Oct 20, 2022 • 44M

Interview: Gail Fuller

Gail Fuller practices no-till crop farming and cattle grazing in Eastern Kansas. I was lucky to connect with Gail on regenerative farming, and his path to helping heal the body, mind, farm and earth.

 
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Gail Fuller practices no-till crop farming and cattle grazing in Eastern Kansas.
He also runs with his wife Lynette Miller, the Fuller Field School, a near decade long effort to connect and educate farmers, ranchers, researchers and community leaders to share ideas, innovate and build relationships in a holistic way. I was lucky to connect with Gail to discuss his past, holistic improvement, regenerative farming, connecting to food and rebuilding communities...

Gail:
This is rural Kansas.

Leafbox:
Nice, nice.

Gail:
It's iffy at best like usual.

Leafbox:
Wonderful, Gail. Well, I really appreciate your time. I was just at my community garden this morning, and I was speaking to some of my garden plot neighbors that I was speaking to a farmer in Kansas today, and everyone around me was just very interested in... They had a lot of questions. Maybe we can start with some questions from them before we... Well, maybe why don't you give people who don't know about you, just how do you describe yourself, Gail?

Gail:
Well, that's a good question. I probably would best describe myself as an agro-ecologist farmer.

Leafbox:
Wonderful. And then, you're in Kansas, right? Where in Kansas are you?

Gail:
We live just outside the small town of Severy or an hour straight east of Wichita. We're in the southeast part of the state just on the eastern edge of the Flint Hills.

Leafbox:
Wonderful. So maybe I'll start with some of the questions from my community plot farmers. The first one I got this morning from my neighbor plot was, what can community, local little plot farmers learn from professional farmers?

Gail:
Well, if professional farmers are practicing regenerative agriculture, they can probably learn a lot. I guess it depends on what... That's kind of a broad question, but there's a lot of farmers today at the upper end of the scale that are completely focused on soil health. They own microscopes, they're looking at what's going on in the soil. They're starting to switch away from commercial fertilizers and using compost teas and things like that. So, I think there's a lot that probably each can learn from the other.

Leafbox:
And then, you're really focused on soil health. One of the questions the farmers or the gardeners gave me was, are you part of the no till movement or maybe what are your thoughts on tilling?

Gail:
I think tilling needs to be used very, very minimally. I'm opposed to tillage or any kind of disruption, whether it's soil or chemical, either one. I just don't like disturbance. I don't think there's a place for it for the most part.

Leafbox:
Got it. Another question I got from someone who has a PhD and works for the health department, what do you think about hydroponic farming that's quite popular here in Hawaii? Just curious if you have any thoughts.

Gail:I'm not a big fan of it. To me, plants grow in soil. That's where they get their minerals and nutrients naturally, and if soil's healthy, that's where you're the most nutrient dense food is in the soil.

Leafbox:
What is your strategy for managing seeds, Gail?
Do you purchase seeds? Do you dry and grow your own? Or how do you manage just seeds in general?

Gail:
The farm we're on now, we do very little seeding as far as grain or forage crops. Most of the farm is perennial. We do have a small amount of acreage that we're transitioning to perennial, and so, we're planning some cover crops on that. At this farm, because of the scale and time and equipment, I'm purchasing the seed. I have grown my own in the past. When it comes to the garden and our personal food supply, we save some of our seed. We're learning, we're not great at it yet. We're in the process of getting better. When I was still farming at a larger scale and doing more row crop farming, we were switching to heirloom grains and open pollinated where we could save our own seed. I don't believe in commercial seeds, I don't think there's a place for it in agriculture or food production.

Leafbox:
In Kansas, what motivated your switch from more modernized industrial farming to restorative farming?

Gail:
There was a series of events. Being a farm kid, I considered myself an environmentalist to begin with. We switched to no-till just because I absolutely hate soil erosion. And then, as we got further into the movement, I realized I knew nothing about soil other than it was a median that was being used to hold up a plant to amend with commercial products. And that's pretty dangerous. That's when I started to educate myself on living soil microbiology, soil biology, et cetera. Also at the same time, I realized that I was being lied to by big ag. We found out that glyphosate was an antibiotic, that really changed a lot within our mindset and the way we wanted to grow grains and meat.

Leafbox:
How did your approach to eating change as you learned more about restorative farming?

Gail:
It did a complete flip along the way. Obviously, conventional farmer, conventional food, and the more we learned about healthy soil, the more we found a direct parallel, direct link between gut health and soil health. The soil microbiome, the gut microbiome are almost identical. And so, the two just go hand in hand. It wasn't hard to convince ourselves to completely change our diets.

Leafbox:
What are your thoughts on vegetarianism?

Gail:
My thoughts on what? I missed that.

Leafbox:
Vegetarianism?

Gail:
I guess it depends. I usually like to have that conversation with the vegetarian or a vegan to see why they are. It seems the two most common answers I get, number one, it's usually about animal health. Or not animal health, but animal wellness and animal abuse. Obviously I can't argue with that, when animals are being run through the conventional system, but we put animal wellness at the top of the list here. And also we need animals to heal the planet, and so, there's that respective. Plus, just from a human health perspective, we need some meat in our diet.

So, I usually have a pretty good argument for vegetarians. Plus I get another answer, when it comes to the wellbeing of animals, I don't know if they just don't understand, but all living creatures, whether they're plant or animal, have feelings. They have emotions, they're a live, living, breeding entity, so just because you don't hear the plant scream doesn't mean it doesn't. So, those are some of the things. I guess the other answer I get from a lot of vegetarians is they've chosen that simply because they can't find access to meat grown regeneratively, pasture aged, things like that, or harvested humanely.

Leafbox:
I was looking at your CSA box and it looks so beautiful, some of the meats, and it seems like you put a lot of energy into the sourcing. So, I personally eat meat and I try to eat as local as I can. Here in Hawaii we have a lot of access deer, that's all wild and Maui, and it's kind of a pass, so it's quite sustainable to eat that meat. What led you to start the Fuller Farmer Education Series?

Gail:
It was started simply as a cover crop slash soil health event. It was co-founded with a friend of mine, Dr. Jill Clapperton, who's a rhizophericologist, and I was always interested in education. I was already doing some speaking at conferences about my farming practices. So it just made sense for us to host one at the farm, but it took a huge turn in year one. Jill was adamant about a couple of things. Number one, that we source as much of the food for the meals locally as possible, which no one in the Midwest was doing at that time, at any kind of competent scale. It was fast, cheap, and easy. The other thing that happened at that first field school was Jill did a presentation on food.

And sadly, at the age of, I think I was 49 at the time or 48, that's the first time I'd ever heard anyone talk about food at a farming conference. And that's partially where I realized that we were going down the wrong road. And so, the school really took a hard turn after that first year and it became a conference like none other. It's a deep look into the carbon water cycles, energy flow, and the parallels between soil and human health. We've even gone further than that. The last couple years, we've gotten into more the spirituality of being at one with the landscape and new economies and things like that and pushing regional systems as much as we can.

Leafbox:
Have you found that you've had secondary entrepreneurial efforts develop from those efforts? Have new businesses started from some of these workshops and whatnot, locally?

Gail:
No, I mean, not a lot personally for me, but I guess kind of. We've spun off a second education event that it's a bit like a peer group and there's a group of us that get together. We've got our fourth meeting in the last year coming up here in a couple weeks. And we spend a weekend... Well, it's called Regenerating Me. And we spend the weekend regenerating ourselves. I mean, we're totally of the belief that we can't have regenerative farms without regenerative farmers. And so, we're working on mental health and spirituality and things like that, and really trying to get ourselves at one with the landscape. So we've had some things spin off like that, but entrepreneur wise, not a lot. We are working on a series of workshops to run across Kansas this winter. It would be 16 total events. And these workshops are going to be focused on just that, on nutrition and physical and mental and spiritual wellness and trying to help fix the broken farmers so that they can fix the broken landscape.

Leafbox:
What has been the response just from the general public to these kind of initiatives? Do they think you're kind of a hippie out there? Are they excited? What's the response?

Gail:
A little bit a both.

By and large, the people that attend the field schools are just blown away. Well over 90%, we get just huge emotional responses, very positive responses. But at the same time, I know there's people out there that aren't ready to go that route yet. And yeah, I'm pretty sure they've got things they call me that are probably worse than what you just said.

Leafbox:
How have... I mean, maybe to get a little bit woo, but how has some of your spirituality changed as you've gone on this path?

Gail:
Oh, it's changed. You'd asked earlier about our diet and about the time we started changing our diet, I started having a little bit of health problems. I was overweight a little bit, not a lot, but heavier than I needed to be. My blood pressure was high, my cholesterol was high. And also about the same time, we started understanding the dangers of the chemicals and the toxins that I've been using my whole life. And so, I changed my diet and almost instantly got my blood pressure and cholesterol back in check and I lost 30 plus pounds; and we thought that that alone was going to fix everything.

I've struggled with some depression and other things the last 10 to 12 years, and we blamed some of that on the toxins and the chemicals. Also, there was a lot of stress and we were just kind of in the mindset that once we cleaned up our diet and quit using the chemicals, all those things would fix themselves. And we've come to the realization in the last 18 to 24 months, that isn't the case, that we have to address health. Well, we've been addressing health, just like we've been addressing farms very piecemeal. We've got to address health from the physical, mental and spiritual standpoint. And that's the only way we're going to fix it. So, I've really started putting a focus on the wholeness of wellness for myself in the last six to 12 months.

I find myself much more attentive to my farm. It's changed the way I make decisions. I have more of a tendency to go out and listen to the farm before I make a management decision that could have lasting detrimental effects. I try to let the farm guide me and I try to let it tell me what it needs or what it doesn't need. That's extremely difficult for an old white guy, or for any guy in general, because the males are the hunters and the gatherers and the conquerors, and that's how we've been bred for millennia. And we've overdone that a little bit and we've got to bring our female sides back in touch just a little bit and balance ourselves back out and use both sides more than we have been.

Leafbox:
How has your relationship to labor changed or developed over the years? I mean, how many workers do you have at the farm? Are they migrant labor, permanent labor? I'm just curious what the markup of the people who actually farm is?

Gail:
The farm is, I am the owner, manager, laborer, janitor, chief financial officer, marketer. I'm it.

Leafbox:
Got it. Are there any cultures that you look to who are doing farming in the best way that you think right now? Is it the Dutch, the Japanese, Uruguay? I'm just curious, who are you looking to emulate?

Gail:
Oh, I don't know. I'm not really versed in a lot of the cultures. I love what Bandana's doing in India and I do follow some of that a little bit. I'm intrigued by the Korean natural farming and I was heavily interested at the beginning of my transformation by Masanobu Fukuoka of Japan.

Leafbox:
He's one of my favorite writers. Yes. The Do Nothing Farming, that's an incredible book.

Gail:
Yeah. Yeah. The One Straw Revolution just, it changed my life. But yeah, I've read them all and the first book I recommend to anybody is One Straw Revolution. It's a must read for anybody involved in agriculture. Even as a consumer, I think they need to read that book and understand connectedness with nature and things like that. And I think the one place I'm weak and we're trying to improve is to get more in touch with the indigenous ways of the planes here. We want to try to reach out to the Osage Nation and I want to start studying how they farmed and managed and how they approach the land. I think there's a lot there I need to learn yet.

Leafbox:
Maybe you can tell me a little bit about your relationship with the federal government or local government? How has that changed or expanded? Are they supportive of your efforts? I'm just curious about that relationship.

Gail:
My relationship with the federal government is extremely poor. I really don't care... I don't trust them. And this isn't political, I don't trust the left or the right. I think Washington, they're all in bed together and they're all in bed with industry and it's a mess. That said, yeah, you can say I have an ax to grind because I took on the government when I lost my crop insurance in 2012 because of my cover crop practices. I won that case, but they basically bankrupted me in the process.

I went to Washington and we did get a lot of things changed in a positive manner about crop insurance, but my trip to Washington, I just saw what I told you about... We met with offices of liberals and conservatives and I didn't like what I saw and I don't like... Went back historically in my lifetime at the secretaries of ag on both sides of the aisle, the presidents on both sides of the aisle, the farm bills, they're there to promote industry, they're there to pad the pockets of politicians, and they're there to do that at the expense of the farmer.

Leafbox:
How have you guys resisted some of that pressure at the local level? Is that through your workshops or how else do you guys battle the industrial interests?

Gail:
Well, I'm not sure I quite understand the question because we really don't have any issues with local governments per se. So, maybe I misunderstood the question though.

Leafbox:
Oh no, I'm just curious, I mean, do you get any support from University of Kansas? Are they interested in what you guys are doing or trying to develop studies on... One of the things that I liked about the One Straw Revolution is that he was so tied in with the universities and he was always measuring like the rice yields and really documenting. I'm just curious if you do anything like that as well.

Gail:
No. The land grant universities, which in Kansas would be Kansas State University, they're mostly under the influence of industry. That's who pays for most of their research, so they don't always see eye to eye with me. I'm not saying that there aren't good people at the land grant universities, there are, but by and large they've got the industry message at heart, so I don't like them. There's some smaller universities that it's easier to do work with and they're more interested in what we're doing and in trying to model things after us having conversations with us that the large universities know.

Leafbox:
Have you seen yields go up, down? What have your yields been like since you've changed tactics?

Gail:
When I was still row crop farming, once we started following the principles of regeneration, our yields, it varied. At times we saw good yield increases, sometimes we didn't. What we did see though was a decrease in input cost, so our profitability was better. I think today the farmers that are still row crop farming at large scale and have now been doing this for five to 10 years are really... I think they're getting to a point where they're more profitable, they're more resilient against nature, they're less reliant on government handouts. I just think it... Plus the nutrient density of the product they're growing is higher and it's just a win-win across the board I think.

Leafbox:
Got it. What do you think the future of farming in the west is?

Gail:
The future of farming in the west is grass and livestock.

Leafbox:
What do you mean?

Gail:
They have to return to a perennial system. They have to let the grass grow or in the case of Kansas, Kansas is a prairie. It needs to return to a prairie. When you get west of the Rockies, they've got to return it to a perennial system with rotationally grazed and vegetable production in California is probably over. That's going to have move into more rural going to have to move east, just simply don't have the water.

Leafbox:
Do you have issues with water management or how do you address those?

Gail:
I certainly don't have the issues that they have just to the west of us in Western Kansas and from there on west to the Pacific. That said, right now we are in D3 drought, have been for several weeks. We're coming off an extremely dry summer and I'm very, very fearful for next year at the moment.

Leafbox:
Has your relationship to climate changed or developed over the years?

Gail:
Yeah, it changes. It changes fairly constantly anymore. I was an early believer in climate change. Actually had an author write a chapter in a book about me in 2013 I think it was. So, I've been on board for a while and stupidly I kind of patted myself on the back and thought I was really preparing myself and my farm by admitting there was such a thing and starting to try to work my farm to be more resilient. And I thought I needed to worry about warmer, dryer, more droughts, more heat, and becoming more resilient that way.

But what's our biggest problem here isn't necessarily the warmer days and nights and the droughts, but is just the craziness of it all. The wild temperature swings. When it does rain, it pours. When it doesn't rain, it doesn't rain. We go weeks at a time now without rain and then what, we get 10 to 15 inches in a month. And so, these wild swings and this spring we saw just day after day of increased wind to the point that we had a hard time pollinating our apple and our pear trees because they literally couldn't pollinate because of the nonstop wind. And so, there's things that I'm learning all the time that I thought I was going to have some of this figured out. Mother nature has the last say and she's speaking pretty loud right now.

Leafbox:
Got it. Talking about climate change, how do you guys network as farmers? Do you use the internet or just locally? I'm just curious how you develop your educational skill sets.

Gail:We use all that. The internet's a powerful tool and we have a couple chat groups that I'm in and we've got three other local farmers that we meet with once a month at each other's farm. There's just multiple ways that we exchange information and learn and share ideas.

Leafbox:
Do you find that restorative farming, is that sustainable at the global level or are you just concerned about the local?

Gail:
No, I think absolutely it has to be done at a global level or our species is going to cease to exist.

Leafbox:
Did you read anything about Sri Lanka and their kind of... I don't know if it's, I'm just curious what a farmer thinks about what happened in Sri Lanka in the last few years, if you're familiar with that.

Gail:
No, just enough to be dangerous. So yeah, I probably won't comment on that.

Leafbox:
Got it. Yeah, they banned all the industrial fertilizers and pushed organic farming. But to me it just seems like the farmers didn't have the skillset to do that without... It takes a long time to transition.

Gail:
Yep. I had seen that they had banned... I didn't know how it turned out, but I would be fearful if the US banned fertilizer tomorrow, which they may not ban it, they may just run out, that that's going to be too rapid of a change. I think we need to take a little bit of time to get worked into this and most farmers don't have the mindset or the skill set to go cold turkey without it. And to be honest, I doubt there's enough legume cover crop seed available at a minute's notice to grow a bunch of nitrogen. That said, I think we need to be looking at reducing corn and soybean acres drastically, immediately.

Leafbox:
If you were maybe the head of the Department of Agriculture, what would you recommend? Would you have a tenure plan? I'm just curious what you think the best strategy for, I guess, everything from food production to maximizing farmer health or general wellbeing?

Gail:
If I was the Secretary of Agriculture, I would... Well, I don't know. I probably would be fired pretty fast because I would clean out EPA, FDA and USDA, step one, and expose the lies that are going on. I'm not in favor of the program. They've just been a huge failure in my opinion, but we need to find a way then to educate the farmers on how to grow regeneratively, but at the same time, we've got to educate the consumers on why the cost of food needs to go up to support real food. Real food that is healing and medicinal and not the crap they're eating today.

Leafbox:
What are some of the lies that-

Gail:
Lower their health costs, sorry.

Leafbox:
that you're familiar with that other people might not know? I'm just curious. Like glyphosate, for instance. I saw on your website that kind of opened your mind. What about glyphosate particularly worries you or whatnot?

Gail:
The main thing with glysophate is it's antibiotic. If that doesn't scare the crap out of you, I don't know what would.

Leafbox:
Got. Maybe you can answer me, every time I go to Europe, I eat bread all day and milk and cheese and somehow I still lose weight and then I come back to the States and I try to eat as healthy as I can and I still somehow gain weight. I'm just curious what a farmer's perspective on that is?

Gail:
Well, I know in the case of bread, a couple of things. The amino acid makeup of the hybrid wheat isn't the same as it was in the heirloom wheats. The nutrient density isn't as high as it was in the heirloom varieties. We've traded health for yield is all we've done. And then when you take that kernel of wheat that's not as healthy to begin with and you remove all of the good stuff out of it and separate that out and then you make bread with what's left, that's not the way our grandparents made bread.

So, we've done so much not just in production to lower quality but in processing and things like that. Bread isn't bread. It's a whole bunch of byproducts and lab grown, lab made stuff that they're trying to sell you as bread when it's not. We cook our milk, which takes all of the good stuff out of it. So basically you're just drinking cooked white water, there's no value in it at all. Then they add stuff to it to... You add vitamin D and how do we know our body's able to recognize that form of vitamin D? Our forefathers ate real food and we've got to get back to that.

Leafbox:
Maybe you can... There's a lot of raw milk stickers all over Hawaii. Do you have any thoughts on the raw milk movement? Is that similar to what you're talking about?

Gail:
I'm not sure. Milk isn't meant to be cooked, isn't meant to be pasteurized. When you do that, you take out all of the nutrient value of it, so why drink it?

Leafbox:
Yeah, it's just funny because sometimes people are just so scared of listeria and they just can't imagine a world where you could draw milk from a cow and drink it.

Gail:
Yeah. I think if you do the research on that, the issues that started all of that hysteria wasn't the cow, it was how the milk was being handled after it come out of the cow and that's where the problem arose and for some reason the cow took the blame.

Leafbox:
Well, plus they can sell then medicine to the cow and equipment to pasteurize and production lines and a lot of other secondary products. Yeah, the best milk I've ever had in my life was from the Jersey cow, straight from the cow and it was incredible. It was like a off white, bone... Just incredible. Changed my thoughts on milk.

Gail:
That's probably very telling.

Leafbox:
What's your daily routine like, Gail? I'm just curious.

Gail:
Oh, it varies. It's seasonal and it just depends. On the farm here, we have 160 acres. We have cattle that are for beef. We don't have a dairy here, so we're grass finishing cattle. And we have... The mommas are here, so our calves are all born and spend their entire life here. We also have some pigs that are... We are feral to finish there also. So we have mama pigs and then the babies are fed out. We have grass finish lambs. Same thing with the cows and the pigs. The lambs are born here. We also do meat, chickens and eggs. We bring the chicks in as day old and we're not growing our own chicks yet. And then we also have some ducks that we grow for meat for seasonal, for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they're born and raised here also.

So there's always those that need managed, they even need moved to fresh grass or the pigs and chickens, they get fed some grain also besides grazing. So there's always feed to grind, fences to move, make sure everybody has water and mineral and all those things. And then after that, it just depends on the day, whether it's inside on the computer answering emails or cutting wood for the fire or planting the garden or whatever. Just very seasonal and we've tried to become a little better at being lazy, I guess, would be one way to put it. We try to quit by dark and I've kind of become a chicken in my old age. I rise and fall with the sun. So in the winter we try to rest and in the summer we work hard.

Leafbox:
I saw on your website that there was... I mean, you gather people from Mennonite or Amish type communities as well to modern farmers. I'm just curious, have you learned anything from those type of farmers? The Mennonite or Amish or more traditional lifestyles?

Gail:
Oh yeah. I think everybody that there's no such thing as a perfect lifestyle or a perfect farmer, but everybody's got good and bad and I try to pick up the good that I can. The thing I love about Mennonite and Amish is some of their views of community and things like that, that a lot of us have gotten away from. I love the people we get here and I try to learn from all of them. I think that's one of the great things about our school is as fabulous as our speakers are, there's more learned outside of the presentations than there are at the presentations just because there's such a diverse crowd at them.

Leafbox:
I think I know what you're going to say, but just one of the people at the garden this morning asked, "What do you think about the meat replacements beyond meat or impossible beef or the lab grown meats that they're trying to sell?"

Gail:
So what are my thoughts on lab grown meat?

Leafbox:
Yes,

Gail:
It's grown in the lab. I don't see any value to it at all. The plants they're using are grown in monoculture and some of the organic matter and legumes like peas and soy beans are destructive to soil for the most part. And most of that lab grown meat is made from products that you can't pronounce, not food. And I think it's a very dangerous path that humanity is going down, trying to grow food in the lab when we can do it outside and reverse climate change and grow real food that's nutrient dense and healthy for us.

Leafbox:
Maybe Gail, I know your time's short. I just was going to ask, how do you invite people from outside the community to engage with your community? I saw that you have the Airbnb-

Gail:
Can you repeat that again? I'm sorry.

Leafbox:
I'm just curious, how do you invite people to your farm or workshop? I saw you have the Airbnb and the hip camp. I'm just curious about, do you have workshops for non-farmers as well or anything like that?

Gail:
We've not done any workshops yet for non-farmers, although I mean all of our workshops are open to everybody and we do have some non-farmers come to them, which I think is really important, and it's something we want to expand on. Yeah, we use the Airbnb and Hip Camp and Harvest Host as a way of attracting our urban cousins to come see the farm and get educated a little bit about how we grow food. I think I would like to find the time to start hosting some workshops in urban settings that are geared more towards consumers than farmers to help build some of those bridges and draw some of those connections.

Leafbox:
Have there any restaurants or chefs or culinary people worked with you? Are they excited about what you're doing for instance?

Gail:
Yeah, the chefs , usually the mindset of shop local and supporting local farms and things, but they still really don't have the full understanding of why it's important. So we're really big on bringing chefs to the farm and helping educate them about the soil and nutrient density and at the same time they share with us and we've butchered animals here together and shared in the gratefulness of that and we've had really good connections with the chefs we work with. We work with chefs out of Kansas City and Wichita and it's just a joy to work with them.

Leafbox:
And then, one of my last questions is, how do you slaughter your animals? Do you have a slaughter house on site or do you have to truck the animals somewhere? I'm just curious what the relationship is with the final processing is?

Gail:
Yeah. Most of the livestock... We have two different small USDA inspected plants, they're both mom and pop plants, not the large ones. We have to be inspected for most of the stuff that we sell because of farmer's markets and such demand that. We do a little bit on farm. That is certainly something we'd like to do down the road. I think it's important all of this stuff is harvested as close to the farm as possible and that way it take the last little bit of stress off of the animal. Plus from a soil perspective, all the waste product can be composted and returned back to the soil on the farm. And that's important too.

Leafbox:
And then I heard that you grow apples and you said pears. Do you make any ciders or any preserved items with those or value added products as well?

Gail:
Not a lot yet. I did make a large batch of apple cider vinegar about a half a ton last year because we supplement our cattle and sheep with ACV in the wintertime when our forage is really low quality. So we've done a little bit. I'd like to do more, but we've been here on this farm with fruit for three years and we've had almost no fruit production. We've had one apple crop... Well, actually we've got apple, peach, pear and of those, we've had one crop in three years out of each of those. The plums have mostly produced every year, but nothing heavy. Again, the wild climate swings and food production extremely difficult. I would love to be able to have enough to start doing some more things like that, but we just haven't had the production yet.

Leafbox:
Do you manage beehives as well on site or not?

Gail:
Yes, we have... What do we have right now? I think five hives right now and just like everything else, between the climate and the chemicals, honey production is extremely difficult.

Leafbox:
Gail, and then aside from One Straw Revolution, is there anything that you think someone who's new to thinking about food and agricultural should know? I mean, how can they start on their journey? What's your recommendation for them?

Gail:
I think another good book, there's a friend of mine or two friends, Montgomery and Biklé, their book, Hidden Half of Nature. It really ties soil and human health together. That's a great read for anybody. There's just a lot of really good books out there right now about soil, human health, animals, all of it. The list is long.

Leafbox:
And then, Gail, do you have children or not?

Gail:
Yes, I have a son and a daughter.

Leafbox:
How are you educating them or do you want them to work on the farm or do they help you out as well?

Gail:
Oh, they're both grown and my daughter's married and she is involved in agriculture and my son is in Kansas City. He may return someday. Don't know yet, too soon to tell.

Leafbox:
Got it. And then, what do you think the most important thing for the next generation of, I guess, passing the realm on or the baton on is?

Gail:
The next generation of-

Leafbox:
Farmers.

Gail:
... farmers, consumers, both?

Leafbox:
Yeah. Both I guess. I mean, they're connected.

Gail:
Yeah, I think it's just quit listening to the propaganda and start asking questions about your food and where it comes from and take your... I think for farmers just taking their lives back and taking their farms back. Taking control back and getting on a journey of fixing themselves.

Leafbox:
Great. Gail, is there anything else you wanted to add? Sorry for my rapid questions, there's just a thousand things I could ask you.

Gail:
That's all right. No, I appreciate you reaching out and spreading the word and we need more conversations like this to happen and I guess I would just ask everybody to start asking more questions about their food and their health.

Leafbox:
Great. Gail, so much, thank you for your time.

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