By Andrea Brown Herald Writer
ARLINGTON — And on this farm there was a podcast.
Old MacDonald’s farm has entered a new age.
Mark Lovejoy recently started a weekly podcast to promote his farm and his love of the soil.
“You can reach a lot of people with low overhead,” said Lovejoy, 37.
On air, he’s known as “The Dirty Cultivator.”
The podcast studio is a table in the office/playroom/breakroom at Garden Treasures Nursery &Organic Farm.
“Coming to you live from Studio G.T. in Arlington, Washington, this is The Dirty Cultivator show,” the podcast begins after a bluegrass theme song sets the mood.
Then comes serious farm talk as well as playful banter between the deep-voiced Lovejoy and his chatty co-host and co-worker, Kari LaSalata, with input from his childhood buddy and podcast producer Jesse “J.D. Hollywood” Collver.
The 60-minute podcast has a market report, special guests, garden Q&A, newsy issues and random rhetoric about, say, onions.
“I don’t understand the people that can eat them like an apple. Sheesh,” Lovejoy says, when the topic turns to Walla Walla sweet onions, but admits he’s super-stoked about the baby pearls. He has the same enthusiasm when analyzing the difference between artificial-hothouse and grown-in-the-real-mother-earth tomatoes.
LaSalata, who goes by “Kari K,” is funny and fanciful. “Plant sex might be an off-kilter subject but…” she says to preface a segment on picking male and female flowers off zucchini plants.
She’s a fountain of practical advice when it comes to making an apple pie from squash or warning not to over-water plants. “You don’t want to walk around in wet socks,” she says, “and neither do your plants.”
No rehearsal needed for this pair of podcasters who mix it up like seasoned radio deejays.
“We have some talking points and an outline we go over, but we’re not scripted,” LaSalata said.
They segue from sugar snap peas to dancing horses at a parade to trading cherries for curly fries at the farmers market. That leads to a discourse about the price per pound of potatoes and the hot-button issue of labor.
The digital forum seems to be working.
“People are listening and commenting on it at the market,” Lovejoy said.
Adam Stevens, owner of animal-based Adalyn Farm in Stanwood, tunes into “The Dirty Cultivator” podcast on his commute to his day job as a commercial electrician.
“It builds interest in the local food scene so people patronize local producers,” Stevens said. “It’s fun to listen to. It’s interesting to hear him get riled up about some of the stuff farmers get riled up about it.”
Lovejoy began listening to podcasts to fight the boredom of driving a tractor. “Some days I’ll drive until 10 o’clock at night and wake up at 7 and start doing it again,” he said. “It’s such long arduous hours.”
He couldn’t find podcasts by farmers talking about farming. “There was really nothing out there. I’d listen to independent Libertarian guys from Colorado or guys amped about history that told stories about World War II or Genghis Kahn or things like that,” he said. “I got the idea from (comedian) Joe Rogan to do my own show. He said if you have a subject and want to talk about it start your own podcast. It’s the freedom of what a podcast is.”
First, he needed a name. Guess what he did?
“I listened to a podcast about naming things,” he said. “We came up with list of over 100 names.”
Contenders: Northwest Plant Rant. Gardening with Lovejoy. Northwest Beet.
He plans to bring “The Dirty Cultivator” brand to the next level. “We got stuff in the works to produce T-shirts and postcards,” he said.
Setting up the studio required an investment of about $1,000 in non-farming tools like microphones, filters, headsets and audio interface.
“We ended up buying all this stuff on Amazon and then returning all this stuff on Amazon,” Lovejoy said, “and then going down to Bigfoot Music here in Arlington and they hooked us up with the right equipment.”
He tweets to promote the podcast and recently shot video to loop at farmers markets. “So they can see the fields,” he said. “So people can see it is actually coming from a farm. Some people don’t know where Arlington is.”
Lovejoy said a future podcast will have a junior farmer segment by his son, Dante, 8. Chances are his daughter, Valentina, 20 months, will get in on it somehow, beyond sharing her playroom with the podcasters.
Lovejoy and his wife, Patricia, bought the historic dairy farm with the big red barn in 2005 and retooled it as an organic plant farm.
“I grew up at a nursery business two miles down the road,” he said. “I wanted to do organic farming because I didn’t want to work with chemicals.”
Still, it’s not the first career choice for the 6-foot-5 farmer.
“I wanted to be a professional extreme sports athlete. I’m too big and not crazy enough,” he said. “I did the next best thing and became a crazy vegetable farmer.”
Visit, listen in
To hear podcasts: www.gardentreasuresfarm.com/dirty-cultivator-podcast.html