098. André Miller: Systema, farming, and philosophy (transcript)

Highlight [0:00]

Chapter’s show notes…

André (00:04):
(highlight) Farming is something that people need to not approach lightly or thinking about, “Oh, well, I’m going to plant this on the window.” So yes, plant that thing on the window sill, but then get out in your backyard or if you live on an apartment, the side of the road, it doesn’t matter. Just start farming this whole place out as hard as we possibly can, because it really is the answer to everything right now. It’s the answer to greater health. It’s the environmental solution.

Craig (00:34):
It’s what the environment needs too.

André (00:36):
Yeah, it’s the social interaction. It’s the education that we need. It’s the physical movement that we need. So 100% percent, we run down this path, and we see how far we can get. (/highlight)


Introduction [0:49]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (00:51):
(chapter) Hello, I’m Craig Constantine. Welcome to the Movers Mindset Podcast, where I talk with movement enthusiasts to learn who they are, what they do, and why they do it. This is episode number 98 with Andre Miller, Systema farming and philosophy. Farming is Andre Miller’s way of life, a way that connects him physically to the land that feeds him. He discusses his relationship with athletics and his introduction to Systema. Andre unpacks how he came to his personal philosophy, and how it led him on the path to farming. He shares his thoughts on modern farming and recreating connection with the environment.

Craig (01:31):
Andre Miller is a movement based farmer, personal trainer and the owner of Roots Movement Farm in Oregon. He has his master’s degree in physiology and bachelor’s degrees in both kinesiology and philosophy. At Roots Movement Farm, Andre combines his knowledge of movement and philosophy to create a farm where movement and nutritional medicine work together. For more information, go to moversmindset.com/98. And I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again. Thanks for listening.


Childhood role of movement [2:03]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (02:05):
(chapter) Good morning. Thank you for getting up a little bit early out there in Oregon. I know you’re on the West Coast, best coast as they say.

André (02:11):
Yeah, great to be here with you.

Craig (02:13):
So the way I like to start each of these video calls is to simply ask thinking back on your childhood, what role did movement play as you were growing up?

André (02:23):
You know, when I was growing up, it was all about sports. And my parents plugged me into every sport you could imagine and kept me very busy with that. And then, in addition to that, it was working in the garden. It’s doing my chores. So when I thought of physicality, I thought of the sports that I played, and then also the chores that I had to do.

Craig (02:50):
Was your mother like a flower gardener? Or did you have vegetable gardens or like a performing CSA?

André (02:57):
Yeah, well, my mom grew up in real far south Louisiana, about as far south as you get in a place called Thibodaux, and her whole family gardened and farmed sugar cane, peas and stuff like that. So by the time she moved away from her family to Texas, she exclusively gardened flowers. And to this day, she isn’t too big on vegetables. It kind of reminds her of a hard working childhood.

Craig (03:26):
So I’m going to guess that you probably wandered away from farming when you first broke out on your own. So how did, and I want to talk a lot about farming as an entire integrated whole before we get that fun stuff. What was your journey from, so if your mom isn’t really doing veggie gardening and you’re helping her in her flower gardens, how did your journey, what did that look like? How far out into the, I was going to say into the weeds but it’s not a plant metaphor, how far out into the non plant related space did you go before you came back to farming?

André (03:59):
Yeah, really far out there because I ended up kind of with a similar chip on my shoulder towards gardening when I was younger, where this is all physical labor. This is punishment, this is your chores, dig this hole, move this heavy plant, build it here.

Craig (04:16):
I’m laughing. My wife’s a gardener.

André (04:20):
And so when I got into physical culture, it was all about sports and athleticism and performance and the gym community. And that was all 100% aside from a garden. It had nothing to do with it. The grocery stores where you get your food, and then the gyms where you go to work out and the two don’t really have anything to get to do with one another. And then even in college, the classes were split. This is nutrition and this is almost a separate topic. And then this is weightlifting and physiology is different classrooms.


Systema [4:57]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (04:57):
(chapter) Did you, I Have a bunch of questions and one of them is, I think guessing, I think you have a different take on Systema than, you certainly have a different take than the one that I had in my head. And I think Systema is seen, I’m going to say almost exclusively as like a really, I hate to say brutal, but like a combat system. But your take on Systema, I saw you and I’ll let you put your own words in your own mouth, but I saw your take on it via some posts on Instagram and some blog posts that you had written about breathing. And I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, maybe I need to go look into Systema more.” So I want to put a pin in like the journey of coming back to farming because I really think the way that you experience Systema the way you share that and your other parts of practice, that’s really those two are going to come together, planting and your martial arts. So I’m just wondering what your thoughts are on Systema and maybe my twisted view of what Systema really is.

André (05:54):
(highlight) Yeah, I’m incredibly fortunate to have come across Systema. It’s such a beautiful martial art. At the time, when I was exclusively in the gym community, I’ve come across boxing and Muay Thai and jujitsu and started practicing those martial arts. And those are obviously competitive martial arts, and they’re for sport. And so when I found Systema, Systema is a much more complete, holistic, real life martial arts, not for competition. It’s described as a non competitive martial art. And so it’s based on real life and it’s based on survival.

André (06:40):
So in that sense, Systema is much more brutal and much more practical. And the guys that are very good at it are some of the most-

Craig (06:50):
Efficient.

André (06:52):
Militant efficient, this is not doing what’s fair. This is survival. So anything that can be picked up in the room, anything that can be used is all fair play, because this is just life, which can give it a very brutal tone. But what sits behind that is relaxation and breath work and a deep peace. And if you can find peace in very extreme circumstances, you’ll be able to pick up on opportunities that might be missed otherwise, such as how to just leave a situation.

Craig (07:30):
Yeah, or awareness.

André (07:34):
Yeah, a more complete awareness. So it is very ironic that as the efficiency increases, so does the the peacefulness. And that’s why I say I’m very fortunate to come across it in my life, because I was looking for a martial art that I could practice that matched with my personal philosophies of non violence and deescalating conflict, versus only having the option to fight somebody, only having the option to fight force with force, rather than peacefully resolving conflicts or having compassion for the person that’s attacking you. And that really took my idea of mastery to the next level. Vladimir Vasiliev, the teacher at the school in Toronto, would say things like, “When somebody attacks me, I’m thinking about how are they going to fall? I’m thinking about their health and their safety.” And I said, “Wow, what level of mastery would you have to achieve to be concerned about the other person’s well being when somebody is attacking you?” To have your safety not even be a concern, but just to make sure that the other person can leave the situation uninjured, is really remarkable. (/highlight)

Craig (08:58):
So you mentioned your own personal philosophy. And I’m wondering how much of a role Systema played in the development of your personal philosophy versus it meshing, oh, this is in line with your existing philosophy, because the arts that you were describing that you were doing before that, like boxing and Muay Thai, those are very different than what you’re describing for Systema. And I’m just wondering, had your philosophy changed before you encountered Systema or was Systema part of that change?

André (09:30):
Yeah, it’s definitely starting to change. And for that reason, I was already starting to leave a lot of competitive martial arts for things like yoga, things like just general movement, practicioning, that kind of thing that just had a bigger scope and more fixated on a particular competition. So my philosophy was already kind of shaping and moving away from these things, but then I still had the desire to have some kind of martial art in my life.

Craig (10:05):
Martial capability still in there.

André (10:07):
And then when Michael Gonzalez from San Antonio Systema walked into my gym, and one of the first things he said to me is, “I always did a little session with any of the trainers or instructors that wanted to teach at my gym.” I had a little bit time to work with him. And he said, “Yeah, go ahead and just punch me in my face.” And it completely blew my mind. And I was like, “Are you sure?” He’s like, “Yeah, go ahead.” So I punched him in the face. And I felt his face, and feeling’s worth a million words. And what I felt in his face is relaxation. I felt him actually receiving and articulating my strike in such a way that it did deescalate conflict.

André (10:58):
And I said, “Oh, this is a light bulb going off.” And then introducing the principles of breathe, move, relax really filled that gap that I was looking for in my movement practice is how can I actually practice anything physically for longevity? How can it be sustained? And breathe, move, relax was that answer because it’s this constant process of developing greater efficiency in your movement. And then also being able to just let go and embrace all the things that are actually helping you create movement, rather than seeing movement as this constant struggle or this constant fight against gravity. How can we use gravity? How can we relax into gravity? How can the fall actually help us climb back up? So it really was this big shift that helped me plug a big hole in my movement philosophy and practice.


Philosophy [12:10]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (12:10):
(chapter) Did you have a moment you recall that you first felt like philosophy was something like an interesting thread that you’re actually wanting to pull on?

André (12:24):
Yeah, I feel like any moment that you feel like philosophy is a thread that you want to pull on, is that moment of enlightenment that we all get, that aha moment where the pieces kind of come together. And you get so excited about it that you learn. Philos, you learn love, you love the sophy. Philosophy is love of the wisdom. So you get the wisdom, you get a taste of that enlightenment. And you see how it almost creates this mirage of it being everything. I understand, I have the enlightenment. My brain has finally connected the neurons. And now everything seems to make sense. And enlightenment is this wonderful cloud of golden specks that kind of seems to flutter down on you.

André (13:20):
But the problem with enlightenment is that whenever you have to act, you’d have to act without it. So it’s just the sensation that you get. And you can kind of become addicted to it. You can fall in love with it, the wisdom that you’re getting. But there’s this other side of it, the physicality, the acting, and training yourself to learn to act without enlightenment, because that’s ultimately what we all have to do. And so it is this kind of like polar interplay between the understanding and gaining understanding and then manifesting that understanding in our actions. And that’s where the farming really steps in.

Craig (14:06):
That’s what I thought. And so I still have a mental pin in that whole arc of farming. So at this point, you’re still talking about being in Texas and having this opportunity to see enlightenment. And before we go to the farm, I want to ask one more question about since my education didn’t involve any, I mean the closest I got was like classics literature in college. I’m just wondering, your experience of philosophy, education in a traditional college context, do you think that that’s served you well as a starting point? And what I’m trying to get at is many, many people that, I would say all the people that I know in parkour and Systema, free running, they don’t have a degree in philosophy. They didn’t study that stuff in college. And I’m just wondering, do you think that your formal philosophy experience was like a step, was that in your favor or did that work against you?

André (15:06):
Yeah, 100%. Be careful what you know, because once you know, you have the responsibility to act on it. So knowledge can be a terrible burden. But no matter how terrifying knowledge can be, it’s more terrifying to think of what it would be like to live without it. So go ahead and learn. Go ahead and get the knowledge even though once you know it, it might completely ruin your life, which is what it did for me. It’s like once I know this, now I can’t act against it, because that will disrupt my integrity and learning philosophy. I was bio major when I started out in college, and I got three years into my bio degree and I was almost done. And then I said, “I know too much about this without understanding the way that I think about it. And that’s going to give me a lot of power without the wisdom to direct it, and that’s going to get me into a lot of trouble.”

André (16:07):
(quote) So I need to stop, I need to learn how to think about thinking before I start thinking too much, and that starts directing me too much. So I really do believe strongly that a philosophy degree or a background in philosophy should almost be a prerequisite before you do anything, because it will help you do whatever it is you’re going to do better. If you’re a scientist, it will help you understand your science better. If you’re a writer, you’ll understand your writing better. If you’re a farmer, because it’s training yourself to think is how to think about your thinking. And so without that metacognitive process going on, you can really get yourself into some trouble heading in a direction too strongly without really understanding what’s going on. (/quote)

André (16:59):
So philosophy definitely for me, it helped form this beautiful foundation for helping me understand how to think about things. And then I could go ahead and start attacking specialties. I could start attacking movement. I could start attacking agriculture. I could start attacking physiology, but I first need to figure out logic, how I was thinking, and I also needed to figure out what was the basis that other people in history had learned to shape their thinking. I love the term a cognitive system. Do you have a cognitive system that actually encompasses all of your practices and does it mesh with your integrity?

Craig (17:44):
And does that moral compass match up with how you actually act? Do the two align? So did you back into farming or did you go there intentionally? In other words, did you find yourself farming and it aligned with your philosophy? Or did you go, “You know what? I need to go do and then head for farming as a thing intentionally.”?

André (18:05):
It really was a complete surprise for me. I was very much into performance athletics and that kind of thing. And when I left the big corporate gym that I was personal training at, I actually started training out of a gigantic space that had an indoor football field and supposed to be top of the line performance athletic training gym, like Monica Brandt was there. And I remember doing squats with John Cena one day. It was all geared towards your supplements and-

Craig (18:44):
Tech.

André (18:44):
It had no windows. It was all fluorescent lighting. And then I had this revolution, this Renaissance in thinking because I was harping on people about their nutrition so much. And then I started going to the farmers market myself, and I was telling all my clients to go to the farmers market. If you really want good produce, you got to get it direct. And after harping on people with that for a couple of years, (quote) I started realizing, I can’t just tell people to go to the farmers market. I have to be the farmers market. When I say you should be eating these greens, I have to be able to put those greens in that person’s hand right then and there if I’m going to help the person because a lot of times when you tell somebody to do something, they’ll come back and they’ll come with the guilt. ‘I didn’t do what you said I was going to do,’ and so I needed to cut through all of that. And so I started to have this awakening, like the farm and the gym need to be one and the same. The nutrition needs to be connected to the movement. People need to get back to this very roots oriented model where their physicality was connected with what was sustaining them. (/quote)

Craig (20:09):
(highlight) You know where they’re got that tool of, let me say the story that you are telling there, exemplifies or shows a great deal of self awareness, self direction. Do you know where you got that from? I don’t see that in a lot of people.

André (20:26):
Yeah, I think it just comes, it comes naturally. Because that’s how we are, that’s where we came from. It’s really, really deep in us. And if you just let nature take its direction, if you just go outside on a walk, it will happen to you. Your attention will start going towards the different plants, you’ll start asking yourself, “Could I eat this?” And if you’re not thinking that, maybe you’re not hungry enough.

Craig (20:58):
Most people are never hungry. I definitely do a lot with fasting. So yeah, I know exactly what you were talking about, but I don’t think most people really understand.

André (21:07):
Yeah, and really big thing for me is quote from King Solomon, excess brings enlightenment. So if you really want to know something, you just go all the way really through that process and you’ll get to know all the ins and outs of it, like a Zen monk practicing movement. It’s not 10 sets of 12. It’s thousands and thousands so they just know it in and out. And what happened with me is running. So I had a background in running. At the time that I was into performance, I was really getting into ultra running. So I was trying to figure out how far I could run, what’s the human capability with running. And so I would get running so far. And when you go that far, you get hungry. And when you get hungry, you start looking around. And this was a really big shifting point for me, I would run this trail, and it’s in Texas. So what I would end up finding at the end of this trail miles and miles then were wild persimmons. And so these little purple-

Craig (22:19):
I was reading about those the other day, sorry.

André (22:24):
And I’m almost, I’ve been running all day, I’ve been running for like 10 hours, and it’s hot. It’s like 105 degrees in San Antonio, Texas, and I’m dehydrated, my blood sugar’s low. And I just see these purple splatters all over the trail. And I’m like, “Whoa, what is this?” Like snozzberries just all over the ground. And I look up, and I see these big purple berries, and I’m like, “Oh, this has got to be edible.” And I just start snacking on them, and it’s the most delicious thing that I’ve ever had in my whole life. And that was the first of many instances in which long training runs started to transform into foraging runs, so because I would cover so much ground, I would figure out where all the plants were, and then I would go, and again, my movement led me to eating it, led me to the connection to my environment. (/highlight)

Craig (23:29):
It’s a really astute observation because I have heard people talk about the idea of a food desert. So most of the places that I’m talking about most people, a lot of the parkour and movement people they tend to be a little more on the edges. But if you’re like in New York City, there’s a food desert, always you’re going to find somebody’s backyard, peek over a fence and find their backyard garden. It’s basically a food desert, there’s no food within 20 miles of here. And what you’re talking about is inadvertently, running out of the food desert, running into the first beginning of the produce aisle and then realizing that there’s actually food here. Someone else that I interviewed, Jessi Stensland, was talking about doing something very similar. She had visited a place in Mexico and then came back a year later to live there. And when she was first there, she was completely oblivious to the plants that were around in the neighborhood where she wound up living so she came back a year later and she’s like, “There’s like five things I can eat on this block.” Just walking down the street there’s five things here that are edible.

Craig (24:27):
So now I’ve heard usually if I hear the same thread twice and I only interview 100 people or whatever, it is really got to be base bedrock if that’s, and if I hear it multiple times, that’s something people should really take seriously. Let’s keep pulling that thread before we go back to philosophy. If I wanted to, if I want to slap my headphones off my head in the middle of the call and run out, how do I get started doing that? Should I just go run in the woods or is there like somebody that I can talk to or a book I can read or someplace I can, like okay end zone for Northeastern United States, what am I likely to encounter? And oh, by the way, don’t eat this. It looks edible, but it’s not. How do I get started doing that?

André (25:06):
Yeah. So I feel like most people would jump and start recommending a bunch of books to you, or maybe a couple blogs that are foraging, but I don’t really ascribe to that method as much anymore. I’m really working towards this inherent knowledge system, and tapping into the intuitive body that human beings have, and the capacity for learning, and intuiting their own environment and what they can and cannot eat, rather than going in this roundabout way of reflecting on what other people have said about it.

André (25:46):
And so yeah, books are great. Maybe use it to cross check something that you’ve had an intuition about. (quote) But I think first and foremost, the information that’s stored in our nervous system is woken up by oxygenating that nervous system. And the best way to oxygenate that nervous system is to move, is to move and to breathe, move, relax. And one of my favorite phrases that I like to say is oxygen fans the flame of awareness. So the more that you can move around in an environment, the more that you can interact with an environment, the more that you’ll just start to wake up your whole body, your mind, and maybe even your spirit that will help guide you to the right kinds of plants and gets you curious. (/quote) Rather than browbeating yourself with a bunch of books and information that you might not remember, go for a walk, and then see what plant really strikes you. And then maybe try to identify that plant. And through this process, you might start identifying a bunch of common nursery plants that are just common in landscaping. Those are mostly not edible, but then you’ll start to run across some of the weeds, the things that we’ve been pushing out, the things that are actually edible.

Craig (27:11):
Once the dandelion is sprayed with fertilizer from one company, the dandelions are delicious, right? The leaves, not the flowers. Well, I guess people make wine from flowers, too.

André (27:22):
Yeah, you know, there really is a Garden of Eden out there, if we can open our eyes and one of the best phrases that I love as well is the word saunter, saunter, to go on a saunter, to go on a walk stems from the root word saint and terra. So saint is for holy, and then terra is for land. So when the term was coined, it was used to describe these people who were walking around looking for the Holy Land. And I feel like that’s what happened to me when I saw all those little persimmons splattered on the ground is here I was running and running, where am I going? I don’t even know. I’m just trying to get a better time. And before I know it, I end up at the Holy Land, oh, this place with beautiful berries that are going to give me exactly what it is I need. And it wasn’t a particular location. It wasn’t that I arrived at the place where all the persimmons were growing. It’s that I arrived at the place within my mind that allowed me to understand that the food was in front of me because I had ran past it 100 times before. And so to answer your question, go for a walk, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, just keep walking.

Craig (28:51):
I’ll go tomorrow. That’s part of the walking is the journey. That’s what I love about talking to people in conversations. I obviously spend a lot of time while I’m talking to people in conversations, but I spend a lot of time thinking about conversations and the conversations are a tool. And yeah, so yet again I’m delighted by the things that I discover when I talk to people.


Path to farming and foraging [17:50]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (29:17):
(chapter) Do you want to, I’m just trying to be mindful of the time, do you want to talk about farming specifically or do you want to talk more because they’re like we’re sauntering down the street and lots of side streets here. There’s ones for philosophy, there’s ones for, I didn’t grow up on a farm. I’ve never done a lot of farming. But for a while, I was part of a CSA and I used to do farmer carries. I’d like walk three miles and pick up my veggies and then walk back home and stuff like that. And we do grow vegetables in our garden. So I’d love to talk about farming or permaculture. So any of these side streets jump out of you as like, “Yeah, let’s go this way.”?

André (29:58):
Yeah, and yeah, and as we’re on it, gentle saunter, we eventually see a pathway that we probably should just sprint down at breakneck, full speed, how far can we go? And that’s farming right now. Farming is something that people need to not approach lightly or thinking about, "Oh, well, I’m going to plant this on the window sill. Yes, plant that thing on the window sill, but then get out in your backyard. Or if you live on an apartment, the side of the road, it doesn’t matter. Just start farming this whole place out as hard as we possibly can. Because it really is the answer to everything right now. It’s the answer to greater health. It’s the environmental solution.

Craig (30:46):
It’s what the environment needs too.

André (30:49):
Yeah, it’s the social interaction. It’s the education that we need. It’s the physical movement that we need. So 100%, we run down this path, and we see how far we can get. And part of that is radically changing the way that we’re farming. The way that we’re farming was geared towards not farming. So we were trying to develop a farming system to where as few people had to farm as possible. And I feel like where we want to head with that is into a farming system where as many people can farm as possible, because it’s so good for you done a particular way. And namely, this big shift in farming practices has to do more with the term agro forestry or creating food forests rather than this whole model of tilling and monocropping.

Craig (31:47):
(highlight) And I love the way, I don’t know if I read it in a blog post or if I got it off an Instagram caption, but the way you talk about in the farm that you’re running, all the plants are just its plants. That one looks nice. This one happens to attract pollinators. This one will be nice in a couple months. We can eat that, like it’s just these are seeds simply which it’s extremely complex. It’s simply an ecosystem. And how you had to first begin by rebooting the mycelium network and getting the fungi working again and then going up from there. So I was curious, what do you think is the biggest plot that you could handle as a single person like you specifically? Could you handle like an entire acre? Could you do 10 acres? At what point does it become, well Screw it, let’s just make it be 100 acres, I’m not going to touch it at all. I’m just going to wander through it and feed myself which is kind of cheating. But in the sense of cultivating this is a farm and I’m intending to feed people from this space, how big do you think you could go personally before you’re at your max?

André (32:48):
Yeah, screw it all. It’s the whole world.

Craig (32:52):
I thought you’re going to say-

André (32:55):
100%, 110%, it’s the whole world. So especially now, human beings need to expand their consciousness and their awareness into the whole world. When we act, we’re affecting the whole world. That’s what we’re learning right now. If there’s a virus out there, the whole world has it. If I do something, the whole world is affected. So when I speak, I need to speak to the whole world. When I act, I need to act for the sake of the whole world. And so it is very true, however crazy, it sounds like I’m farming the whole world right now. And it happens first and foremost within myself. So however good I feel, the change that I wish to see in the world, however I’m trying to change myself, whatever I’m being and becoming is the start of a very small rippling wave that just starts to open up.

André (33:50):
And once I get myself into that correct place, once I saunter into the Holy Land of myself, it then becomes my duty to start rippling that out, and it starts to manifest itself in my body. And if my body becomes healthy, then my immediate surroundings become healthy. I clean my room, I make my bed, my kitchen is clean, or whatever the case may be. And then I start to put some window sill planters, and then once that gets done, then it’s my yard. And then it’s my neighbor’s yard. And then it’s my neighbor’s neighbor’s yard. And then it just keeps going. And it’s only limited by the degree and profoundness with which the change has happened inside of you. And it’s really exciting time for me right now, because the two acres that I have here on my own farm is getting to a point.

André (34:43):
Of course it will never be done. But it’s really getting to a point where it’s [inaudible 00:34:49] is producing a very large amount of food and certainly get a lot of attention. And because of that, I’m starting to get a lot of consulting and landscaping projects. I’ve got quite a few right now going, one of the biggest of which is a 16 acre permaculture farm that I’m working on right now. And it’s underway, their garden, their quarter acre garden next to their house has already been created. And now we’re moving out into the rest of the property. And so there’s really no limit to this. My garden’s getting built. I’m building other people’s gardens. They’re getting educated, they’re starting to start other gardens, and it’s just this beautiful virus that’s starting to take over the world.

Craig (35:35):
That’s a terrific vision. I fully support this plan. Is there anything you can just continue running down the garden path? Or is there anything that you were thinking on your way to the interview that you wanted to ask, or I want to make sure we get to any other topic before we are about 35 minutes in so like, 10 minutes to go. Is there anything else that you want to touch on? Or we can just keep talking about farming?

André (35:58):
Yeah, I was starting to talk about the way that we want to approach farming. And one of the best pieces of advice that I love to give people right now is to follow nature’s lead and to look at the model of the forest, because nothing grows vegetation quite like the forest. Even our best synthetic fertilizers and our best technologies have not-

Craig (36:26):
There is an ecosystem, right?

André (36:30):
Yeah. It hasn’t beat the Amazon as far as carbon sequestration and nitrogen growth has been going on. So what this really has to do with is it’s an inclusive versus exclusive agricultural model. So we were taught to think, “Oh well, you got to pull the weeds and you got to get those out. And then you got to keep the birds from eating everything, and then you got to get rid of the rats. And then you just keep these good things, these 100 corn plants or whatever. And don’t let anything take one of those.” The forest is not like that. It’s bigger than that. The thinking is more magnanimous. So it always says more, more is more, just keep adding.

Craig (37:16):
Feed the rabbits, and then the rabbits feed the foxes.

André (37:20):
Yeah, and all that means more poop ultimately, and poop is what farming is all about. So if I’ve got slugs, if I’ve got roly polys, if I’ve got worms, if I’ve got birds, I want all of them. And what this becomes about is the story of life, how do we cultivate more life. More life is more life. And that’s how the force works. There’s nothing so full of life compared to the force. So when you’re farming and when you’re gardening, don’t waste your time saying, “I don’t need these things. These things are not good.” It’s all good. It’s all nature.

André (37:57):
Just think about the nudges that it needs to be directed in, or the way that you can maybe expedite the system and work with the system to get to the next step. If it is a slug problem, instead of wasting your time trying to pour salt on each one of those slugs to get rid of those slugs, how about you just plant more? That way the slugs eat it, you get the slug poop for fertilizer, and everybody gets to eat, and it takes the same amount of time and same amount of resources to fight something down than what it does to just use it, use its energy, use its life force. And this brings us back around to Systema. It takes more effort from my part, to push against your punch, than to just take your punch, turn with it and then give it back to you.

André (38:54):
And so if we can do that with our agricultural system as well when things come our way, we just find a way to turn it on its head and turn it back into what it is we’re trying to produce. This is a much better way of thinking and we can stop fighting ourselves and we can stop fighting everything that is outside of us as well because I think I speak for everybody when I say are we tired of fighting? When does the peace come? (/highlight)


Farming [29:17]

Chapter’s show notes…

Craig (39:30):
(chapter) So I am wondering about like, we were talking a little bit there about scale, like ripples and letting this ripple out. But in some way, I feel as if we, as a human race, we may have backed ourselves into a corner with I’m assuming you’ve been to big cities. San Antonio is not a tiny town. And we have got it in our heads that it’s necessary to aggregate ourselves and New York City or Tokyo are perfect examples. There is no ripple that you’re going to drop anywhere in New Jersey that’s going to make it into Manhattan. And I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts on, have you seen people who have been fully mashed in that? I want to say like ant hill humanity kind of thing. And there’s a reason why it’s like that. But have you seen people who have woken up from that or how have some and I don’t mean how do we wake all the people who aren’t awake. But I mean, what have you seen that has been successful?

Craig (40:35):
So somebody who was really into the urban rat race kind of thing, who then saw something, and then how did they manage to change? Have you seen them able to oh, well, okay, now they have two homes, and they split their time, because they realize they need to have something to balance that at the end of the city. Have you seen anybody successfully make that shift? And what did you see that they did that worked?

André (40:58):
Yeah, I have, and the way that I’ve seen that happen is the reason that I’m doing things the way that I’m doing them. And what I’m referring to is it happens on a person to person basis. This ripple, even if it’s a gigantic tidal wave, it only washes one person away at a time. It happens in sequence. And if you want to impact something, we’re people so we work on a personal level. And this is why I’m grateful that I’ve had personal trainings, because I can put out something mass media, but it doesn’t have the same effect as if I can take one person, if I can walk them around my garden, me and them alone. I can have a much deeper impact.

André (41:52):
And I’ve noticed the person who comes from the city who is caught up in the rat race. I can think of several, one of which I’ve had great pleasure dealing with a lawyer from California. And he’s just shifting the way he’s thinking. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m all for starting a new life at 60. The best is yet to come past 50. And I spend time personally with this guy. It’s just me and him one on one walking around the garden talking about things. And people are personal. And so that’s the way to connect change. And it happens because one person talks to one person. That person helped one more, and it seems petty, but same thing on the garden, you can really only pull one weed at a time. If you get a tractor, you’ll just destroy the whole thing.

Craig (42:53):
You’re destroying the whole thing, yeah.

André (42:55):
Yeah, you’re not learning what’s going on. But as humans right now, we do have this big hole to dig ourselves out of. You’re right. We are kind of like backed into this corner. And a lot of people are not conditioned to do farm work. A lot of people do not have the education to do farm work. And farmers are educating right now. They’re helping people learn to turn this tide, interns one at a time.

Craig (43:22):
Yeah, there’s like a deep human knowledge that they have that maybe was in the '70s and '80s, and then that got devalued for decades. We’ve been sort of pushing that out. And there’s a million things we can talk about.

André (43:35):
Yeah, and not only have they lost that knowledge of plants that maybe even just 20 years ago used to be a little bit more common, but also our physicality. Our physicality is sweat when it’s hot, or to create body heat in the cold and the outside. And then even like our fingers and our hands, our skin has become sensitized to thorns and these kinds of things that we can interact.

Craig (44:04):
No interaction with the ground like physically, I don’t have shoes on at the moment, I’m indoors, but when I’m outdoors, I often have no shoes, but just that whole idea of we’ve layered on so many things, which have served to separate us from nature, from the environment. So I think it’s certainly not true that everybody in Manhattan needs to rage quit Manhattan and run into the woods. That would also be a disaster. But yeah, there’s definitely an aspect too. I love the way you put it about, start something on the window sill and then start something in your yard and then okay, if you’re living in a high rise building, there should be, there’s green space that they have to balance those things to do something there, which is nice.

André (44:43):
Yeah, it’s part of a process that people have to undergo. And that’s actually what the training methods that I devised are geared towards this. How can I re equip the modern human population to get back to their environment? How can I get them back to that rooted state where you were able to feed yourself and you understood your environment and you could interact with it? Because if we go at this blindly, we’re going to destroy our little tender bodies. But if we go at it confidently, we can become robust, we can become anti fragile.

Craig (45:27):
We can return to being robust, return to being anti fragile. Human beings are robust. Yes, totally. So this is going to sound nuts, but that’s 45 minutes, believe it or not. Andre was a delight. I’m a spoiled child. I get to have conversations like this all the time with people but it never ceases to amaze me how fun it is to discover things. We talk a little bit before and after, and I’m certain that our paths will cross again and it was a delight to get a chance to talk to you. Thank you again for your time.

André (45:55):
Thank you very much. Honor to be on here and fantastic spending time with you.