Episode 161: Sprinkling Seeds

Interview with Carrington Kernodle

Sponsored by Ikon Pass & Oregon State University Ecampus

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Carrington Kernodle is a plant-lover and a plant-eater, sprinkling the seeds of what she’s learned about growing a more sustainable lifestyle. She believes in spreading the most joy possible, all while causing the least amount of harm.  She shares her knowledge on her blog, Parts Homegrown.

We talk about how vegan food powers her hiking, kayaking, and yoga practice, the impact our food choices have on the environment, and the significance of having the freedom to choose to be vegan as a Black woman in America, and more. We also get advice from Carrington about getting started with houseplants.

Full transcript available after the photos and resources.

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Featured in this episode: Carrington Kernodle

Hosted by Gale Straub

Ad music in this episode is by Swelling & Lee Rosevere using a Creative Commons attribution license.

Music is also by , Eric Kinny, Utah via MusicBed.

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Carrington Kernodle, Owner of Parts Homegrown

Carrington in her element
Carrington, doing yoga on a mountaintop at sunrise
Kayaking is one of the activities that Carrington does for her head, heart, and health
Carrington, spreading joy

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores.

Carrington Kernodle:

My biggest goal in life is to spread the most amount of joy while causing the least amount of harm. And if we all kind of like – they don’t have to adopt my philosophy, of course, but we all kind of keep that in mind that you can have joy spread joy and you can’t be completely harmless. You can’t be completely cruelty free, right? But you can strive to do the least amount of harm possible. Then a good life is in store for you.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is Carrington Kernodle, the owner of Parts Homegrown, a website that “teaches people how to nurture themselves & all else.” Carrington is a plant-lover. If you go to her instagram account, @withcarrington, you’ll see photos of her inside with her monstera plants. There’s one of her cozied up to a leaf that’s twice the size of her head. Carrington’s also a plant eater – her feed is full of delicious looking vegan food, which powers her through hiking and kayaking, as well as her yoga practice.

Carrington Kernodle:

I’m a very big fan of working three things in particular, and that’s my head and my heart and my hips. So I do a lot of, uh, breath work first called pranayama. So through meditation, when you like breathe deeply, you’re bringing in more oxygen into your body, which of course nourishes all of your muscles and your, uh, your bloodstream and brings more clarity to your brain. Of course, cause I want to be able to think very clearly doing activities that make you be in the present moment allows that kind of clarity, yoga, hiking, kayaking. Those are like my jam. People who run more power to you. I just can’t. I just can’t physically doing this of thing. That is a very like in the present moment type of activity, of course, but I do physical activity a few times a week and I rest as well because I want to marinate in that kind of a tenderness that working out gifts because I don’t want to ever be sore. I just want to be tender.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Carrington thinks a lot about balance, and the life she’s building for herself. She’s someone who has a lot of hobbies, and that’s intentional.

Carrington Kernodle:

I think hobbies are really important because you need something that kind of sparks a special kind of joy inside of you that has no stress or pressure attached to it. That is something that you can feel like a child, again, like very giddy to do and you look forward to it. I feel like we get really complacent in life when we feel stuck. And that’s because we don’t have anything to look forward to. But when you have a hobby, like you can always afford to like the marathon ratio or training form or for like that concert. And that makes life a lot more fun. And I think is important to distinguish a side hustle versus a hobby. Because I think right now, because of like the times everyone is trying to make ends meet and turning their hobbies into side hustles. And that’s a commendable, of course, if you can do that, but not all hobbies should be like that. You should keep something for yourself is good for your life. Just overall well-being to just kinda like hang out care freely.

Gale Straub – Narration:

From Carrington’s earliest memories growing up in Southwestern Virginia, time in nature was where she cultivated her curiosity, where she had fun.

Carrington Kernodle:

I grew up in Danville, Virginia, it’s this very small rural town and like this, like maybe like max, like 30, 40,000 people there, but everybody knows everybody. And we lived kind of in the city, what you would consider the city. But we spent a lot of time outdoors. My mom, 100%, let me just be free outside. I was the type of kid that had like, like plants and bug animals, like PDs. I was going outside of capture butterflies and put bugs in my little plastic container and pick up like earth forms out of the ground in front of my Palm, just to have them tickle me.

Carrington Kernodle:

I just loved everything that we went to. Every zoo, every aquarium that existed. I rode horses when I was five. We always had pets just spending time with the natural world was very much so in the forefront of my Todd hood. And I was fortunate enough to go to private school. And we took a lot of field trips that was like their thing that every semester there was like some kind of field trip. I remember we went on these like overnight camping trips by the river. I remember my brother, he was a boy scout. So I was like learning a lot about how to pitch a tent, uh, through like what he needed to do to keep like getting his badges. I also, like I remember fifth grade, they had us do like this trout, like project where we raised trout in the classroom.

Gale Straub:

In the classroom?

Carrington Kernodle:

Yeah. They put a whole fish tank in our fifth grade classroom full of child eggs. And we watched them grow that whole year. I’ve only known just to be outside and to enjoy being outside. I’ve always known how to swim. Cause my mom put us in swimming lessons. So go into the Lake, never like scared me in any way. I was fully prepared to have a fish nibble at my toes, like swimming out there. And we went the beach and I never was afraid to boogie board. It was just, we just never were afraid of the outdoors. I think that’s what my mom always wanted us to understand is that it’s nothing to be afraid of and how to take care of yourself. If you are out there by your self too.

Gale Straub:

Why do you think your mom didn’t want you to be afraid of the outdoors?

Carrington Kernodle:

I think because she knew that I was always going to gravitate towards that. So it made more sense to just lean into how do I give her the safety and the knowledge that she needs versus like just curbing me away from it all the time. Because I do like solo hiking and I do like solo backpacking and stuff like that. I, uh, there’s sometimes when I will go hiking and she insists on being on the phone with me the whole time, if I have a signal, just because she’s like, do you even have a pocket of wonderful Fox attacks you? And I’m like, I don’t think that’s going to have him, but you’re right. I should get one. Or I, uh, or I, I went to LA after I graduated from college for five days and I was like, ah, this is my find yourself trip.

Carrington Kernodle:

And I didn’t really plan this out super well, but I like went to Eaton Canyon falls. Cause I wanted to see this waterfall and I had no map and there wasn’t really anyone around. Exactly. And I was like, well, I’m just going to walk hope for the best. Maybe as stumble upon, maybe I won’t have no phone signal and I made it and I made it back to what we find before the sunset. And it was like a two and a half hour, like ordeal of like getting there and back to like my Airbnb. But having that type of confidence is I think what she wants, always that even though I am a woman and even though I am a Black woman that I can move around in the world and feel confident about being able to protect myself and enjoy myself no matter what, because I shouldn’t feel like I can’t access anything just because of like who I am or being by myself. I’m also only like five feet tall. So it’s reasonable to like be worried that like some like mountain lion could get me, but it’s also like, why should that concern? Why should I live by fear and like prevent having a good experience just because of the dangers out there.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. She sounds like a good mom.

Carrington Kernodle:

Oh, I love my mom to death, but my best friend for sure to talk to every single day, like whether it’s via like Sydney memes and the group family group chat, or like just hearing her voice every single day. I don’t ever miss a day without speaking to her.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Now I do want to stress that Carrington isn’t that you don’t plan or take a map when you’re out in the wilderness. But there’s something to be said in having the confidence to get through an uncertain situation and to learn from it. So Carrington has had a close relationship with the outdoors for much of her life, but she didn’t bring the outdoors in, in the form of plants until just over a year ago. But it turned out that she had a knack for caring for them.

Carrington Kernodle:

If you don’t know anything about plants, you should get a bunch of figure out what makes you feel good as a plant parent. And so I did not know I was good with plants before last year did not know it at all, never had plants. My mother had plants and my grandmother had plants growing up and I was in the garden and stuff like that. And I, I took a lot of like environmental classes where we like understood like the anatomy of plants and how to grow them better. I, even after I graduated from high school, I worked for a biofuel research, um, company. We were growing tobacco to get, uh, sugars out of it that turned into ethanol. And so I, I, I fully understood how plants work and I had been around them. I just never had my own. So the ones I have now, I love so much everything about seeing green, every corner that I look is great.

Carrington Kernodle:

My love for plants comes from the fact that I just love the great outdoors. And I think that people need to understand that if you have houseplants and you really care about preserving them, you should also translate that love to preserving the natural plants outdoors and wanting to be involved with the politics of environmental practices. Understanding like what monoculture is when you grow only one crop and like on all this land. And it depletes the nutrients in the soil, like how bad that is and how well you want to do that in your own home. You wouldn’t do that in your own backyard. So don’t try to contribute to that in the grand scheme of earth itself. And man, do I feel connected to nature when you have it endorsed? If you, I will say it’s a little bit terrifying when I’m in meditation in the morning and I hear a leaf move.

Carrington Kernodle:

I’m like, what was that? Someone trying to bring it to my house? No, simply just so a plant unfurling the leaf. And that’s like super cool to like, be present with that and also to share breadth of plants. They’re giving out oxygen, we’re giving out CO2 and that harmony is so beautiful, like so beautiful. And I get to nurture something in a motherly way without having kids by having plants. And that is so endearing kind of deal. I was like, wow, I can really love something. Really take care of it. And I don’t have to like, you know, have a kid to be, to do that. Um, but I am feeling like, you know, if I ever do have kids one day, I can do it. I mean, people aren’t that much more complicated than houseplants, to be honest in terms of care, give a little song, give a little love, give a little water, probably going to be fine.

Gale Straub:

So, so what are your tips for other people? You know, who might want to get started, want to start caring for a reasonable number of plants in their home.

Carrington Kernodle:

Definitely do your research before you get the plants. That’s number one, number two, do not overthink it. The plants don’t know the difference between regular soil and top tier organic soil. They really don’t. So don’t overthink it. Just have fun with it. And number three, don’t think you’re a bad person just because you kill a plant, being a plant parent, isn’t a measure of self worth of that. You can keep a plant alive. It’s just something fun you can do, but it’s not a requirement to make you like a top tier human being. It’s like, I can keep all these things life. You’re not a bad person. If you accidentally kill plant. Um, I want people to remember that and you must also pick a variety of plants. Like some people gifted, uh, succulents, and some people are gifted at binding plants. And some people are gifted with like tropical plants and stuff like that.

Carrington Kernodle:

And it takes a little time to figure that out. And so be patient with yourself and figuring out like, what is the plant that is going to want to receive the same love that I’m willing to give? Because I don’t do succulents cause I wanna, I want to water my place on the regular. I want to feel interact with them and I want to talk to them and I want to see them like by my bedside. And I just can’t do that. So I don’t invest in them, but Monstera says apparently they want to receive all the love I can give. And so I have a bunch of them and they grow really well. And everyone has a plant. I believe that is like their plant. You just got to find it. So enjoy the journey of searching for your plant.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We’ll hear more from Carrington after this.

Gale Straub – Narration:

We’re back. Carrington’s lifelong connection with nature is one of the reasons she transitioned to veganism in her youth. But the idea first sprang from one of her, then newfound hobbies: Yoga.

Carrington Kernodle:

When I was about 13, 14, I was a little backstory. I was a classically trained ballerina at the time, um, all the way up into my senior year of high school, but I was having a lot of, uh, physical issues with my joints. And that was kind of put a damper on all my summer activities where I would normally go, um, on camping trips and like spend time outdoors, like, uh, kayaking and stuff like that. I was doing my physical therapy and then I hated it with a passion. Like it did not jive with me. So my mom told me to pick something else and I picked yoga. I realized like, you know, seeing online and people are like always do yoga outdoors and like different, uh, things about yoga philosophies about connecting to the four, four or five elements, depending on how you like to perceive the elements and like how cool it was to be connected that way.

Carrington Kernodle:

And yoga basically translates to like unity. So understanding my connection to all living things on this earth was kind of affirm through practicing yoga. And I learned about a hamster, which means in Sanskrit, it means nonviolence so nonviolence to yourself or to anything else. And I started picking up on understanding where my food came from. Always knew that chicken came from chicken and pork came from pigs. That that was never a confusion at all. Even when I was eight, I tried to go vegetarian because I was like, I don’t really want to eat the animals. I think that are cute, but it wasn’t until I was like 15. I started making the connections after binge watching a bunch of animal videos, animal cruelty and environmental videos. I was like, Oh, I’m really harming everyone by my lifestyle choices. And that’s not very Yogi of me, not very ahimsa of me and I need to fix that as soon as possible. And so from 15 to 20, I made the conscious effort to learn as much as I could about the environment and our impacts and how I could live differently. And that’s how I basically, every other year was like cutting out a different animal product

Gale Straub – Narration:

Carrington doesn’t judge folks who eat meat. And I feel I should disclose that I eat meat in moderation. As passionate as she is. Carrington takes a gentle approach to sharing her lifestyle with others.

Carrington Kernodle:

Because not everyone is in the mood to just become zero waste vegans. They’re just not, that’s just not reasonable to ask anyone. I would never ask that of anyone. I don’t even ask that on myself. So I had to sprinkle it because little seeds grow into really big plants and they will take up more space and there’ll be so much more long-lasting that way.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Back in June, we had Leah Thomas and Kristy Drutman on this show to talk about Intersectional, environmentalism, an inclusive version that advocates for people and planet. What we eat can lead to environmental injustices and literally has downstream effects.

Carrington Kernodle:

And beef and dairy were the first things I gave up is very sad to think about that. Most of the deforestation and land use and food that we grow, go and water as well goes into just raising a cow to produce milk and beef. And that conversion rate is just not sustainable in any way.

Gale Straub – Narration:

To help illustrate what Carrington saying. I looked up this fact 25% of ice free land worldwide is taken out by cattle grazing as our world population keeps rising. So will the number of cattle to keep up with the demand for meat, which results in a profound loss of biodiversity, not all animals get to graze, either.

Carrington Kernodle:

Seeing how they’re called concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, these very large scale farms or not taking good care of the animals. And then all of the waste that was being produced was polluting the water and polluting the air. And I had a hard time gasping, like why people who were more fortunate to let’s say consume all of these products, animal products, and live away from these farms were directly impacting people who live closer to them of lower socioeconomic status. And so there was a lot of people who started developing serious allergies and asthma problems. And from like the air quality being so low and drinking like tainted water and not understanding that it’s one thing to have like a Flint, Michigan situation happening. And there’s another thing to have like, like the water being polluted from like basically just animal waste and both of them are really serious, but, and both of them are fixable.

Carrington Kernodle:

I knew that if I was to go vegan and to help other people trans tried to adopt a plant based diet and lifestyle, we could like fix that because it’s not fair to anyone on this earth at all to have lower quality air, lower quality soil, quality water at all. It bothers me that in places not as well know, as like less, I use somebody that is the situation and we don’t think about it. And a lot of people don’t care about it. And I just could not, not care after I found out that that’s what was happening.

Gale Straub – Narration:

These are just a few of the considerations and this is way too complex an issue to break down without devoting a whole episode or even a series of the subject on this show. For Carrington, this research influenced her undergrad studies.

Carrington Kernodle:

And so if I wanted to keep enjoying the earth, I knew I had to like work harder to protect it. And so I’m minored in global sustainability at the receiver, Virginia, and I’m double majored and philosophy and African American African studies. And I focus mainly on like all of my writing was all on ethics. How can we ethically treat people in the earth better? How do we like, but basically satisfy everyone and understanding like environmental ethics, like, how do you tell, like, let’s say people who are indigenous to the land, like, yeah, it’s our fault that this water is tainted and this is how we’re going to fix it. And in the meantime, this is like the water we’re going to supply you with because we’re going to take responsibility for that. And we need to make sure that this is a longterm plan that we do not do that ever again. That takes a lot of, a lot of power to do and accepting where we’ve made fault, but also like respecting people. And how else could you not want to be? I think, as a good citizen of the earth, other than to preserving all life, whether it’s plants or people or animals other than like going the extra mile to fix what we’ve broken.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I think it’s lovely that Carrington describes us as being citizens of the earth vs the more individualistic slant that we sometimes take here in America. Because the choices we make here for the environment have a ripple effect around the world. For Carrington, being a responsible hiker isn’t just about the 7 essentials or trail etiquette. It’s also about making sustainable choices about the clothes she wears and the gear she carries, as well as lowering the amount of waste she carries out with her. As a vegan, it’s also about fueling her body on the trail.

Gale Straub:

So what are, what are some of your favorite snacks to pack on, on hikes and backpacking trips?

Carrington Kernodle:

I love making my own granola, just like every other crunchy granola girl.

Carrington Kernodle:

And I don’t eat honey. So I use like ABI nectar, um, and mixing it with like bananas and chocolate chips, um, Orca, nibs, and, um, and seats and like a little bird. I love eating all seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, you name it. I’m going to get my protein through the seeds. Um, making really nice like being burritos because I know that like when you’re hiking, you have to like be as light as possible. So I tried to only pack things that don’t have other high water content or very heavy. Um, so bean burritos are really nice. My favorite thing I will say is the pack a M L T, unless you, unless tomato sandwich, if you get really good at using the cast star, which I feel like all outdoors and people live in brief, I can start cooking and you take a, my talking mushroom or hint of the woods mushroom, and you put like some butter in the pan and you just sear it for as long as possible, like for like 15 minutes and get all the water out and you just layer it some lettuce and tomato and some Mayo, salt, pepper, and some bread, you will feel super satisfied most years it’s so earthy tasting.

Carrington Kernodle:

So it’s even more fun to eat on the top of the mountain because you feel like extra connected.

Carrington Kernodle:

I will say that veganism, even though like the growing subgroup of people who are becoming vegan in United States are black, there’s still a lot of like, like hangup on being that like whether or not like, do you lose like your membership of being black? And that’s like how we like joke about it and describe it, like your black card. Do you like lose like your credibility of a black person by being vegan?

Gale Straub – Narration:

Carrington wrote a moving post on her Instagram on Juneteenth or June 19th, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who’ve been enslaved in the U S the post was about having the freedom to choose to be vegan as a black woman. I asked Carrington how her community responded.

Carrington Kernodle:

I will say that I think that the way that I worded it in that post resonated better than it’s ever had before, when I tried to point out to people that nothing is lost when you decide to do that and how we’re just we’re free. And we are free to make our own decisions at all costs. And we can make the amendments, um, to our lifestyle and to be more accommodating without sacrificing tradition or taste. And I think people forget that you can still honor your ancestors and still honor your people and your culture by just living a better life. And I think honestly, that’s more of a gift to give and more of a way to show your appreciation for that instead of like, so being hung up in the, like, if you want to, so have like, let’s say collard greens and you’re used to your family.

Carrington Kernodle:

And I grew up with it, like cooked with ham Hawk or just like pork shoulder, because that’s supposed to elicit like nice fatty satiety tastes. Right. Um, but realizing that you don’t really need that and you can still feel good about that. I think that’s important. And I think that my grandparents were great grandparents and all of them will be very appreciative of me now choosing to better myself, but also finding a way to not be lost because that’s, what’s really important. So like, I think my black, yeah, the way they responded was like, it clicked for them when I made that post, that it is a choice. This is something that I’m trying to erase my history or my culture. This is a choice that I’m making to enhance it and better it, because when you look at the statistics in the United States, abolish diseases, like heart disease, that all things that like shorten our life expectancy is much higher.

Carrington Kernodle:

So that’s all related to our diet and lifestyle. And it’s also super high for the African American community. So if you really are about improving the quality of life of yourself, no others, then you should be willing to understand that you can make some small changes while maintaining yeah. Tradition to extend our life expectancy. And that’s all I really wanted to get across. And I think that clicked. And then for all the non black people, they, I think for reminded that back in slavery, we were only given the scraps of everything, meant to cook the best of the best for like the slave owners and plantation owners and stuff like that, but never allowed to taste that ourselves. And why shouldn’t we now want to taste the best of the best or have the best of the best ingredients and have the ability to treat ourselves to that kind of yet, because not everyone can afford organic strawberries right.

Carrington Kernodle:

All the time, but you should want to treat yourself without feeling like that is a white person thing. Because when we look back at the history of like looking at, um, the culture of like the Island or, um, different cultures within Africa and stuff like that, how they fully understand eating from the earth and when you eat, let’s say, um, animals, you eat the whole thing and you don’t eat a surplus of it. You don’t grow a surplus of it. And you honor it in a more special way than what we happen in American culture. And reminding people like that is our history, not what happened, you know, just 150 years ago. And during the 400 years of slavery, but like outside of that, because our history goes beyond slavery. It was way before that understanding how to rotate the crops. Now how to make, like, let’s say like yams, BU very universal for lots of different things.

Carrington Kernodle:

Or how like, of course in like Hispanic cultures, like using corn in a very diverse way, it is very much so innate and all of us to eat from the earth and not always get all our nutrients from what we were only granted during those that small period of time, I think really clicked with people that like, Hey, it’s not just about like how, yeah. Stereotypically, this is how we eat here. The South of like these different subgroups, this is how we can eat, but that’s not what we’re stuck with eating. And people need to know that they can be free to make those choices no matter what, without being afraid to.

Gale Straub – Narration:

If you’re curious about a plant-based lifestyle, or just about incorporating more plants into your life — you’ll enjoy Carrington’s Blog, Parts Homegrown:

Carrington Kernodle:

A saying now here in the South, when you see someone who’s like really big and strong, like one of like the high school lead football player, the joke is like, Oh, he’s homegrown. He’s been eating well. He has been given all the perfect conditions to like be the star football player. And I wanted to then translate that to other people that, Hey, you can live a sustainable life full of joy within your means by adopting a plant based diet and lifestyle. And I’ve been trying to show people that you can just do it on your own, figure it out, try all these different things to see what works for you. You can create the person you want to be right here at home, whether it is your physical home or while it’s your body, which is ultimately the home you’ve always lived in and will always live in.

Carrington Kernodle:

So creating a wonderful space and the environment that you live in, whether it’s the color scheme to the plants or the paintings you have, whether it’s the people you keep in your life that help you thrive. And whether it psych what you nourish yourself with, that is all really important stuff so that you can like bloom into the person you want to be. And I just want to show people like, Hey, you can have a lot of fun with all of this. And it’s just not to think about the things that you’re losing, but the things that you’re choosing, because a lot of times when people think about veganism or like to change their lifestyle, they’re like I’m losing out on X, Y, and Z. And that’s just not how I want people to perceive it. It’s more like I’m choosing a, B and C because that’s better for me.

Carrington Kernodle:

And I’m hoping that through my blog, people are, you know, always going to receive that for me. I get some very lovely feedback from people who say that like, yeah, like, because me, they finally ditched dairy and now they drink oat milk with their coffee. And that makes me happy or people saying like, Oh yeah, because if you might, my plant is thriving again. So thank you for all of your advice. And that’s, I want people to feel at ease of creating the life that they desire. And that’s why I put out the blog and I will continue to do that work because I did it on my own. And I would have loved for someone to have taught me all this stuff. And so I’m going to give that back to other people.

Gale Straub – Narration:

As you heard at the start of the show, Carrington’s goal is to spread as much joy as possible, while causing the least amount of harm. At the same time, she wants to help people deepen their connection with the earth. I want to leave us with this last wish from Carrington, for us all:

Carrington Kernodle:

We’ve done hikes and gone to the top. And then I did like, like, I’ve done a sunrise hike. And I was like, so, so exhausted going. But I got to the top, I felt great. Did some yoga at the top, some sun salutations honoring the sun that was rising. And that was like a peak experience in and of itself. When you get to do that, I really want that for everyone. Like next time, anyone who’s listening, you go on a hike, look it up. How to do just a simple song citation, just do one. And you just sit there. You will feel so connected to everything. It will maybe bring you to tears.

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