Murray Prior from Corporate Law to Indigenous Lore & Regenerating the Land

Murray Prior joins us to chat about his move from corporate law to Indigenous lore and regenerating the land with the help of traditional owners. This is a story that touched and inspired me greatly. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Murray Prior from Corporate Law to Indigenous Lore & Regenerating the Land Introduction

Today, we are going to explore a story that I find incredibly inspiring, and I hope you do, too. Now, a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful event in Fairlight called Soil to Stomach. And the keynote speaker was Charlie Massy, who has written a wonderful book called the Call of the Reed Warbler. And Charlie was the keynote speaker and emceeing the event was another guest on this podcast, Charlie Arnott.

And then at the end of the evening, there was a panel discussion. And I was privileged to be on that panel with Charlie Massy and a few other people, including my guests today, Murray Prior.

Now, Murray has an incredible story to tell of moves from the corporate world onto the farm and even though I started this program with an acknowledgment to country and acknowledging the true custodians of this land, Murray has taken it a step further. I won’t spoil it for you. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Murray Prior.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:07] Hello and welcome to Unstress. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Before I start, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which this podcast is being recorded. The Gadigal People of the Eora Nation. And I’d like to pay my respects to their elders past, present, and future.

Now, today, we are going to explore a story that I find incredibly inspiring, and I hope you do, too. Now, a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a wonderful event in Fairlight called Soil to Stomach. And the keynote speaker was Charlie Massy, who has written a wonderful book called the Call of the Reed Warbler. And Charlie was the keynote speaker and emceeing the event was another guest on this podcast, Charlie Arnott.

And then at the end of the evening, there was a panel discussion. And I was privileged to be on that panel with Charlie Massy and a few other people, including my guests today, Murray Prior.

Now, Murray has an incredible story to tell of moves from the corporate world onto the farm and even though I started this program with an acknowledgment to country and acknowledging the true custodians of this land, Murray has taken it a step further. I won’t spoil it for you. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Murray Prior. Welcome to the show, Murray.

Murray Prior [00:01:41] Thanks for joining. Thanks for having me, Murray.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:44] We met a few weeks ago at that wonderful evening Soil to Stomach that was organized out of Fairlight Butcher. And it was great. There was such so many great people on there. And you were one of them that I had the pleasure of meeting. And you told this incredible story, which I wanted to share with our listener. And I wondered if you might tell us what’s happened. Tell us a little bit about your journey from the corporate world to where you find yourself now.

Murray Prior’s Journey

Murray Prior [00:02:13] Yeah, sure. So I’ve been in law firms for about 20 odd years working on the corporate side of the business. And it’s been a terrific career in the sense of, you know, I’ve traveled the world and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people and clients and all those sorts of things but I guess in that entire sort of journey of engaging with all of those sorts of things, I started to become quite restless.

I had this sort of yearning or sense that I must surely be on this earth to do more than just this corporate type of job and that was something that kind of more away at me as a bit of a dull ache to use a dentist. And I guess, you know, that kind of for us that me and my family that manifested itself in the search for a farm to be able to move on to the land and to be able to think,

I guess I’ve done a bit of my own sort of development and thinking on this. And it’s partly about wanting to have something to express myself on where I can find my voice and I can find within the landscape something that I can apply myself to. And our family can apply themselves. And we can sort of create.

It’s a very sort of creative pursuit. And so three years ago, we did the classic sell-up and move out and I’ve still got a photo of crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the last time. And we’ve bought a farm.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:04:09] It’s still there.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:04:10] Murray, if you want to come back over, you can.

Murray Prior [00:04:12] Exactly. And so our farm is located, if you draw a triangle between Goulburn, Canberra, and Yass, we’re right in the middle of that triangle, it’s a 220 acre diversified cattle operation where we are a biodynamic farm so that means that we are sort of creating a lot of our own inputs for that farm.

We’re farming with nature, it’s obviously chemical-free, it’s a pristine landscape but like a lot of agricultural land in Australia, it requires quite a deal of healing. And so when we bought the farm, obviously, I knew nothing about farming, and so I got given a book by Charlie Massy called Call of the Reed Warbler, which your listeners, some of whom might be familiar with, and that was a life-changing moment.

That book really shook us to the core because basically everything I had in mind, Charlie said, don’t do that. And that was very powerful and I kind of panicked at that point and thought, my God, we’re in over our heads now. So I did a bit of research and I found that Charlie had a part-time seat at the ANU, which is not far from where we are. And so I called him up and I said, I’m in some trouble here, I’ve bought a farm and I need your help, I’ve just read your book.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, he came on board with us for about a period of six months, and I spent a lot of amazing time with quite an amazing man. And he really kind of set us on a path which has really changed our lives. And that kind of brings us up to the current day, that’s kind of our journey in a nutshell.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:06:13] And your farm, the history of that farm was not biodynamic?

Murray Prior [00:06:18] Not at all. No. So obviously pretty white settlement. It was part of Ngunnawal country, which I guess the nation starts with the southern part of what is now the ACT and goes sort of north through to sort of Lake George and across to Yass, after white settlement that became a sheep station of a few thousand acres and it was grazed in a sort of conservative set stocking way for most of the remaining hundred and eighty years and it was only in 2000 that the farm was broken up through a succession debacle and the current lot was purchased and developed.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:07:11] And your expectation now when you use the metaphor of a dull like my diagnostic skills come up here and I’m thinking the chronic long term problem, this isn’t something that just came up overnight. So what were you expecting to do before you read this book?

Murray Prior [00:07:30] Look, I think, you know, if I look at the things that work in some ways symptoms of my restlessness, it was things like needing to do things with my hands and in a corporate job, that’s really quite difficult because you’re pushing a panel, typing keyboard and in meetings and things like that.

And so there was a dull frustration that I wasn’t able to sort of create and do things physically with my body. And so when we’re in Hong Kong, for example, which is, you know, that’s a city which is very hard to do things other than work. I pick up things like photography and so appalled myself into photography.

And I guess when I look back at some of these hobbies, so to speak, they’ve always been about things which have led me to sort of try and find an outlet. And it’s been these outlets which have given me the signals that I need to do something more.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:08:43] And it’s interesting, too, because, yes, we have had the pleasure of interviewing of having Charlie Massy on the program and like yourself.

I also read the Call of the Reed Warbler and was very moved by it, but I didn’t step out and buy a farm and not only buy a farm but then actually ring Charlie up and say, I need help.

So that process is what a great story and this is what I loved about it, because many farmers have read Charlie’s book and similarly had an epiphany, a life-changing event, having had generations of farming history behind them but you came at it as a newbie and you really lucked up there? That was absurd of luck.

Murray Prior [00:09:38] Yeah. Look, I guess I had a bit of front, I guess, in calling him up, but I really was desperate. I panicked at that point. And it was interesting when I spoke to him, he almost immediately said, put your wife on.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:09:53] Yes, I remembered you telling me this? And that was my next question go on.

Murray Prior [00:09:57] Yeah. Well, he really wanted to understand in a sort of a regenerative sense, are you in this together because this cannot be a pursuit of one these are partnerships and you will need each other.

This is not an easy path to go down. So it was interesting to me that he was more interested in some of these alignments before he even started to talk about the farm. And then the second reason he said, I will help you because you’re not from five generations of farmers and he said, I’m just I find it very, very difficult to convert some of these into generational agricultural families to a more regenerative farming practices.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:10:53] Yes, you were kind of a blank slate.

Murray Prior [00:10:55] Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:10:56] All was too good to refuse.

Murray Prior [00:11:00] Which has obviously pluses, the negatives are also clearly there because the learning curve is very steep. You’re learning not only the basics of any agricultural business, but you are then learning all of Charlie’s approaches at the same time. So it has been a very steep hill to climb.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:11:25] Hmm. And the other thing that I mean, you know, you’ve come from the corporate world, and change management is a very popular concept within the corporate world. You know, it’s always we’re always being confronted by change professionally, whether it’s in law or dentistry or whatever. And you must have been, as I am intrigued by change management within the farm setting.

Murray Prior [00:11:52] Yeah, look, I think

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:11:54] because a lot of people you’ve come into contact with are fifth-generation farmers and some are. What are some of the impediments to change that? What do you see some of those?

Murray Prior [00:12:10] Now, some of the things are, when you’ve got your father or your grandfather still in and still engaged in what you’re doing, having that pressure of family looking over your shoulder.

And it’s very hard to try different things when you might be going against the grain of, you know, maybe even a century of particular practices because what you’re really saying is, you know, dad or grandad, you’ve been doing it wrong. And I’m going to try something else that’s really quite another big impediment, is that the whole system is geared to supporting the status quo.

If you think about the big chemical companies, agricultural chemical companies, for example, I mean, they exist because of depleted soils and depleted landscapes, because the more depleted they are, the more you need the chemicals to put it into them.

So agronomists, stock foods, stock supplements, all of these things that they’re all geared to maintaining the status quo. And then even on the sell side, once you become part of the food system and you look at how food, which is beautifully crafted by a farmer, a lot of that ends up becoming a commodity product that goes into a big system. And that system starts with transport and then it goes through sale yards and then it goes through abattoirs and then it goes through distribution and out into supermarkets that system is absolutely geared to maintaining status quo.

So it’s a very conservative industry. And there are despite the winds of change and that there’s some really positive changes coming through. We’re starting off a low base, I think it’s fair to say.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:14:17] Mm-hmm. Now, having read Charlie’s book, of course, but not having had a farm on, just kind of trying to imagine his first few, you know, like as he comes on there and what was some of the first things that were on the agenda for you as you looked around the farm together?

Murray Prior [00:14:36] Well, one of the things that, when I spent time with him, he has almost supernatural observation powers. He has an unbelievable knack of seeing things in a landscape which most people can’t see because you’re not landscape literate at that point.

All I could see was bush. And then what he could see is literally hundreds of individual components and how they all interplay and that biodiversity and then the landscape function and it was that that really opened my eyes as to the powers of observation and he said this is absolutely a critical skill that you need to learn.

You can’t move forward unless you spend a lot of time observing and understanding what you see. [8.1s] So that was a bit of a surprise. One of the, I mean, his whole master plan for us was about restoring landscape function. It wasn’t really about building a productive farm at that point because landscape is highly modified.

Even though it’s in a pristine condition with respect to historical lack of chemical inputs, it’s still a leached old environment which has been over-cleared. It has a particular erosion and other sort of issues to do that require attention.

So the whole thing was about how do you design a farm that allows you to restore landscape function, to create greater biodiversity, and to at the same time design an enterprise where it’s sufficiently stacked or diversified that it allows you to make better choices in relation to the landscape, rather than having all of your bits in one mono-crop or one monoculture.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:16:50] I  just kind of put myself in your place there and as I have fantasized myself about buying land and I can imagine you standing on your farm just as you and your wife decide, yeah, let’s do this, what a beautiful piece of land, what a great place we’ve got here, let’s go for it.

There you are there with your signature on the contract and now you’re standing there with Charlie Massy making these observations about the landscape where they will align those two visions.

Murray Prior [00:17:21] No, not at all. No.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:17:24] How did your perception on the landscape change?

Murray Prior [00:17:26] Well, I distinctly remember there was one of the more sorts of seminal moments for us with our time with Charlie. Was a time where he and I had been doing some work and it was late afternoon, it was a cold late May, I think it would have been freezing cold day and the sun was kind of quite low and we had pulled up in this little sort of ATV buggy that we have and we just kind of you know, he’s a man of relatively few words, but the words he uses are pretty powerful, and after a few minutes, he turned to me and he said, Murray, he said, you realize you don’t own this place, and straight away, my mind will, oh hang on a second, I very recently had a title deed here and I didn’t quite get what he was on about.

He said, look, Murray, he said, see this sedimentary shale here? This rock, this is between three hundred and four hundred million years old, he said, see this river red gums here? 250 to 300 years old.

This landscape was here for hundreds of thousands of years before you came, and he said if you think about how long you’ve got left on this planet and haven’t for a long time from now, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s a very short time.

And he just left it at that and it kind of hit me like a ton of bricks, it was a, what he was really saying was, you are merely passing through here, you are just a custodian for a very short period of time so forget owning it and start thinking about what you’re going to be doing in terms of passing it on.

And I’ll never forget that because it really kind of shook me and we made a bunch of decisions in the months and years after that that all traced back to that one conversation.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:19:34] Hmm. Which was another area of us meeting that intrigued me and you’ve used the word custodians and we are now rather belatedly as Australian residents, you don’t even have to be a citizen, you just have to be on this land to realize that there were people here.

For now, we’re hearing one hundred and twenty thousand years and the custodians of the land we pay, we acknowledge that you’ve taken it a little step further there. Tell us what you’ve done.

First Nations People

Murray Prior [00:20:11] So I guess the epiphany for us was if it’s only taken Australia two hundred-odd years to make a real mess of the land, and you know that maybe that’s harsh for some city folk to contemplate, but I can assure you, traveling the length and breadth of Australia, European settlement on this country has been severely degrading.

It’s not just land clearing, it’s land use, it’s water use, it’s all of those things, and if that’s only taken us two hundred years to do and if we are to be turning our minds to how do we regenerate that land? It really does feel odd that First Nations people are not part of that conversation.

How can it possibly be that a hundred thousand years of regenerative, sustainable cultivation of this landscape and the ancestral knowledge that that has? But more than that, the spiritual connection with land and the mental mindscape of how to approach a landscape with sympathy.

How is it that they’re not part of the modern regenerative agriculture scene? And so we Michelle and I said to ourselves, we can’t stand by and allow this to be we have to see what we could do individually as a family, to put First Nations people into our lives as we go about regenerating landscapes.

And so after a long search, we found an indigenous custodian from this particular area whose ancestral family comes from the land that we are now looking after. And we’ve built a relationship with him over a couple of years. And we have now got to the point, I’m cutting a very long story short.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:22:22] I think it’s a really good story. We all need to be hearing. That’s one of the many. Go on. It’s not, don’t apologize for being long because this is an important story.

Murray Prior [00:22:33] Well, thank you. We have got to the point where. We felt that it was important for us to share our land with Gerroa or Port Paul and his people. We got to that point because of the relationship we had with him.

We saw with our own eyes just how emotional he becomes when he’s on his ancestral land. We got to that point because of the nurturing that he gave us in a sort of semi-spiritual sense to sort of be our north star and guiding us in relation to how we should think about things.

And we got to that point because, you know, if I call a spade a spade, we sit in a privileged position, if you think about freehold land in Australia, it’s owned by people like me. It’s not owned by people like Paul. And the dislocation and the disadvantage that has been caused over many, many years seems to be still mired in politics and in ever-increasing circles of going nowhere.

And we just felt that it was important to put a line in the sand and say, you know what, we can’t change the national agenda but what we can do is we can show a bit of leadership by sharing our farm with Paul.

So we’ve constructed a partnership between us, which is governed by Aboriginal law, not by white person’s law, and so for as long as we are here at Ngurruu, Paul and his people are welcome to come and create an Aboriginal enterprise here so that they can have the same benefit that I have in terms of a place to express ourselves and that we can, through this partnership, show other people that there is so much to gain from this and so little to lose.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:25:12] There’s a certain irony here, Murray, isn’t it that your background is in corporate law and you have just said this is based on not white man’s law, but indigenous first nation’s lore. How do you characterize that difference, giving us real legal advice here?

Murray Prior [00:25:35]  Yeah, I guess, lower if you think about L-A-W is a sort of a very clear black and white set of laws and an executive in the Westminster system, at least how that works in Australia.

But it’s defined by what you can and can’t do in a very black and white way and when I thought about how could we put this partnership together? It immediately felt at odds with what we were trying to create. How could you possibly do a land-sharing agreement in this way when you know everything about L-A-W has driven us to this point, by comparison, First Nations lore or L-O-R-E is more about a set of principles enshrined in a culture.

And those principles are ancient principles which people live by. And the principle that we’ve chosen to construct this partnership under is called Gemara, which means to be patient, to go slow, and to respect all things. And so I guess that as a model just felt right for us. And that’s where we’ve ended up.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:27:08] Hmm. It’s interesting also because I have heard Charlie Massy talk about taking exception with the word sustainable, because what are we sustaining? If we’re sustaining what we’ve done to this land over 200 years and left and kept at this level, we’d be in trouble, it’s the regeneration that’s important.

And the argument always goes, yes, well, people do change landscapes. The First Nations people changed this landscape, too. And there’s no question that they did it in a sustainable way, didn’t they?

Murray Prior [00:27:43] Yes, they did. They did, and it was you know, I guess it’s hard for people like us to truly understand the depth of feeling, the depth of how can I put it. Ron, this is like when we talk about landscapes, if and if Paul was on this call, he would be saying to you that that’s my mother now that, you know, you don’t damage your mother, you hold her up and you do everything to look after that.

And yet, for too long, we’ve seen landscapes as a substrate upon which to derive an economic benefit. And that economic benefit has come at tremendous cost and environmentally, socially as well, so you look, I do think that probably what Aboriginal people have to offer above all else, is to reset our minds in relation to our relationship with Mother Nature.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:29:00] Because it is a very totemistic, is that the word? You know, they, as you say, when they look around the landscape, it is them, it is their family, their ancestors. And that kind of respect is an important one, isn’t it?

Murray Prior [00:29:18] Really is, really is.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:29:20] So where are you at now? Where is the farm? What are you growing down there? I know you do some farm stays and I’m going to hopefully one day come down and visit there. But tell us about what the farm is, give me the pronunciation.


Murray Prior [00:29:36] Ngurruu.

Murray Prior [00:29:37] Yes, Paul chose that name for us. It’s a name which in Ngunnawal language means camp and the Yass River, which starts sort of at the back of Bungendore and ends up in the Murrumbidgee River past Yass.

It’s not a big river, but it’s an important river in the sense that it’s in the heartland of Ngunnawal country. It’s located probably about 15 to 20 minutes west of Lake George, which was which is a very important part of this local area for Aboriginal people and it’s a place where there would have been down through the ages a lot of Aboriginal camps, and so this is, I guess, a nod to the fact that we have a sort of a camp here of our own. And it’s also a bit of a nod to the fact that I guess we’re all just passing through, we’re all just camping in a way.

So what we’re doing down here is we have a beef cattle operation, which is kind of split into two phases. The first part is trade cattle, which we use as tools in the landscape. So we will bring them on when we have plenty of grass.

We will use those animals for their fertility, for the building of soil. And then we will move them off the landscape at the right times. And then we have a small belted Galloway stud herd, which we’re breeding animals for sale to small farms who are looking for starting studs of their own. So it’s a sort of beef operation.

We really dig into natural sequence farming, so that’s all about trapping and holding water in the landscape. So we’re doing a lot of broadacre landscape modification, looking at sort of how can we build a more resilient farm? Climate change is going to be here with us and it’s going to be more and more severe before it hopefully levels off. And so what we’re trying to do is prepare the farm and prepare ourselves for the inevitability of that.

And then, as you say, we have this farm stay, which for us was a deliberate attempt, if you like to join, those who are interested in better health, that are living better, getting closer to nature, wanting to understand about regenerative agriculture and I guess a little tourism venture which creates a nice place to stay.

And the purpose, therefore, was to create a state enterprise where in terms of the holistic business, that part, which some people would say is not farming, but that does allow us to make much better choices out there in the landscape because we’re not have all of our eggs in that one basket. We’re not trying to make a living off of a couple of thousand sheep.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:33:09] And you are bringing people from the city to the farm and seeing firsthand what is going on and just sort of dipping a toe in, you use the term there natural sequence farming and I know if my regular listeners would be familiar with the term regenerative agriculture, and that’s natural sequence farming. Tell us a little bit about that.

Murray Prior [00:33:34] So this is the brainchild of a guy called Peter Andrews, who is one of Australia’s, I guess, legends of modern agriculture, but sort of farming with nature kind of space. He has developed over a half a century of work, a body of understanding about how landscapes functioned before white settlement. And that’s really important because Australia’s landscape is significantly different to European landscapes.

Our soils are old, our flora and fauna is unique, the climate is unique. And so all of those things require an understanding of how it used to work because if we’re going to regenerate this landscape, we will have to do it in ways which restore the function of the land before European settlement.

So what that really involves is looking for clues in the landscape as to where things used to be and how they used to be designed, and most in particularly the flow of water. How did that used to flow? And, of course, in Australia a few centuries ago, a lot of the landscape used to be chains of ponds, sort of wetlands, swampy meadows, water used to move slowly through the landscape.

It was only in the big rivers that you would ever see moving water. And this was well documented by Australia’s first explorers, where they would ride on horseback through the Australian East Coast, for example, and they would get wet legs from the dew and the water in the grasslands whilst on horseback.

So we know that the landscape was significantly hydrated. What’s changed, of course, is that over the course of the last couple of hundred years. Livestock being introduced to these quite sensitive environments has had a dramatic effect on dehydrating Australia’s landscapes.

And so to cut a very long story short, the essence of Peter Andrews’ work is to try to restore the function of the landscape and in particular, reversing the effects of fast-flowing water in a landscape. Slow the water down. Let the plants grow. Be careful where the animals go. These are sort of his core principles and where we’re practicing them here.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:36:38] Because I know that you bring some cattle onto land to help restore the land. And that’s actually counterintuitive to what most people would think occurs with animals. And it’s why I think animals cope such a bad serve, you know like, we have animals of the problem.

Well, I know Allan Savory said they’re not the problem, it’s the way they manage, you’re managing them a little differently. How does that work?

Murray Prior [00:37:04] Well, we know that leaving animals in a large paddock to their own devices sends a landscape backwards. We know that because the animals have free reign to go wherever they like and to eat whatever they like and what they will tend to do is they’ll destroy wet areas.

They will trample on things they should trample on. They’ll eat the preferential plants over the less desirable plants to the point that those preferential plants will collapse. And so you can see that leaving animals in a landscape, what we call set stocking has a detrimental effect.

What we need to be doing is moving animals with precision. We need to have whether it’s beef or sheep, we need to have the means contained in small areas for very short periods of time, and then we need to move them on. And so it’s the combination of that high-intensity impact for a very short period of time, the dump of manure and urine and then the long rest period of that particular part of the land that creates the regeneration, that improves the soil profile, improves the ability of that soil to hold water.

Animals managed in that way can transform a landscape from a degraded one into one which is absolutely teeming with life. Conversely, if you toss them out into a big paddock and call them in after 12 months, you are going to be sending the landscape backwards.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:38:56] And I think it’s fair to say that the majority of us, as we drive around the country and look out across the highway and see these huge paddocks and the odd cattle or a bunch of cattle under a tree and then the few over there, and that, that is the set stocking, which is, well, I guess the majority of cattle the Dunlea is that the majority?

Murray Prior [00:39:22] I think that’s fair still. I think it’s fair. But I’m encouraged by I mean, it’s still a small part of Australia’s food production system, but regenerative agriculture and the farmers who are practicing it are growing every day.

And, you know, I would encourage your listeners to seek out those farmers who are doing this. There’s lots of farmers all over Australia within certainly within the supply chain of places like Sydney who are farming with this sort of level of care and attention that allows the consumer to buy with confidence that the product coming off these landscapes is not only clean because let’s be clear here. Organics simply means nonpoisonous.

That doesn’t mean that the landscape is necessarily being regenerated. But if you’re buying something from a landscape that is being regenerated, then you can buy with confidence that the livestock that have created the food on your table have helped improve the landscape.

And that’s a really, really important point. The more support farmers get for farming in this way, the more we will convert more and more set stocking into holistic cell grazing timed grazing, which I’ve mentioned earlier.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:41:03] Well Murray.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:41:03] I think that’s a great note for us to finish on and a great message for us to pass on to our listeners. It’s certainly one that they’re hearing quite a bit of on this podcast. And thank you so much for sharing your incredible story and journey. And good luck in the future.

Murray Prior [00:41:21] Thanks. Thanks, Ron. I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to be on the call today.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:41:26] That was a wonderful story, and I love the, now there’s a corporate lawyer who redefines the word law and there’s a little bit of wordplay there, but the lore and the law, the L-A-W the white man’s law, very black and white, very straightforward.

Well, actually not. But that’s another story. And there is the first nation’s lore, L-O-R-E which pays respect to the country in a way that is something we can all learn from. And I think we have so much to learn from our First Nations people. And that’s a theme that I’m hoping to explore more in the weeks and months and years ahead. Murray’s farm is, will have links to that, the Nguurruu, the Nguurruu, N-G-U-U-R-R-U-U, is the farm.

And we’re definitely going to get down there and spend a night or two with them and just have a look around and see what is going on. But what a great story, what an inspiring story. And not just a story of city folks moving to fulfill a dream by living on the land, but kickstarting it with reading a book like The Call of the Reed Warbler and being mentored by Charlie Massy and making some really powerful decisions about regenerating, not just sustaining, regenerating the land.

It’s worth mentioning that science tells us that it takes nature 500 years to grow, if you like, lay down an inch or two point five centimeters of soil, 500 years. And we are losing soil at a phenomenal rate. I’ve heard one estimate say we only have six for sixty harvests left because soil is being generated at such a rate.

Regenerative agriculture, using animals as they should be used, ruminants, as they should be used in type pets in a small area for a short period of time, and then moving them to the next paddock and allowing that paddock that they were on to rest for two or three months in a well managed regenerative farm can grow one inch or two point five centimeters of soil in three to five years.

So please, whenever anybody tells you that animals are the problem, I refer you back to that wonderful conversation I had with Allan Savory, who said animals are not the problem. In fact, resources are not the problem. It is the way they are managed. And regenerative agriculture is a very important part of that story. And so is First Nations lore L-O-R-E the respect that they have had for the land in maintaining it in a sustainable fashion.

For now, that used to be thought sixty-five thousand years the figure went up to eighty-five thousand years. I heard Bruce Pascoe recently and posted about it that it’s now standing at a hundred and twenty thousand years.

Well really whether we’re talking sixty-five thousand or a hundred and twenty thousand, the point is in two hundred years we have degenerated this land to such a point that there are only 60 harvests left. So that I found was a very powerful message. And interestingly, I was also interested to hear Murray’s take on what is resisting to change. And this is, the two things he identified, one is past history with your parents and grandparents, perhaps either physically or metaphorically looking over your shoulder.

Sometimes change is seen as a rejection of the past. And I think it’s about framing how change occurs. It’s not a rejection of the past. It’s a building on the past to propel us into the future. So I don’t think we should shy away from change. And that’s a theme we’re going to be repeatedly exploring on this program.

The other one is systems, the systems that are in place, the chemical and the marketing industries that have built up around this form of industrial agriculture that actually places farmers at the in a more vulnerable position. And ultimately, what I love about regenerative agriculture and what I love about the messages of the people that I’ve had the privilege of speaking to is that this is about building resilience into the land and in doing so, building resilience into the farmers and farming families that live on that land.

And I think that’s a really important theme that we all need in the city to be supporting. I’ve said this before. We get to vote once every three or four years, but we get to vote every single day with the money. We the way we spend our money and we know money talks. So let’s make a talk in a really. Positive way, that’s not just good for our health and not just good for the health of the animals and the plants that we’re buying, but also the farmers that are growing it and our entire planet at the same time.

A win-win-win-win-win situation. What could be wrong with that? Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s program. Don’t forget, we’ve got some great online programs available, the Unstress with Dr. Ron App, Dr. Ron Ehrlich App will keep you informed of those things. I hope this finds you well until next time. This is Dr. Ron Ehrlich. Be well.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.