38. Adam Turtle on 35 years of growing bamboo in Tennessee

This week, I talk to Adam Turtle, an 80-year-old scholar and researcher who has spent much of his life, researching a lot of rare plants in the US that can be used for regenerative purposes. We spend a lot of this episode is discussing bamboo. We talked about his Research Farm that has over 300 varieties of bamboo, his thoughts about building soil, his philosophy on life, how they ended up developing their niche which was providing large, high-quality bamboo clumps to zoos all over the US. It was a fascinating conversation and I highly encourage that you listen to the episode even if you’re not interested in bamboo because we also go into Adam’s years of being involved in the regenerative agriculture and permaculture movements.

In This Episode:

>> How it took 15 years to figure out how to raccoon-proof his garden

>> How his attention to soil health has resulted in impressive tumeric and ginger growth

>> Why bamboo is the fastest growing biomass and well suited for a southern climate

>> A discussion of the benefits of some invasive plants

>> The various uses of bamboo: piping, fencing, forage, timber, wind and noise barrier, soil building, and fiber.

About the Guest

Adam Turtle is a fellow Fellow of the Linnean Society, former
Boy Scout, and at various times, cowboy, fisherman, truck
driver, chef, homeless bum, woodworker, sculptor, preacher,
theosopher and general trouble maker, left the mainstream in
1970 to pursue a quest for insight into good stewardship — this
led to ethnobotanical studies (on the land, primarily with
occasional forays into academia) — lots of wood lore, wild
crafting, gardening, etc,

Adam began working with bamboos in ’79, Permaculture in ’81
and again in ’88 (both with B. Mollison), Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) in ’93, soil building and water management
are ongoing. He aspires to become a better earth citizen and
general systems synthesist.

Although possessing only an eighth-grade diploma, Adam is an
alum (non-matriculating) of San Antonio College, Oklahoma
University, the University of Arizona, the University of
Maryland and has taught at several others. As Helen Bullard
said in “Crafts and Craftsmen of the Tennessee Mountains”,
“His degrees are Nth!”

Resources and mentions

Adam’s website: Earth Advocate Research Farm

Bill Mollison – Permaculture

Dirt: the erosion of civilisations book

Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web book

The Book of Kudzu

Jewels of Opar (talinum paniculatum)