The Growing Season

Join actor and musician Ben Dickey on “The Growing Season,” a new monthly agricultural podcast from Arkansas PBS that will follow the stories of six Arkansas farmers as they work through a year on their land. Get an inside look at what it truly means to be a farmer today, and the stressors and struggles that come with the lifestyle.

The outline of “The Growing Season” is right there in the title. The journey begins in March when the farmers get to work in the fields, barns and greenhouses, planning for the upcoming year.

In the spring, the season takes shape as the soil wakes up. And, just as the farmers will be growing comfortable with our producers, the difficulties of the season will present themselves – broken equipment, underperforming crops, heavy loans and other stressors.

As the summer heat sets in, the work of the Arkansas farmer only gets tougher. The simple complications of springtime have grown into full-on shortcomings for the season, but the work doesn’t let up. For a troubled farmer, summer months are all about keeping your head above water.

The end of summer means harvest – one final exhausting push to the finish line. Weary and exhausted, it’s only now that the farmer gets a clear understanding of how his growing difficulties will impact his day-to-day well-being.

Winter means putting everything away and putting your mind to planning to avoid the pitfalls of the previous year. A farmer must at once always be looking forward to the expectations of the next season and looking back at the complications of the last. Our final episodes will ask the question, “What did we learn this year?” – not only about herd strength or crop rotation, but also about self-care and our own mental health.

The Growing Season is funded through a Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Grant provided by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

Look for new episodes the second Friday of each month


Episodes


    Episode 7 – September: Harvest
    The long, hot days grind on with the year’s biggest task at hand.  Vegetable and rice farmers are picking, cleaning and storing produce to deliver to markets or customers.  Cattle farmers are at auction both selling and buying.  All the work and sacrifice have come down to how both you and your land perform in the hottest part of the year. The most demanding season is also the most important. 

    Episode 7 – September: Harvest


    Episode 6 – August: My Summer Vacation
    After a wet spring and a long summer, the growing season is ramping up before harvest, and Arkansas farmers are looking for relief from the work wherever they can find it.  It might mean delivering cattle to Dodge City, KS or lazing on a beach in Aruba. Regardless, when you live where you work, like most farmers do, it is vitally important you take time for yourself and step away from the labor, even if only for a moment. 

    Episode 6 – August: My Summer Vacation


    Episode 5 – July: The Heat is On
    2022 saw one of the hottest, driest summers on record. For crops and livestock, water becomes more valuable than gold – and for farmers, it can feel just as expensive. Rising global temperatures are making Arkansas winters more violent, and summers more parched.  This episode will highlight how a fickle climate is one more factor farmers can’t control, but always have to answer for.  

     
    Episode 5 – July: The Heat is On


    Episode 4 – June: Are You a Betting Man?
    The cost of farming has always been high and has only exploded with inflation.  There are the constants of seed, feed, chemicals, and fuel – the overhanging debt of land leases and the unforeseen bills of equipment maintenance and repairs. Almost all farmers take out yearly loans, betting on the hope that their harvest profits can pay the debts.  Everybody knows somebody who’s had a bad year and got “upside down” in their borrowing.  This “gamble” can greatly affect a farmer’s mental health. Episode 4 will discuss this burden in detail. 

     
    Episode 4 – June: Are You a Betting Man?

    07/08/2022
    Episode 3 – May: Not Your Momma's Home Cookin'
    Farmers have an intimate relationship with the food they grow. From cabbage to cattle, Arkansas farmers dedicate their lives to raising quality food for their consumers and community. However, in the day-to-day , farmers struggle as much or more than the average family with maintaining a nutritious diet. This episode highlights the factors that stand in their way, and the impact this “fast diet” can have on their physical, mental and emotional health. 

    Episode 3 – May: Not Your Momma's Home Cookin'

    06/10/2022
    Episode 2 – April: After the Storm
    Our farmers deal with the destruction and debris of a violent storm system that hit the state in Early April – highlighting the unpredictable demands of the farming lifestyle. We will speak with Dr. Teresa Hudson of the Psychiatric Research Institute at UAMS on the different types of stress and their effects on the body and mind. 

    Episode 2 – April:  After the Storm

    05/13/2022
    Episode 1 – March: Looking Back
    Getting to know each of our farmers, we look back at how they got here.  Are they a first-generation farmer, learning the ropes? Or a fifth-generation rancher carrying the weight of legacy? This episode will set the stage. We will also speak with Arkansas Agriculture Wes Ward about the state of farming in Arkansas. 

     
    Episode 1 – March: Looking Back

    04/27/2022
    Series Trailer
    Join actor and musician, Ben Dickey, on The Growing Season, a new agricultural podcast from Arkansas PBS. The growing season is a monthly podcast that will follow the stories of six Arkansas farmers as they work through a year on their land.  We will focus on what it truly means to be a farmer today, and the stressors and struggles that come with the lifestyle.

    Series Trailer



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