Presented by Scout Magazine.
The book Healing Grounds – Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming came onto my radar while reading an interview with its author, Liz Carlisle, published last March by Civil Eats, an American news source focused on sustainable food systems. Carlisle, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, teaches food and farming at UC Santa Barbara.
Healing Grounds, her third book, tells stories of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, and Asian American farmers who are reviving their ancestors’ methods of growing food — techniques long suppressed by the industrial food system. These farmers are restoring native prairies, nurturing beneficial fungi, and enriching soil health. Through feeding their communities and revitalizing cultural ties to the land, they are also steadily stitching ecosystems back together and repairing the natural carbon cycle. According to Carlisle, this is the true regenerative agriculture – not merely a set of technical tricks, but a holistic approach that values diversity in both plants and people.
Having recently discovered the regenerative farming movement via another book, Eating to Extinction (author Dan Saladino was a Track & Food guest in February), I wondered where Carlisle’s narratives fell within its scope. In this episode, we dig deep into each chapter of Healing Grounds, to discuss how they unfolded, what she learned along the way, and how she came to adopt her book title’s double entendre. This is definitely one of my favourite interviews, so far, and I’m confident you’ll enjoy listening to it also.
Liz Carlisle is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, where she teaches courses on food and farming. Born and raised in Montana, she got hooked on agriculture while working as an aide to organic farmer and U.S. Senator Jon Tester, which led to a decade of research and writing collaborations with farmers in her home state. She has written three books about regenerative farming and agroecology: Lentil Underground (2015), Grain by Grain (2019, with co-author Bob Quinn), and most recently, Healing Grounds: Climate, Justice, and the Deep Roots of Regenerative Farming (2022). She is also a frequent contributor to both academic journals and popular media outlets, focusing on food and farm policy, incentivizing soil health practices, and supporting new entry farmers. She holds a Ph.D. in Geography, from UC Berkeley, and a B.A. in Folklore and Mythology, from Harvard University. Prior to her career as a writer and academic, she spent several years touring rural America as a country singer.