Friday, December 22, 2006

Wendy attends the Farm Aid Board meeting

On Wednesday, December 19th I was lucky enough to be on a phone call with Farm Aid's board of directors. Yes, that's right. I was speaking to Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp and most of the other board members at the same time!!

One of the things I reported on was the lively web activity we have here at www.farmaid.org.

The phone call- a conference call- only took about one hour but we covered a wide range of topics. Since this was one of our official board meetings there were resolutions to pass, budgets to approve and efficiency to be evaluated but beyond that, the board made plans for next year.

I can't tell you all the details but I can tell you that we think we know where the next concert will be and there are BIG EXCITING IDEAS afoot.

I was impressed--again--by the dedication and concern of our board. I got off the call more inspired than I've been in awhile. I am THRILLED to think of what next year will bring-changes to the concert- changes to the website- changes to our staff- changes to the way people see Farm Aid.

2007 is going to be a good year!

Happy Holidays to all of you and best wishes for a healthy new year!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wendy provides a family farm friendly gift guide

We received a comment recently asking for gift ideas and as I was wrestling with what to get for the last few folks on my list I came up with the following ideas. I wanted to purchase gifts that will not only be appreciated but also will support the family farmers Farm Aid works with all year. Maybe this list will help you find that last elusive gift! Check it out and let me know if you decide to try any of them!


1. Support one of Farm Aid’s funded groups. You can purchase food created and sold by family farmers that have come together to bring their products to the public. Buy a warm wool blanket, family farm cheese, homegrown ham or honey and you’ll know your loved one is getting a great gift and you are supporting family farmers.

2. Give someone you love a gift of fresh family farm grown food! Visit Local Harvest to find a CSA near you and purchase a share for a friend or family member or give a gift certificate to a local restaurant - use the Eat Well Guide to find a restaurant in their neighborhood that supports family farmers.

3. Finally, I don't mean to brag, but we've got lots of great gifts, for music fans, food lovers and kids in our online store. My personal favorites are the Snappy Suits for babies and the new Farm Aid Christmas ornament.

Jen answers Parade's question about organics

This past Sunday’s Parade Magazine included a short column called “The Problem With Organic Food.” The premise of the article is that the US doesn’t raise enough organic food to meet demand of the rapidly growing organic food market. To meet consumer demand, many organic food companies must source raw products from outside the U.S. While this is true, the article got under my skin because it talked about a problem without defining it, and it included no suggestion of a solution whatsoever. At Farm Aid, we never just talk about a problem…it’s always “OK, here’s the problem; now what are we going to do about it?”

To its credit, the column in Parade raises a critical question: Given an abundance of fertile land and the best food producers in the world, why can’t we produce enough organic food in the United States to meet consumer demand? The answer leads to the solution: There simply aren’t enough US organic farmers to supply the demand. The solution? We need to get more organic farmers up and running in the U.S. We can do this by helping current conventional farmers transition to organic methods and we can put new farmers on the land.

The good news is that this work is being done all over the United States by dozens of organizations funded by Farm Aid. And at Farm Aid, we are building our own capacity to reach out to and connect many more family farmers to the resources and support they need to take advantage of this growing domestic market.

It’s shameful that we have to import organic dairy products from New Zealand, for instance, to meet US demand. Shipping food products that could be sourced domestically halfway around the world, with all the attendant environmental impacts, makes no sense.

Farm Aid’s vision is to put many more farmers on the land to grow the food we need and desire. While it may seem like a simple action, supporting local organic producers, and encouraging retailers and processors to do the same, is a practical way each of us can help build the supply of domestically-grown organic food.