Hot Farm
Part 4. The New California

More than a fourth of our food, including most of our fruits and vegetables, comes from California. This is due in large part to its Mediterranean climate, which means it has long hot summers and mild winters. For decades, water was plentiful in California. The snow would melt in the Sierra Nevada mountains, rivers would fill, and farmers could tap into those rivers to water their crops. But climate change is upending these advantages and forcing us to find other places to grow some of the food that has long come from California. In this episode, producer Travis Lux takes a deep dive into one of those places: the mid-Mississippi Delta, an area that includes parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri, and Mississippi. And into the story of one Arkansas farmer, Shawn Peebles. Over the last decade, Peebles went from losing his commodity farm to debt, to running a 7,000-acre organic produce farm that could be a blueprint for The New California.

Show Notes

Main Characters

  • Shawn Peebles, large-scale organic vegetable farmer in eastern Arkansas who shifted away from commodity crops in the mid-2000s. His family has been farming for generations.

You also hear from…

  • Tom Philpott – author and food/ag correspondent for Mother Jones
  • Julia Kurnik – Director, Innovation Startups at the World Wildlife Fund
  • Marty Matlock – Senior Advisor for Food Systems Resiliency, USDA
  • Kelly Cartwright – Director, Natural Soybean and Grain Alliance

Reports, etc:

Read a transcript of episode four.

Additional reading…

  • Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It (Tom Philpott)
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