One of the very special sojourns, during my extensive global travels, has been regular visits to the Drakensberg region of South Africa. Here, on one of the wonderful farms, nurtured by the Isted family for decades, we often convert a barn into a conference venue, and I share what I can in my notorious “drinking from a fire hose” fashion.
Dick Isted, his wife Margo, and his son Kevin, have created a showpiece of all things sustainable. They have resurrected the veld, in this majestic, mountainous landscape, with a host of regenerative strategies. These practices include mob grazing, mineral balancing, cocktail cover cropping and contour water management (with the use of a Yeomans plough). They have maximised animal health with a combination of balanced, biological pastures and judicious supplementation during the harsh winters.
During these sessions, one of the great treats for all involved has been an evening braai (barbecue) featuring the Isted beef, produced with Nutrition Farming protocols. Oh my goodness! This is a meat with a sweet, sumptuous tenderness, the likes of which I have not before experienced. In a country of rabid, red meat lovers, where eggs are considered vegetables, I argued that this fine meat should be individually marketed as “the world’s best”, rather than simply amassing their unique produce with the mainstream mediocrity.
However, Dick became ill with prostate cancer shortly after my last visit and, following a long, hard-fought battle, he succumbed to this plague, midway through 2018. I was so thankful that I was able to spend precious time with him and his wonderful family during those sad, last days. Thankfully, he left a monument to his love of the soil, in the form of a dynamic fertile enterprise and a talented son to carry on and extend his mission. Kevin Isted is a remarkable, regenerative farmer who will surely teach the world sometime soon. He has fought fire, floods and drought over recent years and now has a different challenge to overcome. Like most South African farmers in these difficult times, he faces the insecurity and uncertainty of an unstable, acquisitive, vote-hungry government threatening his ongoing viability. I am certain that this good man will prevail.
During one of my visits, a filmmaker was present for the two-day barn event, and he filmed what he could amidst the regular power outages that are now an integral part of daily life in South Africa. He recently edited some of that footage and has produced a series of short videos, which are now available on the NTS YouTube channel. Here are some details and the direct links. I trust you will find something of real value here:
19 videos to help you on your Nutrition Farming journey
1) Calcium and Boron - Joined at the Hip
2) Mastering Microbes
3) 3 Important Add-ons to a Soil Test
4) Countering Climate Change with Cattle
5) The Link Between Crop Pests and Nitrogen
6) Stress Busting Strategies
7) Seven Reasons to Bring Back Your Earthworms
8) Fermented Food for Longevity
9) Lessons from Albrecht - Improving Nitrogen Management
10) Permaculture in Agriculture
11) The Secret of Longevity
12) Silica - The Potent Plant Protector
13) Countering Climate Change
14) Seven Ways to Improve Phosphate Management
15) Enhancing Foliar Response with Inoculums
16) Calcium and Fungi
17) Fighting Inflammation
18) Stress Relief - Meditation for Farmers
19) Key Nitrogen Tips - Potassium Potential
Upcoming Initiatives - Podcasts and On-Farm Video Blogs
I have recently become increasingly enamored with the power of podcasts. It makes perfect sense to utilise these education tools during long hours on the tractor or in the ute. In my case, when I share so much information in a short time, this technology offers growers and consultants an opportunity to gradually garner all of the details, due to the replay potential.
I thank the many farmers around the world, who have asked that I introduce this service. I am responding to your request. I have purchased a high quality broadcast microphone and a podcast App, and I will begin publishing podcasts in the very near future.
Videos from Nutrition Farms
Some of you may be aware of the two research/demonstration farms that together comprise my Nutrition Farms project. For years, I had been craving for the opportunity to demonstrate core regenerative principles, while proving the viability and productive potential of a chemical-free, multi-dimensional approach. I decided I needed a subtropical and a temperate example, as we are equally involved in these two climatic zones around the world.
The subtropical farm is situated just ten minutes from the NTS Complex and Seminar Centre at Yandina. It is a difficult, mountainside property with zero flat land and many gullies and steep ridges. It is breathtakingly beautiful countryside, but quite challenging to farm. I am trying to demonstrate the potential of a multi-dimensional approach with multiple interrelated synergistic enterprises. This is part of a global change, where there is a growing movement away from the fickle commodity market and its deeply embodied monoculture principles and problems. It is almost a move from the dominant mantra of “get big or get out” towards a new philosophy of “diversify or get out”. Currently we have over 20 separate activities happening on that farm, including composting, worm farming, chicken tractors, bee hives, a commercial greenhouse, herbs, multiple vegetables, ginger, turmeric, papaws, limes, bananas, tamarillos, yacons, dragonfruit, etc. We are soon to introduce pigs, goats and turkeys.
The temperate farm is located near Stanthorpe on the Granite Belt, QLD. Here we have multiple varieties of stone fruit, apples, pears and figs. We grow a large area of garlic on raised beds between the tree rows in winter, and then those beds are converted to yacons, tomatoes, capsicums, chillies, celery and silverbeet in summer.
I have loved every moment of developing and farming these distinctly different properties. Both my agronomists and myself have relished the learning opportunities linked to trying to solve problems without the chemical crutch. Most times we succeed and sometimes we fail, so the challenge continues. Recently, I have recognised that it may be of value to share some of these learning opportunities by video blog. These regular updates will soon be available for Nutrition Matters readers.
In next week’s offering, I will be singing the many praises of curcumin (the highly active medicinal component of turmeric), with the launch of Curcu-Life™, a new superfood from Nutrition Farms.