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Desert Borderland to Oasis - Abundant Agroforestry!
Episode 1216th June 2022 • We Are Carbon • Helen Fisher
00:00:00 00:59:09

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In this interview I'm joined by Bernadette Millard to discuss her journey of establishing an organic family farm in the desert borderlands of Oman.

In previous discussions I've repeatedly been informed of the alarming rate that intensive agriculture is depleting soils across the globe. This means that the quantity of organic carbon within the soil is being reduced year on year, which dramatically impacts the land's ability to support plant growth and retain water. It's a devastating issue that can escalate to the point that farm land becomes more like a desert, and the effect this has on the climate is just as worrying as loosing all of that productive space.

So this discussion is hugely inspirational. It's a case study in taking things in the other direction; from unproductive desert land, to a thriving, abundant oasis!

It's proof that we can turn things around.

And what's even more encouraging is it's a project that was set up without prior experience.

Of course it's a journey of continued discovery and I'm delighted that Bernadette was able to share the steps that they've been on along the way.

We discuss how they made a start at this challenging location, and learn about the variety and abundance of produce that's now being grown - all organically, and in methods that are building soil and increasing production every year.

We also consider the potential to scale these traditional approaches to agriculture and the need to build better routes to market for small scale organic farmers.

Use the time stamps below to get a sense of what's included:

00:00 - Intro

02:26 - Bernadette's background

03:50 - Site landscape and starting conditions

06.56 - Retreat to farm - why a change of plan?

09:15 - Basins for establishing trees

11:50 - A microclimate from trees

13:53 - The water catchment

16:40 - Deciding to grow organic food

20:58 - Layers of Oman's traditional oasis agriculture

24:09 - Observations on plant relationships?

26:50 - Establishing the planting zones

27:56 - The varied produce from the trees

32:00 - Can desert lands become self sufficient?

34:39 - Methods for the annual crops

37:12 - Farm grown pest control

37:48 - The potential & challenges of scaling

42:00 - Increased productivity every year?

43:00 - Products and distribution challenges

52:01 - Livestock on the farm

54:12 - Full circle to a beautiful retreat

55:38 - References and advice for new projects

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