The Peanut Podcast is turning two years old this year. To celebrate this anniversary and International Podcast Day on September 30, we wanted to share our favorite Peanut Podcast moments from the past year. Here are co-hosts Lindsay Stevens', Lauren Highfill Williams’ and sound designer and engineer DeMarquiné (Dee) Houston’s picks for their favorite moments, and listen to full episodes of The Peanut Podcast here.
Dee’s Pick: Lonnie Fortner on “The Land”
Whether today’s farmers come from a multi-generational line of growers, or they are the first generation to be called to agriculture, those paths are filled with twists and turns, challenges, redemption and kindness. One of the farmers featured in this episode was NPB Mississippi Board Member Lonnie Fortner. The Fortner family lost their farm during the 1980’s. Lonnie grew up and through his job as a county director for FSA was able to meet a family that gave him the opportunity to get back into farming. Now he manages Bayou Pierre Farms in Mississippi, and his dad can come back and help him with the land. In this episode, Dee loved this interview because the connection to “the land” rather than a specific plot of land, regardless of how long it was in the family prior to the loss, speaks to both the calling to be a farmer and the resilience it takes to be successful at it.
“That's one of the great things that's come out of this. Now Daddy can come back. He comes back in the fall and helps me get the crop out. He'll come run the [soy]bean combine while we're picking cotton and you know. So it's been really good. Yeah, those are tough times that anybody that came through those in the 80s, the mental anguish that went on in that time period, you know, from the probably 87/85 through about 90 the early 90s, it was tough on families. It was it was really hard. So, you know, when I told them what was going on and what we was fixing to do, yeah, it was a bunch of phone calls, bunch of phone calls. And but yeah, we got through that. And then now we get to work together again and it's been good. It really has.”
Lauren’s Pick: Lamont Bridgeforth on Mental Health
Many say that farming is a calling and there’s a lot to love about a career in agriculture. However, the all-consuming and isolated nature of life on the farm and so many factors out of the growers’ control can cause an incredible amount of stress and mental hardship. The Mental Health and Farm Families episode was impactful for Lauren because it’s an issue that’s not often talked about. Lauren was touched by the bravery and compassion Lamont Bridgeforth and Ken Barton showed in sharing what happened to important people in their lives due to mental health issues to hopefully prevent future tragedies. Lamont gave some great advice to other farmers who may be struggling with their mental health.
“Well, let me say this for farmers. I think that we have to do self-introspection and we have to put our pride to the side. Sometimes a farmer might look at himself and say, I need help. And try to try to get some help before it goes too far…You can buy another tractor, you can replant the crops that die. You can. If you got irrigation, you can put some more water on it if it's too hot outside. But it's that person. We can't replace you, as I would say. So, that's my appeal to farmers in America. It's just really think about yourself as valuable to others and think about others as valuable to you. We need each other. So, let's let that be priority one.”
Lindsay’s Pick: Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller on George Washington Carver
George Washington Carver is known as the father of the peanut industry. He brought a new understanding of sustainable agriculture to the Southern U.S. to help farmers support their families and have a better life. In this episode, Lindsay spoke to Dr. Olga Bolden-Tiller, who is the dean of the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences at Tuskegee University. She holds the same position that George Washington Carver did while he was at the university. The way Bolden-Tiller uses Carver as an inspiration for her teaching and life is inspiring.
“When I think about being the dean and the research director, it's kind of surreal. When I think about George Washington Carver actually had that position. And I'm like, wow, so I kind of feel like I have big shoes to fill. But really, it would just further remind me of the responsibility that I have as an educator in those roles…And so I'm very intentional of including teachings and lessons of George Washington Carver, not only in my teaching for college students but also in youth outreach programs that we do. George Washington Carver is known for a gazillion quotes that he has about doing uncommon things and uncommon ways. And so, I try my best to make sure that we are including that information as well as we are teaching and giving students the opportunity to think outside the box and really encouraging them to do so.”
You can learn more about the peanut industry and all it encompasses by listening to The Peanut Podcast here.