, and together we can heal it. You know, I love that gives me goosebumps, and I love that love that pat. If you were the voice of our soils, what would you say to us on Earth?
Pat: Probably along the same lines. It might be something like You live with me.
Gerhard: Oh, I love that.
Regen Ray: Yeah, love with me. That’s totally, totally perfect. And Trina, if you were the voice of our souls, what would you tell us on Earth might have? And I think you’re driving, so I’m conscious that that.
Trina: Oh, feed me and look after me,
Regen Ray: feed me and look after me. Awesome, yeah. Love that, Bella. If you were the voice of our soils, what would you say to us? Are you on mute?
Bella: Well, I just wanted to say to you, to us, to everyone, right? Heal me, love me and regenerate me if needed.
Regen Ray: Beautiful. Thank you so much for that. Well, soil lovers, that brings us to the end of this podcast. I’ve absolutely enjoyed digging deep with our farming secrets members. And if you want to find out more and hang out in an amazing space like these, then head over to farming secrets dot com and the Soil Learning Center. Links will be all around, the show notes. So with that, thank you everyone for your attention, and I really hope you got to get a firsthand experience of what it’s like to hang out with really, really deep and connected, like minded individuals. And hopefully you can understand why I bounce out of bed every day and have fallen in love with the soil and keep digging deeper because it’s this and you know some of the things that you’ve heard firsthand tonight of why we do what we do. Some of the other podcasts we talk to experts and mentors and people who are farming, but this is near and dear to our hearts. And as you’ve heard today, there’s some amazing stories from people who are just passionate gardeners, people following different methods. People who are starting farmers and even our own staff and myself included. So on that note, until next time, get outside, get your hands dirty and keep digging, digging, digging deeper into your soils and get around like minded people. I’m Regen Ray.