Lexington Food Justice Podcast #10

Soil Health

Honestly, we have the most interesting guests! Will Meurer, owner of Wholesome Living Farm and Angie Quigley, owner of For Pete's Sake Farm joined us to discuss their trajectory into sustainable farming. Neither started as farmers. Will was a math teacher, though got his first exposure to animal farming as a Governor's Scholar at Eastern Kentucky University. And Angie was a chemical engineer before her family packed their bags and moved from a golf course home in Lexington to a farm on the outskirts of Fayette County.

Will and his wife now own and operate a pasture-based, holistically managed farm in Clark County. Utilizing multi-species, rotational grazing practices to fulfill his mission -- To be a steward of the earth by employing redemptive techniques to build soil health into our ecosystem. And in the process offering healthy, nutrient-dense beef, pork, chickens, and eggs. That not only feeds and nourish our minds, bodies, spirit. But also the world!

Angie and her family lived a quiet life in a quaint, suburban golf community. But then their precious Pete -- a Blue Healer, Australian Cattle Dog and his longtime partner Annie -- a German Shepherd were diagnosed with allergies, skin irritations, and digestive issues. After diving into holistic healing research, Angie realized the lawn fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides were contributing to Pete and Annie's problems. So off they went -- to the rolling hills, mixed hardwood forests, and loamy fertile, chemical-free soils of their heirloom vegetable farm on Cedarcreek Lane.

Have a listen to Angie & Will discuss their dedication and passion for redemptive and regenerative farming.

Listen to Our Podcast!

Here's a Recap

WOW! Tomatoes signalling to other plants to start boosting their immunity to protect against infection by foreign pests blows my mind. So much respect and reverence for this amazing fantastical world.

Interested in reading more?

The ethos posted on Wholesome Living Farm's website is beautiful:

A transparent, pasture-based, holistically managed farm located on the edge of the beautiful Bluegrass in Clark County, Kentucky. . . utilizes multi-species, rotational grazing practices to fulfill our mission to steward Creation in a redemptive way that builds soil, builds forgiveness into our ecosystem, and builds a bridge between our patrons and the food that nourishes them. . . .We are committed to our ministry to offer our local community integrity food that fully honors and respects the soil, the animals, the people, and the landscape we all share. We are humbled by the opportunity to provide your family with real, nutrient-dense food.

For Pete's Sake Farm website echoes a similar philosophy:

A fun and quirky sustainable farm. We cultivate harmony with nature through our produce. . . . Use sustainable, organic practices . . . to produce its harvest in due season. As stewards of the land, we protect the environment and preserve the natural ecosystem. Soils are healthy and fertile, beneficial insects thrive, and the land rewards us with vegetables that are full of vitamins, minerals, and good old- fashioned flavor! All of our harvests begin with seed started in our own greenhouse here in Fayette County. Every plant or vegetable you purchase is truly homegrown and Kentucky Proud.

The meat of our program was a discussion about soil health. Will & Angie provided a great primer. But if you're interested in a deeper dive. Here are some articles:

Will talked about "pasture management" as an integral component of redemptive farming. Click here to learn more about how he utilizes this principle on the farm → Wholesome Living Farm Products

The heavy use of chemicals in farming began after WWII. By the end of WWII, there were a number of large-scale nitrate factories that built bombs and other explosives for warfare. These facilities were easily retooled to manufacture fertilizers to use in farming → A Brief History of Our Deadly Addiction to Nitrogen Fertilizer & The History of Big Chemical's War on Food -- 1865 - 2007.

Will offers advice to decode terminology on chicken and egg packages. "Pastured" or "pasture-raised" are the optimal terms.

  • This means that the chickens and laying hens foraged outside eating a natural diet of plants and bugs and other creepy crawlies. Just as the chickens and laying hens at Wholesome Living Farm.
  • And the laying hens, ducks and geese at Evermore Farm. Supplier of the egg option for the CSA offered at For Pete's Sake Farm
  • Chickens are omnivores. They eat seeds, plants, insects, and worms. So when you see "vegetarian diet", that's a sure sign that they were raised in a CAFO or industrial farming system.
  • "Free range" makes people feel good about their purchases. But the laying hens (or meat chickens) may not be raised in true pastured conditions. Where animals are roaming freely outdoors where and foraging on their natural diet.
  • So be wary of terms. And if in doubt, google the farm. Read about their practices. Are the farms transparent about their techniques? Do they allow visitors? If not, then beware. 

I wrote a series of Blog articles about that may also be helpful:

Will & Angie continued the discussion of the sustainable, regenerative farming techniques that Mac Stone (Elmwood Stock Farm) and Daniel Pike (Pike Valley Farm) started. Both of these were amazing, fantastic shows. I highly recommend listening to them. Even if you did back then. Worth another go, I say!

If you're interested in learning more about these farms, please visit their websites and Facebook pages:

These farms also offer tours. These places are fairly close. And For Pete's Sake Farm is close to the Floracliff Nature Sanctuary. Sounds like a fabulous day trip!

Up Next (September 1st)

Many THANKS again to Will Meurer of Wholesome Living Farm and Angie Quigley of For Pete's Sake Farm! All the best for continued success with your farming endeavors and acres of loamy, fertile soils . We look forward to inviting you back on the show for a deeper dive into redemptive farming and soil health.

Please tune in to our next show on September 1st, 10 - 11 am, 93.9 FM WLXU Lexington Community Radio.

Our guests will be Melissa Kane Tibbs, Senior Manager at Community Action Council. And Tanya Torp, Community Activist and Executive Director of Step-by-Step, Lexington. September is "Hunger Action Month”So all September shows highlight an aspect of hunger -- particularly exploring poverty as the underlying cause of hunger issues.

Community Action Council is a non-profit dedicated to help people with low-income find pathways out of poverty. Step-by-Step is a non-profit that offers mentoring and support services to young mothers. So Melissa and Tanya will help us understand hunger through the lens of those working in low-wage jobs – many multiple jobs – and still struggling not just to make ends meet. Especially when it comes to put food on the table. And many of whom are single mothers.

This series of shows in September will be very compelling and poignant. We hope you will tune in. And learn how you can get involved to help provide comprehensive and effective solutions!