Farming for Future Generations with Sage Plant Bistro’s Mollie Engelhart

June 1, 2023

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Mollie Engelhart is the founder and head chef of Sage Plant Based Bistro & Brewery in Los Angeles as well as a regenerative farmer in Fillmore, CA where she grows produce for her restaurants. Mollie’s farm Sow a Heart is a one of a kind experiment in working in partnership with nature to bring life back into the soil and acting as stewards of the land for future generations. Mollie is also a mother of four young children.

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John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. This is a special edition, folks. I’ve got my good friend Mollie Engelhart is back on the show. She’s the owner, founder, and operator of Sage Vegan Bistro, SOA Heart Farm, and Kiss the Ground. Welcome back, Mollie.

Mollie Engelhart: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

John: You know, Mollie, you’re a very special person in my life. For those who didn’t hear our first episode. My brother and I invested I in you and your vision over 10 years ago. When you were expanding your plant-based empire in the Los Angeles era. And I’ll tell you what, my brother and I both have been unbelievably impressed with not only what you represent as an entrepreneur. But how you went about doing it and how you’ve grown your business so amazingly. So, it’s an honour to have you on because you’re truly a great leader when it comes to vision and the plant-based world, the sustainability world, and woman entrepreneurs, frankly. So, thanks for all you do.

Mollie: Thank you so much for having me on. And I’m so excited to be here. I just had a baby 5 weeks ago, so I’m a little…

John: I remember your first one, now you have 4. We’re going to talk about that in a second. But talk a little bit about your journey. Mollie, you had a unique upbringing to say the least. It’s a fascinating upbringing. Share with our listeners, viewers how you got informed as a young person to follow the path that you followed with regards to your career.

Mollie: So, yeah, I was raised in my mom said that we were vegan, but we ate butter. So, I grew up in a mostly vegan household, but we had butter. Because one time she put margarine in the oven and it turned to like this plastic, and she was like, no more. So, we had 100% vegan household except for butter. That’s a weird thing.

John: Not exception. Big deal.

Mollie: That was her exception. But we grew up on a farm in upstate New York. We had apple orchards and we really, lived eating from the land and of the land. And we ate a very clean diet from a very young age. And so, I never thought about that much, about not eating meat. It was just part of the way life was. And then as I got older and there was these documentaries coming out and PTO was doing all of his stuff in my college years. I remember seeing like posters and stuff. I started to think more about it on and I realized, well, if I’m going to do a business, then it would make sense for me to do that kind of business. But like many kids that grew up in the town I grew up in, first I went into music industry and then for music industry, I went into pot growing. And I was a professional pot grower for a little while. And then I went into a vegan ice cream shop. And I did stand-up poetry for a while. I was on HBO deaf poetry and all that. Then I did the ice cream shop. But I realized the ice cream business was just too narrow. You literally just had a very narrow market of straight vegans. Because vegetarians are not going to eat there. And then Hasidic Jews, if they were eating meat, then they would eat my ice cream as the dessert option. That was non-dairy, but it was a very narrow market. So having a vegan restaurant, you can have a bigger market. Because you can get vegetarians, you can get people that are just having vegan once a week. So, we expanded from just ice cream to a restaurant and then from 1 restaurant to 2 restaurants, 3 restaurants, 4 restaurants over a 10-year period. And about 2013, I’m going through my life.

I’m driving my hybrid car; I’m bringing my bags to the grocery store. I’m a vegan chef running a vegan restaurant. I think I’m just like crushing it for the environment. And I listened to this TED talk from Graham. And I heard him say that the number one cause of greenhouse gases was food waste going into the landfill. And it was causing methane, which was like 10 times worse than carbon. And I was like, eh. And so, I realized that there was a lot more work that I could be doing. And my brother at that time founded Kissed the Ground with his friend Finnan. And around that same time, after watching the same TED Talk and meeting Graham in Australia or New Zealand he went out there for a conference and I met him. They started this thing. And we got very interested in soil health. The possibilities of soil for drawing carbon out of the atmosphere and the possibilities of having way less methane in the atmosphere. If we’re managing our food waste. So, my brother went the route of Kiss the Ground and I’m on the board of Kiss the Ground. And I went the route of regenerative farming and bringing all of the waste from our restaurants back to the farm. It gets mixed with manure from animals. And then that manure decomposes with the food waste for 3 months, and then it gets turned. And then in 3 months again, then it gets put back to the soil as carbon sequestered rather than methane in the air from going septic. And then it turns into food that goes back to my restaurants. And the same with my brewery. We bring all the grain back from the brewery, feed it to the chickens and the cows. And then that’s the manure that gets midst of the food scraps. So, it’s all a food loop. So, we’re bringing it like that.

And our soil is bringing down way less, more moisture than farms right next door. We got all that rain, and there’s flooding and we had flooding too, don’t get me wrong. But none of our fields were ruined because we have this much top soil, 18 inches of topsoil with cover crops. And so we were able to suck so much of that water down into the aquifer where the neighbours just running off into the ocean. Because they just have Roundup. And the rain actually causes compaction rather than having this beautiful sponge topped with grass to pull it down through the roots of the plants. I’ve been really lucky to be on this journey, not around, just around food, but also around soil. And realizing that soil is such an integral part to the environmental journey that we’re on right now. And so, we had our first film Kiss the Ground that came out on Netflix. And that is is narrated by Woody Harrelson and our 2nd film, which is going to be called Common Ground. So, Kiss the Ground is the first one is premiering at Tribeca in a couple of weeks. So that’s a big deal and very exciting. And Woody Harrelson is also narrating that one. [crosstalk]

John: Sustainable farming is the mission behind this, the premise behind it?

Mollie: Yes. The soil, the answer to take changing the climate. What’s in the atmosphere, and putting it back down into the earth where it belongs is possible through a specific set of principles around farming. We’ve also got Regenerate America, huge coalition of huge companies come together and we’re trying to get this put onto the farm bill. And it looks like we’ve already had a hearing in Congress and big things moving farmers towards doing this kind of practices. And subsidizing soil health and carbon sequestration rather than subsidizing corn and soy.

John: Mollie, where’s the gap now? It’s undeniable what you’ve done, what your brother’s done, the science behind it. And most now people understand that we all are stakeholders in this planet. This is a borderless problem that if we’re destroying, if farmers are destroying the planet by poor farming practices, we’re all going to suffer. Both from our food supply and also from the greenhouse gas emissions and the methane that it puts out. Why is it so hard to push this over the goal line and get more farmers on board? What have you found and your brother found in your journey advocating for this kind of sustainable farming practices?

Mollie: So, I think it’s two-fold. I don’t think there’s no farmer out there I would say that wants to do harm. They all live off the earth. And so, I think it’s a misnomer that farmers want to do harm.

John: Understood.

Mollie: I think that the prices of food are driven down so low, the prices of cotton, the prices are driven so low in our culture, in our society. That they are all in a commodity mindset. Like they just have to extract what they can extract. Nobody wants to be the generation that loses the family farm. So, on one side, the consumer education part, which is we have a big partnership with Kiss the Ground coming out with a big denim company. And there’s going to be all this Kiss the Ground cotton denim that is regenerative. And so, people can say it’s with Citizens for Humanity. So, people can say, I want to support this kind of farming. So, I’m going to buy my jeans from Citizens for humanity with this Kiss the Ground cotton that I know is not doing these practices.

So, the one thing is we have to have consumer desire to pay more for these kind of things. And the other thing is we have to give farmers the space to make that transition. If you’ve been doing this specifically this certain way. And then you’re going to transition, there may be some years that you don’t make money. And everybody’s leveraged so hard with their bigger, more and more equipment. So that’s on the farmer side. So that’s what we’re trying to do with this farm bill. One of the main points of the farm bill is we’re trying to get it to be that if you have USDA loans. That you could get, those loans stayed for up to seven years while you make the transition. And so that gives some breathing room. So that’s on the ones, that’s the farmer consumer side. The other thing is, honestly, the green industry is very focused on things that can be monetized and healthy soil cannot be monetized. Me telling you all day long about how much microbiology I have in my soil and how that’s the same as your gut health and blah, blah, blah. It cannot sell any electric cars. It cannot sell any batteries and it cannot sell any solar panels. And my experience is that as much as we want people to do good for the environment, we also have to be mindful that we’re in the green industrial conflict in complex. And that not everything that sounds green is good for the environment. And so, it’s very hard for this to be monetized for the powers that be.

And so, I don’t think it’s going to get as much attention. But when you start to realize how intricately it’s connected to our mental health, our physical health. That these are all the rise in cancer, like with the Glee Oates in all of our food. Like all of these things. And I lost my best friend to cancer at a very young age 5 years ago to yesterday. And we know these poisons were putting in all our food, in our water and everything. And my request of environmentalists is, can we get back to those fundamental, the water, the soil, the air? Because we’re so concerned about green energy. And we’re so concerned about this switchover, we’ve lost sight of the plot in some ways. Because these forever chemicals are not being stopped. You go by a couch today, tomorrow, it’s still going to have endocrine interrupters all over that couch. And your kids are going to be putting their face in their mouth all over it. So, I want to remind us all that fossil fuels, it’s going to be a slow transition. And we’re trying to rush something that we don’t even have the infrastructure to do. But there’s stuff that we could do right now about forever chemicals and fossil fuels. Taking away fossil fuels will drive people into poverty. And so, we want to do it mindfully and slow, but taking away forever chemicals will not necessarily drive people into poverty. And so, I want to remind us that we as environmentalists. It’s our job to stand for the water that our kids eat and the air that we breathe and the food that we eat, the water we drink, sorry, not eat.

John: Yeah. That makes total sense. Talk about though, so on your farm, you’re now, you grow all the food for your restaurants only?

Mollie: Not all of it, but a fair amount. We the restaurants are still a big operation. We’re not there yet, but we have 2 pieces of land about 50 acres in total. And we grow like all the lemons, the oranges, the avocados. And then we grow onions, we grow garlic, we grow vegetables, we grow all this different stuff. And we also have a CSA box. So, let’s say you lived in Los Angeles or in Ventura County. And you were like, I would really like to have a box of vegetables that I know there’s no pesticide. Like my kids live here. So, there’s no chemicals anywhere in sight. So, you can know when you’re getting the food here, it’s this food I would feed my child. So, it’s not going to be have any chemicals. So, we deliver these boxes to all over Los Angeles. We even take snap or food stamps. So, people are feeling challenged financially right now. We can work with that as well. So, we deliver right to your door anywhere in Los Angeles and anywhere in Ventura County. About 50% of our produce goes to the restaurants and 50% goes direct to the consumer. And that is partly because I want to be a contribution to the community and partly because direct to the consumer is better for the farm. And we’re trying to make this economically work, not only work environmentally. That’s a balance.

John: Mollie talk about, I met you just about when you were making that transition from a plant-based ice cream entrepreneur and the delicious ice cream that you have. And the first location you had of Sage Vegan Bistro downtown in Los Felix area to when you were expanding to Culver City. Talk about building out your vegan restaurant plant-based restaurant empire and how that’s gone the last 10, 11 years.

Mollie: I’m a traditionalist in my mind like that. I’ve always believed energy and energy out. So, I’m willing to work hard. I always have been. And I put in everything to this brand. I did. I put in every single moment. I missed weddings, I missed birthday parties, I missed everything. And I focused and we grew with much success. We were evaluated in 2019 at $31 million. And we started to work on this deal for franchising and for expanding and with a venture capital firm. And unfortunately, when the pandemic hit, the waters got very choppy for restaurants. The money got very choppy looking at restaurants. And so, the deal fell out. And since the pandemic, it’s been very hard. And during the pandemic everybody was like, support the restaurants. And so, there was like this movement and we didn’t have very much staff at that time because we weren’t allowed to have dine-in here in Los Angeles. And so, we actually did okay. We were able to continue to pay our investors and stuff through the pandemic. It’s been post pandemic, that’s been very hard for us. 2022, we lost 2 million across 4 locations. We’ve just unfortunately shifted our culture in Los Angeles that people are really working from home, working from their home office more. Maybe they still go to work a couple days a week. But because the culture shifted, people have learned how to work remotely. And therefore, if you’re at home, you’re not going to go out to lunch with your buddies. You might just go get a sandwich in the kitchen or you may just warm up yesterday’s leftovers. And so, we’ve really shifted that culture of eating out. And so, our lunch business has hurt dramatically because of that.

And so, we’re really just trying to rebrand ourselves now into this new culture. So, we’re trying a cloud kitchen that has no front of house, that’s just to go. I don’t love to go. I think it’s environmentally a kind of disaster. I think in some ways restaurants can be better for the environment because we’re getting everything in big boxes and there’s no packaging and all of that. But once you put it into packaging and send it in an Uber to someone’s house. It’s likely that it’s no longer environmentally sound. But I am trying to not resist what’s happening. We’re at Culver City location. We actually have closed and we’re opening this cloud kitchen. We did 1.5 million in Togo sales last year. And so, you can’t pay for a 5,000 square foot location and a staff when there’s that huge chunk that’s getting 30% is going to the 3rd parties that are doing the order out to the customer. And so many people are ordering from home because they’re working from home. And we’ve also lost that early dinner, which we would call family dinner. Which is people are like, I’m going to pick up the kids and you meet me here. And then there’s the later like, date and dinner. Lost that because if one parent is at home working, likely the kids are not an afterschool program. They’re at home. And I’m not saying that these things may not be better for families, they may not be better for lots of other reasons. But for restaurants it’s been very challenging. So, we’re really just trying to navigate and reposition ourselves. And see how we can continue to attract people to be willing to get up and get out of the house to come to us when the world is so much more home-based than it was prior to the pandemic, at least here in Los Angeles.

John: How many other sit-down restaurants you still have left in Los Angeles region?

Mollie: I have 3 sit-down restaurants still in Los Angeles.

John: Okay. So still a lot of sit down going on, a lot of business, a lot of people still coming to enjoy your great food.

Mollie: Yeah, people say like, well what does that look like? Failing. Like, you feel like you’re failing. And I’m like….

John: No, you are not failing.

Mollie: Still doing like 5 million a year in sales in each store. But it’s challenging to make it all work with the economics have just changed and the cost of everything has changed. It’s just a very different world we’re in.

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John: Yeah, that’s for sure. Talk a little bit about the evolution now. Now not only have you evolved. You were one of the first to now put out. I remember when you were evolving the brand, you also created a catering business. This was before the pandemic. You had a truck and a catering business.

Mollie: Yes, we had a food truck and we did all the Coachella’s and stage coach and FYF Fest and all of that stuff. And we were actually, I think the first I don’t know if maybe Crossroads and me, I don’t know who opened first. But I think we were one either the first or the second full restaurant. Like in Los Angeles, have a full bar and be like a full sit-down vegan restaurant that’s not just like a place where you go and grab some food or have just beer and wine. Like we were the first and we were definitely the first vegan beer garden ever. And now there’s vegan beer gardens in most cities[crosstalk] in have a vegan beer garden. We also evolved into having our own brewery and we grow our own hops here on the farm, which are very good for the environment. Hops are a 25-year crop and they sequester carbon for you don’t cut them down or dig them up for a long time. And so, they’re very good for the environment. And our only organic certified organic hop yard in Southern California. So, if you go tomorrow to my restaurants and you drink a beer or you buy it at a store around Los Angeles. The Sage brews, those all have ingredients from the farm and they all have super hyperlocal ingredients. And all the grains have been produced in this ran generative manner that I’m talking about where we honour the soil.

And use the soil as a sponge to pull down carbon as well as moisture. Because people don’t think of moisture in that way. But it’s the number one atmospheric gas moisture is H2O. And when you think about that, it is important for us to, if we pave everything and we have these big fallow fields and these big feed lots, everything is just hot with no moisture. So, we actually create our own drought. That’s why I don’t think those kind of yards where you put the fake grass and stuff like that. Those are not actually good because you want to keep the water cycle going. We are part of the water cycle. And when you make everything be hot and fallow and empty, then you get droughts. And so, you think the rainforest produces moisture because plants are aspirating moisture out of and keeping that cycle going. And when we cut all the trees and the plants down and then of course there’s the movement for rewilding. But what I’m saying is that farmers have this unique ability that we can create food, create human health and pull-down carbon, sequester it. And pull down more moisture into the aquifers as well as stop methane from going up. So, we have a really unique opportunity, but we also need consumers to be aware and want seek out these products.

John: Are more of your competitors doing the same thing. Are they starting to follow the model that you’ve made in closing that whole circular economy by doing sustainable farming and bringing then that produce to their own tables. Is that a thing that’s going on and a bigger trend you see in the restaurant industry, in the farming industry as a whole?

Mollie: I think on-farm restaurants are becoming a trend and that’s what we’re trying to do in Texas. But yes, I think that, I don’t know about restaurants having their own farm. But farms having their own restaurant is definitely becoming a trend. And I think it doesn’t even need to be that the restaurant would have its own farm. Because in some ways they’re two totally different businesses and they’re some of the hardest farming and restaurants are the 2 hardest ways to make a living in the world. Everybody makes fun of me. Like, so you just wanted the easy route just farming and restaurants.

John: Oh my God.

Mollie: They’re being sarcastic.

John: Right.

Mollie: So, it doesn’t necessarily, but if they can partner where if you have 2 people working together to do that. But one is focused on that but their sister restaurant and farmers, something like that. But I just think that people are maybe so confronted by everything that it feels hard to choose an issue. It seems the world seems so hard and people don’t need to know how to choose an issue. And sometimes when someone starts trying to tell me something and it seems like scary. I always go, okay, well I was to focus on the soil because I don’t know about that and I already have too much to focus on, so I’m going to focus on that. And so not every restaurant owner should have a farm necessarily. But every restaurant owner should try to incorporate more perennials and try to support farms that are doing the right thing. Because really there has to be a market for us to be able to want to sell these things to do it. And we also need more, this kind of farming takes a lot more labour. So, we need more people that want to do this kind of work. And so, I think that’s the other thing to remember is people say you should do more farmer’s markets. And I, oh yeah, I wish there’s nobody, it’s like impossible to find labour. So, I think if you’re young and you’re at home and you’re playing video games or watching Tik Tok or whatever. And you’re like, I want to do something that makes a difference, like go find a farmer and do some farmer’s markets for them. And start educating people and do that fun thing until you figure out what your real career is going to be. But it’s hard to find labour is the other thing.

John: For our listeners and viewers who just joined us, we’ve got Mollie Engel Hardon with us today. She’s the owner, founder, and operator of Sage Vegan Bistro, SOA Heart Farm, also the co-executive producer of Kiss the Ground. And now soon to be coming out at the Tribeca Film Festival Common Ground. The new movie narrated by Woody Harrelson, just like Kiss the Ground was. Mollie, you mentioned the new project you have in Texas. It’s fascinating. I want you to share what your vision is, how you came up with it, and what you’re actually doing down in the heart of Texas.

Mollie: So, we got a 250 acres ranch just north of San Antonio, kind of northwest of San Antonio. It’s a beautiful valley. It has a river that runs or a creek that runs through it. And what we’re doing is we’re starting a regenerative farm. We’re going to be building soil and sequestering carbon and all of that there. And we’re putting a brewery on the farm. And we’re also going to put a small restaurant on the farm. And so, this will be a retreat centre, a wedding place, a place that you can just go for the weekend. And we’re going to have 30 tiny houses with Eclipse villages. Eclipse Villages is a fully sustainable small house. The roofs are these like crazy metal panels that are actually solar panels, so it looks like corrugated metal, but they are actually soil panel. They’re actually solar panels and they’re all lead certified, like buildings. So, you could come for just the night and have a dinner and a beer. You could come and spend the night in one of these cabins. You could be wanting to do a retreat for all your employees and you could come all out and we would cook for you for the whole weekend or whatever. So that is the vision that we’re working on.

The first tidy houses are getting delivered. The first 2 are getting delivered here shortly. We just built this big pond for water catchment and we’re working on how to bring more water down into the aquifers below us. And we’re building a big posting beam barn that’s going to be for weddings and all of that. And so, we’re currently in the final stages of our money raise for this project. All the beer equipment has already been delivered and we’re going to turn this one big warehouse that’s on the property already into a brewery. And so, it will really be a closed loop. The food the brewery grain will be right there and it can be fed to the animals on the farm and put into the compost. Instead of having to drive it back and forth. Everything will just be right there. And we just see it as this place that people can come and get out of their screen and have a time with their, whether it be a family reunion, a wedding, a conference, any kind of thing, a retreat. We’ll have everything from church retreats to yoga retreats there. And we’re very excited about it. It’s what I love hospitality and farming brought together. And we’re very excited about this next chapter of our lives. And it seems like a natural progression from what we’re doing here with Saw Heart Farm and with Sage.

John: Are you going to now tell me where you got 4 young kids now? I remember when you had the first one 7 years ago. And now you have 4, you have a husband, you have the Sage Vegan Empire in the Los Angeles area. What’s your vision to manage your own time in terms of managing the Texas massive opportunity that I’m sure it’s going to be a big success. But also keep California going. What are you going to do? What’s your goal here? How are you going to do that?

Mollie: My goal will be to move to Texas full-time eventually. We have a COO in place. I have a regional manager in place and I’ve been here for 10. I’ve been here for much longer, but we’ve been doing this for 11 years. I feel like I have given a lot to this project and that this project I’m waiting to make it a little bit more stable. Because of this COVID thing that happened. I just want to make sure it’s secure before I leave. But my intention would be that eventually I’m living in Texas full-time. We’re living here full-time right now and every couple months we’re going out there for a few weeks. It’s hard to fly with 4 kids and 2 adults. We’re outnumbered and so we bought an RV and we’ve been driving. Because that seems like it’s not easier, but it actually is easier when you’re frying a fly with 4 kids when they’re all under …

John: What town in Texas is your new place?

Mollie: Bander. Well, it’s between Bandera and Kerrville. So, it’s right in the heart of Hill Country.

John: And if these people that are watching are listening to this that want to invest in your project. And I’ll tell you as one of your investors in the Sage Vegan Bistro empire that you’ve built. I think you’re one of the most dedicated and vision and focused entrepreneurs I’ve ever been involved with. And I know Texas is going to be a huge success. What you’re doing down there, where can they go? What website can they go to learn more about what you’re doing in Texas if they’re interested in potentially investing?

Mollie: If you go to the Saw Heart Farm website, there’s a page that says Sovereignty Ranch, and it says Investment opportunity. And you can look at the entire deck there. If it’s not for you, you don’t even have to talk to me because it’s all there, it’s all laid out there. And then if you are interested, there’s a form you can submit and have a deeper conversation with me. If it looks interesting once you read the deck and the opportunity is split into 2 sides so you could just invest in the brewery or just invest in the hospitality if one seems more attractive to you.

John: And for our listeners and viewers, that’s www.sowa, S-O-W-A, It’s a beautiful website, all full of the information you need to assess the opportunity. And then if you’re therefore interested, you get in touch with Mollie and you have a further discussion. Go back to where we are now in this journey. Mollie with common ground coming out in a few weeks the massive success on Netflix of Kiss the Ground. Do you feel more hopeful than ever before with regards to where we’re going in terms of regenerative farming and sustainable farming? And where are we in the evolution of this sustainability revolution that we’ve been sort of living through and you’ve been leading?

Mollie: In some ways I feel more hopeful. I joke I say that I’m a radical centrist. I’m kind of in the middle and everybody, I only say radical because now everybody’s radical left radical right. I’m a radical centrist most farmers are conservative and I are from more rural places and are more conservative. And I often feel that the green movement has excluded the farmers and then want them to do something different. So, I feel like this Regenerate America campaign and really working with the farm bill which Finnan make peace from Kiss the Ground has been heading up and he’s the co-founder of Kiss the Ground with my brother. I feel hopeful that we can get more farmers on board than ever before. And I mean, my brother was moved to tears the other day. He called me right after on a call with these farmers that are getting this opportunity to do the cotton for citizens for humanity. These farmers are having health issues from the Roundup and all of these things. And they’re just so excited to know that they have a market to make this transition and feel safe to do it. And so, if the farm bill can do that for what Citizens for Humanity and Kiss the Ground are doing on a small scale that is, you know, unbelievable. The ability to move away from these chemicals and not, I mean, how heartbreaking would it be to be sick and be spraying these chemicals be out of survival on your land? So, I do feel hopeful that we’re going to bring more people to this movement. And I hope that the green movement as a whole could come to the centre and realize that we do all need to be in it together.

And so wrong making or side taking is not the answer. We really have to, like you said, this is not a partisan issue, this is a everybody’s issue. But when we start going into these extreme ideas of, okay, we’re just getting rid of all fossil fuel cars in the next 7 years. Like that’s not going to bring people in. And so, I want to, I want to have ideas that bring people in and healthy soil is one of those ideas. And I think that the impact is really beyond what we could even say. And I was disappointed when Biden did the 30 by 30. Everybody was like, celebrating 30% of land in the United States should be rewild. Should be wild by 2030. But my thing was why not 30% of the farmland is in regenerative agriculture by 2030? Because a wild space yes, brings down carbon. But when you’re consciously making practices to intentionally bringing down carbon, I can be 100 times more effective than just the wild hill for the Condor Reserve that’s across the street from my farm. If you go check those 2 soils, I’m pulling down more water, more carbon than that wild area that’s always been wild. It’s a condor reserve. And so, I request that we all just look to the soil and just take any paths forward around making healthy soil. Because a living plant in healthy soil is doing its job. But we have the power through these specific steps of regenerative agriculture. Which is holistic, planned grazing, low till, no chemicals and keeping the ground covered. Whether it’s cover crops and those things and never overgrazing and all these steps, we have the power to bring so much more carbon down than rewilding at would ever have.

John: Mollie, how do we bring more people in to support, like you said, I think it’s brilliant to term that radical centrist. I think that’s a great line. We need more of that nowadays than anything else. How do we bring our listeners and viewers in to support the farm bill? Can they actually write to their congressmen or woman to actually express their support for farm bill? And what’s the number of the farm bill? Is there? Is it yet numbered? So, they could refer to it appropriately?

Mollie: Yes. And I should know the number, but I don’t, but it’s the, it’s this upcoming farm bill. And there is a website where you can go and it’s And you can sign the petition and you can definitely tell your congressman and you can definitely tell your senators that you want regenerative agriculture to be part of the farm bill. But there’s a lot of information on the and there’s an Instagram Regenerate America and all of that. I apologize because I’m on the [inaudible] but I’m not actively doing everything. [crosstalk]

John: Regenerate America that’s perfect. Talk up a little bit. Final thoughts, Mollie before I let you go what does the rest of the year look like? Is things are going to get better here? Or like you said, it’s a little bit overwhelming if we pay attention too much to the news. It’s great that people like you focus on specific issues, become experts like you and your brother have and really make the world a better place. Is that really good advice? And is that what we should all be doing? Because like you said, if we all just become generalists or all just get listened to CNN or whatever news outlets we want to listen to. It just seems like there’s just too much to do and we cannot get anywhere. I think the approach that you’ve taken is fairly brilliant and is actually, I know making a difference. Because I’ve seen all the success you and your brother and you and your husband have had. Where do we go from here and how can more people get involved to become the next Mollie Engelhart?

Mollie: I think everybody should do what they are called to do, whatever their cause would be, let’s say. And then I think that we all need to speak up and say our truth. And we all need to give space for other people to disagree with us and for us to disagree with other people. I grew up in a world where people had very civil conversations about politics at the dinner table. And I remember my dad fighting with grandpa, like, not fighting, but like disagreeing about politics. But nowadays it’s literally like people will just unfollow you and just like, I can no longer talk to you or whatever. Because there’s something that you believe that they don’t believe. And so, I think we have to remember that we’re all doing our best. But when you start to start, look at every issue, there’s racism and there’s immigration and there’s all these different issues out there. The environment and the war in Ukraine, and I can’t do anything about the war in Ukraine. I have zero power in that area. I am surprised that we don’t have much anti-war activism in our country anymore, but I have no power to do anything over there, right? I could be disappointed about the Nordt Stream pipeline, but I have no power. But I do have power to do stuff in my own community. Like it took two and a half years to be able to take food stamps. But that makes a difference now. People can buy really healthy produce with their food stamps instead of whatever they were getting before at their local market that didn’t have that many options. Now this is delivered to their house.

So, I try to keep in my lane and speak up my truth about whatever, but stay in my lane and do the best that I can do. Because we’re not meant to know every single thing that’s happening all around the world at the same time. We can’t be like, there’s kids in cobalt mines that are mining and da, da, da. And then the gas is getting to the animals and the ocean and the this and the that, and this is getting into this thing and the train tipped over in Ohio and you just start to get totally overwhelmed. And so, I think that if we can do our best in an area that we think we can make a difference. But what we cannot do is be keyboard warriors where we’re just telling other people how their wrong, how their beliefs are wrong, how what they’re doing is wrong. We have to get out there and be the change. Like you are the one that you’ve been waiting for 100%. Whoever you are, you’re the one that you’ve been waiting for. And so be that person that you’re waiting for but don’t make other people wrong for however they’re trying to make a difference in the world.

John: That’s right. Great point. Mollie Englehart, I love talking with you. Always. I miss seeing you in person. I just love your new project in Texas. For our listeners and viewers to find Mollie and her great food, please go to to find Mollie in her great new project in Texas. And if you’re interested in investing in that project, please go to Go watch, Kiss the Ground on Netflix, go watch Common Ground when it comes out. Change your life, change your mind, make a difference. Mollie Englehart, you’re always welcome back on the Impact Podcast. You’re making the world a better place with your family, with your friends. We just love what you do. Thanks again for all that you do.

Mollie: Thank you so much. Take care.

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