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Pasture-Raised Podcast

Mar 9, 2020

Peter, with his wife, Maureen, and two children live in a fairly remote section of the Kikapoo valley in Wisconsin. Peter's entrance into farming, as you'll hear, came from -of all places, academics. I much appreciate how Peter was able to enter an environment like that, utilize it to grow in his understanding of the world around him, and then apply enough critical thinking to find a lifeway that diverged from any pre-determined course, but fit within his ethics and his new understanding of the world around him. 
 Critical thinking and clear vision leading to bold action, with that much on the line, is rare. But as you'll see, the bravery and competence are paying off, as they build a farm and a life on it in a way that is maximizing soil and biomass accumulation, ecosystem function, biodiversity, and human flourishing.
Peter is someone I've learned a lot from, and who's teachings and descriptions have helped me gain an understanding of the landscape around me that I interact with daily. I'll give you one example that didn't even come into the discussion recorded here: Its a simple concept, and for many its a hard pill to swallow: At some point in the past, Peter has described efficiency and resilience as inversely correlative: Any redundancy would be less efficient than having a simple way of achieving a goal, but more resilient.
 This of course can explain phenomenon we see from diversity on the landscape, to our marketing portfolio. It is more efficient to raise one thing on a land base, at least in terms of time, equipment and management. But it is more resilient to promote diversity in the landscape -both for the humans and the other players in the ecosystem. Or if you think about having one six figure account, or one hundred four-figure accounts, its more resilient, but less efficient to move your products to 100 customers, who almost definitely won't all leave you at the same time.  In a sense, efficiency can be a trap -something you need to achieve a certain level of in order to create a marketable product. But also something that can tempt you to seek out greater and greater efficiencies -until you've got tens of thousands of animals in barns.  As you explore it further, you realize that the exceptions to the rule aren't as many as you would have hoped. This isn't hard to understand. But this is among the many ideas that Peter has explained to me that help me to build a framework around what I'm doing and try to conceptualize the most resilient lifestyle, while being adequately efficient to make a living.

That's just a piece of thinking that Peter has given me, but one we don't even touch on in this podcast. Up ahead we talk all about the ecological basis for Peter's farm and farm name, what he's producing, how he's producing it, and how he and Maureen are building a loyal customer base despite the challenges of being in a remote section of the upper mid-west.  We go deep into some of his constraints with cold winters, hay buying, shipping meat, and his CSA program, which was the inspiration behind my own CSA program that has become the centerpiece of our farm's retail presence.
Peter and Maureen: