In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather sits down with gardening enthusiast and cannabis homegrow advocate Sanjay Chaudhari. They talk about how gardening can connect you to the past and bring joy, How homegrow should constitutionally be legal in NJ, and how hydroponic growth can be dangerous to you and the planet.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online www.njrevolutionradio.com, follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Today I’ve got a guest that I’m fairly excited about talking to because we’re going to be talking a lot about organic gardening which is something I personally love. Any of you that have been to my house know my backyard, I have a giant organic garden back there. And it’s really something good that you can do on an individual basis to really connect you to the earth. So I want to welcome you to the show. Sanjay How do you pronounce your last name? Sanjay?
Sanjay Chaudhari 0:54
Heather Warburton 0:56
Chaudhari. Okay. Welcome to the show. Sanjay.
Sanjay Chaudhari 0:59
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Heather Warburton 1:01
So I think we wanted to start a little bit with your background of you are very passionate about gardening and organic gardening and sustainable gardening. How did you get be developed such a passionate about it.
Sanjay Chaudhari 1:14
You know, in college, I started I had a bunch of bonsai that I kept on my patio. And it sort of just started you know, I cared for my mother’s roses. As a child I’ve always sort of been interested in plants in I worked in Wall Street for a while in New York and plants were always my sort of Zen space and my place to kind of just find peace and get away from you know, the hectic nature of Wall Street and the intensity of New York. Even when I lived in the city, I had a bunch, I had rooftop garden in the early 2000s before anyone else had rooftop gardens in New York. It was fun to grow some peppers and tomatoes in Manhattan. And I’ve been a Master Gardener in a few states and Illinois, I was a Rutgers certified master gardener also and a member of the speaker’s bureau. Where I developed an hour long talk on organic gardening and sustainable permaculture because that’s always sort of been my passion is. As I sort of learned more and grew more plants, I sort of started to realize that the quality of everything is better. Peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, when you’re using organic soil organic production methods. It tastes better. There’s more worms. I noticed more life, you know, there’s a lot of more beneficial insects that also appear.
Yeah, it’s sort of a then I sort of found my way to permaculture, which is sort of modeling Earth natural cycles. And it’s pretty interesting that you know, on Earth, we’re in a closed system here. And it’s a sealed system where everything you know, naturally occurs, the leaves fall on the ground. They eventually decompose. That fertility goes back to the trees. And you know, just trying to copy what naturally happens, you know, on the planet, because everything has evolved to exist in this tightly knit ecosystem we have. So if we try to do that in our homes, we will be more successful than if we do what is kind of becoming envouge now, which is removing all the organic matter bagging your lawn blowing the leaves away, pouring, you know, chemicals on their to return the fertility that you’re actively exporting off of your property. So it’s sort of just kind of getting back to nature. And getting back to what makes sense.
Heather Warburton 3:30
You said three things in there. I’d like to expand upon we’ll start with the Rutgers Master Gardener program. I personally am a Rutgers environmental steward. And I’m assuming they’re both offered through the extension program, but I’m not as familiar with the Master Gardener program. Can you tell me a little bit about that.
Sanjay Chaudhari 3:44
Most states, not all states, most states have a master gardeners program and they’re sort of loosely affiliated. It’s essentially just getting different states have different requirements either certify you or just you know, recognize you. In New Jersey, it’s a Rutgers certified master gardeners so Rutgers will certify you in that way. But it’s just a group of people that are essentially passionate about gardening and horticulture and sharing knowledge. That do that on a volunteer basis. And there’s numerous different ways to participate in that. For me, specifically, I like the speaker’s bureau. So I can deal directly with the people that are interested in learning what I want to talk about, you know, and they’re there. They do a lot of things. There’s like tomato projects that they do. In the farms down there. Every year, there’s a great tomato tasting, I think they call it and there there’s so many things every county actually has their own extension office, which does different things. So it’s pretty neat.
Heather Warburton 4:43
And you don’t have to be a scientist to come into this program. This is for like just citizens who are passionate about gardening and want to expand that knowledge.
Sanjay Chaudhari 4:53
Yeah, exactly. Usually the people that come in are everyone’s generally very passionate about gardening. So people aren’t coming in that don’t know. So everyone, so it’s kind of it’s a fun room. I’m sure you’d have fun in that room to. Everyone there likes gardening. Everyone grows different things. And everyone enjoys talking about that. Yeah. So it’s people that just sort of, you know, geek out over garden culture. And then, you know, most of the people there are not professionals in that. But it’s just something that’s always been a lifelong passion. So it’s a pretty neat group of people. For the most part.
Heather Warburton 5:26
All right, and I wanted to follow up to about the organic gardening you actually own a company called Sweet Virginia soil, right?
Sanjay Chaudhari 5:32
Yes. Sweet Virginia Soil, LLC. I do horticultural consultancy. I make sustainable boutique, worm castings and soils. I work with Starbucks and Jersey Mike’s northern jersey, a few other restaurants Clay Oven and let’s see… Fort Nonsense Brewery, a few other places. I collect a lot of their food waste and other waste products that would otherwise be going into the garbage. And it’s pretty neat that it then diverts what would be trash to, you know, our over filled landfills, to something that can then be converted organically and sustainably into a really fertile organic gardening product. And it’s pretty neat too, if it goes into landfill not only will it take up space. But when anything rots, it releases a lot of carbon gases into the atmosphere. Which you know, we already have a problem with with climate change. And what’s neat about I’ve sort of gotten into the soil science side a lot, that I’m essentially self taught for the most part. But with wet composting, even with conventional composting, hot composting, when a pile gets steamy, all of that carbon is still going into the atmosphere. So most people do conventional composting. And it is good that the things are not being wasted in the landfill, but it still releases almost as much carbon into the atmosphere, which is bad. And what’s nice with wet composting, when I use a variety of worms, the carbon does not release into the atmosphere as much. Much more of it stays in the soil. And that is not only good for the atmosphere, it’s also good for the finished soil product. Because then there’s more carbon in the soil. And since plants are carbon based, and we’re all carbon based, it’s nice that there’s more carbon in there. So it’s beneficial in that way also.
Heather Warburton 7:24
And this is different from like my compost bin I have in my backyard where I just throw grass and leaves and banana peels into a big pile, you’re actually doing something different than that.
Sanjay Chaudhari 7:33
Its not that dissimilar. So, what you have is a conventional compost pile. So you’ll turn it, you’ll want to keep it somewhat moist, but still not soaking wet, you want to keep it so it’s not too hot, you know, and then the thermophillic bacteria are the ones that make it heat up. So if you ever turn it, you might notice steam, sometimes you can put your hand in it, it might feel warm, or even downright hot. So with wet composting, we want to limit the amount of thermophillic bacteria that’s really heating it up and making it hot, so that the worms can go through there. Because if it’s hot composted, if I gave you 10 pounds of worms and you threw it in your compost pile, it’s really hot, they’re going to die in there. So if you keep the worms happy, and you keep you know. Worms like a moist, not a soaking wet, but a moist environment pretty moist, then they will be more productive and be able to go through everything to really get you a higher quality product. So it’s neat, so it’s a reduces the amount of carbon that goes in the atmosphere when it’s wet. And the other thing I’ve been doing some different control experiments with with various teas. If you feed some of these worms and soil certain teas, they can actually then accumulate carbon from the atmosphere. So they’ll not only be retaining the carbon from the material you’re using, they’ll actually draw an additional carbon. They’ll sort of crave it and take carbon from the air, which is nice. So on a massive scale that can certainly be used to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere.
Heather Warburton 8:58
Who thought that just that a simple worm can be a carbon capture device. That’s pretty cool.
Sanjay Chaudhari 9:03
Yeah, yeah, no, the worms, they’re pretty amazing. And you know, even recently, I keep setting this, I found out very recently that it’s not even just which worm but depending on the depth a worm burrows, it reduces, it will release more or less carbon. So essentially, the worms that are deeper in the material that live more towards the bottom and like to be further down, the carbon that they release will remain in the material more than a lot of the let’s say, the forest worms that are in more of a shallow environment, kind of eating the leaf litter, staying on the top more of the carbon from that would go into the atmosphere. So one could actually determine and decide how much carbon you’re going to release based on the types of worms you’re using to eat it. So it’s very cool. There’s a world of worms science coming out there. And I’m hoping to help lead the charge
Heather Warburton 9:51
Be in the forefront of the worm science movement.
Sanjay Chaudhari 9:54
The Worm Wars. Yeah, it’s it’s pretty neat. So a lot of it is is kind of just understanding how nature works, then trying to say, all right nature does it really well. We’re going to do the same thing. We’re going to do it better than nature, because that’s possible.
Heather Warburton 10:08
And I think another thing I’ve seen that you’re very passionate about is you’re not a fan of the traditional American lawn. You know, you think of that bright green full of chemicals, you hire some company like improve-a-lawn or any of those. You have a beautiful lawn full of chemicals.
Sanjay Chaudhari 10:27
True green, I think they’re called now they used to be Chemlawn. And then Scotts Miracle Gro, it’s interesting. I found out a long time ago now that in the 1950s before Scott of Scotts Miracle Gro came up with the first Weed-and-feed that the most premium lawns at that time, those premium grass seeds were the ones that had the highest percentage of Dutch white clover in them. So they would mix you know, the ones that had 10% clover to 90% grass might be the most expensive and the ones with little bit less, would be a little bit cheaper and more affordable. Because people realize that clovers being in a legume family, or anything that’s in the legume family will take nitrogen from the atmosphere. And in bacterial root nodes, it’ll release the nitrogen into the soil, which is great because nitrogen is one of the three macro nutrients that all plants need the most of. So it’s very important. So once you have clover, it essentially returns a lot of the fertility that your lawn will need the whole year by collecting nitrogen in there. But when Scott came out with the first Miracle,…oh sorry…not MIracle Grow, Weed-and-feed, it killed off the clover in addition to the other weeds that they were trying to get rid of. So people were upset about that at first. And now 70 years beyond that. We’ve all been reconditioned to not even know that clover used to be the most beneficial thing to add to your lawn. And now most people think of it just as a weed. When it not only adds nitrogen but also because its a legume, it releases a lot of carbohydrates exude from its roots, which feed the bacteria and the micro flora and the worms. So it really creates something very sustainable and it makes your soil healthier gives it more tilth and fertility. And it’s just something that we used to do a long time ago that people have been reconditioned sort of by the capitalist nature of you know, chemical fertilizers.
And, you know, modern agriculture where, with with all that now, there’s a lot more tilling going on in the farms. And what happens is a lot of the topsoil that has been, I think over half of our topsoil, I think maybe close to 70%, I’ve seen something that said, around the world has been because of all the tillage has been washed away into rivers and into the ocean. So when this happens, all of a sudden, we’re more dependent on chemicals, because there’s less fertility there. So sort of it’s a it’s a vicious downward spiral, that you keep using the chemicals, reducing the organic matter, and you tilling it to keep getting the chemicals down where you needed to go instead of using sustainable practices. And now people don’t realize how much less fertile our planet is than it was before. And then when fertility goes down, now you need more chemicals. So the chemical manufacturers they love it, you know. And it’s it’s something that slowly there’s an organic revolution happening now. But it is it is slow.
Heather Warburton 13:27
And all those chemicals end up as the top soil with all the chemicals is getting washed away that ends up in our rivers and our streams and causes all kinds of nightmares there as well.
Sanjay Chaudhari 13:36
Yeah, it pollutes the water, polutes our wastewater and it’s interesting. I’ve always I tell this to people, you know, I when I’ve done talks before, I’ll ask people, you know, raise your hands, who shops at Whole Foods and prefers organic foods, and you know, 20 30 40% of the people raise their hands. And then I say, you know, it’s interesting that you know, people will pay double to get organic food, but then you have people come and spray poison all over your properties. Your kids walking in it. You walk in it. Your dogs and cats walk in it. You know, and it’s just it doesn’t make sense. So I like to kind of just let people think and, you know, try to help people to think about things because it doesn’t make sense. And people like oh, yeah, you know, I never thought about that. Like, yeah, Think, it’s good. Just think sometimes. Sit back
Heather Warburton 14:17
It’s hard people don’t put all those pieces together necessarily, because we’re not taught to
Sanjay Chaudhari 14:24
We’re taught by TV and commercials, you know, America has, you know, pristine lawns, no weeds. You know, if someone has a few weeds in it, they make us think it’s bad. If you see my lawn, it’s not pristine in that way. But I use my lawn mostly to fertilize my fruit trees and my orchards and my different things. So I’ll I don’t mow, I rarely ever mow my entire lawn, I’ll just mow a little bit as I need it. And I’ll top dress my garden with trees with it. Because it’s organic, and there’s so much fertility in there. It’s returning that to where I wanted to go, rather than just keeping a nice lawn, but my long feed my trees, feed me.
Heather Warburton 15:00
I know, and this isn’t where I intended to go. But it just I thought of it while we’re talking of, you know, some states now it’s illegal to not have a lawn. There are certain communities and it’s against your homeowners association. But unless you, if you’re trying to grow vegetables or fruit in your front lawn, that’s actually against regulations, you they forced you to have this lawn.
Sanjay Chaudhari 15:21
Oh, yeah, it’s it’s interesting, ya know, and a lot of town, especially in northern jersey, it’s very conservative up here. And there’s a lot of rules about some of these things. So you can’t have a garden in your front. I actually had a part of my talk was about sustainability and keeping backyard chickens. I had 10 hens for a while in Randolph, New Jersey. And I got into an issue with the town where you need to have three acres to have any number of henss. And I have 1.7 acres. So I wanted to beg the question, what’s the difference between 1.7 acres and three acres, if I could manage all the requirements, you know, within that, so essentially, I had to, then. If I wanted to have that discussion, I would have needed to pay 1800 to request variants, and then send a flyer to everyone in the town to come and talk about if I should have, I should be allowed to have 10 hens for that for that purpose. So it obviously wasn’t worth all of the trouble to do that to pay that amount and then have the conversation to then still, possibly be denied the variance. But yeah, it’s unfortunate that even something like hens people could very easily even a very modest backyard, keep a few hens, have a lot of eggs, reduce the tick populations, you know. There, there’s such a benefit to a lot of these things where they’ll eat a lot of the bugs that bother us, you know, they’ll eat a lot of the ticks and the things that are causing problems for us and our dogs. But it seems like society was going in the direction to kind of you know, not let us be sustainable. You can’t you know, keep chickens here you have to buy your eggs in the store. You can’t…I’m a medical cannabis patients in the state, I can’t grow cannabis here, even though I’ve been a Master Gardener in a few states. And I have an organic soil company. I can’t grow here. I have to buy chemically grown cannabis from the six chemically, you know, growing producers in the state. So there there’s just an absurdity about New Jersey and life in New Jersey too.
Heather Warburton 17:17
Well, I mean, you know, this is an anti capitalist podcast. So you know, I do have to make a comment about how this seems very custom designed to benefit the fertilizer companies. And regulations are being passed that make us you know, like you said, less sustainable, less able to not be a part of that capitalist system , you know, that drive. If you demand less of that, because you’re home growing things and have a nice sustainable yard, then that seems that it’s propping up capitalism
Sanjay Chaudhari 17:50
No, you know, if there’s there, there’s a sad side to it, that I’ve learned in New Jersey, that it’s all about the money here, in my estimation, you know, I get… it’s really sad. I know. For the cannabis side, I know so many patients that can’t afford their medication. And, you know, when they sort of expand access by saying, Hey, now you have your terminal cancer patient, you can buy all the cannabis you want. Hoorah, you know, it’s like, Okay, great. I had a friend crying say she can’t afford one ounce a month. So now it’s insulting that she can buy 20 ounces a month if she wants, and she wants to she still couldn’t afford the one. And you know, for the amount she’d spend on that one ounce. She could probably grow plants outside. Even less than that, you know, that would last for the entire year. But they would lose a customer then, you know, and it’s just sad, sad state of affairs.
Heather Warburton 18:39
Well, that does bring us I wanted to go next into that you are a homegrown advocate for patients here in New Jersey. How long have you been a homegrown advocate?
Sanjay Chaudhari 18:47
I’ve been a homegrown advocate for 21 years now.
Heather Warburton 18:51
And you said you yourself are a medical patient?
Sanjay Chaudhari 18:54
I’ve been a medical patient actually in a few states. In New Jersey currently Yes.
Heather Warburton 19:00
And I know that some people have some very bad reactions to some of the cannabis available from those four ATCs. Because of the fertilizers and you know, people even if you’re not having a bad reaction, you may get a headache from the fertilizers being used on there. So having some sort of a more organic option would be nice.
Sanjay Chaudhari 19:20
Yeah, for me, I have four qualifying conditions in the state and I have a lot of other health conditions not related to my cannabis conditions, but one of them I have asthma. So and I have a lot of sensitivities, a lot of allergies to all kinds of different things. I take a few allergy medications. So the Yeah, the nutrients they don’t really work well they sort of exacerbate my asthmatic conditions. And it’s pretty terrible. The cannabis I got from Curaleaf when I tried it, it was I wept, I literally wept because it was the worst cannabis I’d smoked in 17 years. And I knew that a lot of it’s the biggest seller in the state. So I know a lot of people turn to them for their medicinal needs. So it like it cut pretty deep. Because I you know, it’s it’s trash, it’s just trash. And people need to be, you know, able to get craft quality cannabis in the state, and they shouldn’t have to, you know, be beholden to, you know, privileged people that have gotten the few licenses that are out there. There’s six that are can produce. Now, there’s six more that were recently allowed. And, you know, now they’re opening it up more, but, you know, it’s still not like, I don’t know, it’s not a reality for a lot of people, you know, to be able to get into the industry. Even if you have the assets and you know, the assets, you have to have the political connections, you have to there’s, there’s a lot there’s a lot to deal with a new jersey to get in there.
Heather Warburton 20:48
Yeah, you would have liked to have been one of those ATC and grow organic, healthful cannabis, but how much would it have cost for you to be able to even apply for that?
Sanjay Chaudhari 20:58
Well, actually, the application, I believe last time was pretty reasonable as a $2,000 application. So the application is not the problem. But then just to be realistically considered. I knew I was working with a few different groups that had over 20 million in assets. And most of them were denied also their applications. So I had a group that only had a few million dollars together some doctors that prescribed and some other investors in the state. But we sort of knew that even with a few million dollars, we were well short of what it was going to take to actually have something that was going to be selected, because they ended up going with I believe. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe four of the six are major cannabis producers. And you know, it’s just sort of a dismal state of affairs with a big cannabis comes in and produces a really low quality craft cannabis product that also pollutes the environment. Pollutes you know, our bodies, and then we are beholden to have to consume that, or, or be you know, scoff laws.
So it’s crazy that in the state, I write letters, I’m currently writing one to Governor Murphy. You know, organic cannabis is illegal. It’s just like unimaginable. If you know, organic tomatoes were illegal or something organic peaches were illegal. It’s strange, I can grow pretty much anything I want to in my yard right now, you know, anything, except for the one plant that I’m prescribed medically. And so it makes no sense. I could grow orchards and orchards of peaches, or apple trees, or strawberries or blueberries, anything I want and no one cares. There’s only one plant that I’m prescribed for 4 different reasons. And that’s the one plant they won’t let me grow. And you know, there’s just a level of absurdity. It’s something that I’ve been speaking with some different attorneys around the state about it violating the 14th amendment of the US Constitution, which allows us equal access. So, you know, if only rich people can get something that’s not equal access, and in some cases, people have tried to fight it. And they’ve been denied, like for expensive cancer medication or something like very expensive HIV medication. Because it’s privately owned, and it’s a capitalistic enterprise. If someone owns a patent on it, they can charge what they see appropriate. Even if someone that is not, you know, rich cannot afford it. They said that’s okay.
But with something with cannabis in the state, and in any state that actually does not allow home grow, but has some form of medical or recreational. The issue is that there it is a violation of the 14th amendment because even let’s say someone without a home was a patient could grow somewhere, possibly, you know, in a forest or something. And you know, versus it’s not something you can’t go outside and plan to like a tree that’s going to cure your HIV or your cancer. Tther than cannabis, I guess it’s been shown to cure cancer. But because people could my friends who have cancer now that cannot afford the medicine, that the state sells them, they could grow that in their backyard if they were allowed to. If they weren’t scared to. They could do that. So it is it is a violation of the 14th amendment. And, you know, I’m thinking about I’ve been suggested to start a GoFundMe, I don’t know any of that kind of stuff. But if it was proved unconstitutional, immediately, CUMMA would be found unconstitutional, and it would be nullified. So in that case, there would no longer be a medical program in the state of New Jersey, and the politicians at that point, regardless of how corrupted mafia influence they are, they will then be forced to produce legislation, that that is not in violation of the Constitution. So they would essentially need to add some type of home grow option in there because without that, it’s not fair. You know, it’s not fair if poor people can afford their medicine, and they could grow it. It’s not fair, you know, and it’s unfortunate that I can say that to politicians, but no one’s gonna do anything until someone actually files a suit. So it may actually, that may need to happen that ,someone, I may need to file a suit or anyone could really do it to then have CUMMA found unconstitutional. And what would be great if that successful, that would not only be a huge impact in New Jersey, any other state, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, I think, may have something where they have medical without homegrown, but anywhere that would send ripples throughout the country, that anywhere that does that it could be found unconstitutional there too. Which it is, so it’s it’s kind of neat. But given the nature of power and politics and everything, it’s a long shot.
Heather Warburton 25:46
Yeah, things are challenging in the state of New Jersey and in general that there’s still a lot of stigma about people using a medication that works for them because of racist policies enacted decades ago.
Sanjay Chaudhari 26:03
Yeah, well, you know, there, there’s racism in it, they’ll they’ll say, you know, Oh, we don’t want it. There’s going to be diversion. You know, these patients that are barely able to get enough medicine, they’re afraid that they’re going to grow a few plants and suddenly become huge dealers. You know, it’s like their, their mentality, their fear, and then the big cannabis supporters in the state, the cannabis business industry association, or the cannabis business people, you know, everyone supports all this legalization that they’re throwing out there, like, Oh, yeah, let’s support this. Let’s support this, but no one really thinks about, you know, everyone wants legalization, but I was writing politicians to not pass the last legalization, because it was not going to be pro small business. It was not gonna be pro New Jersey. It was not gonna be pro patient. Even with the tax, they were suggesting a $42 that’s gonna you’re building a program that is built to fail, it’s not going to compete against all the illegal imports coming in from Colorado and Seattle and California. And you know, why would someone build a program? That makes no sense? You know, it’s just building right. And
Heather Warburton 27:04
The bblack market is still less than half the price of most ATC. Like, you mentioned, Curaleaf, and I believe they’re the cheapest alternative treatment center, and they’re still ridiculously expensive. What is the price of an ounce at Curaleaf?
Sanjay Chaudhari 27:21
Ah, you know, I don’t think they sell ounces. They do eights and quarters. I think I’m not I’m not sure. I’ve never gone back there. Since I went. And that was over a year ago that I went, I would never go back there. I would never send anyone there. I think there’s actually there’s a lawsuit going on against them. Have you heard about this?
Heather Warburton 27:39
No, I havent
Sanjay Chaudhari 27:41
There is a lawsuit going on in New Jersey against them because of mold issues. And I know several patients who have gotten, and I shouldnt laugh about this, but several patients have gotten really sick from that. And they got, I believe some type of lung infection. So there is a class action lawsuit currently going against Curaleaf. And I completely support that. And I would imagine, if I kept smoking it, I would have gotten really sick. Because even from the little bit I did get from them, I was kind of getting black… black specks in my phlegm from just like a modest amount, suddenly. That hadn’t happened, you know, ever before.
Heather Warburton 28:20
Yeah, let’s remind people, these are medical patients, these are people who are already, you know, you may be using it as treatment for lung cancer. And now you’re,
Sanjay Chaudhari 28:29
That’s a problem. I say this a lot. You don’t grow medicine with chemicals, you know, a lot of this is you don’t have to be a PhD to understand real basic stuff. I can tell my children, and they would understand Yeah, like, you don’t grow things with chemicals if you can avoid it, because then you eat it. Especially, you know, if it’s Curaleaf for example, they’re fully hydroponic. So they use an ionic nutrient, not organic, so it’s positively charged. So essentially, what happens in the roots when something is ionically positively charged, the roots then are forced to take it up, it’s kind of like plant rape. So they pour it on a plant the plant. I say that a lot too. So you pour it on the plant, they have to take it up, and then the plant takes in these nutrients, it doesn’t have a choice, versus when something has grown organically, the root exudates, what they’ll do is they’ll release a little bit of acid. They will exude that from the roots. And that will then charge the nutrients that are already in the soil and uptake it as it needs.
So if I provide a really fertile, sweet Virginia soil, one of my soils, to it, it has all the fertility of plant would need for the entire growing season, but it’s not going to burn it. With chemicals, you need to keep adding it because it’s not going to last longer than because it’s immediately available for the most part. But when you have an organic soil, it’s sort of like an all you can eat buffet, instead of plant rape and forcing it to eat all this stuff on your cycle. You say no, there’s all the food you want here more this number this year, and next year, you can eat all you want, take it as you want come and go, you know, and that’s the difference the plan is in charge, you sort of just offer everything it’s going to need and the plant then gets to choose it. Versus hydroponic growing the plant rape where it’s like no take this you’re taking this you take those nitrogen now now you’re taking phosphorus and to keep pumping you full of phosphorus and make those flowers really big. But it’s just you know, we are what we eat, plants are what they eat and if all it is, is just water and chemicals. You’re smoking chemicals, you know, because they dry out, they dry out the water, you know, the water evaporates. They will dry that. So it’s just these ionic nutrients a lot of its from you know, I don’t know what’s there
Heather Warburton 30:30
To increase yields and speed? I guess they do that?
Sanjay Chaudhari 30:32
Yield and speed. With hydroponic, you get a little bit faster, a little bit more prolific growth, but you get a lower quality product. But when the government is got their back, and the government says you have to buy from these guys or your non compliant, they don’t care about quality. They have an oligopoly going, it doesn’t matter whatsoever.
Heather Warburton 30:54
And there’s also the environmental impact. Ekatarina Sedia, who has been a part of a couple of cannabis forums, and we will probably be having another cannabis forum where she’s going to speak about growing things hydroponically indoors, uses a lot of energy. And when we could be growing it outside in the soil, and then it uses all these chemicals, this growth, it’s negatively impacting our environment, and we’re already in catastrophic, the begginging of catastrophic climate change.
Sanjay Chaudhari 31:23
There are actually I have a home in Lincoln Park, that I just got a notice from the water supply that our water did not pass the test. And you know, New Jersey has very, laughably low standards for water quality as it is. And it didn’t pass. And I think they supplied a lot of Essex County, but it’s scary. So that’s all the letter said. It’s like, we have to notify you It didn’t pass. There’s nothing else. It’s not like we’re working
Heather Warburton 31:49
There is no remediation happening.
Sanjay Chaudhari 31:52
All right. So I guess it’s like not as bad as Flint, but definitely not up to Jersey standards, whatever. But that’s neither here nor there. But with the I’ve spoken with Chairman Danielson, some other politicians that there are no regulations right now for the cannabis growers. And they’re sort of dictating there in the politicians ears saying, Hey, you guys shouldn’t let home grow, they’re going to be fires, and there’s going to be people selling the black market. So there’s just something inherently corrupt and evil about the people that are allowed to grow are telling them hey, you can’t let people have this. And then with the with the hydroponic production, I’ve been telling them. I had a conversation Chairman Danielson that if you were I went to get we got our bag of Scotts Miracle Gro that I don’t own. And I threw down the toilet that’s breaking the law, you can’t put fertilizer down the toilet, even in the winter, you can’t fertilize your lawn, it’s illegal to do that. Because it was all just going to wash off. But for all of these like for Curaleaf, there’s no requirement for them to remediate their water. So they do that on a huge scale. They have thousands of plants. So all the water they use just goes down the drain. It’s not being remediated anyway. It’s my understanding. And then it’s just polluting everything where if we did it even on a small scale, if I put a tablespoon in the toilet, that is illegal, but they’re allowed to do it on a massive massive scale and destroy our environment and produce something that not only is bad for the environment, people are smoking that. So if that pollutes the rivers and streams. What do you think it’s doing your body you know? Like people gotta think. They gotta think.
Heather Warburton 33:30
Yes, it’s crazy almost. When you think about it. We are rapidly running out of time. And there was one last thing you had said that I wanted to repeat. And have you talked about a little bit was you and also talked about conventional like agribusiness, be it vegetables or cannabis. Not only does it strip our topsoil, but it strips our connection to the past.
Sanjay Chaudhari 33:54
Yeah, I think there’s there’s something to that, that even with modern agriculture, what happens is, everything is being grown for prolific production. Everything’s about yield. Now, not just you know, cannabis yeild, let’s talk about peaches. When I used to go to farmers markets, you could get heirloom peaches there. Now, not even farmers markets, not even small farmers are growing the heirloom varieties and peaches, because they also are growing, maybe not the same ones the grocery stores have, but there’s they’re growing something that’s more prolific, that’s better yielding that’s more resistant to diseases and pest, which is fine, it’s understandable. But I miss having that taste that I had when I was a kid when I go to a farm and get a peach. And I’d be like, Man, this tastes like just God’s candy or something, you know. And now I get peaches and like, that’s kind of good, it’s kind of good. But until I’m getting my own peaches and my own fruit, and I don’t get that real heirloom taste. And that’s something that’s been lost to us.
That’s what’s great about heirloom gardening, is you can really get that taste of the past, you know, I Brandywines. That I think we’re from 1850s. And you know, Black Krim, from Eastern Europe, that was from the 1900s. You can really taste what people were growing, you can taste if your family’s from, you know, Lancaster County or something and Pennsylvania or wherever you can see what people were eating there. When there wasn’t these commercial hybrid, these mass produced varieties and it’s nice, it tastes better. These tomatoes, you know, you won’t get as much yield, but you get this flavor that you’re not going to get from anything in the store. And the peaches are, you know, you may only get 100 peaches, not 300 peaches, but I don’t you know, you don’t need 300 peaches. I get 100 really good peaches is really good. And it’s something really nice. And it’s it’s coming to a point where it’s priceless. There are certain, you know, strawberries that only home growers can grow them, and no one sells them because they’ll they won’t be good in one day. They don’t ship well. They don’t store well. They’re not big enough. And not even the farmers are growing them. So it’s really the home gardener then that when they get into the heirloom gardening, on a small scale, you can really get back to that taste of the past, which is amazing. If you like food, if you like, you know, I sort of, I think I’ve always liked food a lot, which is why I got into cooking as a kid. And I think gardening as a young adult because I like eating things. So eventually, you know, I’m not as interested in floral things or things that are not something that you can eat. But if you can eat and consume it, I really enjoy finding the tastiest, best things that you know, to enjoy.
Heather Warburton 36:28
And I had seen something it was a couple years back because also I’m an artist from my day job. And somebody had looked at old paintings that had fruit in them. And like the watermelons looked completely different. Like the seeds were in a different format. They were striated differently. Like it was an entirely different fruit that appeared in these old paintings from what you could find anywhere today.
Sanjay Chaudhari 36:54
Hmm, yeah, that’s interesting. That’s interesting. I don’t know. I don’t know specifically anything that’s changed that much. And I’m not a watermelon expert by any means. But yeah, that’s neat things have certainly changed
Heather Warburton 37:05
Thay almost have like swirls inside them instead of like striations of how the seeds were the seeds were like, in a little swirly pattern, it was really interesting to see.
Sanjay Chaudhari 37:15
Oh, that’s interesting.
Heather Warburton 37:18
So did you have any last words before we close out today?
Sanjay Chaudhari 37:21
Yeah, I just wanted to mention sort of what I was what I was saying with just a second ago, just with sort of enjoying, you know, the bounty of Earth. That’s sort of where I came up with the name for for my soil company, Sweet Virginia is Rolling Stones song. And they sort of, it’s a very, it’s one of my probably my favorite Rolling Stones song. But it’s very peaceful song about just, you know, life is hard and challenging. And that, you know, the earth has all these wonderful things on it that we can enjoy to survive and persist. And, you know, just keep going. So, yeah, I don’t know, I think I think people just need to know, it’s a really sad world out there. There is a lot of bad things happening. You know, there is a lot of, you know, sorrow and stress and anxiety. And I think, you know, people kind of try to reconnect with the earth. There’s something there you can find the peace that people are seeking, I think through gardening through horticulture, you know, growing things that are special to you getting close to the earth. And it’s neat. You know, for me, it’s been very transformative, I’ve been much more peaceful, the more closely I get to gardening and stuff. And I think it’s nice, I think if everyone kept a small home garden, you know, Victory Garden, they used to call them I think during World War Two, everyone should do that. And it’s good, not just because you eat more, there’s more food to have and share. But you know, it really just connects you back to the earth. We’re all you know, we’re Earthlings. And it’s actually neat. There’s a lot of bacteria and things in the soil that have been shown to be, you know, effective in treating depression and things too. So there’s, there’s just there’s so much so much to it that we don’t even know about yet.
Heather Warburton 39:00
So it’s good to play in the dirt.
Sanjay Chaudhari 39:02
Play in the dirt, and, get dirty. If you got a little dirt your nails. That’s good.
Heather Warburton 39:07
Thank you so much for the conversation today. We could have kept talking to you for another good hour at least. Well over 20 minutes.
Sanjay Chaudhari 39:15
I can go over no problem. Yeah, no, thanks for having me. I’d love to come back and talk about other weird stuff another time too.
Heather Warburton 39:23
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