Ariel Greenwood calls herself a “feral agrarian”- one who works at the intersection of agriculture and the wild. Currently she is the resident grazier at a research preserve where she manages a herd of cattle to restore its grasslands as part of Holistic Ag. She is also orchard manager at the renowned Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and blogs at ArielGreenwood.com but she is hard to capture in words. She grew up unschooled in the wilds of the rural Southeast. In college, she studied agroecology and psychology while working with community gardens and private farms. She has grown produce and raised livestock for families, five star restaurants, and tech companies. And she has strong opinions about many things related to restoring grasslands and raising cattle – among other things. And I want to hear as many of them as I can. This show made possible due to the generous support of The Fairfax Companies.
- Poorly managed ranches and farms can destroy wildlife, water quality, soil health, contribute to climate change and poor human health. Overgrazing is a key reason why land is degraded in many areas of the world. This is why sustainable food systems (like the one Ariel is involved in) are so important.
- Holistic Ag. is based on holistic management (operates by considering the whole ecosystem and making sure ALL stakeholders are well cared for), and uses cattle to help regenerate the soil while helping to improve watersheds.
- One reason why the industry of sustainable grass-fed beef is growing rapidly is because producers are finding that they can have healthier products with lower inputs and sell their products for more, while helping the environment.
- Ariel recognizes the privilege behind what she does and the social complexities of working in a segment of sustainable food systems — she is the real deal!
- Ariel believes a way that the local food movement can really be successful is to hold conversations between consumers, who have some economic flexibility, and producers, who have creative ideas with very slim margins. If we can come together to form creative solutions for how the shift to a new level of management can be buffered/supported by the economic needs of doing so — than we’re all ecological stewards, not only the people who are working on the land.
- “I would like for us to think about our food as our direct action – it’s participatory ecology and it’s also our own political activism.” — Ariel Greenwood
- Listen to the full podcast to hear Ariel discuss more about the social, economic, and environmental importance of sustainably produced food!