Do you have a favorite podcast? Are you a serial and simultaneous podcast subscriber? I’m not, but I paid close attention to Cal Ag Roots podcast over the years. I’m impressed by the gentle, easy-sounding, yet poignant conversations that elucidate and enrich our agricultural history.
Thus, I was honored that Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, the show’s producer, invited me to be on the podcast. She was principally interested in how history informs my farmer organizing work. I found it difficult to fully convey how every moment, every action is informed by history and memory. Organizing farmer listening sessions comes from the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, seed saving comes from grandparents who hand-picked rocks out of stock for seed and food, and mobilizing multi-ethnic movements comes from Delano, Oxnard, Detroit, and Selma. It’s hard to capture all that in a short interview, but I hope it’s enough encouragement for others to reflect on how we arrived here — the struggles, strategy, and solidarity that has made the world more inclusive and equitable.
While I encourage you to listen to all the episodes through the link above, here’s the episode I’m on and the Cal Ag Roots introduction to this series:
Mai Nguyen is an innovative grain farmer and an influential farmer organizer. In this interview, the first in our new series of conversations with food movement leaders that we’re calling “Digging Deep,” Mai talks with Ildi Carlisle-Cummins about how examining our agricultural past is the only way to move into a just, healthy farming future.
As she puts it, “I, like other farmers, have perhaps 40 tries to grow my crops. That’s not many, but we have more data points by looking back and looking around us. Scale isn’t about one individual using their monoculture of the mind to manage vast acreage. Scale is time, human history, diversity — the polyculture of many minds working lands in different ways throughout time and at the same time.”
This new Cal Ag Roots podcast series–Digging Deep: Conversations with Food Movement Leaders about the History of Farming– will be released every other month. I’ll be talking with people who are working to shift farming right now, bringing California farming into the future. And we’ll be talking about how their understanding of the past, and how what they learn from Cal Ag Roots stories, has shifted their thinking about their work. Each of the conversations will draw on Cal Ag Roots stories, so if you haven’t heard them all yet, take a listen on our Story Hub (or subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher) !
Particularly relevant to today’s podcast is the last one we released—#5, Borderlands of the SJV. We’ll keep on producing that style of podcasts and releasing them here—there are so, so many more histories to unearth. The two different kinds of podcasts are going to be in constant conversation with each other, so we’re hoping that you’ll tune into both and that each episode will be more meaningful that way.
Big THANK YOU goes out to Mai Nguyen, of course, for the wonderful interview, to Nangdo for the use of all the music in today’s episode, and to Cal Ag Roots Funders including the 11th Hour Project and the Food and Farming Communications Fund.