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Ness Knight is an adventurer and explorer with some epic expeditions under her belt. Her experiences led her into regenerative farming and sustainable living. We dive into the details – prepare to be inspired

Ness Knight

January 12, 2021

Long-term adventurer and explorer Ness Knight has not always called her West Yorkshire farm home. Ness has pioneered some of the world's toughest and most intriguing expeditions, such as her trip to the Essequibo River with the Wai Wai tribe and her adventure partners Pip Stewart and Laura Bingham. A quest which led them to discover much more than the previously unknown source of the river. Ness has also crossed the Namib Desert region solo, swum the length of the Thames and made a world-first descent of the third largest river in South America.

It isn't merely firsts and records Ness is interested in however. Meeting local tribes and indigenous peoples, connecting with their way of life and understanding the way they exist in their home landscapes has led Ness to lay some roots of her own at home by starting up a regenerative farm in Yorkshire. Ness is passionate about regenerative agriculture and biodiversity and we dig deep into what this could mean for the future of the planet.

Join us for this adventure and sustainability belter, Ness really knows what she's talking about.

guest links

show notes

  • Quickfire questions
  • Ness’s epic adventure in Guyana
  • Meeting and working with indigenous people
  • Gaining acceptance and understanding between the tribe and expedition members
  • The story behind 3 women doing this epic and dangerous adventure
  • Women's’ changing roles in the world of adventure
  • The most dangerous moment of the expedition
  • Jungle experiences - good and scary
  • Learning to sense nature
  • Mindfulness
  • Ness’s first steps into adventure and expeditions
  • Advice from Ness for career adventurers
  • Exploring mind and body
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Making small farms work - book
  • Free mini course (4 fundamentals on making small farms work)
  • YouTube channel - Richard Perkins
  • Self sufficient living
  • Cliff notes


FULL transcription

00:00.24
calltoadventure
Levels Once we live. Okay so mine's coming through looking good and then next if you just tell me what you had for breakfast.

00:07.65
Ness
For breakfast this oh I didn't actually have breakfast this morning because I had a little girl and she demanded all my time. So I think I had about a late lunch was the first time I got got to eat today and it was a stew.

00:19.40
calltoadventure
Was it was it homemade stuff or I mean I I wasn't actually going to ask you. This is a proper question. But yeah, that's awesome. Well I'm I'm pumped to hear more about that. We'll we'll definitely get into it but your your levels are looking good. So um, we're.

00:22.14
Ness
Yes, of course pretty much everything from the farm. Ah yeah.

00:38.56
calltoadventure
We're all good to go I'll just get going with the intro. So hello Hello and welcome to another episode of the call to adventure podcast with me George B I Hope you're all good listeners and watchers I say watches because there's a little reminder you can now view the video version of.

00:38.61
Ness
Yeah, awesome.

00:58.30
calltoadventure
Podcast over ah our Youtube channel imaginatively called call to adventure c a w l t o adventure. So check it out if you want to see our beautiful faces blabbering away and we've also got some vlogs coming up soon as well of ah, call to adventure are scoping out some trips for you guys. So you can take a look as a couple coming up soon. 1 of Scotland winter mountaineering and we're finally going to get the vlogs of ah my girlfriend and I off-road cycle trip from alaska down to Panama I know they've been promised for a while but they're coming in early ish 2022 so if you want to see us stumbling upon the cartel in Mexico exploring hallucinogens in the jungle with a shaman in Central america and nearly getting eaten by a few too many grizzlies in North america then head over and take a look but now onto today's episode so we're chatting with. Nes knight nurse is an adventurer conservationist author public speaker and regenerative Farmer. She's completed challenges and expeditions all around the world paddleboarding a thousand miles cycling solo across America completing the world first source to see descent of the esquiba river. In guyana and traversing the Nabi desert Solo. She was also the first woman to swim the river thames from source to london and her bbc adventure programs have broadcast in over twenty countries more recently though ness has turned her attention to homesteading sustainable living and regenerative agriculture. Putting a right at the intersection of adventure and sustainability making her the perfect guest for the show. So ness. Thanks for coming on. How's it all going.

02:39.62
Ness
Hi yeah start that morning and hi evening. No it's it's um, it's going a brilliantly I'm I'm absolutely shattered from very little sleep with a little 1 but other than that I'm grand.

02:54.72
calltoadventure
Well, we doubly appreciate you coming on when you got a lot going on with a new 1 but we'll we'll dig into that before we do just to ease into it. We always kick off with some quick fire questions that listeners send in um and this 1 just backed by popular demand that. That people really like a bit weird at the beginning of the venture podcast but favorite cheese ness.

03:22.40
Ness
Brie of course always soft cheese can't bear the sight or the taste or the texture of a hard cheese.

03:27.43
calltoadventure
That was probably the quickest answer that we've ever had you were you nailed it. You were ready. You have primed. Okay.

03:34.94
Ness
Ah, yeah, yeah I had no idea by the way I had no idea that the question was going to come I didn't know was a thing on the podcast. So.

03:41.86
calltoadventure
Okay, Brie I love I love brie brie is awesome. Um tk or brown source tomar to catch up sorry very american yeah.

03:50.18
Ness
What is T K Oh why I've never heard it called that. Oh it's good to be catch up.

04:01.17
calltoadventure
Yeah I'm I'm a catchupper. Do you have a do you have a mix.

04:04.99
Ness
Ah, depends what it is if it is um, a ba with bacon an egg then absolutely you cannot do it any other way and but you know it doesn't go with that. You can't mix them with everything. No, you're playing with fire that way.

04:16.70
calltoadventure
Um, right last 1 um that we haven't had before I don't know who sent this 1 in but um, favorite dinosaur.

04:27.89
Ness
Um, oh I gonna have to say of the loss of raptor mostly because my little girl at the moment sounds like a loss of raptor when she's sleeping the kind of grunts and squeaks and noise that come out of hers. Phenomenal.

04:42.95
calltoadventure
Little dinosaur crawling around. Okay Velocs raptor. Yeah, it's to goodie. It's a cool name in itself isn't it for the veloca raptor. Yeah.

04:50.42
Ness
His That's probably pretty much why I chose it blaming on the little girl but.

04:56.58
calltoadventure
Okay, awesome quick fire done. So I was I was thinking today about um because I normally kick off with like the connection. How I found out about the guest and I'd seen you speak at all your name at quite few outdoor events on the circuit and then um, i. Somehow became friends with pip stewart and and she came on the podcast a while ago and then I saw you guy she's awesome isn't she she's just ah, ah, a bundle of sunshine. Yeah, just a really good a good egg, a good positive force to have around. So yeah, yeah, pip's great and um.

05:19.90
Ness
Um, 1 of the most beautiful souls on the planet. Yeah, love that woman. Ah huh.

05:35.48
calltoadventure
And then I saw you guys doing your how do you say it is is it a Squibo or esquibo in Guyana oh s s as key. Yeah.

05:41.85
Ness
Neither um, in guy oh gosh we call s aquibo ah but I think in Guyana it might have been as as squebo I can't remember too long ago. My my brain's fried with baby stuff. So ah.

05:50.84
calltoadventure
Okay. Well, we'll we'll we s a Cubo. We'll get. We'll go with that So that that's really where I kind of started following your story a little bit but um, that looked like a pretty epic adventure. How did that all come about.

05:58.32
Ness
Um, but we call it the esequivo. Yeah.

06:12.55
Ness
So that was the glorious vision of laura bingham um, she she's 1 of my best mates on the planet. Absolutely phenomenal girl. She's a wife of ed stafford and so. When she heard of him heading out to guyana in his early days and all the tales that he was telling her of you know, looking up into the trees and just you know the amount of diversity that was there. You would see all of these different species of Monkey these birds the life there just burst from the canopy and he. He really I think did want to go back at some point and she was just in that way before him she was just like hang on a second. This is beautiful place I need an expedition on my hands I'm taking this 1 honey. Um, and so yeah, she just just reproed me 1 day and typical laura of fashion. She was like hey yeah I got a bed of a crazy idea. Do you want to? do you want to come on board. Um, and yeah, we us 2 are just a tag team and the second she mentioned you know 1 of the most untouched corners of the planet going out there to pristine virgin rainforest and going and doing a world first something that's never been done what what really hooked me though I think was. When she said that it was the third largest river in south america and the source of it had never been found before never been documented and that just blew my mind. It's the third largest river in south america. And so that was just a no-bra and absolute no-brainer and the further we dug down into our research into guyana and esquibo the more we realized that the the tribe that we were going to invite with us to be our guides as it were in the jungle because we were like Jungle toddlers I mean we. Yeah, we we thought we were the shisholminiszzo and the whole world of adventure. But actually you go out there and you realize that these guys that live with the jungle with their backyard. You can't touch them. You can't even come close. Don't even you a lifelong of training and you'll never come close to them but phenomenal people in this incredible.

08:07.71
calltoadventure
Yeah.

08:13.95
Ness
Idyllic corner of the planet that just was so rare for somewhere to be so untouched and they they were pretty marginalized within their own country the the why why? community and they were responsible for the conservation management of. This enormous area in the southwest of guyana and they had no support from the government in terms of technology and any funding towards it and yeah people I suppose in their country looked down on them as you know 1 of these ancient tribes but that they were almost. Uneducated and primitive and just not worth a second glance really and we now know having gone and spend time then we know this all around the world that actually these these indigenous communities are some of the wisest with the most incredible knowledge and understanding of how our planet should work and does work.

08:58.25
calltoadventure
A.

09:05.91
Ness
That we don't get Anyway, they were marginalized and we thought that we could have this fantastic international collaboration with them and us we were very very much against going there as these chests beating flag planting you know folk who just want to come and say hey we've. Once again, a group of white people have come in and just said yeah we've Achieved. We've explored. We've conquered and it was not about that at all so that collaboration and that unity and that that sort of teamwork between our groups was really important to us. Including you know our vision was to to leave there having left all the technology that we could provide them with to to continue the work that they needed to do on the ground so they they came with the ability to allow us to survive to push through. The kind of terrain and undergrowth that I mean we would never have been able to do it on our own. It was unreal and we provided the funding and the technology to be able to document this and and to you know, have the means to pay them.

10:08.30
calltoadventure
A.

10:18.78
Ness
Take us through and give them that work and give them that credibility in the in the you know the eyes of of guyianans.

10:25.52
calltoadventure
Yeah, what? What do you think they took from you guys being out there then you kind of mentioned a bit of the recognition. Um, what? what else? do you think they took from gut. Did they see it as an adventure like you guys or do you think they really saw it as like paid work. Or yeah, what? What do you? think they? how did they? How was their experience of it.

10:50.59
Ness
From from everything that they said to us along the way I think it changed I think that initially it was an incredible opportunity for them to have yes paid work because that can be really challenging when when you're in a village in the very south. Of a country where there's no access roads in around all they have is an airstrip and I think it was probably about 2 or 3 times a year that and an airplane will come in there a small light aircraft. That's really disconnected and so to be able to be in the village and get work off. You know your doorstep. Is phenomenal for them and it's really really important I think that they really were keen on the adventure side of it I think it spoke to them deeply that it was an opportunity to have the funding to have all the tools and the equipment to find the source of their own river. River that had sustained them for you know, many many decades and and hundred years 2 hundred years and so for them it was it was far more meaningful than it ever could be for us and I think that unfolded as we got further down the journey. Um. But what really came to the forefront I think was about halfway through. We started seeing this immense pride swell up from from them and that was because we started to get some press off the back of our journey and the people of guyana started to talk about it. We started to get on the news and it was. And no expedition about halfway through and suddenly they were seen in a different light by their own people or their own country and I think that that was hugely important by the end of it but I don't think they foresaw that but no, they they were so up for the adventureion I think when they first saw 3 women stepic white woman from Britain. Stepping off of that plane looking utterly excited but bewildered at what lay in front of us I think that they thought come climb me, you know what we got ourselves into these girls are gonna know absolutely bugger all about you know what's coming in their way and initially you know it's a very traditional. Society very traditional community where the woman had their roles and men have their roles and it it works beautifully for them. Um, and they would never have it any other way. Um, but that did mean that us 3 explorers and adventurers going in there wanting to learn how to do jungle survival. 1 1 from the most brilliant experts that you could ever imagine having in front of you in the world I thought I think it was a bit of a joke for them. They were like no no this is not your role. This is not and it was a bit of a clashing point for the first week or 2 and it took us and that wasn't out of.

13:39.64
Ness
Fight from them. It was it was just that they weren't used to that kind of a roleplay. Um, and yeah, we just persisted and every single opportunity that we could we would say to them please teach me how to do this and we would get into a camp and they say no, you need to.

13:42.72
calltoadventure
And.

13:55.89
Ness
Step back is dangerous and here we need to clear the area and we blind. No, we want to come and help they said no you can sharpen your your machete's over there and just watch for now and maybe you can get some firewood and gradually we just pushed our way in and at the same time they gradually pulled us in and. Respect that they had for the fact that we were just never giving up that we were so intent on learning that we were so willing to be their their students. Um, and by the end of it I remember 1 of them turning around to me and they said well nes you you're officially now 1 aboutw a very our very first ever. Why why? female warrior and that meant the world you know so they they saw something that um I think. They hadn't seen before was these stubborn as 3 girls coming from overseas and yeah I think we were hugely humbled by them and I think that they grew an immense respect and a great friendship with us and so it was this beautiful relationship as we progressed through the journey.

15:01.55
calltoadventure
I Guess from what you've mentioned so far. There was a point to the fact that it was 3 women doing an epic adventure. Um, am I right in picking up on that was it. Ah, kind of a point of the trip to do it as as 3 women and um, yeah, what are your thoughts on the kind of general state of the adventure industry on the back of that.

15:33.35
Ness
Yeah, definitely laura came to the table I mean she she was the expedition leader it. It was her vision. It was her her expedition that she pulled pip and I into and so her vision for that was yes to have 3 women going out there doing something that had never been done before. Something phenomenal. Um, and 1 of the most incredible corners of the planet and it was dangerous. You know we were in a place where for at least the first half of the expedition. There was no hope of extraction because we couldn't get a helicopter with a witch. In Guya or any either of the neighboring countries um to to pull that into to be that extraction for us and they said to us. So if you want us to come and get you if something goes wrong, you need to cut down an area of the rainforest the size of a football pitch and we're like oh hang on sick we're in Primary virgin rainforest here we've got trees. Size of houses. Ah, that's not gonna happen. Not gonna happen. So yeah, it was yeah exactly exactly there's a whole lot of machete practice there if you really want. Um, but yeah, it was it was 1 of those journeys where I think laura really wanted to showcase the world.

16:33.58
calltoadventure
Get your penknife out.

16:50.52
Ness
That yeah girls women are just as powerful as men and we we might come to the come to the table with a very different dynamic but our strengths are our own strengths that we have and we can achieve just as much through that um meet personally I I love that I think. Fantastic and I think that it has been certainly. There's no, no, no getting around the fact that it's been a male dominated space in the public eye and I say that last in the public eye because women have been doing expeditions left right and center since Forever. That's never changed and there's been just as many women out there doing this kind of stuff. The difference is they never got the lilight so that's changing now that's beginning. We're on the crest of a wave I think of things really beginning to shift and that's very very very much needed and I think it's very much wanted and that's important to know. And I think social media has really changed that and created these new opportunities for women now I think that when I go in in my Everyday job as ah as a broadcaster as a filmmaker as a presenter I actually see more opportunities opening for me. For my male counterparts. Um, and that's because women are beginning to get in demand now and I think that is a fantastic thing for me in terms of expeditions and journeys I won't lie I actually prefer to have a mixed group. Um. I think the the journey that I did with pip and laura was phenomenal but the fact was we weren't just 3 women. We were 3 women with 5 why why men? so.

18:29.26
calltoadventure
Um.

18:32.61
Ness
That was a fantastic dynamic and we saw how powerfully that can work and the great friendships that could come out of that and and the great achievements that could come out of that and to me that was that was an eyeopener and it is something that I've always believed is I'm I'm not really extremist that I don't believe that if we. Say oh well, it's we must do woman only this and woman only that well that's just doing exactly what you said that the blokes did I don't I don't see that as working long term and for me if I choose an expedition or ah you know grow my business or I have some project on the go. Will choose a person that is most qualified for the position that I want to fill and I will choose the right people to come on an expedition that have the right dynamic in the right skilletss and that's it at the end of the day I don't care what your background is where you come from what skin color you are whether male female or however you define yourself. Don't get not bothered but I do believe that Yes, we need to write an imbalance. But yeah, it's it's difficult How to how exactly to go about that and I'm I'm definitely not on the extremist that everything's gonna be just you know, only woman things It doesn't work doesn't work for me.

19:42.99
calltoadventure
Yeah I think I'm in exactly the same camp. The fact that it's obvious that there is an issue right and something needs to be done to address it. Um, the fact that women haven't been given equal opportunities or people of color and then I think there's lots of people wanting to do the right thing. And it can feel like women only whatever adventures or whatever it is that you're working in can can seem like a good solution and was something that I talked about for a while and I talked with about it with um, another guy who another partner who I work with And. He was just kind of saying well you always talk about like the the ideal world that we want to get to is where your sex your gender. Your race is not Interesting. It's just it's as important as eye color so nobody is given privilege or yeah, yeah.

20:29.92
Ness
Um, utterly inconsequential.

20:37.89
calltoadventure
So then is it really the right thing to do to say it but then but then I see I kind of see how some women dude feel uncomfortable with doing some things like there's a let. There's a lady's climbing night. Um Net near the climbing gym where I where I go now and it's and it's really popular and I kind of do get it. So I see ah I.

20:54.51
Ness
And.

20:57.10
calltoadventure
I see both sides of it. But I think we're kind of United in like the where the where we want to go which is just where there's kind of equal opportunity for all right? So it's a interesting and dynamic and evolving space.

21:11.43
Ness
Absolutely Couldn't agree more you know I think it's fantastic where where you get a more comfortable space where it is woman's only groups to you know, go and do climbing is an introduction because a lot of things can seem very daunting and especially when we've got this. Enormous history of something appearing to be male dominated because that's what's got the limelight and so it intimidates people so there isn't absolutely a space for for things like that I do fully agree with you.

21:36.48
calltoadventure
Yeah, well it sounds like an awesome trip I think ah Pip certainly well she you might say Drew the short straw with her tropical disease that was pretty serious wasn't it for.

21:51.45
Ness
Um, letter. Yeah, just just a bit flesh eating parasite I mean that's what 1 hell of a souvenir take home with you.

21:55.11
calltoadventure
Sometime afterwards it was it was fit. Yeah, yeah, and it's kind of you always think that stuff's never going to happen really. Or never going to happen to somebody that you know and I I don't know pip that well but it was just very strange to see all of this stuff going on with her and how rare it was and she was going to the center for tropical disease or or whatever it's called in London and um, and yeah, it's kind of amazing that that stuff is out there and.

22:23.46
Ness
Um, yeah.

22:29.42
calltoadventure
I Guess it was pretty unlucky. Did you have any other close grapes or did you I mean you didn't have to cut any football fields down I don't think but ah, but was it was it did it did it generally go down pretty much without a hitch other than pip.

22:43.58
Ness
Um, oh no, oh no, no, no, no, we didn't go up down with that hitch I think we had luck on our side. Um, there were many many clothes shades I mean pip at 1 point we're on the the trek too with we'd gone as far as we could uprugar. It's before the water got too shallow that we couldn't. Get our dugout canoes any further and so we made a base camp and from there we started walking to try and find the source of the river and I believe it was ah close to the source where we were far enough into the walk that complacency had started kicking in for all of us. You know and and not too much has happened so far. Oh this dangerous environment that you know you should have your wits about you. You start kind of thinking. Well nothing's happened so far and say yeah me relax into it and and everything's wonderful on hunky dory and 1 of those days where we're absolutely exhausted. Um, pushing out absolute limits very very dehydrated and trying to get to a new camp and find a new camp spot for for the night and I remember hip I think she was she was in front of me in the line that we were following each other and she was going over a huge huge huge fallen log on the ground. And as she was scrambling up laura just shries out Snake snake and I've never seen anyone move. She was like lightning she wasve I mean and pip blesss her so like I love it. Absolute bits. But she's got 2 left feet and yeah, she's she's a bit like me in that respect. Ah but I've never seen her shift. So precisely and so so fast in my life and I don't think I ever will again. But so it turns out that that was a baby pit viper and yeah, the the guys explained to us that the babies are the most dangerous things because they haven't yet learnt to control how much venom they inject. Yeah, if that had got her and and bear in mind this was about an inch from her butt cheek literally and ready to strike. She was lucky. That's all she was. She was just lucky that this thing didn't want you know was playing safe with her that day had it got her that would have been tickets end of pip you wouldn't. Having any conversations about lieshman isis or the tropical disease center in London nothing um, because yeah, there's there is no extraction at that point and so that that was our first wakeup call on on the expedition I think it was 2 to 3 weeks into it and all of a sudden we came to this realization that you know. Nothing will kill you faster than complacency in an environment like this and it is beautiful but it is hostile is this weird contradiction where you look up and within 1 space you've got life and death staring you in the face anything.

25:36.40
Ness
Can go wrong in a jungle and it's usually the small things that's usually the things that get under your skin and and burrow and and infection setting in and you know the stuff that you don't think will get you always think oh it's gonna be a jaguar Now. Definitely not um, but a case in point was us looking up and. On 1 of the days that we were getting trained up about how to survive in a jungle from from these warriors is they said well look at those 2 vines there and I said well why they look like they're the same vine and he said yes they look identical I said well I thought they were literally the same vine. No No and we looked up and he said you cut 1 and.

26:06.77
calltoadventure
Um.

26:13.50
Ness
What drips out of 1 vine is Poison. So if you have a couple of drops of this ah you will go into a hallucogenic hallucinogenic state more than that will do more damage apparently um, and that's that's death. But you string in the face then they use it actually for fishing so they put some of this into the water of the fish diee and that's the yeah, um, and next to it was in a divine identical to it and cut that open and he said drink from this we were a pretty bloody skeptical at that point once he's just explained what the other 1 is ah i.

26:32.70
calltoadventure
Oh.

26:47.22
Ness
Sure you very sure you're absolutely certain that you've got this right way Around. Um, and yeah, that's that's the jungle for you is that you you've really got to know inside out. It's gonna be your pantry.. It's all the building materials you need. It's your medicine cabinet at the same time if you're you know if you're complacent and if you're lazy. The way that you move through it and that you interact with it. That's that's your life at stake.

27:11.40
calltoadventure
Yeah, so it's a really special and unique place. The jungle isn't it like I love mountains and deserts. But there's something that ah is so special about the Jungle It's so different from. Everywhere else and like you say you have to keep a higher level of awareness than I think almost anywhere else because there's so much going on like just the level of sounds and noises and things moving around and plants and animals and it's it's almost like a. Sensory overload but in a natural way. So it's it's not like going on the streets of delhi where you're like just turn this off I need to go back inside for a minute it's more like kind of brings you in Jumanji style and and it's just kind of all all engrossing.

27:48.91
Ness
And and yeah.

28:01.16
Ness
Completely. Well actually this was 1 of the things that um, really struck me about halfway through the expedition is as they were training us up and so they they managed to say that we we graduated from toddlers to kind of teenagers in in our you know Jungle. Ah, learning curve and I just realized we're just watching them day in and day out that in our ordinary lives in our western world there. We go about we we have so much technology that's literally screaming at us screaming at us saying hey pay attention to me. We have phone rings. Your you know notification for a message your alarm goes off. You know someone calling you. There's constantly something telling you what to do a car horn beeping to warn you about something and you you almost become lazy with the the use of your senses and what I realized from these guys is. How we used to be and how we should be which is an awareness and I had this also with the the sandbushmen in Namibia exactly the same thing is the ability to use all of your senses at the same time and it sounds Staffed. We keep thinking well of course I am I'm looking at you I'm listening to you I'm I'm touching whatevers in front of me. No, that's that's nothing competitive. What these guys do they have this ability to be aware of absolutely everything around them from what's right in front of them to something that is 3 kilometers away. They see things that we would never be able to see because they say so it's okay, well you're on the river we're drifting downstream. What do you see around. You. What do you What are you paying attention to what's going on. What do you hear What's what's happening and I tune in I'd be like well I can hear some mccaws over there and I think I'm going to follow that and there's that sound over there and there seems to be like this buzzing in the tree I wonder if that's some kind of crickets or locust or what's happening there and. And for a few minutes I'd go through 1 by 1 these different things they have ability to do all that at the same time and be aware of it. So when when you go sightseeing with these guys. You just it's it's unreal. It's a bombardment of life around you when they just pointing point to point toma toward point and they've seen everything. Coming their way. They're aware of where jaguar are not just because they have seen a footprint on the ground but they've heard the faintest sound while seeing a footprint in in this direction while smelling the faintest of scents. Um and having a sixth sense. Ah a kind of gut instinct about things and and. We've just lost that ability. We've become so lazy with how we're aware of things and so I went into the jungle and and that almost cost us our our survival in a way we we would maybe just survived but not thrived in that environment until we were able to unwind the damage that we'd done in a western world.

30:54.48
Ness
And that laziness and and dial in and tune in to what these guys have which is just this uncanny ability to to have full 3 sixty. Awareness.

31:03.34
calltoadventure
Yeah, that's that's a great description and something that I've kind of thought about I I kind of think of it as it's almost like a 6 senses but it's just that all of their other senses are operating really highly at the same time and that kind of makes as if they had a sixth sense right.

31:23.60
Ness
Completely Yes, and.

31:23.12
calltoadventure
It's not that they're magical or that they can do anything else but they're just everything is firing on all cylinders and hyper awareness and like a lifetime of training. Um, it's almost like it's It's kind of like constant mindfulness training isn't it because you.

31:38.80
Ness
Ah.

31:40.52
calltoadventure
We might do you know like twenty minutes mindfulness training in the morning but like you say our whole world is set up for distraction ah whereas theirs is kind of setup for survival and so they're that they're optimizing for that and that's kind of like what our senses? Yeah yeah.

31:48.92
Ness
Yeah, that. Um, is discovery. Yeah.

31:59.39
calltoadventure
So it's um, it's ah I would love to be able to experience imagine if you could go on like a vr ah type walk as 1 of them and actually see what it was like and it would be such a different experience wouldn't it I remember even just doing an outdoor course here. Yeah.

32:10.64
Ness
Um, utterly completely.

32:15.42
calltoadventure
Remember doing just an outdoor course for a week in the late district when I was younger here and learning the names of different trees helps you really um, differentiate as you're walking through the forest and you start to see things and pick them out a lot more and that was from like a week of paying attention. So you imagine.

32:28.82
Ness
Um, no.

32:34.12
Ness
And.

32:34.57
calltoadventure
What it's like after 30 years of just completely being absorbed in your habitat and it must be such a rich experience. But um I mean it sounds like a please go ahead.

32:45.92
Ness
Exactly it i. Thank you? So just interrupt you there that um I couldn't agree more and I think that's where the richness of of you know those people that say I want to learn I want to go on some courses I run and really understand to how to go on expeditions and and have that skill set the navigation. Fire making everything the learning which trees and and shrubs and plants mean what to you because when you move through an environment you see things literally everything does pop into 3 d and suddenly it's not just going for a walk in the woods. Suddenly you're looking around you and saying I can make something out of that I can use that as rope that's for fire.

33:25.28
calltoadventure
Um.

33:25.37
Ness
That is food that's medicine and all of a sudden you tap into that that ancient part of you that is so capable and so knowledgeable and nothing has nothing's gone away from our ability to do that except a passdown of knowledge and immersion I think that. Curiosity about the world and and about Discovery is is lost a little bit on us and um I think that we you know with ourselves wonders to tap back into that.

33:51.92
calltoadventure
How did you learn all of your outdoor skills and survival stuff.

33:59.30
Ness
Oh gosh initially by accident and failure and mistakes. Um, you know I got into my as it were career of adventure and exploration I was accidental. Really I mean I just quit my job in London in the city. And at the time I was teaching entrepreneurship teaching e-commerce and I was doing programming and yeah I was a world away from what I am now and I went out just to have a break because I didn't know what the next chapter in the next step in my career should be. You know I was teaching everyone else how to run businesses in the house. And their passion into something that can make money and work for so for themselves rather than lining someone else's pocket and I was not doing that for myself so went on an expedition found boarded a thousand miles still didn't know what I wanted to do and then got on a bike and cycle solo west across the usa and. There things followed, but it was it was discovery by putting my feet in the wrong places and being burnt and being stung by things and really making every mistake under the sun because I had no training and I didn't go on any training courses in those early days I was just hell for leather. Trying to you know, prove something to myself of what I was physically and mentally capable of proving something to the world because I was in my early twenty s and that's what you do at their age you know and it was only as I got further into the career and realized that actually I could make a career out of this that suddenly ah. The travel. You know you go out into the world and and and you travel and you see things and it it changes you you come back? A very very changed person and suddenly my eyes open to these indigenous communities and the tribes that I always meeting and experiencing and a very different way of life that people are having a simpler 1 but a very much more meaningful deeper connection with the earth and there there lay my kind of ah tipping point where I said okay I'm I'm going to invest now and in some courses and so yeah, as I've had opportunity and as I've done different expeditions. Preparation for those have involved various different courses for example, going out to the the essic ebo with laura and pip we went through remote medicines training something I'd never done before ah my expedition solo were either highly risky because I hadn't had that training before or they were with their crew. You know for example. With red bull and there was a team and they you know their setup is that you have to have ah a paramedic with you and yeah, so it was a different scenario so as need arose and as my curiosity arose that that was just course after course after course that I went on um and.

36:31.85
calltoadventure
And.

36:46.67
Ness
Yeah, it's it's 1 of those things where I think when you when you start out and you want to go and and learn so much you feel really daunted that where do I even start you know do I do climbing do I do navigation do because of courses. Yeah, they can cost a bit of money and I think don't be dawn. Don't don't be daunted by that because.

36:56.81
calltoadventure
M.

37:03.52
Ness
Five years down the line. You're going to look back and say wow I've I've accumulated quite a lot here quite a lot so gradually just chipping away at adding those and and also just hanging out with people you know in that adventure community who do have those skill sets and and even if it's not going on a course just picking up by Firsthand experience with them. So that's a little bit of what I did too.

37:23.10
calltoadventure
Yeah, so there are a couple of really good bits of advice. Take some courses trying to hang out with people who are kind of already where you want to go what else would you say to somebody who wants who's thinking like I love the idea of a career adventurer or want to make money from my passion. Um. Yeah, what? Ah what other advice would you give to them.

37:43.78
Ness
You know? Ah I too many people when they start out. Don't even start at all because people have criticized it. They've had doubt about it. You know friends family. You know people colleagues at work. Whoever it may be say ah you know. On now. Really you think you're going to make a career out of travel or this or that just you know sod them or book that flight and go and do it don't give yourself a way out I'm a big fan of you know, really paying heed to what it means to make a decision. You know if you go back in Latin it is decision means to cut off and so I think we we don't take that seriously as a word we don't really take seriously anymore is that you know or made a decision to do something well hang on I don't really like it or it's becoming awkward or people are doubting it and I'm doubting myself now. So I'm just gonna I'm gonna go to another thing or I'm gonna back out of that and the toughest thing with a career in adventure or travel or exploration. Whatever it may be endurance sports whatever you're interested in is getting to the start line. It's not the expedition itself. It's not the physical or the mental challenge once you're on it. It's actually just.

38:55.49
calltoadventure
M.

38:57.94
Ness
Getting to the start and most people don't get there so do something and I think it was aa humphries who many years ago I I listened to him saying this and and I paid heed to that for myself because I was in the early stages of my career and he said book to flight do something that you can't get out of that. You've committed. So much money to going there or you've committed so much time or you've you've quit the job or you've done whatever it may be but go and do it and you know what? if it didn't work out for you and you don't end up enjoying it. That's fine pivot go and do something else. There's absolutely no rules and at what age you should be doing what you know you don't have to have the picket fence. By you know, 26 years old you don't have to have the picket fence at all if you don't want it and I think that especially in social media world now I mean it was bad back then but now I think it's even worse is this this fear of judgment. It's just extraordinary and I think that it's debilitating us.

39:49.21
calltoadventure
Oh.

39:56.15
Ness
And and I think that we don't quite understand to the degree and the depth of it I think that we like to say we get it and oh it's terrible and it's doing really bad things. But I think it's so hoped into us and dialed into us right now and I think that if you can escape that and just find that courage to to start? Whatever it is that you want to do. Um, for me I've ended up where I am now through starting my career and saying I'm not going back I don't know what this looks like I do see that you know in the early days and those first expeditions I realized that there was an audience of people that were really interested in hearing and seeing and reading about women on adventures. And that was my my open door and as I went through the career as I said to you it you know it started out with me wanting to prove something to myself then prove something to the world. Um, and once I'd done that and I had nothing left to prove I moved on and it became more about ah trying to explore the the meaningful depths. Of mind and body not from a arrogance point of view or you know a pride point of view but out of curiosity about that and and really understanding the psychology of a human being then it became about exploration and finding parts and corners of the world that were untouched and and unknown and when I went to those corners of the world. Ah, because those were so it was it was still about me on an expedition at that point in time but then it it evolved again and it became about the story of other people. So those those indigenous communities and and what they had to say the the wildlife and to the conservation stories and. The threats that they were facing and I realized that it it was. It was no longer about me. It was about what I could do to tell the story about this so again, my career shifted and purposed and that looked nothing like what it did at the start of that thank goodness I had the courage to start though at every single chapter of this journey. Because I could have just given up they they look daunting. They look challenging. It was stepping into the unknown I could have sidetracked at any point in time gone back to the safe place a safe job money coming in. Um and now it's just pivoted again. You know I've I've kind of veered into my home life being that of a regenerative farmer. And that's because I spent so much time with the likes of the sad bushmen in Namibia who taught me that there is a far better relationship to be had with our food and our environment and that if we are going to be here in 100 and 200 years and I've got a little girl now. So I do care about that. Then I can't just go and tell the story of the sandbushman I need to come home and have a tangible impact and some people might I might make a great documentary and that's fantastic and that can shift a lot of people but for a lot of people. It's also just gonna be another story and they have great will and they think oh I might change a few things and.

42:51.25
Ness
And not much does change and I can't guarantee that just my storytelling alone will have the impact that I really want it too long long term and so I wanted to put my money where my mouth was and say okay, what can I do physically myself with my own hands that can change something.

42:57.79
calltoadventure
Um.

43:09.39
Ness
And doing regenerative Agriculture was a way to change a broken food chain and ah a broken connection with nature and where that food comes from and how that food is grown so that it improves the quality of biodiversity of soil health of the future of the health of our planet. At the same time as improving the health of a human being um and fixing that food chain and that connection and so yeah, it's It's just that every single stage. My advice would be just throw yourself into it if it changes expect that it might Change. It doesn't matter just start just start.

43:47.15
calltoadventure
Yeah, great advice and I'm really glad that you brought up regenerative agriculture because I'm kind of obsessed with it right now and I'm really looking to get into it as well. So it's really cool.

43:47.62
Ness
You never know where you andt gonna end up.

43:56.10
Ness
Um, oh great. Ah good even better.

44:02.22
calltoadventure
I didn't I didn't know that you were into this before I started like researching for the show. So This is Awesome. So loads of stuff that I want to ask you about. But I think you did a really good job of illuminating. Um, kind of what regenerative agriculture is and how it's different to traditional farming with kind of. Regenerating soil and biodiversity and creating great quality food and carbon and um so I I think we're kind of have a good level set there because regenerative agriculture is quite a niche term a lot of people are familiar with like sustainable farming but regenerative Agriculture is a little bit more Niche. Um.

44:35.60
Ness
Um I have and.

44:39.65
calltoadventure
But I think it's awesome that you've gone into it. So how how did you decide kind of what enterprises to run because there's lots of different elements of regenerative agriculture. So some people can be um that they can have kind of. Like Microgreens ah Market gardens or they might be doing kind of forestry or how did you? There's lots of different routes to um, enact regenerative agriculture. So how did you decide what you were going to do.

45:10.55
Ness
Ah I'm going to backtrack before I go into that and just ah on the note of regenerative agriculture just for for those who are new to it to understand it from my perspective. What I what I understood was. Organic is fantastic. There's some great efforts around the world but they don't go far enough and I think a lot of what we're facing at the moment with farming with with food production in general is people going into the space of how can we be sustainable. And for me that just didn't make sense at all because why would we sustain the level that we're at or even close to the level that we're at that's impossible. We can't just be Sustainable. We can't just look at the next 10 or 20 years and say well did we do a good job for that. that's that's ridiculous we need to be. Like the old farmers of the old days we need to look at regeneration not just sustainability because we are so farg gone and the old farmers 1 hundred 200 years ago they were very much of this mindset of what I do now needs to benefit my farm in 100 years time because. Those farms used to get passed down generation to generation to to generation so that value was viewed in a completely different light of what they were creating. It wasn't just oh I might have this farm for 5 or ten years and then move to another 1 so don't really care what I do with it if I degrade the soil by doing monocpropping and telling the land and you know throwing. All these chemicals into it doesn't matter I'll just move on to the next 1 and and even organic to a certain extent I mean that that's that's halfway there. It's incredible. You're eliminating those terrible terrible chemicals from the soil but you're still tilling it. And you're not focusing necessarily as much on the biodiversity that entire picture of the entire farm and how nature feeds into that every single part of nature. Um, and so for me that journey was really important is you know to understand that the future and regenerative agriculture is. Is a view of 1 hundred to 200 years in the future and how will our planet benefit from what I'm doing right now? Um, but yeah in so in terms of you know going into the revenue streams and how we're we're making our money on our farm practically right now. Um. Starting slowly is what we realize after year 1 you can't go into everything all at once? Um, but if you look at any farming anyone coming into it or any old farmer who's been doing it generation after generation is going to say to you, you need to diversify that is absolutely the way forward. You know it's a very very.

47:52.83
Ness
Very tough job to have as a farmer if you're doing 1 thing because you have weather conditions that are becoming more extreme. You're having pest control that you having to manage because the environment is now out of balance nature is out of balance and weird things are happening disease you know and that 1 thing goes wrong and. That's your entire year's worth of crop gone and that's everything you rely on and so for me I'm really glad coming into farming and regenerative farming as a first generation farmer because I've come with it from a completely blank canvas and the amount of research that I had to do to even.

48:21.76
calltoadventure
E.

48:31.36
Ness
Like I could begin to step into this industry was immense and that allowed me to start with understanding that there's no other way to do it but to you know, be very very diverse in your revenue streams to be successful. So if 1 thing fails if that crop is wiped out by hail that year that's fine because I've still got the chickens and I still.

48:49.98
calltoadventure
A.

48:51.50
Ness
But microg greenens and I've still got x ys z all these other groups so that that's how we're doing it. Um, what we're doing right now for year 1 was just focusing on the Market garden so for a lot of people. Um, who don't understand what a market garden is. It's kind of like a condensed. Base that you you grow in. We're doing brace beds within that and we doing intercropping vertical cropping so per square foot the amount of yield that you give is phenomenal whereas monocropping is these big open fieldds and you see these you know. Widely spaced apart rows of of whatever you know, turnips or beets or whatever it may be um, that requires even an extraordinary amount of space. We. We don't we can do this on an acre and a half if we want. Um and so we're starting out with that this year understanding it getting.

49:29.37
calltoadventure
Um.

49:45.73
Ness
The ins and outs of ah our our location in our environment and then next year well actually right now I'm about to go into microgreens so sourcing the market for that that is something that is a very safe bet. It's when you look at all the farming enterprises that you can do everything from you know, growing trees to to mushrooms. To you know the big crops to to laying hens meat beef whenever it may be microgreens is up there with mushrooms is 1 of the most lucrative the setup cost for that is is very very very small It's a very controlled environment because it's indoors. You can do it if you live in London in the city.

50:08.80
calltoadventure
Um.

50:24.18
Ness
You can have a little garage space or a room in your house. It doesn't like a little spare room and you can grow an extraordinary amount in a tiny tiny tiny space with very little setup cost. So that's something that we definitely could be setting up now then.

50:27.79
calltoadventure
M.

50:38.50
calltoadventure
And it it takes a lot long sorry thought I sorry I thought I thought you werere going to take a break then um I was going to say is that also 1 of the it also takes a lot less time compared with some others so kind of like a market garden I think can take like.

50:41.23
Ness
We next year at it. No go ahead. Go ahead.

50:57.63
calltoadventure
3 times as long I have seen so I kind of fan boy. yeah yeah I found boy richard perkins um, who has an amazing farm in in Sweden in sweden. Yeah, he has a brilliant book called making small farms work.

51:00.59
Ness
I was all consuming.

51:08.80
Ness
Um, yep, so did we? Um, yeah.

51:15.61
calltoadventure
Um, and he's kind of spearheaded the regenerative agriculture movement here in europe and he has this incredible pdf that's free and it compares all of the different enterprise that you can look at and shows you how many hours per year on average, you'd need what the setup cost is and what you can expect to earn. So kind of revenue and costs and net profit. So if anybody is interested in this I highly recommend taking a look at that and it will show you how much land you need. For example, if you want grass-fed cows. You need loads of land if you want microgreens then this nest was saying you can do it in like a tiny little area. Um, and then you can think about. Um, how much time you need for each of these and how much you can put in as well. So that's a really good resource if people are are interested in learning a bit more but sorry ness you were you? you were saying.

52:03.78
Ness
No absolutely and um, check out his youtube channel if you're new to this and you're thinking well actually I could do with a lifestyle change and this is this is sounding pretty good. You know and if you don't need that much farmland you know don't have to be a a meltingmillionaire and go buy 500 hectares of land you can start in London. Where you are right now with the microgreens. But um, yeah, have a look at his youtube channel there's quite a few other fantastic growers out there. Um Joel joel salatin is another 1 to have a look at if people want to start looking into regenerative agriculture and the environmental side of it and the impact. Um, also zach bush if you want to look into the the health side I don't know if you've come across him but he's absolute phenomenal when you when you talk about the gut microbiome and then expand that into the microbiome of the Earth that's just mind blowing. He's 1 of those individuals that makes you feel very very very stupid.

52:48.70
calltoadventure
Ah, yeah.

52:59.60
Ness
Is just there's knowledge base and the way that he articulates things the way he expresses and communicates is phenomenal. So check him out if you haven't but yeah next year we're we're going to expand and as a central microgreens now then we're going to go into laying hens. We're also going to go into tablebirds and for next year that will be it. The other thing that we're going to be focusing on next year is going fully self-sufficient so we do not want to be buying any food from the shops and that means we're going to be giving up on quite a few of our little treats and and bits and pieces. But we're also gonna be having the benefit of we're go be eating seasonally everything is organic.

53:36.10
calltoadventure
Wow.

53:38.15
Ness
It's out of our backyard over here. We've got a small flock of sheep. We're gonna have a couple of cows we're going to have a dairy cow. We're gonna have a couple of beef cows. Um, this also helps us manage holistically all of our land. So 1 of the things about. I think if if people want to have a look up the the savory institute and alan and savory some very interesting information out there amongst the rhoddell institute as well. Incredible resource. But when you start looking at how farms used to be managed and how completely disconnected. They are now from what they used to be It's just mind blowing and what we're doing is holistically managing our land so we will run our cows first across and we'll we'll manage them in tight herds you know spaces that where we we put out electric fencing on a certain square meterage of our farm.

54:32.30
calltoadventure
Are.

54:35.37
Ness
And every single day will move them to a new patch of that and it's mimicking how nature works so when you look at so here's a big example of my home continent africa and you look at the great migrations those used to be phenomenal herds that used to stick together in their millions and they used to move across the continent. At the same time altogether so they would graze out a piece of land at grassland and the next day move on to the next part like grassland and the next and the next through country and country and country and they would only come back in a year's time which allowed that that grass to regenerate or allow that is that soil to to take in the urine and. Poop from these animals and that beautiful fertilization and there's a certain resting period and certain cycle where something is for a very short period of time intensely grazed and then moves on and allows beautiful. Recovery out of that and the results are phenomenal. So we'll run out our cows first followed by our sheep. Because they'll graze a different kind of level of the grass. They'll graze different plant species as well. So they'll they'll follow on. They'll poop on that round urinate and then a few days later once all that poop is on the ground and the flies have come there and the maggots are starting to grow out of that. Then we move our chickens in and the chickens absolutely adore it because that's their. That's the ideal food source is is an insects and ones and natural natural pieces and nuggets of protein and they scarify the ground and and everything just is you know in the perfect synchronous. Yeah, that it should be and the perfect balance and so we want our farm animals to create a microbiome and a diversity out of how they're managing the land that mimics exactly how it would be in Nature. So i. As it were our our cows would be seen as our our keystone species of the farm and so the health of the farm is going to be tenfold that of 1 that doesn't have that function on it. So yes, it's it's very controversial when you start stepping into this world of should.

56:29.73
calltoadventure
Um.

56:44.78
Ness
You know how should we manage our animals and should we be eating meat I Think to be honest with you. The question is how has and it goes for you All food. So whether whether it's your horticultural side and your vegetables and your fruits or whether it's the animals don't ask which should we be having but rather how are each of them.

56:46.90
calltoadventure
M.

57:02.79
Ness
Grown or been managed that is the question. Um, and so yeah, we we are looking at self-sufficiency next year so we're gonna have everything that we eat including our meat is from our backyard if we do want anything else. We'll go hunting and foraging.

57:04.90
calltoadventure
A.

57:20.18
Ness
Um, even how salt we plan to get from the sea and making our own sea salt. So yeah, we're going on this incredible journey to try and simplify how we live and in doing So hopefully you know benefit the planet benefit our small tiny farm and environment around here and at the same time really.

57:21.27
calltoadventure
Um.

57:39.10
Ness
Have a dramatic increase in in our our own personal health and but ah now our lifestyle our well-being.

57:40.62
calltoadventure
Well, it's amazing, really inspiring I would love to ask you questions for hours and hours about this so we'll have to do another part cast 1 day but I know that you've got to go soon. So we'll we'll save that for another day.

57:54.33
Ness
No problem. Yes, regenerative Agriculture I think we can dive down a ah ah good. Good long tunnel there with that. Um.

58:00.29
calltoadventure
Go down, go down the rabbit hole I get really quickly What what are the I mean not idealizing it. What are the the downsides like at the kind of cliff notes that have you experienced any yet.

58:17.31
Ness
Certainly yeah, it's it's in our experience and knowledge that we have and that only comes with time. So for example in the in this very first year of having the market garden um, 1 thing 1 downside is if you're go into farming you're at the mercy of the elements. There's no getting away from that so hail still comes.

58:31.70
calltoadventure
Um.

58:35.77
Ness
Hailstorm comes in and wipes out all of my new little seedlings that have just been planted out transplanted out. Um, you know we had in April last year we had snow coming in here and it just as soon as you you planted out for the you know the first seedlings direct zonewn and they've just wiped out. So. Yeah there's downsides of that. Um, but for us it was more you know when it comes to disease control and things like that is it's our understanding of how a farm a healthy regenerative farm environment should work. There's a balance of all the species of the plants of the animals of everything and um.

59:05.70
calltoadventure
Is.

59:13.70
Ness
We just have so much to learn and you know. For example, if you you get taken down by afers. Well if you put thistles and grow them next to you tomatoes. You know the the afers prefer the thistle and so they'll go to that and so there's this this beautiful dance. And dynamic that you need to understand and also in terms of the swail health beneath the ground and and the life beneath the ground and how that can get affected by everything I think that for me, it's not really a downside. You say what What's the you know the cons the downsides of the Cliff. You know that you you're staring across. Um, it's just.

59:48.82
calltoadventure
Yeah.

59:49.21
Ness
Ah, whole a lack of knowledge but that is just it fills me with so much excitement for the future because yeah, once once I've got 10 years down the line and I feel like I really got a grip on this I think that's a fun, really phenomenal place to be.

01:00:00.15
calltoadventure
Yeah, amazing. Well I can't wait to talk to you a lot more about it another time. But for now I'll let you go ness. So thank you so much for coming on. It's been a pleasure to chat? Thank you for taking the time.

01:00:11.24
Ness
Um, like honest, thank you Really appreciate it.

01:00:14.76
calltoadventure
And listeners and watches. Thanks for tuning in as always so until next time have a good 1 see you.

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