Mike Gerard is a neat guy to talk to. He's a tree expert, handyman, gardener, and builder -- just to name a few. When I lived in the Ashland area for a year, he lived down the road in a homemade mansion built from the most creative of materials. He's a thinker but mainly a doer of the high energy sort. Always energetic and optimistic, he's been buzzing around Columbia for decades doing everything from selling sprouts to designing backyard home food production operations to changing light bulbs. A humble, honest, down-to-earth kind of guy (literally). Thanks Mike! Dream Pizza: "Anything."
Recorded on 2016-03-07
Speakers: Mike Gerard and Joseph Weidinger
So, Mike Jarred, you are a figure of Columbia, Missouri, your hardworking handyman, a creator of large scale creative constructions, mainly in namely, that astonishing a boat of yours hand made in the USA, stuffed with books and essays about alternative agriculture, among other things. You're ah, preacher of the practical in a patron of all plants, a foodie, a hippie tree, hugger and lover yet down earth in the most figurative and literal ways possible.
Welcome to Shakespeare's downtown on March seventh two thousand sixteen. Mike, The first question is, if you're at a social affair or gathering or party and you are asked, what do you do? What do you say? Well, thank you for that fine introduction. Welcome. Hello, humbling. Of fix broken things. That's really what it comes down to. It seems like gardening projects are some of my favorite things to work on.
Of course, in the native plants Dick, come on food plants and in residential, you know, setting. But I also end up fixing gutters and no broken doors in the winter time. Hate to say it. I have fix broken toilets, not my favorite. The hand. It's a shitty job, Theo. Handyman work is the winter winter time work. But then there's a lot of plant work you could do in the winter to pruning. So I get into chain sighing, pruning A lot of people that want to grow food in a urban area.
There's too much shade. Most of our food plants want sunlight, so it's a real dilemma because we want shade in residential areas. We need shade, especially with global warming. But we also need sunshine for some of our favorite food plants, and the trick of trying to figure out how to grow which we're all going to have to do is grow food in the shade. But also, you know it's a balancing act with somebody's property, and you have this great big tree, but it's taking all of your solar exposure for not not just for food, but for solar heat.
And, you know, you have this massive tree on your south side is like you have to take that tree down if you want to have solar heat. And so it's a balancing act. But but, yeah, that's just problem. Problem solving, problem solving. That's what I like to do. Some situation that is a conundrum and try to figure out what what can we do to make this more sustainable? To make it less, let's run off. That's a big thing.
Drainage and storm water and so many properties. They're not paying attention to their rainfall. And that's like one of those permaculture basic principles is you. What is the what? What does the raindrop do when it comes down on your land and that, you know, solve your problems starting there. Use that harvest that water, you know, Or slow it down at least Don't just send it into right, right. So that's that's.
That's what I like to do. Good. Awesome. What is your favorite form of information? Oh, books, old school books and the radio like drive around listening. Kayo Pan Ko Peon is fantastic we've been talking about Yeah, you know, Melinda Hemelgarn is one of my heroes here in Colombia. She's the food sleuth on K O. P. N and great information. She gets out there about the organic movement and the science behind organic farming.
She's wonderful, so it's a radio and books. I'm still computer illiterate. There's one in the house. I don't know how to use it, but, uh, I don't know how to do E mail. We do now that there's one in the house wave. God, great Ted talks. I've seen a few. There are a few good that there are a lot of really. They're fun. I've done that. You've probably seen the Allan Savory Ted talk. Allen saved a fantastic start of Tuck, one of the first ones I and the mic ologists Paul statements.
He's on there. The bio nears. There's an outfit in California called the Bio Nears. They have a conference every year on ecological design, and they get world class speakers tackling. He's huge problems and they're all on the computer. So it's what I'm going to have to learn how to do it, you know, but But yeah. Books, radio, magazines, my customers. They're great. They give me the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times, even the Wall Street Journal, you know, And then also The Nation magazine, Excellent.
Out of Wisconsin. So I do. I do read magazines. So your big reader and we'll probably get to that a little later to hear. Well, why do we as in humans? Why? Why do you think that we collect or gather information where a weird species, I think our brains are too big. I mean, we're the only animal that pretty much that does that where you know, and and I've heard that language is like even singing came before language and that reading.
And this the written word is, like, really new. There was big span, a time of humans on Earth before there was the printed word. So the printed word is like a new technology. How weird is that? You know? Yeah. And so, you know, and libraries. And, you know now with the computer, all the stuff that you could have in your hand, you know, the whole the whole world world and yet the whole world in your hand there, you know, if you press the right buttons, so it's it's astounding.
But so would you say that this need or want to collect information is learned or hard wired? Wow, I don't know. And all. It's sort of thinking ecologically. Which would I like to do? Yeah, What? You know what would be the ecological function of all that information gathering and, you know, and we make tools. And for a while, we thought where the toolmakers, you know, other other species make tools, So we sort of thought, Oh, yeah, human's air so cool because we where the toolmakers, but no birds make tools.
And, you know, there's the thing with the guerrillas sticking the stick down into the log. They go, they go fishing for ants, right? And you make it a tool, and they poke it way down in there and pull up the insects. So yeah, and bacteria communicate now and do all kinds of signaling chemical signalling to They're actually thinking a head looking at and planning ahead. So there is like this bias that humans, you know, we think that we're the right, the smartest thing or whatever, But now forget what the original question was.
Why? Why is it hard wired or learn hard wired with the desire to do that? Yeah, right. And get Tau art. Why do we make art? Who was the first, you know? Well, that's what the questions is. What's the motive of the cave artists? Right? Right. Well, yeah, there's I mean and it does get to this ecological crisis that were in I think, that since we've we're we're overly rational in the modern age, know the industrial revolution and quote science has taken over to where our brains r, you know, geared to that and our imaginations have been like, crippled and art.
That's like, I think with a roll of art now is to, like, jog people back into imagine no thinking and not rational thinking. We're, like, overly rational, you know, the scientific method with its reductionism, You know, it's gotten out of hand over and so maybe are you no desire to you know, all gather information and we're, you know, observing our environment and recording things. Maybe that's part of it.
A reaction to that, you know, in like the art is definitely a reaction to what I think, right? It's a savvy to the over overkill of no. Reductionist, mechanistic, binary, a modern thinking right? Not that that makes any sense. Yeah. What is your earliest memory? Oh, I've had to think of that before. Dust in the air, sunlight picking up little flecks of dust. How old do you think you were? Two or three and sitting on the floor and watching the sunlight pick up particles.
And on my, uh, my dad used to give me the cardboard from his starch white shirts, You know? No. From the cleaners. And I would take the cardboard and wave it. And then all the dust particles would float. Create wind? Yeah, with that cardboard, so that that's my earliest memory. Wow. That's really that's Ah, goes really far back. Do you think memory is more of a curse or more of a blessing? Oh, well, it's It could be pretty inaccurate.
We edit out things and we add things. So memories not very reliable. I don't know. I mean no. You know, the Buddhists like, too say be in the present, so that would lend one, Teo. Yeah. Don't dwell on it the past, but you learn from your mistakes. So you have to have some memory, Tio. Right. But so they're. But there is that concept of being present and that we only have the present, which is a big teaching in Buddhism, which in my life and so Yeah, I don't know.
It could be both right, but But mostly it's it's a necessity. And and and but kind of distracts us from the president. So it's It's definitely not just all flowers. And, of course, it's a bloody right, right? Yeah. Good. Um, who were your earliest role models within your immediate family? Oh, gosh, You have surely my parents and crawling around in the garden and my mom trying to grow strawberries, trying so they weren't.
Do they have a pretty good green thumb? Yeah, my mom especially, was way into gardening because against some, my earliest memories and But then you know which time? What time? Period. You're talking? Yeah, I guess I was a child. Yeah, well, role models, I guess. You know WeII, Of course, my parents, but But as as I got older, got pretty interesting with my parents and no. So when you were teenager school? Yeah.
Yeah, and it's funny. You know, teachers actually became more role models than my parents. Any particular teacher? Oh, gosh, I had some great teachers. Where did you go to school? Or did you grow up? Long Island, New York. Really? Garden City and Glen Cove. Right in the middle of Long Island. Until until high school. And they were What age did you leave in high school? Like my fourteen? Yeah. And you left with your parents and you came to St Louis.
Yeah, but so it was a really big shift. And, you know, the public schools were excellent. They were excellent in St Louis to my parents Picked that place to move to in St Louis, particularly for the schools of partway school system. And that that's another big story. But but earlier, even before that funny thing I like to say about growing up on Long Island is I worked for Bill Moyers. I don't know that I didn't really know what the time Bill Moyers is.
This famous journalist. He's He was Lyndon Johnson's press secretary. Okay, and hit his. He moved to to our town and plot our well bought. But he became the editor of Progressive News newspaper called Newsday, which is one of the best papers in the country, And I was a paperboy and I delivered Newsday, and this is during the Vietnam War and my parents, especially my dad's military background. All his life he was a Marine and clean.
It was against the anti war movement and all the people that were involved in it, and I was getting totally into it. So that's kind of when the fallout is falling out. And and, you know, he was pissed off that I was delivering News Day because he thought Newsday was a liberal, you know, Left Wing magazine newspaper and I started, you know, at twelve thirteen fourteen reading the news. And I'll never forget the Lieutenant Calley and the massacre, my life incident and that just And that's what one of the main things that turned the the War, the anti war movement not grew in leaps and bounds like overnight after that.
And it was in the papers every day for weeks on. And then there's, you know, that famous photograph, the iconic photograph of whatever but no and the and Johnson was doing, I mean he didn't. I just I just remember being really frustrated with him at first. But then it was It was funny because, like, whatever might my dad would get mad at, I would like you. Oh, that must be something important. You know something good, huh?
Really young. When I figured out, well, LBJ LBJ was like, Who the hell is LBJ? You know it. And I finally dawned on Oh, that's the president, you know? And then Nixon came along, and by then my political awareness was was growing and my dad was putting Nixon bumper stickers on the family car and I was, like, so really from another governor. I like to McGovern. You know, my dad thought McGovern was like a liberal pinko, commie ria.
You know, whatever. It's funny when you say that. It's like they're still talking about the same things. In a way, Yes, and it means coming. Yeah, it's it's coming around now. Now we have Bernie Sanders, right? And and but and But anyway, but I joke about Bill Moyers because Bill Bill Moyers is he's wonderful journalist and he's a really great thinker and I didn't know at at the time how significant of a thinker he waas until much, much later he he did a PBS Siri's with Joseph Campbell.
That was astounding, and that's something you should check out. You You'd love it. The Power of Myth and Joseph Campbell was that Joseph Campbell sounds very well. He's a famous mythology, ist written several books. He died a few years ago, but Bill Moyers did that PBS show featuring Joseph Campbell and brought him to the fore. And you know. But he wrote several bestselling books for For Popular Audience, even though he was a no Professor Columbia University.
But, yeah, Joseph Campbell is just one of these great thinker's. He's famous for putting out the I guess he would be calling it the perennial philosophy. The idea that mythologies like, uh, I really connected and that the Egyptians, you know, the Christianity, You mean like Egyptian Egyptians and Christians aren't so different. Is that what you're saying, right? That the great myths are, you know, are universal, right?
And that's kind of like that. That Zeitgeist movie, exactly Zeitgeist movie, which we what we saw that J. J. D. Had. That's funny, cause J D brought that into work or he didn't bring the work by heat. He brought it up at work and I turn around. I'm just like J D you know who this guy is? When I first was getting known, but it he said, I'm living with my Jordan that made me turn around and he's like, Have you ever seen Zeitgeist that makes me turn around?
And then he gets up back on the skateboard. I want one like this. Interesting day. Yes, that Zeitgeist movie, it was completely based on the work of Joseph. Okay, Yeah, That that is exactly where many. I mean, after we watched it, I was like J D. I got the book, The book down one of the Joseph Campbell books, that the power of myth which on he wrote the way of the animal powers, which was a classic, he wrote I can't think of the names of those books now, anyway.
Joseph Campbell. Well, here's a question. Zain guys came right out of his work. Here's a question. Were you raised a particular religion? And if so, are you still practicing? I was raised Catholic, and I am no longer practice. And when do you? When did you check out as a teenager That around that age? Those air. Very big years. That twelve to fourteen or whatever? All. Yes. And did you have brothers and sisters, Mike Whole bunch.
Really? How many sighs And younger. Older to younger to older. Wow. So I was right in the middle. And why did your parents moved to St Louis? Oh, that was a big thing. My dad got a transfer from this kid. He was, you know, working in downtown New York City. Taking the train with this company merits merits, incorporated. And they had their headquarters of St Louis. So he got, like, a promotion, and it's like, you know, move out to St Louis.
And so that was that, you know, and your brothers and sisters are Are they all still around? And are you close to them? Varying It's pretty odd collection. My older oldest brother, Tom, is out in, and, uh, hey and I do not do not talk way we can, but way different politically. He's a Donald Trump supporter, right? He lives in Las Vegas in a huge suburban mega suburb thing, you know? Totally. You know, doing Joe six pack American life.
So he thinks I'm really out there, you know? Yeah. Eso that's my older brother. My sister Betsy is right here north of Colombia, and she's a teacher. She and I I have been closer at times, but we're probably the closest in our family. She's an environmentalist in a science teacher and way. Get along. Well, we're both too busy. So we never see each other right butt. And she's just a year older than I am. So we're very close.
We used to joke that we were twins when we were. We're little and right. We were roommates in college, really here of a zoo here in Colombia, and we work together at a wine see account. That was a big part of my life that y M. C a camp. I was a camp counselor for, like six summers in a row. I loved it. And I was like I did every job that they had until I was, you know, two old toe work. That right was like, you know, I have to not work here.
I'm too old unless I want to be the director. Right? And I didn't want to be the director of the camp, but yeah, that was why Emcee of the Ozarks and Camp Lake with every summer. I started a bicycle camping program and I did a tripping program when went out with backpacking and canoeing. Ten ten day trips. Wow. And it was really, really good. Would you do for food? Well, we'd have on the canoeing was great.
We could have fresh food. We'd bring cooler school canoe. You could bring ice. And then on the backpacking, we had some freeze dried junk. Right? But, you know, they were three or four day backpacking in three or four day. I guess I figured at first I was like, Oh, man, this is This is I can just see my George with a bunch of people. And, like, All right, this is the something something tree and you can eat the twigs.
And we did some of that. And everyone's like, I don't want to eat it. No roads like these are edible. They have a little Yeah, we We tried some. Yeah. Yeah, that was part of it. And your younger siblings. Oh, then I have my sister Susie, who died of cancer recently in Sweden, Sweden. She moved to Sweden and sociologist University there. And we were not in contact. Hardly at all, because she was way over there.
And, uh, so she's the youngest. So then a younger brother in between Steve and he's in Nashville way. Stay in contact. He's a psychiatrist. He's a music nuts. So he moved to Nashville for the music, right? Not country western. No, he's into rock and roll. Interesting Slow rock'n'Roll still loves Nashville. He really doesn't like country music. That's funny, but he likes all the other music. And people forget, you know, Nashville's got Yeah.
Everything else too? Yeah, Just get everything. It's pretty much it's a big music town except dub step, probably or something like that. I don't know. They probably d'oh I don't know. So yeah, that's the whole family, but good. Ah, do evil people exist or does evil use people as a vehicle? You people? Yeah. Wow. What do you What? How do you define evil? I was hoping you to find it hand in Buddhism. They teach, you know, ignorance and greed.
There's the three symbols in the in the center of a mandala. There's the there's the rooster and I'm going. I'm not going to remember this, but agreed Ignorance and there's there's, like, three defilement ce, right? And it was like maybe our arrogance, arrogance or And I think we are born with those. And they can be fostered or or not depending on your surroundings. Good. I mean, Isis is a perfect example.
Are they evil? Remain? Where did we get Isis? Some would argue that we made I I think we did. I think I think you know, you're a little kid and your parents are bombed. And you saw that and you grew up with that. And you knew where those bombs came from. Who are you going to be mad at? Yeah, You know, there's Ah, my roommate and friend and co worker went to one of the true false films and was a six hour long.
If you don't know if you heard about this six hour long. And it was basically it was ah, Prince, Iranian or something that like that, some combination. But he grew up in and I'll know if it is Iran, Iraq? I'm very ignorant about it. Ah, but he basically around two thousand three and four, he started recording a lot of home videos because he knew that things were going to be changing, You know, when the United States announced that it was going to occupy Baghdad, and so is there.
Ah, I'm pretty sure. But anyway, and he was just like, detail ing sort of normal life before and after and how crazy things got. And now, of course, whatever level was that even after the occupation, it is insane now because of their world Isis whatnot, That's it. That's the whole country's a mess. Yeah, like that. I think the guys said that I don't know if it was sometime in the past ten years, though it basically all the family members that he had that were over there have died or have been killed or something like that on.
And, um, you know, anyways, a six hour long documentary. And, uh, it was Yeah. And like handheld camera footage from the streets, I assume he may have had a fairly decent camera, but on all the details, but it's interest anyway. Going back to what? We're saying that Yeah. How can you just witness that? But, yeah, it's the old nature versus nurture argument, you know, right. And where you know that we we do have seeds.
Like you said from the Buddhist philosophy, the's seeds that, if cultivated properly, you know, one way or the one way or the other. Right? Well, and you mentioned Buddhism a few times. Are you? Would you consider yourself a Buddhist or Brutus enthusiast? Oh, yeah. More so than if you ask me what my religion Wass, I would say, Well, it would have to be Buddhism. Or the more I find out about Buddhism, the more I like it on.
I've been studying it for several years now. Not a very good meditator. And then I get distracted, too. High energy. And they all teach, You know, that that's a key part of Buddhism is to still the mind. And so I do find that difficult. Yeah, yeah, but it's beneficial when I could get away with it. And so I I agree with the concept totally right. And yeah, I would say the Buddhist more so than any other religion.
Good. Um, okay, um, and and let's get general timeline. So So you graduated from from a zoo are going to college Must do whatever in Colombia around. This is a late seventies or ladies, early eighties, early eighties. And and then you had sprout business for a couple of years or ten years or whatever. And then there was a gap in their between graduating where I really had the homesteader bug. You know, I've been reading Mother News, so right out the gate, you were tired.
Okay? Yeah. And I say it was funny. I went to forestry school, and I learned pretty quickly about in industrial forestry, and I was like, Man, I'm in the wrong department here, so I ended up. My degree is in park management. I switch to a different program because I really wanted to do environmental education after working those years is the camp counselor. I was like, that's what I really want to do. But I didn't want to do too conventional teaching in a school.
I wanted to, you know, two outdoor programs, you know, And, well, I started doing a, uh it's a long story, but I was the camp naturalist at that camp, and I loved it. Was this post graduation? Yeah, during their homes during during my college years, I would work summers, summers at the camp and then I and always cave exploring. My roommate in college is the head of the local caving club, and we were going around mostly Southern Missouri on weekends, and one cave was Devil's icebox.
Right here. I got involved with Wilders Adventures and started leading cave trips with Wilderness Adventures at the University of Missouri. And that led eventually to part time job at Rock Bridge, which I did for several years. This very part time always, you know, part time. But we're getting the chronological chronology all screwed up here. I guess When I graduated, I was we. But I wanted to really wanted to have a homestead and farmed and and that's what you did.
We bought a friend of mine. I We went tree planting in the south and made a bunch of money hundred dollars a day, Which was that's a lot of money in a P way. Bought together, we bought twenty acres in the Ozarks, and we were, like, live in teepees and do the back to the land thing. And it was on a forty acre piece that friends of ours already had. And they re built a log cabin and started a of garlic operation which they still have today.
And they're still there. Yeah, hard core homesteaders. And I was like, that's what I want to do is write down on this beautiful stream by the North Fork of the white was close to East wind, which is a commune. So there were people down there. It wasn't, like, isolated. And there was a big campground, and our scheme was going to be grow watermelons. And we could canoe down to the campground from the property like two miles.
No one minds. We thought we would fill our canoes with watermelons and paddle on down to the campground and selling toe all the campers. That's great. And it never happened. Okay? And I actually sold that property to buy the sprout farm. Uh huh. And the money that I got back from from the land went towards the sprout farm, which was a going business. It was in Fayette, Missouri, and this crazy guys started it up there in Fayette.
Okay, so the thing wasn't behind your house. I mean, I keep forgetting where you currently live. You've only been in for a decade or so. Uh, fifteen, thirteen years. But you have, is that are those a remnants from the original sprout from like, a greenhouse? Greenhouse is the old sprout building, but this sprout farm was on Cedar Creek, and I rented a farm down at the end of the road there. Route a B. No Deer park.
I'm not familiar with Deer Park Store on sixty three sounds. You've seen Deer Park? Maybe Probably. It's north of Ashland, north north of the airport. You know what? That would set a little general store? Yeah, the Deer Park story. And maybe that's Yeah. Doesn't have another name. There's Pierpont. Pierpont. Okay, I'm thinking that some sort of that's closer to Rockbridge. Deer Deer Park stores over on Highway sixty three and the curtain marching lose around.
That does. So does That's right. That's right. Yeah, And he's got a Ashland address, but route A B goes all the way down to Cedar Creek and there's a three or four hundred acre farm down there that was owned by David Horner, whose daughter was our friend. Win, win, Horner. I don't have you heard Paul and win Grace on the Grace family. They're folk musicians that they're not together anymore, but they raised two daughters out there who are professional musicians out in Oregon.
Really? Good. They play a lot locally. Well, when they're when they're here. But they played locally, all it back in the day. And that was just, like, ten years ago. Yeah, you know, because I remember I s o I remember there is some people, and I was probably this family singing first night. Yes. Yearseve. Yeah, yeah. And I was, like, sixteen or seventeen SOS ten years ago. And that was probably them because they were really amazing.
And yeah, the daughters are beautiful voice when they were little. That's when I knew him. When they were this big and they would dance, they did clogging. And then the parents would play fiddle and win played an accordion. Do you play instruments? Yeah, but I'm not very good. What kind of what kind of music are you into our Blake bluegrass, our folk or something like that? It's funny. Bluegrass I have kind of back and forth with, but know I love all kinds of music.
African music and reggae. Folk music. Real excited about this. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings coming, their folk musicians coming to the Blue Note real soon. But, yeah, the mountain music, traditional folk music I get. I get pretty stuck on that David Grisman love David Grisman, you know, And when you said Blue Grass, it's like the the jazzy new bluegrass and instrumental bluegrass I like a lot. And these musicians, like David Grisman, who's a mandolin player and, of course, the Grateful Dead, grateful that I was gonna I was going to bring that up because I think I did.
He was saying something about the other day. I can I can't avoid it. I I do love the Grateful Dead. I think that that songwriter Robert Hunter I don't know why he isn't more famous. I think is his song writing is fantastic and you know songs like Ripple or in All the songs on American Beauty or Working Man's Dead. I think those those two are like classics. And, yeah, Robert Hunter and Robert Hunter is still riding, and he's done several records out with this guy, Jim Lauderdale.
He used to be with Lucinda Williams. Jim Lauderdale has recorded many of Robert Hunters songs recently, and they're excellent. Just, you know, Americana classics story tell It is, Yeah, very mayor kind of folk music right out of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. This direct lineage, you know? So we come back around to that. But so and how long did this proud thing When did you do move on to the next thing after this?
Proud? Yeah. Was it in the nineties would have been? Yeah, if I go with the floods on the Missouri River ninety three. The flood of ninety three. That was sort of the end of the Sprout farm when I was moving to Roach Port. Then Roach Port flooded. And then I moved down to Pierpont. And then it was flooding down there, too. The year that flood there was ninety three, and then it was ninety seven was also, you know, the hundred year flood came, like four years later.
That was great sales. That although this is the hundred year flood and then we had another one in ninety seven. But so that so that and then I was kind of in flux. I had moved, like, three or four times and a smart agriculture. I learned how to back up a trailer. Finally, that year I had to move four times. In one year, I've learned how to back up a trailer, and that's a good skill to have. Yeah, so that if you if you want to learn, just move four times in one year, you'll learn.
But but yeah. So then and I live down down in Fox Hollow for several couple years with my friend Nancy McKenna. She's moved out to California, but she has a beautiful little farm down there. And we did vegetable gardens there. I trying to think, you know, the sprout farm. When I stopped growing them for a short while, I was like the middleman I bought. I bought them, and I would run into St Louis to the wholesale market on the middle of the night and bring back.
So I still had my customers, right, And I had dreamed of setting it back up again, but I never did. Now I'm glad I did, because regulations got so strict, right? It would have been a nightmare. Right, Teo, try to do it. Keep up with that. Yeah, so so But it had sort of a slow death where I didn't want to admit that I was not the sprout man on. And I had these customers who were very loyal Shakespeare's included in all the supermarkets.
You know, that the carried, um it's so funny with high V because back then, high V was not even in Columbia. There was one high V, and it was down in Jeff City. And that guy was anti local produce. Really? He was awful to work with. He was, like, irritated that he had to sell sprouts. He thought they were like a communist plot. An organic food, right? Thought that was like, the stupidest thing he ever heard of.
And even here in Colombia, Knowles, I might have told you this story. But at Knowles on Wehrli Street, which Knowles was before, Well, hi. V sort of replaced Knowles, but that was a local grocery, cos there was three stores like Mosher. There's like Mosher's. Yeah, they were out on Keen Street. There was one on Wehrli Street where the health department is now. And there was a Knowles out on knife on, like, where Gerbes is now.
Well, we're I think it's restaurant now, but chicken wings, the buffalo Buffalo Wild Wings. That was the third Knowles Knowles has. Obviously, they've all three been replaced by something all been replaced. But they were the quote, local hometown grocer outfit. But they were really part of a G, which is associated grocers, which is a giant like Kroger, right, Ralph? Certainly on the West Coast, sir. Yeah, it's a giant, but they just had, You know, Jack Knoll was a local Colombia guy had started with a liquor store, and it was Knowles liquor and sold there.
No, I didn't know that. That's how he got into the grocery business. I think he started as a liquor guy, right? And then he had these three big, big. And so the only supermarkets were there were two gerbes, one schnooks and three Knowles. That was it for Colombia for many, many years. And the guy at Knowles, Wehrli was also anti organic. Two to the point where he put up a sign saying in the produce department, Don't don't believe this hype about pesticides, residues and don't believe Wow.
Yeah, he was like, he wasn't just neutral. He was anti organic. How weird is that? And he didn't You know, he would get these trade journals coming out of California saying The organic movement is bad for our business, and it's very similar to what's going on now with the G M. O's and the desire to keep information away from people about what GMOs really are they don't want. You know, Monsanto has like a a PR campaign to keep people stupid.
They don't want people to know. It's just like the whole K faux thing with the way they raise me. If people knew they wouldn't buy it. All right, if that's what they're afraid of it. And that's why the whole the jewels, all of something is a revolution like Come to my farm, right? He has nothingto hide. Yeah, and it's And Melinda Hemelgarn says, like on her on her show a lot of times with her, and she's into it.
But she's interviewed Joel Salatin himself, but she says all the time about the GMO thing. What are they trying to hide? What are they afraid of If you're doing something well and ethical, you have nothing to hide, right? So why would they? You know, you should be proud of the food that you're producing. And why would you be against labeling laws that identify what you're doing? And that's the whole push right now is that the industry does not want even a label, right?
I mean, the strangest thing is is how there's so many countries that have outright band things that what you think at least prompt sort of, ah, ahead until to the United States regulators or whatever regulating agencies. I don't know, it's it's curious, but So about you were talking earlier about tools, and you probably used tools a lot. And so I wantto talk a little about those. And I know you said like, uh, humans aren't the only tool using species.
Ah, although we probably we probably have the most sophisticated tools, but it's interesting to note, um, they were not the only ones, huh? But what is here's what I want to do with you know? Have you heard of Marshall McLuhan? Oh, yes. Uh, yes. Um, he, uh, he had this thing called the Tet Trad where it's just ah, a way of analysing tools that we use, um, by asking a couple questions. And the questions are what does it It being the tool?
What does it enhancer intensify? What does it render obsolete or replace? What does it retrieve? That was previously ob Celeste. And what does it become when pressed to an extreme? So with a car, for instance, that the what does it enhance his private mobility? Um, what does it replace Is a horse and buggy. All right. And what does a car bring back that was previously opposite? List is account of creative one, but It's a knight in shiny armor o r and an armour, for instance.
You know, on then what does it become impressed in? Extreme is maybe Ah, home or a bomb? You know, if you ran into something, um, so, anyway, polluting device, Exactly. This global warming me up. So right. What is the most common tool that you use? Oh, gosh, unfortunately, unfortunately, no. Is have to be a cordless drill or a shovel. Yeah, I like shovel. ASU shovel. Okay. Okay, So what? Does a shovel enhance or intensify?
Yeah, well, you're manipulating biomass with a shovel. You know you and well, one of my heroes is although Leopold and he's, you know, famous naturalist environmentalists. And he talks about a chain saw and a shovel. And he's a forrester and one of the early proponents of this ecological thinking and a land ethic. You know, Rachel Carson and the whole environmental movement is standing on, although Leopold ce shoulders.
But he has this great essay where he compares and contrasts a chainsaw and a shovel. And it's like you can go, you know, on your land and humans with those tools, you know what can What can they do? And what are they liable to do? You know, change thought, Taking a tree out where's the shovel? Is putting a tree in right, and he's like we can do both, and we should do both. And, you know, if we're using are ecological intelligence The outcome hopefully, of those two tools, we'll be good, no salads and salads.
And just as a brand new article in a mother Earth news, where he's talking about our forests being in terrible shape because there's way too many trees, right and We haven't thinned out the undergrowth the way the Native Americans did for thousands of years. They took out all the small trees. And that's why when the Europeans came to North America, there were all these giant trees. They didn't have the technology to take out the big trees, so they were using the little trees.
They built their houses with little trees. They did their crafts with little trees, their medicines, their food. It was all little trees. So the forests were managed, they were managed by native Americans, right? And we have this notion that the Europeans came here, and it was like this pristine land, you know, they were so impressed with the big trees, Well, that was on purpose. They were. They were ecologically of living with the trees to get him to be that way.
And, of course, the Europeans had to technology and immediately set to cutting them all down. Right? Because we had saws, we had steel, right? That changed the whole configuration. But there were thousands of years of living human breathing people in North America interacting with their environment, totally and Matt and managing it, interacting and managing in a sustainable a sustainable way. Exactly. It wasn't like this vast waste land.
You know, the great dismal swamp, right? The Europeans called it, or, you know, the the trees that ran from sure to shore, You know that there was. It was people. People were here. Coconut tokyo was huge. Kahoe Kia was a trading center. They were stuff going back and forth from coke. Okay, all the way down to the Yucatan to South America. There were people up and down the Mississippi River, thousands and thousands of people.
No, that was basically a you know, the mound building culture on an extension of the Aztec and the Mayan empire in St Louis and Coca. So this notion that, you know, this country was this Christine place, free for the taking is just taking You got to get rid of those natives. But you know which the diseases did right? Even way Mohr effectively than any of the wars. It's smallpox. I just picked up another book for fifty cents.
It's that artist George Catlin ablation. Amazing. It's his journal or his letters he painted in eighteen thirties. He spent eight years out on the in with the man Dan, who are We're completely dying off up on the upper Miss Upper Missouri, out in Montana and and Kansas and Missouri. He got there just in time when the cultures were dying and he painted all there people with all of their accoutrements. So he's, like, really famous for detail.
They have all the jewellery and all of their outfits and weapons and everything. But I never knew that he was such a good writer. And he writes about the people and their They're incredible, spiritually development. And there just the way they could move through the lands they were completely at, you know, in their elements as a living part of the ecosystem, right? And he, as a European, recognized that and recognized how important that wasn't writes beautifully about it.
And I had no idea that, you know, I've heard the name and I've seen his paintings. I'm like, Oh, yeah, George Catlin, one of those guys. But his writings are extraordinary. Really fun. No, that's good. We'll have to do the texture of things in my time because but yeah, yeah, we started talking about tools and, Well, no, because I won't talk about this. Everything you. Ah, brought up. But this is This is a question I want to know is can a person be all right?
How? Let me rephrase this question to make it relevant to what you were just saying How can you or how can we Ah, make someone perceptive enough to see our planet in a way such that tells them that they, too, are part of nature. Oh, my gosh. I wish I knew, like my life quests to figure that out. I don't know. And wait. When I was a student, we I had a little environmental organisation, and it was just It was called Environmental Education Organization.
And it was like a student version of the Sierra Club. And now there is a student's here close, and I don't know what if they have environmental group, but and we've got involved with mark time and the piece, you know, the piece nook. And there was no peace. No, but there was anti nuclear movement, and I was in charge of that environmental education group. We we did a big thing right after three Mile Island right over there in that geology auditorium and had a nuclear power debate.
And it was right after Three Mile Island and it was packed and like national media came, there was standing room. Only here was this it would have That was like nineteen. Seventy nine. When was Three Mile Island was a seventy nine. I don't know, nineteen, eighty. Think it was seventy nine and I was still and I was in the forestry school? No. And yeah, I think it was seventy nine. Wei had planned this this debate, but, you know, not knowing that there was going to be a partial meltdown in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, we had it on the schedule beforehand.
And then three Mile Island happened, like, on a on a Thursday in our thing was like on a Friday. Wow. And so all of a sudden there's CBS and NBC and everybody, you know, NPR, the whole thing right there. Wow. And I had to get up in front of the whole thing and, like, introduce the speakers. And I was, like, scared out of my mind because it was huge. You know that that's a big auditorium. And it was, you know, there was a line out the door.
Couldn't fit everybody in there. That's incredible. Yeah, And they had the nuclear engineers from EMU that air. You know, the proponents of our little reactor over here, the research reactors saying how wonderful nuclear power was and mark time and his history professor who was anti nuclear guy talking about how bad it wass all professors. Yeah, is there? I'm trying to think of anything. Uh, recently, in the past couple of years since I've been in class for ten years or so or less, but that has gotten similar, I'm trying to imagine professors debating on campus and just from a variety of areas of study.
Hey, I can't think of anything off that my head. But although it is worth noting that the most recent ah, you know, protest is like there's been stuff happening on campus involves its own faculty members being completely one way or the other, having very strong opinions about Yeah, something vocal, um, course that wasn't really an academic matter. Um, right. Although became one with Melissa click, right.
That's true. And the curator has decided she was bad news because she literally bad journalism communications professor. And she was, Well, the final story I heard on that was, well, they had to fire because she, like, broke the law. But they were also saying she, as a communications professor, should have known better than, hey, just some muscle. I know it's just the whole thing has gotten way out of Its is out of hand on both sides.
Both sides is just It is. And there's a lot of politics there, people wanting to, you know, people will read about this someday, and though and they'll be a little footnote in history and they'll say this thing, you know, think Why was it such a big deal? Right? But getting way Really aggressive way used to sit around in the EOE office and try to figure out why. At the universe in Missouri, with all these twenty five thousand students, why is this student environmental group like four people?
How wise, there only four of us that had the interest to to be involved in a student activist environmental group. I was, like, floored when I when I came here and found out about it, and I I basically revived it had died out completely. And there was this professor doctor ends minger who's really famous rule sociology professor who was the student advisor to that group. But he didn't have any time for.
And he told me, Flat out, you can have office space because tohave a student group, you had to have a professor give you, uh, a sponsorship. And by sponsorship, you would get at least you know, a little side room somewhere with a telephone in a couple books. And then you had it in office. Well, I, like, discovered this office, and there was dust on the on the book case and, you know, the phone had been disconnected, and it was like the dregs of an environmental group.
And it was over and read home over there. And I was like, What's this? I mean, so I revived it, basically. And we used to We used to try to answer that very question. What is it? And even this, this adviser, I I asked him I was like, what? What do you think is going on here? Why, Why is this organization died? And and, uh, he was he was, like, two. He was our adviser, but he was way too busy to advise us. All right, so we're basically on our own.
And that's when I met Mark time and, you know, he was involved with the anti nuclear movement, and we kind of joined forces with them in the Calloway plan was being built. The first Calloway and what the CEO stand for again. His environmental education or right. So it kind of you met something you part of a group that's like, Oh, here's a way that we can be immediately effective. Right. So it's like this, like, this is may not be exactly everything that our group's about, um is a part of it is a part of it.
But now we have some something to focus on. Not Ah, there's There's just a a direction at that point or the people that you met in that group. No, you're able to. Connect with them and and ah, and just everything seemed to work out the timing's everything and with the media think. And it sounds like I'm trying to say I'm not very articulate, but that that we really worked out. Yeah, well, that Wayne had no idea that there was going to be a meltdown about And that was our first.
That was our first event. Really. I think we might have had a couple of hikes with the Sierra Club on, but really, that three mile Island. I mean, that nuclear power debate on campus was one of our first events, and yeah, then then it really took off. But, yeah, we used to try to answer that question and every you know, when my working with kids and I I thought the way to answer would be education on that starting young because my own story, you know?
Why am I in nature? Yeah. And where did that begin? Well, I figured we began, you know, crawling around in the garden and eating strawberries when I was four years old. The straw, this sugar enforcement and then picking up rocks and seeing salamanders, you know, marvelling at nature But But why is that what? You know, another kid can pick up Iraq and see a salamander. Well, whatever they're not they're not floored by it.
I was, like, floored by. Yeah, and I don't I don't know why. And it's it's, uh and it's become, you know, learning and learning as much as I can about nature and ecology. And it's like a lifelong pursuit, and it's kind of brings I don't know why. Yeah, I wish I knew. That's the That's the eternal question of anything I guess is is is Why does that one kid who is the world famous pianist just at a very early age just pushing on the piano and just obsessed with that connection, you know, just right, right.
What is it? That Yeah, and the thing that's so sad with our with our situation now is mean. And this is my my opinion. But you know, the ecological crisis, the climate change, guys, is that where we're facing the the the biggest threats to the environment, where there is no environment. I mean, that's a city silly term, but the planet is in trouble, and I feel it. I feel it I see it, but a lot of people don't.
And it's like your question. Why don't you know how? How How can we raise the ecological literacy of the population so that we don't? I have, you know, it just is carrying on, you know, consumerism. It might be interesting. And isn't you mentioned that you knew Marshall McLuhan, Reno March, MCL owner Fred, Maybe some Marshall McLuhan. Ah, I remember reading is the message of the media. There you go. Well, there is this one.
A very interesting quote. And maybe this explains it a little bit. I don't know. I've just made this up. I mean, I just made this connection, but I think his quote is something like the one thing the talking about environment because he's all about environment. And so, and, uh but he said the one environment which a fish knows nothing about is water. So And it's, like, kind of like mind warp anything about, but in the course of fish, probably does, you know, because a fish does, you know, eventually leap out of water or something like that.
And s o they're not, you know, And but then again, who knows? But all it's saying is that ah, when you're around something or the environment around you all the time, no one evens notice it. And so maybe with the maybe, as more people become less and less connected to the what Joel says is our ecological umbilical. Um, but nature itself, or whatever you know, we call nature. Ah, in more people immerse themselves in virtual reality in one way or another.
You know, with Gil going on, email is a form of virtual reality. You could argue, but people become maybe somehow more aware of this environment that we've been in. Oh, yeah, I don't know. It's been going on the past couple hundred years if it hasn't, that whole thing is so key. The water is invisible and the the ecological things are the ecological relationships that are keeping us alive are also invisible.
And you know the naturalist or the scientist that the natural scientist is trying to discover those things. But and, you know, we've talked about industrial farming and the mistakes that they make. And, of course, Lendl berries, my other hero. And he says, you know that most of the industrial solution's end up creating more problems than they're solving. You know why putting pesticides on the on the pest without, you know, creating a monoculture farm and then dozing it with camera and it leads down this a whole road of wrong answers to the problem Because they didn't know what the problem was the first time.
And now we're having antibiotic resistance. Yeah, hospitals and we have, you know. Just like the resistance and plants with the chemicals or the insects develop resistance to the poisons that we dump on him because the next generation is right in me into it. You know the story, right? And that those those with ecological trick is to make the invisible things visible. Right? And that's like I love permaculture ahs a conscious because they're based on that.
Yeah, Bill Mollison was it was was like an anthropologist, and he was looking at at indigenous cultures. He was looking at the Aborigines and the way that they moved through the land, and he was like, you know, they recognize thes things, a great new example that I just thought of for this very reason. Yellowstone and the wolves. They re introduced wolves and, you know, in land management and restoration, Ecological restoration.
Everybody's usually like, plant focused. You know, they have a place has been trashed. You want to get the plant plant community right first, and then you bring in the animals and you try to, you know, if you're trying to preserve a an ecosystem. So take a big chunk of land like Yellowstone, where wolves have been extra pay did Well, they reintroduced wolves. Then they didn't know this at the time. They just want to reintroduce wolves so they could have wolves is part of the Biota.
Yeah, well, what it did was it led to a whole cascade of ecological events that nobody was even thinking about. The the elk herds at the elk that were in the bottom lands in along the river banks. We're thinned out by the increase in wolves, so raising changed. So the vegetation now changed the composition of plants in the valley to where the water temperature changed to where the salmon could do better to where the eagles and the Hawks could eat more salmon and eagle and a hawk shit could add more nitrogen when they ate salmon and bear shit, Eating the salmon and the feces from those animals created microbial community that was more beneficial in the soil.
And then the trees grow better, huh? Well, all right. We have no right now. We can witness it. And yeah, Who? Who knew? You know, and that's the kind of thing that those things were happening all way. Think we're so smart, but we don't even know what we're doing, that that's why the whole GMO project is so scary, right? The unforeseen consequences and a smart as we are, we're really stupid. But when it comes to the way that the planet you know, Kaya is operating on the guy.
A hypothesis I love that hypothesis is to me. It says riel is, as you know, gravity or evolution as a as a theory. You know, there's no you know, the concept that the planet is a self organizing system that is non linear. And that's key because what monoculture farms are based on linear and ecology is not Viniar. It's self regulating, and it's cyclical. Yeah, and that's probably the the heart of the whole message of you.
Know that that's the the biggest mistake of the Industrial Revolution. It is that linear thinking bumping up against natural systems, better cyclical and looking like we have global warming. That's the carbon cycle, right? And what have we done to the carbon cycle? Michael Paul? And he talks about the nitrogen cycle. Holy shit. What's going on there? We've invented anhydrous ammonia, artificial nitrogen, and Piquet would put that on our soil.
We've got, you know, two hundred bushels to the acre of corn, but it's all fake. They're doping the helping. There's helping. Everybody was worried about Lance Armstrong pedaling his bicycle faster and he was doping. Well, the farms in Iowa are doping, and nobody seems to care. Yeah, until now, the Des Moines rivers so polluted that the city of Des Moines has to sue the farmers upstream. All right, well, what if What if Lance Armstrong, his urine samples all those years would have polluted?
All of the athletes in the world are cleaners with Then she would get done right if we worried as much about you know, Lance as we did about farmers. Yeah, You know that that was you know, that was a big national story. And and yeah, he he cheated. Well, industrial agriculture is cheating, and Michael Pollen writes beautifully about. He says he's mad. Scientists working for Hitler invented the Haber Bosch process.
They were trying to make weapons. They were making weapons, artificial nitrogen and and that allowed, eh? And it gets back even earlier than that. I was James Watt and the steam engine and the quest to control nature and exploding fossil fuels of any sort Is this great trick that, you know, Goddess. It's way think that we got out of the ecological. Real reality that runs the world right way broke out of it for a while, and now it's coming back to roost with climate change.
That's exactly what it is. Or a the colony collapse disorder in the Colony Club. In the Bees Writer, you know they talk about colony collapse to be the honey Bees are all in trouble. Well, and this isn't my own thinking. This is a A guy, a beekeeper, biodynamic beekeeper extraordinaire, and I can't remember his last name. But his first name is German is Verner Runner, somebody beekeeper, and he had a farm in Illinois.
That Sarah Lindsay admire first told really called Spike Nard farm, and now he's moved it to Virginia. But and he's on their computer. We saw one of his talks was amazing, He says. That colony collapse disorder with the bees is just an example of actually societal. The beginnings of societal collapse of humans. Right? That it's just a symptom of you know what all the contaminants in our in our world like.
Think of what bees do, you know, making honey. They're out in the air and they're on flowers collecting pollen and nectar. If there was ever a product that was like the synthesis of it of an ecosystem, it would be honey, you know, right, because they're the purest product, your simplest. They're flying through the air. And there, on nice, sunny days are warm days when the flowers are at their peak production of nectar, gathering that and turning it into honey.
So honey, honey production is like an indicator of a healthy. It's like the one of you know it's the essence of oven ecosystem. So the bees air not making honey. If the bees were screwed up, the ecosystem is screwed up and that, you know, Serves is like a metaphor for the Hole planet and the human enterprise on the planet in these times. No, since I think you know the Industrial Revolution and the scientific revolution, that's sort of like the beginning of the end, you know, And using tools in which tools well, exploding fossil fuels, internal combustion.
I mean, it's really cool. Yeah, but where's it getting us? I mean, what is it really doing? I think that whole game is coming to a close, and we're gonna have to, you know, rain in our use of that technology and and, like, the whole thing with I was going to say that Bill. Bill McKibben, he's the big environmental environmentalist. Three fifty dot org's is his group. He had He wrote a book before he became the climate change.
Activists wrote a book called Enough and it was Really It was a book about computers and computer technology. But, hey, he's one of the few people almost like the Amish that actually well question technology and say, OK, what is enough? You know, most of us we don't want we don't go there, right? Well, solid in says this. He says that we're so into the how. But no one's asking why basically is is is we're so obsessed as a species.
Seems to be a, You know, we're so obsessed with this spinning out this development of technology, no matter where it goes without even stepping back, like you even need to go there, right? Yeah. And just because we can do it doesn't mean that we should. And that's that's like again a GMO thing, you know? So we figured out this trick, you know, Tio Jam, some trade into DNA double helix, you know, to get that that nature would never, ever do.
And that's wise Monsanto's. So they are evil because they keep people confused about the truth. Nature would never, ever do that. You know, take a gene from one life form and put it into another That's on Lee done in a lab. So it has nothing to do with hybridization or crosses or breeding a natural breeding techniques at all. It's a completely contrived, unnatural laboratory process. They don't want people to know that they owe nature.
Does this to you? Yeah, No, but they just miscommunications, miscommunication, obfuscation. Yeah, but the just because we can do it doesn't mean we should do it. You know, there are limits there in the idea of limit. There was a famous book, The Limits to Growth. Daniele Meadows from M. I. T. It was in the seventies and the club of Rome. There was a big global meeting, kind of like the meeting they just had in France with the climate change, global climate change meeting or like the meeting in Copenhagen.
But the club of Rome, they said there's limits to growth. And it was one of the first computer model programs. They said if we if we continue consuming at this level, then we're gonna have collapse by this date and then the collapse didn't happen when they said so. Everybody is like, I don't know. They don't know what you're talking about. They didn't know what they were talking about. And there their basic conclusions.
Now, fifty years later, forty years later, are all coming true. Some of those computer models about sea level rise. We're perfect. It's happened. The Japanese had him in in Kyoto. Hey, they're they're all coming true. It's It's happening, you know, three. I think we're seeing the beginning. Katrina Katrina was not a natural disaster. Katrina was a man made disaster. Think the waves came in, The storm happened.
It was the levees that well, it was the barrier islands that were removed. That maid Katrina. Worse if they would have not way carved out the barrier, we moved him. We took boats and moved to move the reefs that protected No, the coast. We've, you know, we manipulated Hurricane Sandy again. That the oceans were warming. The force of the of the storm was much greater than it should have been accentuated by climate change.
You know, these air? He's your man made disasters. Right? Well, okay, so we've we reach her time, but I want to ask just a couple more minutes of questions and some some more. Ah, to end on a lighter note or Teo was, But so these will be quick questions. Ah, and I'll probably just asked a few. I'll probably just ask Sarah started selling my mom just replacing every silver with tea Ah, How do you find peace of mind?
I take a hot bath and Epsom song's Good. Um, if it's that stick out in the woods, we'll walking. Walking in the woods. Um, okay. Either one's get it is that she was built in your honor. Where would it be displayed? And what would it be made of? No statues, No sad. She's please. And tree good. Plant a tree here. You That That is so, my George, Um, what is the run healthiest cultural shift you see developing today?
Ah! People are interested in gardening. Gardening is popular, and that's really hopeful. Everybody, no matter how busy you are, but you can if they get their hands in the dirt and see something grow, that's what we need. That's beneficial to everybody. Their nuclear physicist, a car mechanic. You are a janitor or an organic a farmer that goes to the farmers market with a truckload of produce. It's all good gardening good.
And the last question is, Please tell me something good you've never had and you never want. Something good that I've never had that I never want. Yeah. It's good, but I've never had and I don't really want it. That's a weird Yeah, I can stop it. Tio jamming my brain wave case of bring General go on for the good that I never had but I don't want yeah. Oh, I know. Hang gliding Good. I don't have the testosterone to do it, but it looks so cool.
I wish I could do it, but I knew if I had the opportunity, I would bail. Yeah, I'm chicken. But does that that that is a good one. Thank you. Thank you very much. My George, That was really fun. We take these off? Yeah.