Late Bloomer Interviews Barefoot Farmer

| May 18, 2015 | 12 Replies

Late Bloomer Interviews Barefoot Farmer in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. Check out this vital podcast!


When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. – John Muir, 1911

Late Bloomer Interviews Barefoot Farmer - onions

Onion field at Heady Ridge Farm

We have to break out of this fog that we’re in thinking that modern agriculture is feeding people. It’s not. It’s really causing a lot of problems. Most of our environmental problems are agriculturally oriented. – Jeff Poppen, 2015


I drove up to Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, to visit Jeff Poppen, known as the Barefoot Farmer, owner and operator of Heady Ridge Farm and Long Hungry Creek Farm, one of the oldest and largest organic farms in Tennessee. I saw him mowing hay in a field and pulled over and he pulled over and we met.

Late Bloomer Interviews Barefoot Farmer

Jeff Poppen and Kaye Kittrell at Heady Ridge Farm

Kristina Rossi, Jeff’s secretary, who plans to own her own farm one day, showed us around the farm while Jeff mowed hay. Kristina fed me homemade stew from farm beef and vegetables, along with fermented vegetables and homemade bread and fresh butter then we took a tour. I had brought along my old friend, Guy Zimmerman, Area Forester for the Tennessee Department of Forestry, as Jeff’s farm, which is 60% forest, was in his jurisdiction.

Kristina Rossi takes Guy Zimmerman and Kaye for a tour of the farm

Kristina Rossi takes Guy Zimmerman and Kaye for a tour of the farm

We met later on the porch of a vintage post office building Jeff had moved to a field near where he holds his music festival. He discussed the benefits of biodynamic agriculture and the importance of soil health and how it could reverse global warming (grazing animals on grassland drives carbon back into the ground), also how the nutrition obtained from homegrown food raises consciousness.

Late Bloomer Interviews Jeff Poppen

Kaye interviews Jeff Poppen on the porch of an old post office building he moved to the farm

Jeff has a lifetime of farming experience, claiming “It’s the only thing I’ve ever done,” however his two books, personal TV appearances, his farmer training program, and his music festival attest to his appetite to share his knowledge and his farm with others. For more information about Jeff and his farm activities, go to – Thanks for listening!

Late Bloomer Interviews Barefoot Farmer - cattle

Cattle grazing at Heady Ridge Farm

When I recently had Sharon Carson, a biodynamic family farmer for 25 years, on my first live webcast and mentioned I was heading home to Tennessee, she said, you have to meet Jeff Poppen. I spent the last day of my trip at his farm, and recorded this interview, which will be combined with more images into a slideshow which will be available at Kaye Kittrell | Late Bloomer Urban Organic Garden Show on YouTube.


Help me bring more engaging interviews to you by supporting “Late Bloomer.” Your donation of any amount makes “Late Bloomer” possible and available for anyone.

Thank you! – Kaye

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Category: Community, Environment, Fungi, Podcasts

Comments (12)

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  1. Red Baron Farm says:

    This guy is pretty smart. Not every single part of biodynamic is scientific. However, in every part that matters, this guy is spot on.

    I especially like his comments about earthworms doing the tillage and the soil food web, mycorrhizal networks etc…

    • Yeah, the subject of healthy food, soil, climate change, small sustainable agriculture and urban gardening is so vast, I tried to touch all the bases. If you’d like to hear more from him about a particular aspect, I’m sure I will be back at the farm again. Thanks for listening and commenting! – Kaye

  2. Chandan Maddanna says:

    That’s so wise and intelligent , and everything he has told matches with my own prompt research ! brilliant this interview. Infact, I prefer a voice only interview rather then video for its contemplation inducing nature !

    Its beautiful, the person has such clear and connected thoughts, perceiving a fuller picture all along, without loosing scope of real and the whole!

    • Thanks, so much, Chandan! I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks for listening and please share with friends who care about the food they eat and the Earth we all share.

  3. Ward New says:

    Superb interview. I would recommend two books by Jeff Lowenfels “Teaming with Microbes” and “Teaming with Nutrients.” You are doing a much needed job! Thank you!

  4. I have been telling folks to begin to garden, stay out of grocery stores and restaurants for many years . It is hard… the demise of the family farm has been going on since my childhood or before .
    Jeff speaks so eloquently and clearly on the connections.. Just love this guy…. tells it like it is ! Thank you Kaye for doing the interview… maybe people will begin to listen and change what they support by what they eat . :)Sharon

  5. Marty Ware says:

    Great podcast, I am mimicking this process myself in a backyard and having a lot of success, it really can be done in the suburbs.
    But you must have a balance with nature that surrounds you to keep it all working in a sustainable healthy manner.
    Marty Ware from Australia

  6. kevin says:

    Jeff is a common sense farmer, actually we live a few miles from him and has been to his farm.

    I grew up on a dairy farm that we converted to a beef operation in the mid 80s after Dad retired. I finally put the farm up for sale last year because of all the work that is involved and no one to inherit it.

    My parents grew up during the depression and I learned many life long lessons from them. We had our own milk/dairy products, raided a very large garden, raised chickens, cattle, hogs for butchering for sale and personal use. Everything was no meds, fed real grains/grass/hay without any chemicals other that fertilizer. All animals had large outdoor pens or ranged. We ate very healthy foods without health problems. Both parents lived into their 90s.

    Our problems today is ”factory food and corporate farms”. It is all about getting the most profit possible. In return we have lost quality, nutritious, safe foods. When America lost ”the family farm life” we got stuck with harmful food. We sacrificed safe food for convenient food, I am guilty too. Corporate farms/factory food do provide ”cheap” food but really is it really cheap when 2/3s of our population are obese?

    The following stats comes from the USDA.

    Total population: 75,994,266; farm population: 29,414,000 (est. farmers 38% of labor force; Number of farms: 5,740,000; average acres: 147

    Total population: 261,423,000; farm population: 2,987,552; farmers 2.6% of labor force; Number of farms: 2,143,150; average acres: 461; irrigated acres: 49,404,000 (1992)

    This says it all. Not only are we have lost the family farms but look at the water consumption.

    We should consume animals that are raised down the road from a trusted farmer, raise our own vegetables/fruits and can the extra, grow vegetables and not grow grass in our front lawns. Eat nothing that is ”processed”. This will benefit our health and our local farm economies.

    Like Spock says,,,”Farm long and prosper”.

    • Thank you for this contribution! My grandmother that had the life you describe lived to 97 and she had a cup of coffee and a slice of bacon every morning. All those years of healthy, farm-raised food gave her a long life. You will be benefited from the same foundation. I hope the buyer of your farm intends to maintain it in a healthy practices way. And I hope you are still seeking farm-fresh, healthy food from Jeff or other organic farmers in the area. Thanks so much for listening and commenting. The slideshow with the interview will be available on my YouTube channel later today. – Kaye

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