This is gonna be a pretty special episode in that I'll actually be interviewing a man who has seen an incredible transformation in “conventional” farming during his lifetime. My guest is Roland James, but to me he's my Grandpa. Now Roland grew up in a small farming community in the midlands of England near the southern border of Wales. He well remembers the very first tractors coming onto his family's farm in the early 1940s. Before then all of the fields were plowed with horses or oxen. As he grew up he took over the family farm and adapted to the rapidly changing industry just as the rest of the farmers around him were doing. The stories and perspectives that my Grandpa has are a great reminder of how recent the technological ways of farming really are. As he often tells me, he's seen the first mechanization of simple tasks on the land all the way to fully automated machinery that communicates with satellites to gauge the amount of fertilizer that it spreads on different parts of the farm. All this in one person's lifetime.
This interview is a remarkable look into just how much our food supply systems have changed in such a short time and why many “conventional” farmers struggle to break out of the cycle of debt that keeps them buying industrial chemicals to mitigate the damage being done to their ecosystem.
I hope you find as much value in this perspective as I do and that it will help you better understand how we got into the modern farming systems that we now have.
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