Staff Profile: Kris Taylor

Director of the Living Soils Symposium

We’ve got a lot going on behind the scenes here with the Symposium, and we’re excited to start sharing some of that process with you all. It gives me goosebumps when I think about how well #LSS17 went with your help and what that can translate into for #LSS18. It was wonderful getting to meet some of you in March, but I definitely did not get enough time to spend with y’all.

I want to learn more about what it is that drives you all.

What is it that gets you to wake up every morning and stare down some of the most daunting environmental issues the planet has ever faced?

What do you see our future looking like on this planet?

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I was born and raised deep in the heart of Texas, just north of Dallas. My first experience in sustainability stems from my mother and her leadership in sustainable fashion. I can remember her placing me onto a panel of adolescents to talk about reducing wastes and sustainability (back before ‘regenerative’ was the bee’s knees) for Green Week in Dallas when I was thirteen.

Fast forward to college and I was about eight years into focusing my energy toward getting accepted to medical school. I was working toward a degree in biology with a minor in environmental studies at Austin College, and I was still very interested in what’s going on with our planet. Then, one random day, I saw this video of Allan Savory on the TED stage, and I began to romanticize the life of an environmental researcher.

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Once a dense biodiverse woodland, the upper regions surrounding the rift valleys now lose topsoil en masse during the rainy seasons. European colonists encouraged the slashing of these forests to help reduce Tsetse fly populations, unaware of the repercussions.

The next fall, I found myself in East Africa studying stressors in elephants in a branch of the Great Rift Valley. Absolutely an awe-inspiring, humbling, and liberating experience, all thanks to the School for Field Studiescheck them out, they’re awesome.

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On expedition performing a wildlife census in Amboseli National Park with Kenya National Wildlife Service.

I saw some of the most biodiverse ecosystems remaining on the planet being turned into intensive crop systems, only to be abandoned in ecological shambles after a few years of take from the land. The blinders that had been ever so slightly opened after Savory’s video had now been completely removed from my eyes. Needless to say, I decided not to go to medical school.

I became obsessed with the desire to get involved with cannabis cultivation. The way I saw it, cannabis could provide this amazing opportunity to bring people together and cause a tremendous amount of change in this world, and I could help be a part of that.

Two weeks after graduation, I packed up my Jeep and made a cross-country road trip with my father to Humboldt County. I was fortunate enough to land a job co-managing a cannabis farm on the banks of the Van Duzen River off of Highway 36.

Over the first year in Humboldt, I cut my teeth, worked 60+ hour weeks, and lived in a hammock for four months. It was an immersive experience, to say the least. The spring before my second season, I had been digging into how to shift our practices to a more sustainable way of doing things. In comes Jesse Dodd of Biovortex at The Ganjier Spring Kickoff, evangelizing regenerative cannabis farming with a couple other panelists.

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My first small Hügelkultur — a technique in building a carbon-rich growing mound. #showmeyourhugel

Ideas around IPM, water conservation, and building topsoil were swirling around in my head day and night for weeks afterward. He told me about some event he was going to speak at in Oregon that March, and I was instantly sold on the opportunity to learn more about regenerative farming.

I bought a ticket for #LSS16, and, when I arrived at the first day of the event, I found myself in a room full of magic, optimism, and drive. Thank goodness for Chris and Melanie Jagger for putting together that first Symposium, because it has completely changed the trajectory of my life.

Hopefully, it will also change the trajectory of yours.

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