Editor’s Desk: “Hot Farm” hotter than we expected


By Samuel Fromartz

The final episode of Hot Farm dropped last week, marking the completion of our first podcast series, distributed by PRX. From the outset, we sought to create compelling audio journalism that showed how climate change was affecting farmers in the Midwest and what they were doing about it. We relied on the voices of farmers and on the researchers working with them to tell that story. 

Now we’re taking stock: The 50,000-plus downloads in the first month, broadcasts on over a dozen public radio stations around the country, and a slew of listener reviews like this one are making us smile: 

“The attention to detail, the verbal descriptions of people and place, is so powerful, it brought me to the narrator’s side, at the kitchen table sipping coffee, or in the field, looking the farmer in the eye while they told the story of their farm, its history, their family, and their place in the world.”

Frankly, we had no idea what kind of audience we would get for this first-time foray into the world of podcasting. But we approached the project the same way we approach all our work: We hired top-notch talent and encouraged them to go deep into the subject. We also wanted strong storytelling. With producer Eve Abrams at the helm, the team did just that. Again, it’s evident in what people are saying: 

“Hot Farm tells the stories of the farmers who grow our food. It’s a great balance of science, policy, and personal narrative. Farmers are key to a better future and hearing their perspectives, motivations, and fears is key to creating rural solutions. Rarely do we get a glimpse of their perspectives in media. Important storytelling.”

“A pitch-perfect exploration of farming’s future in the face of many environmental, economic and social challenges. Respect to the FERN team!”

“Perfectly paced, beautifully edited and scored, I heard the voices of farmers being lifted to take on the climate crises. Alternating a carefully crafted script with farmer voices, it shared a practical, pragmatic vision. Importantly, it just didn’t point out problems, it offered farm and public policy based solutions.”

We’re gratified that so many people felt moved to write a review. It shows we hit the mark. If you haven’t gotten a chance to listen, you can find the series here, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also tell your smart home speaker to “play the Hot Farm podcast.” If you’re one of the thousands of folks who have sought it out, we thank you. If not, we hope you give it a listen now.