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72. Mitigating Climate Change Through Home Agroecology: From Lawns to Ecosystems with Justin West
Episode 7217th December 2021 • The Good Dirt: Sustainable Living Explained • Lady Farmer
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You can begin healing the planet, improving your health and mitigating climate change right outside your door! On today’s episode of The Good Dirt we sit down with Justin West, the creative entrepreneur behind Thrive Lot – a marketplace platform on a mission to create food abundance by combining agroecology, landscape design and technology. Thrive Lot seeks to reimagine the lawn care industry by scaling permaculture and installing ecosystems into our very own yards. But to do so requires a shift in our collective idea of what we consider lawn care. We can create habitats for wildlife, regenerate the soil, reduce our carbon footprint and mitigate climate change by reimagining our lawns as a place where we grow our own food, produce medicinal herbs, fruit trees and vibrant ecosystems.

With over 40 million acres of lawn in the United States -  the largest single irrigated crop - it’s a concept ripe with potential, which is why we’re so excited to share our conversation with Justin as he dreams of a future where home agroecology is the norm, and where “good dirt” heals the world. 

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podchaser, Simplecast, Podtail, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Topics Covered:

  • Agroecology--is the application of ecological concepts and principals in farming, combined to create a type of farming that is sustainable and in cooperation with nature. 
  • Permaculture--the development of agricultural ecosystems that are self-sufficient and sustainable, drawing from an observation and imitation of systems in nature and resulting in crop diversity, resilience, increased natural productivity, less human intervention and more sustainability.  
  • Carbon sequestration is "...the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is one method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with the goal of reducing global climate change."
  • Perennials vs Annuals 

Resources Mentioned: 

Guest Info

Visit the Thrive Lot website

Follow Thrive Lot on  Instagram

Follow Us:

Original music by John Kingsley @jkingsley1026

Mentioned in this episode:

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Transcripts

Justin:

I don't want to trade my life for, just for money or

Justin:

just for making something cool.

Justin:

Like it needs to be, it needs to create the future that I want to

Justin:

see that I believe in wholeheartedly with no downsides, right?

Justin:

With no waste with no destruction, only positive.

Justin:

And we can make Amazon and Facebook and all this stuff.

Justin:

Why can't we use the same technology and power and business and economics to scale

Justin:

permaculture, to scale agroecology and to make it so that the world and humans can

Justin:

facilitate natural systems for benefit.

Justin:

Instead of having to extract from them,

Emma:

you're listening to the good dirt podcast.

Emma:

This is a place where we dig into the nitty gritty of sustainable living

Emma:

through food, fashion, and lifestyle.

Mary:

And we are your hosts, Mary and Emma Kingsley, the mother and

Mary:

daughter, founder, team of lady.

Mary:

We are sowing seeds of slow living through our community platform

Mary:

events and online marketplace.

Emma:

We started this podcast as a means to share the wealth of

Emma:

information and quality conversations that we're having in our world.

Emma:

As we dream up and deliver ways for each of us to live into the new paradigm.

Emma:

One that is regenerative balanced and whole.

Mary:

We want to put the microphone in front of the voices that need to be heard

Mary:

the most right now, the farmers, the dreamers, the designers, and the doers.

Mary:

So come cultivate a better world with us.

Mary:

We're so glad you're here now.

Emma:

Let's dig in.

Emma:

How are you doing?

Emma:

Have you been living slowly this holiday season?

Mary:

Yes, I have.

Mary:

I've been building a fire every morning and doing my work and reading there

Mary:

and taking long walks and baking things and filling the house full of all the

Mary:

smells and yeah, just soaking it up.

Mary:

It's been really nice.

Mary:

How about you?

Emma:

Well, similarly to you, I can't say I have been baking, but I've been

Emma:

wanting to bake and today I finally did.

Emma:

So I made ginger bread from scratch for the first time, which I've never done.

Emma:

That was really fun and tasty.

Emma:

Yeah.

Mary:

There's nothing like molasses and ginger.

Mary:

Ah, so good.

Mary:

Yeah.

Emma:

We went and got a little tree today and I was very tempted, both

Emma:

at the hardware store where we got.

Emma:

It's connected to a target.

Emma:

We had to get something at target too.

Emma:

And I was very tempted by all of the fun, like holiday things, you

Emma:

know, just like decorating stuff.

Emma:

It really took some real restraint to not just like, bye.

Emma:

You know, there's even this like light up gnome thing that I still, like,

Emma:

I haven't rolled all the way out.

Emma:

I might go back and get it, but I really practiced not buying plastic things and

Emma:

came home, put the lights on the tree, put on the ornaments that I already have

Emma:

put on Christmas music made gingerbread.

Emma:

And it's amazing how I didn't need those

Emma:

things.

Mary:

Yeah, yeah.

Mary:

It doesn't take much.

Mary:

Does it?

Mary:

Yeah.

Mary:

A little greenery, little

Mary:

red sparkly lights.

Emma:

Yeah, little amazing.

Emma:

Anyways.

Emma:

It's true.

Emma:

Good to our listeners.

Emma:

We are so glad to have you here today.

Emma:

As we find ourselves moving deeper into winter and the end of

Emma:

the year and into the holidays, and we hope that you're having.

Emma:

Lovely slow holiday, season two.

Mary:

Yeah, the, and this is a good time dimension as well that we'll be taking

Mary:

a break from the show for the next two Fridays, Christmas Eve and new year's

Mary:

Eve respectively, but we'll be back first, Friday of January with a whole

Mary:

lineup of great good dirt interviews.

Mary:

We hope you're finding the show as inspiring and as entertaining as we are.

Mary:

Yes.

Mary:

And if you are, we would be so appreciative.

Mary:

If you could help us spread the good dirt by sharing your favorite episode

Mary:

with a friend, leaving a review or tagging us when you share anything

Mary:

about the show on social media, any one of those things really helps.

Mary:

Yes.

Mary:

And there is also another way you can support the good dirt, which is

Mary:

by joining our community platform.

Mary:

The Almanac becoming a member of the Almanac, not only helps keep this

Mary:

show running, but it also allows you to connect with good dirt listeners

Mary:

from all over the world and get direct access to us through monthly gathering.

Mary:

The book club, thoughtful conversations on the platform

Mary:

going on all the time and articles, essays, all kinds of content photos.

Mary:

You can sign up for the almond check on our website@ladyfarmer.com

Mary:

under the, the community

Emma:

tab.

Emma:

And also an Almanac membership is a great gift.

Emma:

It is a zero waste, a low impact holiday gift for anyone in your life that

Emma:

might be interested in the living and cultivating a more sustainable lifestyle.

Emma:

We've designed the platform to work as a seasonal guidebook of how tos and

Emma:

inspiration for walking more slowly and mindfully through the seasons.

Emma:

And we just know that you're going to enjoy it.

Emma:

And your loved one that you will give to, to is going to love it.

Emma:

Gift memberships are found in our online marketplace, which

Emma:

is also on our website under.

Emma:

Shop tab.

Emma:

So if you want to go ahead and sign up, you will go into your community.

Emma:

And if you want to buy a gift membership, you will find that in the shop

Mary:

and think of another awesome gift to yourself and to the world.

Mary:

What are you ready?

Mary:

I have no idea.

Mary:

A permaculture lawn.

Emma:

Whoa.

Emma:

That is a great, that's an amazing gift to the world and a great segue.

Emma:

So with that amazing gift idea, an incredible segue.

Emma:

Would you like to introduce today's podcast guests?

Mary:

Yes.

Mary:

Today we're speaking to Justin West co-founder and CEO of thrive lot,

Mary:

which is an online platform with a mission to create food abundance by

Mary:

helping people to design, install and sustain their own edible outdoor Oasis.

Mary:

It's all about transforming traditional yards and lawns into beautiful

Mary:

edible landscapes and forest gardens.

Mary:

It's even beyond growing organic nutrient rich food, it's

Mary:

creating habitat for wildlife.

Mary:

It's building resilience, soil, and it rekindles your own connection with.

Emma:

So according to an article in the Washington post, there

Emma:

are somewhere around 40 million acres of lawn in the lower 48.

Emma:

That's soaking up approximately 9 billion gallons of water per day.

Emma:

And all of that is.

Emma:

Grass, probably chemically treated grass.

Emma:

And so it's crazy to think of all that land and water that could be

Emma:

used for growing food and habitat for the native plants and animals

Emma:

that would help to create more good

Emma:

dirt.

Mary:

Yeah.

Mary:

And just, and west did think of that.

Mary:

And that's what he's here to talk to us about today.

Mary:

Justin is not only a creative and successful entrepreneur, but he's a

Mary:

true visionary with a driving passion to make a radical change in the existing

Emma:

paradigm and paradigm shifting is what we're all

Emma:

about here on the good dirt.

Emma:

The thrive lot concept is really exciting.

Emma:

And we're so excited to have Justin here to tell you about

Mary:

it.

Mary:

So take it away, Justin.

Justin:

So thrive is a marketplace platform where we have agro ecologists,

Justin:

like permaculture designers, landscape architects, and contractors.

Justin:

And we bring these groups together to install edible ecosystems for homeowners.

Justin:

And so what we realized was that there are a ton of people that wish they had a bunch

Justin:

of blueberries and apples and flowers and bees and birds and butterflies.

Justin:

And there's almost no one that can give them really what

Justin:

they want in most markets.

Justin:

There's a few landscape companies that have figured out putting all of those

Justin:

pieces together, but it's really hard.

Justin:

To combine those, those three skillsets of ecology, design and execution.

Justin:

And so we're a platform.

Justin:

We've got a standardized streamlined process that brings these contractors

Justin:

in at the right time, we represent the customer, help them define their vision.

Justin:

And then we create the software tools that make the process go smoothly and make

Justin:

the communication really clear and make the longterm maintenance a really easy.

Emma:

Can you tell us a little bit more how you got to be doing

Emma:

what you're doing right now with.

Justin:

Yeah.

Justin:

So I did grow up in Tennessee and it was really strange because I was

Justin:

in this kind of startup world now.

Justin:

And I've been obsessed with startup world ever since I learned about

Justin:

it like a decade ago, maybe before that, when I was born outside

Justin:

the bay area, but then I live.

Justin:

Uh, most of my life in rural Tennessee and from age five to 10, actually

Justin:

lived on an old Amish farm in the Cumberland plateau that my parents had

Justin:

purchased from, from some Irish folks.

Justin:

And the Amish had left a huge, like 50 foot long grapevine.

Justin:

Huge garden area, big orchard, big fruit trees.

Justin:

And then there was just like an acre of wildlife, various in wild blueberries.

Justin:

And my family was kind of poor at the time and we grew tons of

Justin:

food and foraged, a ton and canned and preserved and froze stuff.

Justin:

When I was 10 and we moved it to west Tennessee and actually got involved

Justin:

in four H wildlife judging, which is basically looking at an area of

Justin:

land, assessing the, the ecosystem and assessing the wildlife population

Justin:

and making changes in the land.

Justin:

To optimize the wildlife population to heal the wildlife population and

Justin:

competed in one state over and over again.

Justin:

And then by the time I was old enough, 15 won the national championship

Justin:

in that my ecological design and the urban ecological design.

Justin:

And it's really funny because that just, it showed me and this guy kind

Justin:

of forgot about it then for a decade, but it definitely ingrained in me

Justin:

that people can generate life at scale at massive scale and at small scale.

Justin:

And, you know, we always think of Gibbons not destroying the planet.

Justin:

Oh, just tearing everything up and poisoning.

Justin:

But we actually have the ability to facilitate nature and to make it even more

Justin:

bio-diverse than it might be untouched.

Justin:

And I think that inspired me long-term through high school and college, I was

Justin:

always an entrepreneur started a ton of businesses and side gigs started

Justin:

e-commerce stores and made a bunch of products and did like some sales

Justin:

contracts and built some agencies.

Justin:

But I was always looking for something that had a big, positive impact and

Justin:

kept saying, well, you know, this thing is cool, but the side effect

Justin:

is that it also kind of creates some trash and I even was going to get into

Justin:

indoor agriculture because I think, and I've thought even back in 20 12,

Justin:

20 13, I was looking at and just kind of flying around in Google earth.

Justin:

And it's just obvious to me that.

Justin:

Agriculture is the biggest net impact on the living sphere of

Justin:

this planet on the biosphere.

Justin:

And there's also clear at that time that electric cars were going to

Justin:

be a thing, solar and wind power.

Justin:

We're going to be a thing, but who is dealing with the fact

Justin:

that we're eating the planet and that we're eating our future.

Justin:

And so, uh, you know, I was looking into indoor farming

Justin:

and then this question came up.

Justin:

Well, what if your solution is just the way things are done and it's

Justin:

maximally successful as successful as the physical laws of the universe allow.

Justin:

And what that means with urban farming would be that what we actually ended up

Justin:

just building and growing populations and destroying all biodiverse

Justin:

life on the planet and removing nature's IP for future generations

Justin:

and screwing up some very critical systems that we don't even understand.

Justin:

So I kind of put that aside and right at that point in time, permaculture

Justin:

just kind of smacked me in the face.

Justin:

I've been obsessed with systems design for a long time and this,

Justin:

and then it resonated so much.

Justin:

I think going back to that four H wildlife, uh, experience in that it's

Justin:

a design science where we can work with plants and soil and nature, and we can

Justin:

put the right plant in the right place.

Justin:

But everything takes care of itself so that the soil is developed so that, uh,

Justin:

predators are brought in for the pest of another species, but we can do that

Justin:

and we can create these ecosystems, that benefit humans still that produce tons

Justin:

and tons and tons of food and kind of, you know, what I, the gardening that I

Justin:

grew up mostly with has the same problems as industrial agriculture, in which we

Justin:

say, I want carrots, broccoli, and corn.

Justin:

And we clear out the ecosystem and we force in what we want.

Justin:

And then we have to fight to keep it there.

Justin:

And nature expands to fill niches, like something eats a thing that you want.

Justin:

And in a normal biodiversity ecosystem, it would eat that thing.

Justin:

And it would hit an edge really quickly.

Justin:

And there's something else right around the corner that also eats it.

Justin:

And so there's a balance, but whenever we do gardening and whenever we do

Justin:

especially farming at scale, We actually create pests because we put all the

Justin:

same food altogether and something else eats it and it starts eating it

Justin:

and it reproduce as fast as possible.

Justin:

And there's nothing to stop it.

Justin:

So anyways, I got obsessed with permaculture.

Justin:

The same time I was obsessed with startups and I was living as a digital nomad.

Justin:

So Uber was my car.

Justin:

Airbnb was my house.

Justin:

It was running my marketing agency on Upwork.

Justin:

And I saw that platforms, marketplace platforms are the most

Justin:

aggressive and valuable change agents, things that are arising

Justin:

in our world marketplace platform.

Emma:

So can you explain what that is?

Justin:

Absolutely.

Justin:

So I'm marketplace platform.

Justin:

My definition, it's a technology enabled business that connects

Justin:

parties to exchange value.

Justin:

And in that light, Facebook is a marketplace platform.

Justin:

It connects advertisers with viewers and to exchange value.

Justin:

Netflix is a marketplace platform make.

Justin:

Producers of content with viewers to exchange value.

Justin:

The obvious marketplace platforms are Amazon.

Justin:

Google is in another advertising marketplace platform at sea Uber, Airbnb,

Justin:

all the different freelancer platforms.

Justin:

And when you get them right, they create a ton of value.

Justin:

And there's a stat.

Justin:

I believe it's something, something along the lines of.

Justin:

1994, 90% or 70% of all economic value created has been due to

Justin:

network effects from platforms.

Justin:

That's why you see them the most valuable businesses in the world, or, you

Justin:

know, Facebook and Netflix and Amazon, and apple is also a platform because

Justin:

they earn money from their app store.

Justin:

They're a hardware manufacturer, but big part of their evaluations is a platform.

Justin:

And then my question was, well, you know, I want to do something with my life that

Justin:

I feel is the only thing worth doing.

Justin:

I don't want to trade my life for, just for money or just

Justin:

for making something cool.

Justin:

Like it needs to be, it needs to create the future that I want to

Justin:

see that I believe in wholeheartedly with no downsides, right.

Justin:

With no waste with no destruction, only positive.

Justin:

And we can make Amazon and Facebook and all this stuff.

Justin:

Why can't we use the same technology and power and business and economics to scale

Justin:

permaculture, to scale agroecology and to make it so that the world and humans can

Justin:

facilitate natural systems for benefit.

Justin:

Instead of having to extract from them,

Justin:

potential of people, growing food, in whatever piece of land they have.

Justin:

And I'm sure as you can attest to it, doesn't take much would go such a

Justin:

huge way towards, you know, feeding, hungry people, filling in food deserts.

Justin:

Regenerating the soil, which we are learning more and more about every

Justin:

day is mitigating that's right.

Justin:

And feeding bees and birds and butterflies.

Justin:

We can create food for us.

Justin:

That's sustainable, but it's even easier to create food for the starving

Justin:

hummingbirds and bees that are, you know, that are disappearing.

Justin:

And there's, there's over 40 million acres of lawn in the United States.

Justin:

It is the largest single irrigated crop in the United States that produces no food

Justin:

for no one and not for wildlife either.

Justin:

It has very, very little positive environmental impact in

Justin:

terms of carbon sequestration.

Justin:

And most of the grasses are invasive species.

Justin:

There's 10 times as much chemicals.

Justin:

Poured onto lawns per acre, as industrial agriculture.

Justin:

And we all, we all know how bad pesticides and chemical fertilizers and

Justin:

herbicides and fungicides that go on our food is it's even worse with lawns.

Justin:

Most of the species used by landscaping are invasive species.

Justin:

And so not only are they not providing any food for these birds and butterflies

Justin:

around the home, but they're also escaping and they're going into our native

Justin:

wild areas and choking out and killing native species and destroying wildlife.

Justin:

So huge, huge, huge deal.

Mary:

And it is something that I think very few people.

Mary:

Aware of, and that's why I'm, I'm just so excited about this episode

Mary:

because everybody listening out there, let us tell you your grass

Mary:

Mon is a place where you can begin.

Mary:

Everybody wants to know what can they do?

Mary:

What can they do?

Mary:

You can start right outside your door, healing, the planet, growing food for

Mary:

yourself, bringing natives back into your landscape, which in turn creates a

Mary:

rich, healthy atmosphere and environment.

Mary:

It just goes on and on.

Mary:

It's like talk about ripples in the water.

Mary:

And then I saw your thing on Instagram and I thought someone is doing this.

Mary:

I was just almost just about jumped out of my.

Justin:

I'm so grateful and you know, this isn't in some kind of

Justin:

like brilliant novel innovation.

Justin:

Like we're really using ancient techniques that have been mostly forgotten putting

Justin:

the right plant in the right place and getting more food with less work.

Justin:

The whole

Mary:

lawn thing is new.

Mary:

I mean, relatively speaking, you know, you look at humans on the earth lawns.

Mary:

They're just like a fashion really that came, I don't know,

Mary:

a couple hundred years ago maybe.

Mary:

And maybe, you know, more about this than I do, but it's just almost like we became

Mary:

brainwashed that if you're a homeowner, you have to have this lawn to go with it.

Mary:

And it's nothing but a style that came in.

Mary:

What do you know anything about?

Justin:

Yeah, absolutely.

Justin:

There's some funny things I don't want to really start by saying, I

Justin:

love to get outside barefoot and I love a good green lush carpet and

Justin:

doing like gymnastic exercises and stuff outside in and where you can

Justin:

feel that soft spongy soil underneath.

Justin:

I get the desire for a green carpet.

Justin:

What we want to do is move from.

Justin:

Using invasive grasses that have to be mowed that need to be sprayed.

Justin:

That don't do anything for the soil that never flower to more native

Justin:

perennial, evergreen ground covers.

Justin:

And there's a lot of amazing ground covers that if the soil is right, I mean,

Justin:

creeping time is like this beautiful.

Justin:

It stops growing three to four inches to all it will spread over a whole lawn.

Justin:

In the spring.

Justin:

It gets a blanket of flowers that feeds early pollinators.

Justin:

You can go out and you can walk around in it barefoot.

Justin:

It feels great.

Justin:

You can take your scissors and clip some of it out and put it on

Justin:

your pasta, make tea out of it.

Justin:

It's medicinal.

Justin:

Like it's just a radically different.

Justin:

Radically different thing.

Justin:

Never needs to be touched by a mower.

Justin:

It's less work for you saves you money in the longterm.

Justin:

So just, um, a lot of things in our modern world were built because

Justin:

there, there could be a profitable business model that comes out of it.

Justin:

Right?

Justin:

But I sell you grass.

Justin:

You gotta buy Cress seed, you gotta buy grass spray.

Justin:

You gotta pay the guy that buys the mower that comes out of my

Justin:

home store, that kind of process.

Justin:

And we can still make money from ecosystems.

Justin:

It's just instead of a bunch of mowing and blowing and spraying.

Justin:

Let's train a bunch of people, how to prune and how to harvest and how

Justin:

to graft and how to work with natural systems and with amazing species.

Justin:

Like let's, let's get people proud that they have like a C

Justin:

book for Bush in their front yard.

Justin:

It's, you know, super antioxidizing and beautiful.

Mary:

Yeah.

Mary:

It's getting things into the main stream or the collective consciousness,

Mary:

just like the green Zoysia glass grass, or whatever, whatever kind of

Mary:

grass it is, you know, that you want.

Mary:

And then it becomes a, an effort in a project and an expense to maintain this.

Mary:

What if you just shifted that to what you're just saying, you know, something

Mary:

native, something nourishing to the soil, something medicinal, something edible,

Mary:

something that you don't have to maintain.

Mary:

It's just such a better paradigm that people don't realize it.

Mary:

They're just not, they're not aware of.

Justin:

It is semi two.

Justin:

And that shift again, you know, it doesn't, I think it's actually a net much

Justin:

bigger, a much better for the economy.

Justin:

And especially for locally economies, you look at the landscaping, which is

Justin:

all mowing and blowing and spraying.

Justin:

It's typically incredibly underpaid people and you know, it's going to be hard work

Justin:

one way or the other, but what we're doing and it's installing these ecosystems

Justin:

and fruit trees and Berry bushes and the pollinator meadow habitats that

Justin:

increases as the style changes from lawn to ecosystem to lush bountiful ecosystem

Justin:

that increases the property value.

Justin:

And because people know this is going to give me medicine and

Justin:

food for the rest of my life.

Justin:

And also it has powerful psychological effects.

Justin:

If I'm sitting under a tree, if I can step out my door into nature, there's

Justin:

powerful, psychological effects.

Justin:

People know that it's more valuable.

Justin:

They're willing to pay more.

Justin:

That creates local skilled labor jobs that pay better where there's

Justin:

more room in the project to pay people well, give people living wage.

Justin:

And, um, I really want to see a future in which people are going to

Justin:

have flexible gig work with a path of progression that pays a living wage.

Justin:

And that is local.

Emma:

I'm excited to hear a little bit more about thrive

Emma:

law and how that's been going.

Emma:

As I understand, it's pretty new.

Emma:

I'm really just interested in how it's playing out.

Justin:

Yeah.

Justin:

So it is in terms of actually going to market.

Justin:

It is very new.

Justin:

We spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly where we could create

Justin:

value, talking to a lot of experienced people who are very successful in

Justin:

installing bountiful, ecosystems for homeowners, that kind of thing.

Justin:

And since we've launched, the response has really been incredible.

Justin:

I've been.

Justin:

Advertising for a decade.

Justin:

And I have never seen so many ads shared, and I've never had customers coming in

Justin:

the door saying, thank you for existing.

Justin:

I've been, I've been looking for this and I can't find it.

Justin:

We have opened 30 markets to date.

Justin:

We have about 120 active projects right now.

Justin:

And we also are tracking our impact.

Justin:

And just with, we've actually only completed 20 projects so

Justin:

far, this is kind of a buildup.

Justin:

And this has been our first real year.

Justin:

And these things take time.

Justin:

You know, it takes a couple of seasons to do the install.

Justin:

It takes a little while to get the design through.

Justin:

But our impact to date each project sequester is 8.5 metric tons.

Justin:

So looking at 170 metric, tons of carbon a year sequestered as these

Justin:

trees are growing and breathing, we've regenerated 6.2 acres already,

Justin:

again, acres that were probably being mowed that were being sprayed.

Justin:

And I had runoff issues because there was no soil under them.

Justin:

I've installed 4,800 perennial plants.

Justin:

And that leads to 2.6 million gallons of water being retained.

Justin:

This is another piece of this and the difference between LUNs, traditional

Justin:

gardens and people who say I've tried to grow food at my house.

Justin:

I can't do.

Justin:

And what we're doing in agroecology is the soil development and soil is really crazy.

Justin:

It's a living, breathing thing.

Justin:

It's the gut biome of the world holds the tons of carbon and the carbon then

Justin:

holds water, carbon sticks to water.

Justin:

That's why all living things are made out of carbon.

Justin:

And a 1% increase in soil.

Justin:

Organic matter holds another 20,000 gallons of water per acre in the soil.

Justin:

And so this has a huge potential impact for cities.

Justin:

And it's something that most people don't understand that I hope more people start

Justin:

to realize over the next few years, when houses are constructed in the United.

Justin:

The very first thing that happens is the contractor comes out and clears off

Justin:

the topsoil and usually takes it to the dump or to some sort of fill dumpsite.

Justin:

And so that living layer that's full of carbon gets stripped

Justin:

off because it, it gets money.

Justin:

It sinks it's spongy right there.

Justin:

They want to get down to the clay.

Justin:

That's usually underneath whatever is hard and stable under.

Justin:

Build on that and then slap down some sort of invasive species of grass that would

Justin:

grow on anything, but, oh, you've got to water it and you've got to spray it.

Justin:

And whenever we start to build the soil and if people didn't go out there and dig,

Justin:

and they said, well, I've got placed soil.

Justin:

I can't grow anything.

Justin:

Well, you don't have soil.

Justin:

You're looking at the sub soil.

Justin:

What's under most grass in most of that 40 million acres is sub soil.

Justin:

And the first thing that we do is cause other than put up, build a

Justin:

foot of soil and what that does is holds tons and tons of water.

Justin:

It means that we're less reliant or underlined depending on

Justin:

where we are on irrigation.

Justin:

It means that the plants themselves have that gut biome of the earth,

Justin:

that they have the probiotics, they have nutrients they're being fed.

Justin:

They don't need chemical fertilizer.

Justin:

It means their immune systems are stronger because they're getting fed

Justin:

well and they're healthy and strong.

Justin:

And the whole cycle is what nature would naturally build over thousands of

Justin:

years of plants growing up and growing down with their root systems and dying

Justin:

and decomposing and turning into soil.

Justin:

So the soil, the soil is just a really magical piece of the whole equation.

Mary:

The science is being done these days around the connection between.

Mary:

That soil and us as humans, you know, you called it the, I think he's called the

Mary:

gut of the planet or the gut of the world.

Mary:

It's very, very closely related to our own gut.

Mary:

So when we are nurturing that soil in our surroundings, we are nurturing ourselves.

Mary:

We're nourishing our own health and I can get really kind of cerebral here when I,

Mary:

you know, Duality thinking, where are we?

Mary:

You know, we say it's us and nature.

Mary:

It's so false.

Mary:

You know, we are it, we are, it, it is us.

Mary:

We are one in one with this soil, you know, our construction, our

Mary:

so-called progress and everything is literally keeping the life source off

Mary:

of the surface and disposing of it.

Mary:

And then thinking we can build something on top of it.

Mary:

I just think that's such a huge metaphor.

Justin:

And then getting confused when our own gut biome and our own health and

Justin:

our own probiotic layers start to fail.

Justin:

And we start to have a tons of allergies and tons of mysterious diseases.

Justin:

And we're sick.

Justin:

And you know, the planet sick is she's running a temperature.

Mary:

I'm always running into all these metaphors about the whole thing.

Mary:

It feels so huge that you said that first thing you do when you go to start

Mary:

a project is to build the top soil.

Mary:

What does that involve?

Mary:

And how long does it take.

Justin:

It depends.

Justin:

It depends on what's there where you are, what, what bioregion you're in.

Justin:

And so that's why, you know, thrive live.

Justin:

We are not, well, actually some of our team members are actually

Justin:

pretty competent ecologists, but we're not the agricultural experts.

Justin:

And we, we don't tell customers.

Justin:

Oh, yeah, you can grow blueberries over there and we're going to come

Justin:

in and we're going to do X, Y, Z.

Justin:

We don't drive that discussion at all where the business and technology people,

Justin:

and what we do is we make connections and we set up a process so that an,

Justin:

a local expert who knows how to build soil and local area, who knows how to

Justin:

grow food in the local area, who knows how to work with the local ecosystems

Justin:

and native plants starts by going out and assessing the property and looking

Justin:

at what we've determined from our initial consultation that they want.

Justin:

They think they want kind of the vision and then starts to say,

Justin:

well, listen, I know you're you want blueberries over here on the east side

Justin:

of your house by the kitchen door.

Justin:

But it's going to cost three times as much because your soil over here is not

Justin:

well-drained and it's down, you know, and there's just not enough sunlight,

Justin:

but Hey, if we go up hill over here on this side, we put blueberries there and

Justin:

we can do these trees over here that are going to shade, you know, block the wind.

Justin:

And, and so the, what we do is we really just support the local

Justin:

experts that exist everywhere.

Justin:

There's a hundred thousand people in the United States that have taken

Justin:

a permaculture design course, and there's at least four to 5,000 of

Justin:

those that have actually actively practiced some sort of agroecology

Justin:

and kept things alive for a few years.

Justin:

And we want to support those people and help them generate more life.

Mary:

That's amazing because correct me if I'm wrong.

Mary:

But I would think the majority of people that have gotten a permaculture

Mary:

certificate have gotten it out, you know, out of an interest and a passion and the

Mary:

primary motivation was not to go with.

Mary:

A high paying job somewhere.

Mary:

And then here you are offering like a real-world application for

Mary:

something that's not only making it a living for, then that regenerate.

Mary:

Everything.

Justin:

That's all right.

Justin:

I want to clarify that, you know, PDC is just one path to what I would

Justin:

call being a competent aggravate ecologist and, and a PDC really

Justin:

doesn't even complete that path.

Justin:

Um, I think you still have to go out in nature and keep working with

Justin:

it and learn from it for years.

Justin:

And a lot of people, some of the most talented people that we've worked with.

Justin:

I have just worked in the soil and nature for years, and maybe they learn

Justin:

from indigenous people and they found their information just self-taught

Justin:

in books, that sort of thing.

Justin:

I just use the permaculture design certificate number as a proxy, but it's,

Justin:

it's a, it's a beautiful thing too.

Justin:

But yeah, the, the folks that we have found that are trying that, you know, if I

Justin:

go, let's say I go get a PDC and I want to be, I want to work in the green industry.

Justin:

I want to create ecosystems right now.

Justin:

I've got to also, you know, I've got to, I've got to one spend a lot of time

Justin:

with natural systems are gonna have this huge body of knowledge about the

Justin:

soil is huge buy knowledge about plants, understand weather, understand patterns.

Justin:

And then I also have to figure out how to.

Justin:

Run ads, price my services, sell followup leads, figure out business software, send

Justin:

tons of emails, send quotes, do taxes.

Justin:

Oh, and then if I'm going to actually get a bigger job, that's going to pay me.

Justin:

Well, I've also got to learn some kind of CAD software.

Justin:

I've got to be able to create designs.

Justin:

I've got to figure out the optimal way to communicate with a customer

Justin:

who is in a totally different mindset than I am as a scientist.

Justin:

Really.

Justin:

And then if I want to install those things, I've got to buy trucks and

Justin:

equipment and put people on payroll and figure out their benefits and figure out

Justin:

how to make money through the winter.

Justin:

You know, there's all these layers of barriers, which is why I think

Justin:

there's, there's so much demand.

Justin:

There's so many people that want this in their yard, but it's really hard

Justin:

to get it because there's so many layers to actually start that business.

Justin:

And so we can bring a lot of value in a platform and figuring out all

Justin:

the business functions, being the representative and holding space for

Justin:

these projects to take place in a, in an efficient and effective manner,

Mary:

the thing to have these ideas, but then to implement them

Mary:

and put them out in the world.

Mary:

You just summed up everything.

Justin:

I will say, it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Justin:

It's the hardest thing I could ever imagine anyone doing,

Justin:

but, um, man, is it rewarding?

Justin:

And honestly, I can't feel like there's anything else worth.

Emma:

Yeah.

Emma:

Well, I think that means that you're doing what you need to be doing.

Emma:

So that's inspiring.

Emma:

I guess I have a question along the lines of challenges, but sort

Emma:

of on the consumer side, obviously you're preaching to the choir here.

Emma:

We're all singing the same tune, but I wonder like why isn't every single.

Emma:

Private resident in America doing this right now.

Justin:

Yeah.

Justin:

Great, great, great question.

Justin:

A lot of things, we were talking about lawns earlier and I didn't, I forgot to

Justin:

share some of the things about lawns.

Justin:

The word lawn comes from a French word.

Justin:

Apparently that means barren land.

Justin:

Um, the style of a grass, a short crop grass lawn apparently

Justin:

originated in the 16 hundreds, England, and it was a sign of wealth.

Justin:

The big houses would have the biggest lawns because they had

Justin:

the most sheep and sheep, keep it close, cropped and need grass.

Justin:

And that style, you know, it's one of the few things where fashion hasn't

Justin:

changed in, you know, 400 plus years.

Justin:

And, and when you think about the evolution of the American family and

Justin:

the American home, we really built up quickly around cars and going through.

Justin:

Right.

Justin:

The suburbian American life is in the car, go to work, come home,

Justin:

get, you know, get the things.

Justin:

And the lawn was just kind of accepted and mowing and all these other things belong.

Justin:

It was just kind of accepted as this is the way it is.

Justin:

It looks nice.

Justin:

Right.

Justin:

It looks clean and it's kind of this clean, sterile, organized, you

Justin:

know, very kind of organized thing,

Mary:

what you do on weekends.

Justin:

Yeah.

Justin:

And what you do on weekends.

Justin:

And we know now that being outdoors in nature is extremely therapeutic.

Justin:

And, and I don't doubt for a minute that people enjoy some people enjoy mowing.

Justin:

And I think it's simply because it's the only thing that gets them outside and

Justin:

moving in the sun, breathing fresh air.

Justin:

I think growing up as a kid, the minimum that I ever had to mow, I

Justin:

starting at about age seven, the minimum I ever had to go a six acres.

Justin:

And so I got really tired of Boeing.

Justin:

Uh, but I think there'd be much better things to be done outside.

Justin:

And I think a real ecosystem, it's not just the grass just gives you so, so

Justin:

many more benefits, but there's also this piece to especially American culture,

Justin:

but really I would call it more a modern Western world, which is everywhere.

Justin:

And every everything now that's eating the world is that we're educated by marketing.

Justin:

And so, you know, part healthy, whole grains, uh, you know, there's, there's

Justin:

just, gluten-free yogurt, you know, there's all these like really crazy

Justin:

things that you see where people learn.

Justin:

People learn from marketing because there is hundreds, probably hundreds

Justin:

of thousands of times as much money spent per capita on marketing and

Justin:

advertising messages to people as is actually spent on education.

Justin:

Wow.

Justin:

I mean, there's a stat, I'm going to butcher this a little

Justin:

bit, but not too far off.

Justin:

And I think it's, um, a hundred million dollars spent per day in marketing

Justin:

just on children's food or no, just on unhealthy food just to children.

Justin:

So, and so th there, there is this shift happening though, right?

Justin:

There is this, the information age is opening up this path where

Justin:

people are seeking out answers and they're questioning their reality

Justin:

and they're questioning everything.

Justin:

I think something that's been really cool to see with COVID is a lot

Justin:

of people questioning what they do for work and saying, you know

Justin:

what, that thing that I did to get a paycheck, I'm not doing it anymore.

Justin:

I don't believe in that.

Justin:

I don't want to see that in the world.

Justin:

And I think that is the start to.

Justin:

Choosing our own reality, which is, which is what we can do.

Justin:

But, but you know, our, our goal with thrive a lot is to use the

Justin:

existing system, the existing economy, this, this incredible energy and

Justin:

force to build up that marketing.

Justin:

I want to run Superbowl ads about lush bound form of homie consistent.

Justin:

Everyone just kind of accepts that grass is it's either grass or bushes or trees.

Justin:

They don't know that you can have kind of lush green carpets that are

Justin:

not grass that don't require mowing.

Justin:

And they think it's either gardening myself or going to the grocery store.

Justin:

And when they've tried to garden themselves and they're going into

Justin:

this clay subsoil that we talked about, and they're only trying to grow

Justin:

things that they see at the store.

Justin:

And we talked about how.

Justin:

With kind of traditional gardening.

Justin:

You're putting out, you're kind of setting up the environment to create

Justin:

pests because you're putting a bunch of very nutritious food altogether, and

Justin:

then maybe the soil is not developing.

Justin:

So there, and then even if, even when people do get to the point

Justin:

where they learn about agroecology, they learn about permaculture, they

Justin:

learn about, uh, creating wildlife habitat, that type of thing.

Justin:

It's still this kind of, you got to do it yourself message.

Justin:

And people are doctors and teachers and construction workers with families like

Justin:

they're busy and they're working hard and they're creating value for other people.

Justin:

And they should be able to invest in paying someone else locally to come

Justin:

and set up the ecosystem for them and to keep the food coming for them.

Justin:

And the average family has two cars and the average cost of a car is $41,000.

Justin:

It's like, wow, a lot less than that.

Justin:

We'll get you an incredible ecosystem will create self-sufficiency for you with

Justin:

a lot of food through a lot of the year, depending on where you are and create

Justin:

a lot of benefits and home value and psychology and environmental impact and

Justin:

all the other things we've talked about.

Justin:

So, so I think it's a problem of education and a problem of that.

Justin:

It's just not available widely yet to have it done for you.

Justin:

Do

Emma:

you believe that there's any sort of shortage in the, this agro ecologist

Emma:

kind of professional that does know it?

Emma:

Like I know your job is to connect the, we'll call it the gardener

Emma:

for simple terms with the customer.

Emma:

Do we need more garden?

Justin:

Well, we will absolutely what I think exists right now.

Justin:

Kind of describe it like two electrodes, you know, and

Justin:

they're, they're full of energy.

Justin:

There's like, you know, the sparks, a little lightnings jumping off of them,

Justin:

and we've just got to get them close enough in terms of, of the barrier

Justin:

to entry in terms of ease for someone to become an Agra ecologist, ease for

Justin:

someone to buy a bountiful ecosystem for their house and get it installed.

Justin:

We've got to get it close enough to let the energy exchange.

Justin:

I think there are tons of people.

Justin:

I know there's tons of my friends that, you know, they got a college degree

Justin:

and they went to sit in a white box under a fluorescent light and look

Justin:

at spreadsheets and hate their life.

Justin:

But there's, there's no green alternative that pays anywhere close to well, right.

Justin:

So yeah, I really don't know if there is more demand than supply right now.

Justin:

I used to think there was way more demand and supply.

Justin:

And now we figured out that we can kind of, we can layer up different

Justin:

suppliers and expand the potential of that supply so that the ecologist

Justin:

is leveraged more where they can have greater impact with other existing

Justin:

contractors and, and landscape people.

Justin:

But you know, what I hope is, and what I expect is that as we're getting

Justin:

more and more customers, and as people are finding out, Ooh, that's

Justin:

a possibility what a difference then?

Justin:

You know, a different style than grass.

Justin:

Oh yeah.

Justin:

I want that.

Justin:

Well then as the opportunities arise, we continue to reduce that barrier and

Justin:

to build the technology and systems, to bring people in, educate them, but then

Justin:

to work in an apprenticeship fashion, it gives them a path of progression.

Justin:

If that's what they want.

Mary:

So just imagine your, um, your basic local lawn service owner that,

Mary:

you know, he wants to deliver to the customer, what the customer wants.

Mary:

What if this person that owned the lawn service could say, well, there's

Mary:

something else you might be interested in and they're connected with you.

Mary:

You educate them, you give them the information.

Mary:

And then they, they pass it along to the people actually

Mary:

doing the planting and all that.

Mary:

So it's like a web, you know, We were talking about like the

Mary:

possibility of these landscape companies that are everywhere.

Mary:

What if they knew about this?

Mary:

And they get like, literally they're like agents of change each one of them,

Justin:

there's this thing in, in kind of industry disruption and category change.

Justin:

And I don't think it'll happen quite like that.

Justin:

And the reason is your average, uh, lawn care company has invested in

Justin:

a bunch of mowers and trimmers and hedge trimmers and has trained people,

Justin:

finds people at the lowest possible cost that can run those things.

Justin:

And they run a super efficient operation with no customer loyalty.

Justin:

They're just competing on price all the time and trying to, you know, trying

Justin:

to drive that bottom line is very low margin, very difficult business.

Justin:

What we're doing.

Justin:

And this is, this is something that, that we've learned from talking to other people

Justin:

that have tried to shift what we're doing is actually antithetical to that entire

Justin:

business model from the balance sheet.

Justin:

I mean, from the equipment that is owned and amortized over time, and here's the

Justin:

thing, you know, as much as I want to.

Justin:

40 million acres tomorrow.

Justin:

It's not physically possible yet.

Justin:

And this thing, just like any tree or any good ecosystem, it's going to take some

Justin:

time to grow and it's going to shift.

Justin:

And ultimately eventually in the later stages, I do believe you're

Justin:

going to see lawn care companies that are no longer lawn care anymore.

Justin:

It's it's ecosystem care.

Justin:

And they're out there with, with pruning sheers instead of weed eaters.

Justin:

Right.

Justin:

And, and, uh, and maybe they're still out there with mediators.

Justin:

I mean, there's still, if you want a certain aesthetic, that sort of

Justin:

thing, but there's, there's a totally different base of equipment and a

Justin:

totally different base of training and knowledge around what we're trying to do.

Justin:

Now, what I do think we will start to see, and what we're already doing

Justin:

is we are connecting with those landscaping companies, landscaping,

Justin:

as opposed to lawn care, those landscaping companies that do have.

Justin:

The trucks and the shovels and the bulldozers and the teams that know

Justin:

how to plant trees and put out mulch and all this kind of stuff.

Justin:

We are putting them to work and have built a process where they come in and

Justin:

actually do the installation sort of under the tutelage of the, of the ecologist.

Justin:

So those folks, the more design build landscapers we absolutely

Justin:

work with from the beginning.

Justin:

And I think that lawn care as an industry will shift over time.

Mary:

If it's successful, if the implementation of this ecosystem is

Mary:

successful, then it's by nature, literally low maintenance, which is antithetical

Mary:

to the whole lawn care business as well.

Mary:

So, yeah, I just thought of that as you were talking, so

Emma:

yeah, and just like all things that I feel like are worth doing,

Emma:

it's a low-maintenance, but it takes a little bit more effort and thought

Emma:

and care and like setting it up.

Emma:

And that's just kind of the way it is across the board with all of these things

Emma:

that we talk about on this podcast.

Emma:

But what about like universities, like specifically I'm thinking of

Emma:

the college that I went to is like on 13,000 acres, a lot of it's woods,

Emma:

but they had this huge quad and all of these amazing green spaces.

Emma:

Like that seems like kind of an obvious target for me for, you know, these

Emma:

forward-thinking kind of places have, have you guys thought about that earlier?

Emma:

Any commercial.

Emma:

Yeah,

Justin:

absolutely.

Justin:

So we started with the high end homeowner offering because it's just

Justin:

kind of easier to manage and scale and build up the capacity and figure out

Justin:

how to deliver that smaller project.

Justin:

But the existing landscaping industry is over a hundred billion dollars

Justin:

a year, mostly mowing, and half of it is commercial and government.

Justin:

So we absolutely want to build up and meet that market as well.

Emma:

The national mall.

Emma:

What if it was like,

Justin:

yes, exactly, exactly.

Justin:

Schools, hospitals, you know, anything to do with.

Justin:

Apartment buildings and, and government land like, um, housing

Justin:

authorities, parks, you know, a lot.

Justin:

We've got a lot of potential there, roadsides.

Justin:

That's

Emma:

awesome.

Emma:

Um,

Mary:

have you heard of this concept of like a public food

Mary:

forest where the space is like this?

Mary:

You have fruit trees and you have like the edible landscaping and everything

Mary:

where people can actually come eat off.

Justin:

Yes, absolutely.

Justin:

I've worked with some folks really closely with Mike McCord in Atlanta who

Justin:

was heavily involved in the Browns mill fruit forest, which I think is still the

Justin:

largest public food forest in the country.

Justin:

I think one of the key pieces.

Justin:

That we've seen is that they work as long as there is a long-term plan for support

Justin:

and education, a lot of food desert communities without education, and knowing

Justin:

how to harvest, knowing what to harvest and knowing that this is food that's

Justin:

nutritious, this is how to prepare it.

Justin:

So that it's good.

Justin:

And even these are the utensils.

Justin:

A lot of people don't have the utensils to prepare.

Justin:

So there needs to be this foundation.

Justin:

We've definitely seen a lot of well-meaning agroecological folks

Justin:

spend a lot of time and effort to put something up that then just kind of

Justin:

fell by the wayside because there wasn't the, uh, the longterm plan and support.

Justin:

And so this is something that we're, we're committed to doing where the

Justin:

startup right now we're raising money.

Justin:

We don't have profit, but as soon as we have profit, we're committing 10%

Justin:

of that profit towards a foundation to actually find the biggest areas of

Justin:

impact where we can set up a long-term.

Justin:

The support system education and bring this value to people that can't otherwise.

Emma:

That's amazing.

Emma:

Can you speak specifically to any in the past, I guess technically what, two years

Emma:

that you've been an organization, but maybe you said the past kind of year with

Emma:

just all of the, getting off the ground specific like six cess moment store.

Emma:

I know that's still early, but any, any stories about where you're like, oh yeah.

Emma:

Where thrive lied is like.

Emma:

The work, what we're set out to do.

Mary:

We love

Justin:

stories.

Justin:

Oh man.

Justin:

Specific stories.

Justin:

Oh my gosh, I got so many of them and they're all, you know, there's

Justin:

so many people that come to us.

Justin:

And I think I said this a little bit before they come to us, just thanking

Justin:

us, thanking us for existing feel good.

Justin:

It does.

Justin:

It does.

Justin:

And the same thing on the agriculture side.

Justin:

I mean, again, you know, it kind of talked about how hard it is to grow and run a

Justin:

business as an aggregate ecologist and having to have the split brain between

Justin:

science and nature and business and sales and advertising, that sort of thing.

Justin:

And, um, I mean last year we had a, an incredible talented permaculture design.

Justin:

Who told us in the beginning of the year that his family wouldn't have been eating

Justin:

through the winter, if it wasn't for us.

Justin:

And that just kind of hit me.

Justin:

We have, um, a really, really cool project in Fort Lauderdale at the museum

Justin:

of discovery and science, which is one of the largest children's science

Justin:

museums in the country, in the world.

Justin:

And the CEO there, Joe Cox is just an amazing human really

Justin:

and ecologists in itself.

Justin:

And they are building a huge food resilience and climate resilience exhibit

Justin:

and spending millions of dollars on it.

Justin:

And that multimillion dollar exhibit is going to open up into a forest garden

Justin:

that we just finished installing a couple of weeks ago, and people will

Justin:

get to walk through a forest garden.

Justin:

Kids will get to experience that.

Justin:

And what we're hoping from that, because this, this museum and Joe is a leader in

Justin:

the children's museum association, the national children's museum association.

Justin:

And.

Justin:

A global, uh, science museum association.

Justin:

So what we're hoping is that this becomes kind of the seed for educational

Justin:

facilities, science facilities, museums, children's education around the world

Justin:

to start to in softwares gardens, teach people about agroecology teach people

Justin:

from the earliest stages that we can facilitate natural systems for a benefit.

Justin:

We don't just have to extract and poison and kill and fight.

Justin:

Like we can actually work with nature and nature will feed us.

Justin:

And that is, um, that is one of the most exciting things that is happening

Mary:

and teaching people, the concept that.

Mary:

We have everything.

Mary:

We need to have enough to eat and to feed everybody.

Mary:

And that it's.

Mary:

So it's literally right out our back door.

Mary:

And now with all this it's, especially, what's been intensified

Mary:

over the last couple of years about, you know, the climate crisis.

Mary:

People think there's nothing they can do.

Mary:

They tell it's too big.

Mary:

It's all in the hands of the big corporations and stuff, which.

Mary:

Yes, they hold a huge responsibility, but I'll circle back around

Mary:

to something I said earlier, this is something you can do.

Mary:

And you were talking about carbon sequestration.

Mary:

And we talk about that a lot here on this show.

Mary:

We mentioned that a lot, but what we mean by that, can you explain to people what

Mary:

you mean by that and why agroecology is actually sequestering, carbon and helping

Mary:

to mitigate this carbon loss, which is contributing so hugely to climate change.

Justin:

Yeah.

Justin:

Yeah.

Justin:

So, um, this is huge living things.

Justin:

Store carbon.

Justin:

If you take a hundred gallon bucket of soil and you plant a tree in it

Justin:

and you water that tree until it gets huge, and then you remove the tree,

Justin:

scrape all the soil, the soil is still going to weigh the same amount.

Justin:

The tree is Carmen and water.

Justin:

And some other stuff that came through the energy of the sun and most agroecology

Justin:

is it's focused around perennial, beneficial plants, and so trees and

Justin:

shrubs and plants that come back year after year and grow in size and sequester

Justin:

more and more Carmen and have a deep root system and loot and build the

Justin:

soil as their roots are breaking down.

Justin:

And as their leaves are breaking down as they're growing together.

Justin:

So there's, there's the sequence duration that just happens from generating life.

Justin:

And if you can imagine, you know, taking a square foot of your average

Justin:

lawn and taking all the organic matter there and measuring it in like a glass

Justin:

tube, and then you can imagine taking a piece of a dense layer, beautiful

Justin:

flowering forest with multiple layers right of life, and do the same thing.

Justin:

You take a glass tube and you blend up and chop down all of the life.

Justin:

And they're cute.

Justin:

It's hundreds of times more actual.

Justin:

And actual carbon sequestration.

Justin:

The other piece is the diverting piece.

Justin:

And whenever one of our installations goes in, uh, we like to think it means

Justin:

that a little piece of industrial agriculture somewhere disappears, right?

Justin:

Somewhere on the edge of a jungle that was about to be cut down or rainforest.

Justin:

That was about to be cut down, to grow more corn and soybeans

Justin:

that progress stopped right.

Justin:

A truck that was going to be shipping food 1500 miles in a boat, in a truck.

Justin:

Disappears and tons of chemicals that we're going to go into that production

Justin:

and tons of gas that was going to be pumped out in turns into emissions to

Justin:

transport it and to grow it disappears.

Justin:

So there's this diverting piece as well.

Justin:

And then the waste, the packaging waste that that comes from all of that as well.

Justin:

You know, this just disappears.

Justin:

It doesn't go in landfills anymore.

Justin:

So home agroecology has this potential to hit so many problematic levels and to,

Justin:

I mean, the average person, the world's carbon footprint is four tons a year.

Justin:

Our average project today, sequesters eight and a half tons.

Justin:

Now the average American's footprint today is 16 tons, but with a combination

Justin:

of reducing that diverting bees and sequestering that growing life

Justin:

piece, when we can really, really shrink and almost even remember.

Mary:

That's amazing.

Mary:

That's a true example of the word regenerative, like putting life back.

Emma:

Yeah.

Emma:

And thank you for explaining that.

Emma:

So succinctly it's really hard.

Emma:

It's a

Mary:

lot.

Mary:

Yes it is.

Mary:

And we say it a lot and I think we assume people understand it and I'm not, you

Mary:

know, it's quite a concept and something else you touched on that I want to

Mary:

emphasize is that a lot of people might enjoy clarification on or benefit from

Mary:

clarification on is the foods we think of like the garden vegetables and the farm

Mary:

vegetables that we think of the commonly, you know, tomatoes, the squash, the

Mary:

cucumbers, all this, and those are annual.

Mary:

And they grow every year and they, they take things out of the soil every year.

Mary:

And these are wonderful things.

Mary:

We're not saying don't grow these things, but as you just said, a few moments

Mary:

ago, the perennials are the things that are going to keep the life going.

Mary:

I just wanted to make that distinction between annuals and perennials.

Mary:

If people really understand what you're talking about and we're talking about

Mary:

growing food, it's, it's so much more than just tomato squash and cucumbers.

Mary:

It's so much more than that.

Mary:

Yeah.

Justin:

My favorite example is a Mulberry tree, which most people have

Justin:

never experienced eating mulberries.

Justin:

Most people don't know that the leaves and the bark is medicinal and a Mulberry tree.

Justin:

Once you plant it, a super Hardy tree takes very little, almost no

Justin:

work can grow to a hundred feet.

Justin:

Tall, produce 600 pounds of fruit every single year live for 300 years

Justin:

and you don't have to do anything.

Justin:

And it's tasty and it's nutrient rich.

Justin:

Yeah.

Justin:

It's antioxidizing

Mary:

so I'll tell you a story.

Mary:

We moved out here.

Mary:

We moved from DC to the farm nine and a half years ago.

Mary:

This is our 10th year.

Mary:

And I went out there one day early on in the spring and I looked up and I saw

Mary:

these purple things coming for a tree.

Mary:

And I said, what is this?

Mary:

I didn't even know what it was.

Mary:

And I had to ask my neighbor, oh, that's mulberries.

Mary:

And then of course, you know, once you're aware of you see them all over

Mary:

the place, and then we started picking them and eating them and it was just

Mary:

like this whole universe opens up, have things that are already there.

Mary:

They're already here.

Mary:

The earth is just like arms open with all these gifts.

Mary:

And we don't even know it.

Justin:

Yes.

Justin:

And there used to be more of them because the native people of north

Justin:

America kept spreading them around intentionally putting them beside their

Justin:

friends so that they could grow more.

Justin:

So they get more food.

Justin:

I mean, a quarter of Eastern forest used to be chestnuts, which

Justin:

was a huge spreading tree, which produces huge nutrient rich fruits.

Justin:

And, um, that those are gone.

Justin:

Now, those are extinct because of landscaping because this pretty

Justin:

little Chestnut was brought over from China to be installed in landscapes,

Justin:

in the neighborhood in New York.

Justin:

And brought a blight with it and killed everything.

Justin:

Well,

Emma:

Justin, what does the good dirt mean to you?

Justin:

Good dirt to me, I love to get outside barefoot and I love

Justin:

the sponginess of deep real soil.

Justin:

I love walking through a forest.

Justin:

And where the leaves and the sticks and the needles of it breaking down for years.

Justin:

And you can feel that, that depth and that sponginess, and you know, there's

Justin:

a, there's a micro rhizome in there.

Justin:

You know, there's a network of life that's working, that's storing carbon, that's

Justin:

creating the oxygen that we breathe.

Justin:

That's the good dirt and something worth looking into is looking into

Justin:

the oxygen that comes from the forest floor, as opposed to the

Justin:

transpiration of forest leaves.

Justin:

It's actually, um, it's actually as important or not much more important in

Justin:

creating the oxygen Nixon, our atmosphere.

Justin:

I

Emma:

think about that a lot with decomposing leaves, especially at this

Emma:

time of year when like Tom speaking of blowers, my street is just, it's

Emma:

all leaf blowers, which is crazy.

Emma:

The whole leaf, like thing is crazy, but you go into a forest floor.

Emma:

All decomposing leaves and it's like the most, like, it smells good.

Emma:

It's like, it has to be, I've known nothing about it biologically, but

Emma:

I know that it's good in that work.

Emma:

It's so backwards that we blow them into piles, put them in

Emma:

plastic bags and throw them away.

Emma:

So weird.

Emma:

Yeah.

Mary:

That's also a fashion, you know, where did that get

Mary:

implanted in our cultural brains?

Justin:

It's a sterile, you know, Oregon.

Justin:

We've got to organize nature.

Justin:

We have to control and command.

Justin:

I think the planet and humanity is waking up to a different

Justin:

way of, of being with nature

Mary:

and thrive.

Mary:

Lot.

Mary:

Your company is an indication of, oh, I

Emma:

think.

Emma:

Is there anything else that you want the audience to understand about the

Emma:

work that you're doing or anything you feel like you didn't touch on

Emma:

today that you want to leave us with?

Justin:

Check out the website.

Justin:

Posted in your next door, posted in your Facebook groups, talk to people about it.

Justin:

We're not nationwide yet, but we will be very soon.

Justin:

Hopefully this time, next year we'll be able to be practically everywhere

Justin:

or at least where most people are.

Emma:

So for people listening right now, where are you right now?

Justin:

So right now all over the central and south.

Justin:

But if we get enough people in an area that get on our list and ask us

Justin:

to come there, we will come there.

Justin:

So if people, if people go to the website, share, sign up for

Justin:

the list, send us a message.

Justin:

We will come to you.

Justin:

Cool.

Emma:

Oh, so excited.

Emma:

All right.

Emma:

Thank you so much, Justin.

Emma:

We've so enjoyed having you.

Emma:

Thank you for

Justin:

let's.

Justin:

Let's

Mary:

talk again soon.

Mary:

Thank you so much.

Mary:

Bye-bye

Emma:

thanks so much for joining us on this episode of the good dirt podcast.

Emma:

And remember we are usually here every Friday.

Emma:

But we will not be here for the next two Fridays.

Emma:

That's Christmas Eve and new year's Eve.

Emma:

We hope that you guys are joining your holidays as well.

Emma:

And we'll see you back in January for some more awesome interviews, all

Emma:

about slow and sustainable living.

Emma:

And if you haven't already go to our website, make sure you're

Emma:

signed up for our newsletter.

Emma:

Follow us on Instagram at we are lady farmer, and go ahead

Emma:

and join us in the Almanac.

Emma:

It's a party in there we'd love to have you.

Mary:

Yeah.

Mary:

And don't forget that you can gift and membership to the Almanac and share

Mary:

it with the loved one or a friend.

Mary:

And we would love to have all of you.

Emma:

Yes.

Emma:

So happy holidays from us and we'll see you in 2022.

Mary:

Okay.

Mary:

Goodbye.

Mary:

Happy new year.

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