Many people think that once the Farm Aid concert is over, the Farm Aid staff can take a break but in reality, post-concert season is quite busy!
The Farm Aid calendar year is similar to the calendar year on a farm. Think of our concert, which happens each fall, as our harvest. It's the culmination of months of planning and growing something great. The concert event itself is an exhilarating, round-the-clock kind of event. There's a lot of stamina required in staying on your toes for a 20 hour day, but it's joyful too. It's the one day the whole Farm Aid family comes together from all over the country to pull off one amazing show and spread the word about the value of family farmers. At the end of the day, we reap our harvest: money to fund our work to keep farmers thriving, great press, greater awareness of the importance of family farmers, and inspiration by the bushel!
Following the concert, we take a day or two to rest but there's a lot of follow-up to be done. There are tons of t-shirt orders to fulfill, bills to pay, thank you letters to write, and tracking, evaluating and reporting to do. Before the end of the year, we have to complete our grant cycle, distributing grants to organizations across the country who are doing the on-the-ground work of growing the good food movement, keeping farmers thriving and changing the system! We'll sift through the 143 proposals asking from more than $2 million that came in this year and then we'll make our recommendations to Willie. We've also just launched some awesome projects that require our attention and care. HOMEGROWN.org is growing right before our eyes, with new members each and every day, and our Farmer Resource Network is getting lots of traffic from farmers and soon-to-be farmers looking for innovative ideas. On an on-going basis, we're answering farmer calls on the hotline, building and engaging our web audience, and working with farm groups, farmers and consumers across the U.S. to build a strong system of family farm agriculture. And there are always a million other things that pop up! Of course, we're always ready to respond to any emergency that farmers might face.
Like farmers, as the snow begins to fall we start planning for next year, building our budget and mapping our out goals. We'll interact with farm groups and farmers at farm meetings that happen all over the country during winter time. Come springtime, when farmers are getting back out to their fields, we're planting the seeds for our next concert and starting the cycle all over again. In the meantime, there's plenty of work to keep us busy here at Farm Aid!