Friday, September 26, 2008

Thousands of Cattle Still Missing in Texas

Yesterday, the New York Times published an article detailing the ongoing efforts to find and rescue the 25,000 cows that are estimated to have gone missing as a result of Hurricane Ike two weeks ago. 10,000 of the cows have been found alive, but the others are still missing or already dead. The efforts of the groups and volunteers working to rescue these animals (and the livelihoods of farmers and ranchers throughout the region) are truly heroic.

Rare articles like these remind us that after the initial media circus surrounding natural disasters dies down, the terrible effects for local residents linger for months and years. At Farm Aid, we try and bring attention to these issues and help farmers in the areas through our Family Farm Disaster Fund. Last week, we gave $30,000 in initial grants to four groups working to help farm and ranch groups in the region. Please donate today to allow us continue to respond to this and other disasters in a timely manner.

In addition to the article, be sure to check out the amazing photos of cattle and the rescuers in the area.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Farm Aid's Nelson, Mellencamp, Young and Matthews Urge Congress to Redirect Bailout to Working Men and Women, Farmers

In response to the $700 billion Wall Street bailout currently being considered by Congress, the Farm Aid Board of Directors Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews sent an open letter to Congressional leaders urging them to redirect funds to farm communities and working men and women, where they can be better used to address our country’s economic, environment, energy and health crises.

Please read the letter below and pass it on to your friends and family.


September 25, 2008

Dear Congress,

As you consider the distribution of $700 billion to the very banks and corporations that have gotten our country into the mess we’re in now, we ask you to pause for a moment and consider what that money could do for the people who build our country from the ground up… for our schools, healthcare system, our states, cities and towns, alternative energy development, the homeowners who were the pawns of the banking and mortgage industry. As the Board of Directors of Farm Aid, we want to alert you to what a mere $1 billion could do in the hands of the people who grow our food.

American family farmers are the backbone of our economy, the first rung on the economic ladder. For 23 years, we’ve worked to keep family farmers on the land. But it’s not enough just to save family farmers; we have to create new farmers. When farms fail, Main Street businesses fail. The opposite is true too: When farms thrive, Main Street businesses and local communities thrive. Far from Wall Street, family farmers are creating real wealth, producing real value, growing from seeds and sunlight a product that nourishes us both physically and economically. Supporting diverse decentralized family farming will do far more for the stability and vitality of our country than a handful of global agribusiness corporations could ever do.

The proposed $700 billion bailout asks taxpayers to foot the bill without giving them the opportunity to share in any gains. A $1 billion investment in family farm agriculture would enrich us all, because we are all shareholders of the family farm. The return on investment in the family farm includes thriving local economies, nutritious food for better health, a safer and more secure food supply, a cleaner environment and more renewable energy. Investing in local, sustainable and organic food would shorten the distance between eaters and farmers, conserve energy, create economic opportunities and new jobs through innovative processing and distribution systems, resulting in a better, greener, more efficient food and farm economy.

We’ll leave the economic details to the experts, but we know from traveling the highways and back roads of this country that trickle down economic policy has not created wealth for the vast majority of Americans. Let’s start from the ground up. When we invest in our family farmers, we invest in the revitalization of our country.

Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews
Farm Aid Board of Directors

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Joel talks about a farm disaster in our own backyard

Farm Aid blog readers from the greater Boston area will have already heard about the terrible fire late Saturday afternoon at the Verrill farm in Concord, MA. But for those of us working in the HOMEGROWN Village at the concert on Saturday in Mansfield, about an hour’s drive from Concord, word of the fire came in just minutes after the fire had started at around 5 p.m. Many exhibiting crews, including those from New Entry Sustainable Farming Project and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), have worked closely with the Verrills over the years and were deeply concerned about what was happening. We’d all heard recently about the devastating toll hurricanes Gustav and Ike had taken on farmers and ranchers in the Gulf coast region, but the fire that destroyed the Verrill farm store was a family farm disaster in our own backyard.

Sunday afternoon I drove out to the Verrill farm. The scene was grim yet also energetic, as a wrecking crew pulled down the remaining walls of the burnt out, 3,000 square foot farm store, and farm staff salvaged whatever they could from what had been their primary workplace just the day before. One detail sticks with me: The staff was extremely happy to discover that recipes collected over the years had not been totally lost, and they were collecting the charred books and binders in a blackened grocery cart even as the wrecking crew continued its grim work.

I visited with Joan Verrill, whose husband Steve was busy with insurance folks, and with their daughter Jennifer. Both were shaken but, like family farmers all over the country I’ve known, stoic in the face of disaster. I visited because I wanted to let them know that Farm Aid is not a distant, faceless national organization but literally their neighbor — our office is in nearby Somerville, MA — and that we would do whatever we can to help. We were already strategizing with the MDAR and many others in how best to assist the family. As saddened as the family is at the total loss of the center of their farm business, they were also clearly determined to re-build, and seemed heartened by the many friends, neighbors, customers, and others who were dropping by to offer their support and let them know they were not alone in their time of need.

I’ll update you all on the Verrill farm rebuilding effort as things develop, and meanwhile if you have ideas for how to help, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at farmhelp@farmaid.org or by calling 1-800-FARMAID.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Concert Day Recap

It's hard to believe that Farm Aid 2008 Presented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic is over. It was an amazing day and we'll bring you some more highlights over the next several days. But with all of the blogging that went on yesterday, I wanted to give a handy place to read all about what went on during the day. Videos, blog posts, photos, and even a poem! If you missed out yesterday, now's your chance:
Some quick stats for yesterday's concert-blogging: 24 posts. First post at 7:55am. Last post at 11:53pm. Thanks again to everyone for such a great day!

Still to come: more videos, photos, and overall Farm Aid goodness.

Check out the Farm Aid newspaper press!

We love to see how our show gets reviewed the day after the live event.

Here's what the Boston Globe had to say and here is the Boston Herald!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Farm Aid Trivia: The Answers Revealed!

Our Farm Aid Trivia Quiz is now over! Brian G. of Shrewsbury, MA has a Farm Aid Backstage Pass signed by Willie Nelson on the way! There were a few stumpers in there - if you want to know all the answers, just look below.

  1. The first U.S. soil survey was performed in Massachusetts in what year?
    Answer: 1830

  2. What number is Massachusetts ranked nationally in value of average direct market sales per farm at $24,900 per farm?
    Answer: First

  3. Female farm operators account for what percent of the farm operators in MA?
    Answer: 21%

  4. What county has more farmland and more farms than any other county in the commonwealth of Massachusetts?
    Answer: Worcester County

  5. What two berries does Massachusetts rank 2nd nationally in production of?
    Answer: Cranberries and Wild Blueberries

  6. What type of agricultural products are the leading source of farm income in Massachusetts?
    Answer: Greenhouse/nursery products like shrubs and flowers

  7. What is the name of the upheaval led by debt-ridden farmers in Western Massachusetts when the state failed to undertake reform after the American Revolution?
    Answer: Shay's Rebellion

Thanks to everyone that played!

Aaaaand, that's a wrap! Farm Aid 2008 is over!

Willie has played his final tune (with the help of a couple dozen people on stage) and Farm Aid 2008 Presented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic is over! Thanks so much for a wonderful show this year, and thanks for watching the Farm Aid concert! The show will be running continuously on DIRECTV through Sunday night and will continue to be available on FarmAid.org forever!

Checking out the Farm Aid merchandise

The sun is down, the crowd is on it's feet, and the mood is electric. I thought this would be a good time to walk around the venue and check out the merchandise stands. There are lots of really cool shirts available for concertgoers this year. When I asked what the most popular item has been today, I got the same answer at each and every booth--hands down, the 2008 Concert Logo T-Shirt is the one to get. I'm in agreement with the masses on this one, that's the shirt I am taking home myself. My daughter has asked repeatedly for a Farmers Kick Ass shirt, but while I think it's a swell shirt, I don't know that I want to have THAT conversation with a 5th grade teacher. "Well, Mrs. Teacher, I understand that things may have gotten a little unruly in class today, but can you really argue with the sentiment? They really do kick ass!" I think she'll get a matching one with mine.

We have had beautiful weather all day today but as we move into night it is starting to get a little brisk. According to the salespeople, as the temperature has dropped sales on long sleeve shirts, sweathshirts and jackets have been moving up. I asked each place I stopped if there were any funny stories to share. I figured by the end of a long day, someone would have tried to purchase their merchandise with lira or something. But no, everyone agreed that business has been steady and brisk but otherwise uneventful.

Judging by the number of t shirts from past Farm Aid shows I saw during my walk, I'd say it is safe to say two things. First of all, Farm Aid puts out nice shirts if they are lasting year over year and people keep wearing them. And secondly, once you come to Farm Aid you will want something to remember the day--and want to come back again the next chance you get.

Leslie's music review of some of the early bands

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals played a short but soulful set. Grace’s bluesy-rock voice is so powerful that she doesn’t even need a mic, belting out the chorus to “Nothing But The Water” with only the clapping beat of the crowd complementing her as she and her band marched off the stage. Another highlight from her set was definitely the four man drum jam that had the whole crowd clapping along.

Every great festival needs a jam band. Moe’s three man guitar play and beautiful vocal harmonizing had fans on their feet, especially during their signature song “Tailspin.”

In true country-folk form, Arlo Guthrie sent the crowd a clear message about the tragic state of the world today, sticking up for the hardworking man of America in the process. Appropriately singing about how he wanted to change his name to “Fannie Mae” so he could reap the monetary benefits of the government, he had the crowd’s approving laughs and cheers behind him.

Leslie reviews Kenny, Dave and John

Leslie is a contributing writer and editor to WeeklyDaveSpeak.com.

Kenny Chesney played an awesome acoustic set to a full Farm Aid crowd. Flanked by two other guitarists, Chesney opened with his own tribute to this year’s Farm Aid location, “She’s From Boston.” “Never Wanted Nothing More” showcased some beautiful harmonizing while “Living In Fast Forward” and “When The Sun Goes Down” proved that Chesney is, in his own words, “a little blue grass, a little country and a little southern rock” and can appeal to all the different types of music fans here tonight. His cover of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s classic “Pride and Joy” got the crowd up and dancing, but it was his “beer goggle” song “Table For Two” that has us all laughing.

Dave and Tim played an amazing set that opened with an emotional “Bartender.” The extended outro jams to “So Damn Lucky” and “Crush” showcased how incredibly in sync and powerful Dave and Tim are when they rock out together. “Cornbread” is just as funky acoustic as it is full band, and it’s just as fun watching Dave wiggle around in his chair during the tune as it is watching him dance across the stage. The tender “Stay or Leave” is definitely its finest when played stripped down and acoustic. “Ants Marching,” with Dave and Tim’s dueling guitars garnering huge screams from the crowd, was the perfect high energy closer.

As always, John Mellencamp brought the house down! Opening with the classic “Pink Houses” into “Check It Out”, Mellencamp had the whole room dancing, singing and clapping along. His slower, solo rendition of “Small Town” felt more poignant than usual, while rockin’ versions of “Scarecrow” and “If I Die Sudden” had everyone belting out the lyrics right along with the band. The highlight of his set was definitely “I Fight Authority,” before which he has us all calling friends and family to include them in the live show. Just like for Mellencamp, the rebellious message in the song never seems to get old for anyone and always gets the crowd jumping around with fists pumping in the air.

What makes Farm Aid different?

Our first video from our volunteer video bloggers. They spoke with a music fan at Farm Aid's 2008 show about what makes our concert different from all others.

Farm Aid's got you covered: webcast, photos, blog, and videos

You're reading (and I'm sure enjoying) the blog, and hopefully watching the show on DIRECTV or FarmAid.org's webcast, but don't forget you can see great photos on our website. If you were at the show today, share the photos on our flickr group!

Also, we had a couple volunteers out with a video camera today capturing some fun around the concert. Check out the videos on our YouTube channel.

Erin talks about her Farm Aid concert experience

Farm Aid has randomly gotten a lot of new staff this year, and now, for Anna, Kari, Hilde, Joanna, Matt, and myself, it is our first concert. Thus far, from my perspective at least, this year’s concert seems to be going really well.

Yesterday, we were all busy at the venue all day. Joel, Ted, and Hilde were checking in exhibitors at the HOMEGROWN Village all day and setting it up -- there are hay bales and corn stalks everywhere, and big piles of pumpkins. It looks pretty awesome and smells, well, like a farm.

Wendy, Carolyn, Glenda, and Jen had a lot of important stuff to do, like preparing for the press event and the TV broadcast. This is all broadcast live this year on national TV, and everything needs to be perfect. Matt, meanwhile, was readying everything for the TV webstream, broadcasting the show live at farmaid.org.

Anna had a ton of volunteers arriving who needed to be briefed and receive their credentials. Cornelia’s dealing with artist hospitality and had to get everything prepared for that -- dressing rooms, food, etc. Joanna’s also been dealing with artists -- checking them in upon arrival and such, so she was here late and people began to arrive and do their sound-checks. Kari was busy all day planning our “Farm Aid Eve” event at the Charles Hotel in Boston.

Me? I was running around all day dealing with random things, like finding a replacement for a volunteer bus and pointing leftover volunteers towards Joel and the HOMEGROWN Village.

In the evening, those of us without evening plans headed over to the Charles for Farm Aid Eve. It went off fabulously, though it was a bit chilly. The food was from chef Peter Davis Henrietta’s table, which serves all local, and was absolutely delicious, and the decorations were beautiful. Will Dailey, who also played today, provided the music. The highlight, perhaps, was John Mellencamp walking in in the middle of Carolyn’s speech to interject with his own speech, but it was all great.

Afterwards, a few of us had stuff to finish up at the venue, and we happened to get back just in time to hear Neil Young’s soundcheck. Awesome.

This morning was our press event, which was enthusiastic and crowded, which I think is the general goal. Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick came and our Massachusetts commissioner of agriculture, Doug Petersen, came over, too. I just gave him a tour of the whole venue, with some historic (been with us forever) Farm Aid farmers, David Senter and Corky Jones.

Meanwhile, the food is local and great, and the music is even better. It’s packed and sunny here, and such a gorgeous day.

Great Music, An Important Message and Dreamy Carson Daly in HD

I've seen a lot of crazy busy activity over the years I have been coming to the show, but I don't think any of it compares to what I saw today. With about an hour to go until the start of the live TV broadcast, I got the chance to go into the TV production trailer to talk with Executive Producer Albert Spevak. My mission was to find out what it means to put on a live show like Farm Aid. Here's what I learned--it means you are far too busy to talk with a blogger about putting on a live show like Farm Aid. People were crammed shoulder to shoulder in there. Screens were lit up with many views of the show. Years ago at my day job, I had the chance to go inside the operations center of a wireless network (here in Boston, now that I think about it) where they managed the system during emergency events. They seemed slightly less busy than the crew in the TV trailer today.

Lucky for me, he was able to free up a few minutes to talk and he managed to share a lot in that short time. There are a lot of challenges broadcasting a show like this compared to other live concert events. For most shows, the main concern is the show itself but today they need to make sure viewers get the best music experience possible at home and also hear the important messages that Farm Aid has to deliver. That takes a lot of effort by the TV production team.

Fortunately, we have a great team pulling this together. In addition to Albert, Director Lawrence Jordan, and Producers Philip Hack and Robert Katz were responsible for the 20th Anniversary broadcast and bring that experience to making this show even better. Add on-air personalities like host Carson Daly, guest host Bob Costas, Robin Dorian and Budd Mishkin and you know we are in good hands.

If you don't have DIRECTV, then you should go out and get it and watch the show on DIRECTV's The 101 Network. But since it's probably too late for you to get an installer over today, you should learn to plan ahead better and watch the 7 hour live broadcast on the web at www.farmaid.org. DIRECTV will also rebroadcast the show 4 times, once as soon as the live show ends and another 3 times on Sunday. Farm Aid's website will have the show available forever (to FarmYard members)!

Don't Forget to Answer our Trivia Quiz!

One Farm Aid 2008 Backstage Pass signed by Willie Nelson is still up for grabs in our Trivia Quiz! Answer now - you've got until 11pm eastern time.

Clare Meets Farmers in the FarmYard

Blog post by Clare Leschin-Hoar: Karl Santos is a third generation dairy farmer in Westport, Massachusetts. In 2006, the farm he runs with his brothers, appropriately named Shy Brothers Farm, was in trouble. “It was borrow money to pay the bills or go out of business,” he says. “One of the biggest problems with farming is financing. The public doesn’t realize how tough it actually is for farmers.” Why? Because for those who regularly shop at large supermarket chains, rather than at their local farmer's market, the true cost of the food is difficult to see. It’s hidden deep within the Farm Bill, next to corn and soybean subsidies.

Things were looking dire for Santos and his dairy farm, when he decided to take a risk. With the help of friend and business partner, Barbara Hanley, Santos launched a French-style, semi-soft, bloomy-rind cheese line called Hannabells. (They look like tiny little edible thimbles.) While Santos still sells some milk wholesale, the hope is demand for the cheese will continue to grow, eventually utilizing their entire milk production, and sustaining their farm for generations to come.

Sarah Kelley, executive director of SEMAP says Shy Brothers is one of her favorite success stories. But for too many farmers in her part of Massachusetts, the sheer development pressure on their land can make it hard for them to hang-on during tough times. Her booth in the FARMYARD village has a super-cool “Eat Your Zip Code” demonstration, which pulls up a list of farms near your home -- where ever you live. “Most people have recognize one farm, but there are so many more near them,” she says. “There are a huge variety of family farms here in southern Massachusetts, and we want people to know about them.”

Joel Morton, hotline and Farmer Resource Network coordinator for Farm Aid says the majority of the nearly 900 calls they field a year come from farmers that are in need of financial assistance. In cases of emergency or dire need, Farm Aid is able to give money directly to farmers – but in most cases, the goal is to fund local agencies that work with farmers in their own communities. In this case, SEMAP is the local chapter of Food Routes, which is funded by Farm Aid. And SEMAP, in turn, has provided support for Shy Brothers Farm to successfully launch their line of delicious farmstead cheese – which is the kind of food-chain the folks here at Farm Aid had in mind.

Upgrade of Poetic Justice at Farm Aid 2008

Climbing stairs is good for the heart
especially when it means giving out
free tickets to three lonesome travelers
who found each other playing Hackey Sack
on the cusp of the Autumnal Equinox

In tow with The Elms’ Owen Thomas and Nathan Bennet
I climbed those step high and wide
to the outer reaches of the Amphitheatre
where the sweet aroma of Roasted Corn
wrapped Arlo’s music like a heavenly husk

There we found those lonesome travelers
Michael in his purple bandana,
Bob in his green tie-dye and Greg in his straw hat
laughing, whirling, dancing,
floating on the perimeter in youthful, wayward bliss

As the Elms handed them an upgrade to front-row-center
The young men lit up like three wise kings
and made their journey to the center of the earth
where more delight, music and celebration awaited them
on the cusp of the Autumnal Equinox

Frank Messina

Rob from Bostonist.com checks out the HOMEGROWN Village

After listening to local boy Will Dailey's too-short set, I wandered around the HOMEGROWN Village. The HOMEGROWN guy gave me an "In Farmers We Trust" pin and a sticker. As he described it, the site seems like a good onlne community/resource for consumers organic/local foods. If I don't find someone here to tell me how to preserve tomatoes, he said I might find it on HOMEGROWN -- or maybe leave the question for user feedback.

It was great to see so many concertgoers checking out the village. You could get a "Homegrown Passport" stamped at booths to enter a raffle. The cool part about the booths was the interactive fun. I didn't collect stamps, but I got my butt kicked at NOFA/Mass's "OrganicLand", which reminded me of CandyLand; unlike the sheer luck of the kid's game, I had to answer questions about organic farming. The other contestant knew her stuff, but I think could've beat her at arm-wrestling... They also had a map to find local farms that was interesting to how many more are nearby.

The Red Tomato women running the "Eco-Apple" game of chance could host a real game show -- or con tourists at Coney Island. They had people spin the 'wheel of farming' to see what would happen to the player's fictional apple crop. I found myself rooting for strangers to have a successful season.

I put my hands into boxes to "identify the produce"; I'm proud to report my ability to recognize a cabbage, basil, and lemongrass by touch and smell. When not making me put my hands in strange places, New Entry Sustainable Food Project provides assistance to small farmers in MA, and give advice/guidance to those who want to start farming.

Everyone was obviously very friendly -- without being pushy -- and generous about sharing about what they do. As a city-slicker who tries to be environmentally conscious, I felt somewhat ignorant walking around, but part of the purpose was to plant some awareness in my fallow head...

The folks from Cape Abilities Farm had a a small home of bumblebees that they use to pollinate their crops. He patiently explained to me that there are thousands of bee species and it's the honeybees that are having survival issues -- not bumblebees.

The most fun I saw was at the Greenhands/CitySprouts booth where everyone was invited to choose a variety of seeds and plunge their hands in compost and clay to make take-home balls to put somewher in the Spring. What a great bit of urban guerilla agriculture!

While waiting in line for an organic ale, I spoke to two lovely ladies from Albany. They have been to 6 Farm Aid concerts, and they loved the amount of things to do in the village. I also had a chance to talk to some farmers from Western Mass who helped me understand what it's like to provide quality food over quantity -- and to get to organic food all people. They're doing a good job of getting their products in stores that label the shelves with their "Be A Local Hero" signs. They also shared some delicious grapes with me. I could've spent the whole day, but I've want hear the bands...

(Thank you, Claire, for lending me your power cord to finish this post!)

Better Seats Through Exercise

With 3 tickets (two in the 2nd row and 1 in the 3rd) and 2 artists (Owen Thomas and Nathan Bennet of The Elms) in tow and Arlo Guthrie winding up his set on stage, intrepid Farm Aid staffer Kari Williams made her way to the very back of the Comcast Center. Her mission--to upgrade three concert goers from the lawn to those amazing seats. A quick tour of lawn brought her to three young guys enjoying some Hacky Sack. She stopped them, asked how they were enjoying the show and then dropped the news that their view of the stage was about to get way better. Michael, Greg and Bob were shocked by their luck. The trio had only met thirty minutes earlier when they started their game and now they were going to share an incredible Farm Aid experience. Asked when they would be moving to their new seats, the guys responded "as soon as we finish our sack."

That's Farm Aid--bringing people together!

Leslie Checks out Some Music

Leslie is a contributing writer and editor to WeeklyDaveSpeak.com. Check out the site for what’s new with the Dave Matthews Band.

Grace Potter and The Nocturnals played a short but soulful set. Grace’s bluesy-rock voice is so powerful that she doesn’t even need a mic, belting out the chorus to “Nothing But The Water” with only the clapping beat of the crowd complementing her as she and her band marched off the stage. Another highlight from her set was definitely the four man drum jam that had the whole crowd clapping along.

Every great festival needs a jam band. Moe’s three man guitar play and beautiful vocal harmonizing had fans on their feet, especially during their signature song “Tailspin.”

In true country-folk form, Arlo Guthrie sent the crowd a clear message about the tragic state of the world today, sticking up for the hardworking man of America in the process. Appropriately singing about how he wanted to change his name to “Fannie Mae” so he could reap the monetary benefits of the government, he had the crowd’s approving laughs and cheers behind him.

Tune in at 4pm!

The music has started here at Farm Aid, but only if you’re at the Comcast Center. At 4pm everyone at home can join in on the fun in two different ways. Have DIRECTV? Tune into their The 101 Network to watch the concert in high definition with surround sound! If not, or if you’re doing some work today, watch the action live on FarmAid.org.

Of course, you’ll want to keep checking on this blog throughout the day and night – we’ll keep you updated with behind the scenes info and experiences from the Comcast Center. Also remember, we’ll be posting photos to our 2008 Concert Photo Gallery and to the Farm Aid 2008 group on flickr.

John Talks About the Messages of Farm Aid's 2008 Concert

Blog post from John Voket of Livedaily.com: Music industry leaders may have reached out to contemporary family farmers at that first Farm Aid in Champaign, Illinois - the heart of America's midwest - in 1980. But this year may be the most exciting Farm Aid in the historical sense that folks who traveled here to Mansfield, Mass. from all over the country to attend this exciting event could drive just about 30 miles and visit the place where Native Americans reached out to some of America's first immigrants, and helped them learn to farm this great land.

Farm Aid has played in 15 states, but it's never been closer to the site where America's agricultural heritage sank its first roots. Back there in the distant past, in 1621 the Pilgrims sat down with their native brothers and sisters to celebrate their first harvest. According to numerous local sources, that meal not only included five deer, but stock that still populates many of our family farmyards, waterways and fields - wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn and berries.

So I come to Farm Aid today not only excited to see great American acts established and new - from Jerry Lee Lewis to Grace Potter; from jam acts like moe. and Dave Matthews to classic rockers Neil Young and John Mellencamp; from one of country's contemporary superstars Kenny Chesney to one of its icons, Willie Nelson. The '80s will be represented by vegan Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders. And the '70s and '60s with consummate storytellers Steve Earle, and Arlo Guthrie, who may tell us one about another certain 'Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat.'

This morning's press conference took place on the last weekend of summer. The weekend that America's financial empire teetered in crisis. The air was crisp like a New England morning should be. And the fresh apples and squash decorating the stage and the smell of hay - even and old red Farmall tractor made the atmosphere all the more authentic. Willie, John, Neil and Dave made individual pitches about why this event is still so important.

John solemnly reminded the crowd that today, suicides among farmers outpace deaths from equipment and farm-related accidents. Dave's comments about the increasingly vital roles farmers are playing in saving the planet was particularly impassioned- 'the world will be fine-we want to work with the planet so we can make it too.' Neil credited university agricultural programs that are growing the food that is feeding their entire student bodies. And Willie recalled growing up in Abbot, Texas where he was taught how to grow food. He mentioned that today's farmers not only grow food, but fuel as well. And that if folks can't plant a garden, they can sign up on a farm share program or CSA, and have their fresh food grown for them by a farmer right in their home town.

It's time to eat our farm fresh lunch - all the food being vended here today is certified local or sustainable - another historical milestone. Then it's off to get some home grown religion out in the Farm Yard.

Farm Aid: It takes a village

Blog post from David Michael: In addition to the wonderful artists who volunteer their time each year, there are a ton of other people who work hard to make sure the show is a success. Anna Miragliuolo, Farm Aid's Member Services Specialist, is this year's Volunteer Coordinator making sure there is enough eager assistance ready to go around to all the groups at the show that need it. From Thursday until after the end of the show Saturday night--well, honestly, very early Sunday morning--Anna has over 300 dedicated worker bees all around the venue.

The biggest single task for our volunteers at this year's show is working with our exciting comprehensive composting program. All throughout the Comcast Center, both out among the crows and even backstage, containers are set up to collect and sort people's trash into Compost, Recycle or Landfill. Volunteers wait at many of the stations to make sure everyone know what goes in to each container to make sure the program works at peak efficiency. It may seem simple, but I know that I wouldn't have realized that the utensils being used can be composted instead of recycled! Just one more way Farm Aid is trying to teach and entertain today. Other volunteers will be helping out with media operations, providing press credentials, escorting artists to interviews and setting up chairs for the press event this morning. Each member of the Farm Aid staff has a volunteer paired with them to help out. Some help out backstage operations, some provide support to sponsors, and just about anything else you can think of. And they do it all with a smile.

Where do we get so many people to help out? The largest group come to us from City Year's youth service corps. There are always some really nice Teamsters around to drive the vans that get us back and forth between the venue, the airport, and hotels. Others come from local groups that want to support the cause. A good sized group--including myself--have family or friends who work with Farm Aid year round and come along to help out during the busy show time. There are even volunteers who join us through a local group when the show is in their town who then return year after year wherever the show may be. We've got some volunteers who have been coming back for over 20 years!

More Last Minute Tickets Available!

The Comcast Center has released "hundreds" of tickets to the box office, so if you're at all close by and missed out on tickets thus far, head on down! The music's started, but there's over 8 hours of performances left!

Clare's Day at Farm Aid

Clare Leschin-Hoar’s work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and many more. She's a regular contributor to edibleBoston and the ChewsWise.com blog.

I actually happen to live in Mansfield, the venue for this year’s Farm Aid. I’ve been to plenty of concerts here over the years, and in all truthfulness, I can’t recall one meal I’ve eaten here. I’m sure at some point, I chowed a burger or slice of pizza, but it was completely unmemorable. That’s partly why my stroll through the HOMEGROWN village this morning was such a pleasant surprise. Sure there’s beer and pizza and popcorn, but above them are placards bragging about their pedigrees. Organic burgers, cheeseburgers and hot dogs are from Wilson Farms in nearby Lexington, Massachusetts. The pizza is from the Stone Hearth Pizza guys who source locally grown ingredients and implement green practices in their restaurant operations. Some tasty pale ale and a nut brown ale are on tap thanks to Peak Organic Brewing Company from Maine. There are organic chips and salsa, organic popcorn, and a falafel stand brimming with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and bright yellow corn. Pass the tahini!

The folks who are credited with starting the whole fair trade movement in America -- Equal Exchange -- pushing samples of their fairly-traded organic coffee and newer dried cranberry line. Known for their commitment internationally to small farmers, they’re bringing the philosophy home, and are working with domestic almond, pecan and cranberry growers. Concert goers are nibbling grilled corn, sipping soy milk, and are waiting in a smoky line for some Missouri-raised pork chops from pigs that have been humanely raised and spend their life on actual dirt. “Why is it sooo smoky?” I ask the grill-guy. “Because I’m cooking a lot of meat!” he shoots back. He’s not kidding. His grill is chocked-full of pork chops and bratwurst, and smells a lot like lunch to me.

Farm Aid Trivia: Win A Backstage Pass Signed by Willie Nelson!

For all of our loyal fans at home - you may not be at the concert
today, but we've got a special blog-only trivia quiz! That's fun and all, but there's got to be a prize, right? Get something nobody else will have: a Backstage Pass for Farm Aid's 2008 concert signed by Willie Nelson!

Write answers to the 7 questions below in an email by 11pm tonight, along with your name and city/state. We'll choose one lucky winner by random drawing of all the entries with correct answers and let him or her know via email. Send an email to matt@farmaid.org with "Farm Aid Trivia" in the subject line.

  1. The first U.S. soil survey was performed in Massachusetts in what year?

  2. What number is Massachusetts ranked nationally in value of average direct market sales per farm at $24,900 per farm?

  3. Female farm operators account for what percent of the farm operators in MA?

  4. What county has more farmland and more farms than any other county in the commonwealth of Massachusetts?

  5. What two berries does Massachusetts rank 2nd nationally in production of?

  6. What type of agricultural products are the leading source of farm income in Massachusetts?

  7. What is the name of the upheaval led by debt-ridden farmers in Western Massachusetts when the state failed to undertake reform after the American Revolution?

Meet Mr. Macomber at the HOMEGROWN Village!

Happy Farm Aid Day!!!!! Laura here. You all might remember me from the list of Farm Aid staffers of yesteryear. One of my concert tasks at last year’s show was to organize the first ever HOMEGROWN Village - a task that was both a pleasure and an inspiration. This is the place at the show where food and farming organizations transform the concert into an interactive space where concert-goers can touch and feel what it means to grow and eat Good Food.

These days I work for an organization called Red Tomato. We source delicious, regionally grown family farmed food into grocery stores and other wholesale venues. We are pleased to be an exhibitor in the HOMEGROWN Village where we are conducting the first-ever playing of the Eco Apple Wheel of Fortune. It should be an awesometastic good time. Come see the village and if you are lucky, I will introduce to my friend here, Mr. Macomber.

Don't You People Have a Show to Do Tomorrow?

Blog post from David Michael: It's 12:30am the night before the concert and I just made a walk around the Comcast Center. The crowd has slimmed down from earlier today but there are still folks out here working to make this a great show. There were production folk out on the stage and the PR team is typing away making last minute changes for the morning press event. It's quiet out here now but come tomorrow it's going to be crazy and loud. Everyone get your rest and come back to tomorrow for all the excitement.

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy

Blog post from David Michael: We took the traditional volunteer tour around the concert site this afternoon to get familiar with where eveything was and what we will need to do tomorrow. The Homegrown Village--now in it's 2nd year--looks very cool. I've already eyeballed a couple of food stands I want to try out. A couple of buses were parked in the back but there will be a whole lot more tomorrow. The press event area looks really good. It's decorated with haybales, pumpkins and gourds. Stools were set up on the stage for the participants, risers were being put in place for the cameras and the chairs were on the way for the audience.

But the coolest part of all? Hands down, it was the restored Farm-All tractor parked beside the stage. I am all about the Farm-All tractors. Today I am a suburb dweller whose exposure to farming is the Manassas Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, but as a youngster I was lucky enough to spend every summer from 5th grade to college on my grandparent's farm in Pennsylvania. My grandfather had two Farm-All F-20 tractors--held together largely by duct tape and wishful thinking--and I loved driving them. When we were done for the day, he would let me take it out and drive around the fields just for fun.

In the summer between 7th and 8th grade, I met a young lady at the Jefferson Township Fair who I took an immediate shine to. It turned out she lived across from my grandparents. My evening rides on the tractor from then on took place in the same field every time--not coincidentally the field over the road from her house. I went from buzzing all over that field as fast as possible to driving slowly back and forth along the road, just in case she would happen to come out. Every day. Over and over. In hindsight, I suppose I have to admit that it probably wasn't so much "cute" as it was "stalking". But I still maintain a fond attachment to those tractors. I even have two toy ones on my desk at work.

Kenny Chesney is playing the show this year and I'm hoping he'll play She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy. If he does, I will stop whatever I'm doing and think about that girl from the Fair and wonder what she is doing. Most likely she'll be backstage somewhere getting an artist ready for an interview. Brenda's been working with Farm Aid since 1995 and for some crazy reason has been married to me since 1991. Tractors Rock!

2008 Concert Schedule

We've got a great lineup for Farm Aid 2008 Presented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic. Below is a schedule of when artists will perform.

Doors open: Noon
Danielle Evin - 1:00
The Elms - 1:15
Will Daley - 1:30
One Flew South - 1:45
Jessie Lenat - 2:00
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - 2:20
moe. - 2:40
Arlo Guthrie - 3:00
Jamey Johnson - 3:20
Steve Earle - 3:40
Nation Beat - 4:00
Jakob Dylan & the Gold Mountain Rebels - 4:30
Jerry Lee Lewis - 5:00
The Pretenders - 5:30
Kenny Chesney - 6:15
Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds - 7:00
John Mellencamp - 8:00
Neil Young - 9:00
Willie Nelson - 10:00



Go to the 2008 Lineup Page for information about each of these artists.

Farm Aid's Hurricane Disaster Fund Grants

First Gustav, and then Ike, one right after the other. As much as we at Farm Aid might have liked to focus exclusively on this year’s concert preparations, there was no way we could or would ignore the two devastating hurricanes that blasted the Gulf coast in the last few weeks. Reports from our longtime ally organizations in the South provided a grimly vivid picture of family farmers and ranchers suffering major crop damage, devastating livestock losses, and extensive structural damage to homes, outbuildings, fences, and vehicles. Farm Aid had to act. It’s what we do. Responding to disaster on the family farm is fundamental to what Farm Aid is all about.

With Willie’s immediate go-ahead, we granted a total of $30,000 to four organizations we know will move fast to identify those farm and ranch families most in need in the worst-hit areas. The four groups -- Lutheran Social Services of the South, the Southern Mutual Help Association, the Louisiana Interchurch Conference, and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives -- know the territory and understand how to work with folks victimized by natural disaster. We can count on these groups to funnel emergency dollars to those farm and ranch families most in need.

Today at the concert in Mansfield, with Willie, Neil, John, Dave, Kenny Chesney, Grace Potter and the Nocturals, and many other artists and their crews, along with 20,000 or so happy concert-goers, we’ll celebrate the burgeoning Good Food Movement. In the HOMEGROWN Village at the venue, we’ll host and highlight exhibitors from food and farm organizations in New England and across the nation, and we’ll roll out our new Farmer Resource Network online tool (at www.farmaid.org/ideas). But we’ll also remember those farmers and ranchers whose homes may even now remain inundated with water, or worse. And we’ll continue through our Family Farm Disaster Fund to collect donations for those hit the hardest by nature’s destructive power. We ask you to join us both in celebration of the family farm and in responding to disasters that we all know will just keep coming. It’s going to be a beautiful day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Packet Stuffing Squad is the backbone of Farm Aid' s press operation

Every year before the show starts, Farm Aid hosts a press event to remind us all why we all are gathered here for family farmers. On average, over 250 credentialed press will be there to help spread the message. Many people contribute to make the event a success. Staff members write press release to send out. The Founders--Willie, Neil and John--are there to talk about the organization's mission. Many of the other artists who have volunteered their time come to learn more about what we can all do to make things better. Local politicians attend to show their support. Family farmers speak eloquently about their lives.

But the real backbone of the operation that makes it a success? The Packet Stuffing Squad! Every member of the media who attends is given a packet of information to put the important details at their fingertips. The history of Farm Aid. Fact sheets and menus about the food in Homegrown Village. A Farm Aid activities report. Profiles of local farmers who will be spotlighted. A map of the venue. And tons more fascinating information, much of which won't be finalized and printed until the night before. This year 400 press kits are being assembled. That takes a whole lot of muscle to get ready.

I've been part of this process for years. It is hectic even when everything goes perfectly. And I don't think I've ever seen it go perfectly. Last year I got to do the photo copying of the materials. There was a copier in the trailer at the venue but it did not appreciate being asked to provide thousands of duplexed documents. I've worked with a lot of copiers in my time and gamely dove in to fixing the first few jams. There are always a few problems, right? Then it jammed some more. And then some more. And then even more. Eventually it got to a point where it would produce 6 copies and then jam. And jamming in the deep, burn-my-arm-trying-to-unjam-it regions. Each scorching made me a little less patient. I'm not proud to say that I eventually tried to "fix" it with a big heavy pipe I found outside the trailer. That's when it was politely suggested that maybe someone else could work the copier and I could do some collation. It seemed best.

But in the end we got the packages finished in time for the big event. And every year, the Packet Stuffing Squad gets the job done. Here is a look at this year's team in action. I'm happy to report that the copier this year seems to have spoken with last years model and has been spitting out Artist Bios and more like a champ!

In this corner blogger #1- David Michael

Farm Aid 2008 is almost here and the excitement is building. And so is the stage. And the Homegrown Village. There is activity everywhere and looking around, it is hard to believe that by tomorrow it will all come together in one big celebration of family farmers. But through the hard work of numerous veteran and first time volunteers, everything will be ready for a great show by the time the gates open at noon.

My name is Dave Michael and this is my 8th show volunteering at Farm Aid. I've helped out in the photo pit in past years but this year I'll be blogging to let you know all about what's happening here in Mansfield, Massachusetts. I'm filling in for Ryan Lalonde who is taking a much deserved break from blogging the show to spend some quality time with his newly arrived son Farber. Congratulations Ryan and we look forward to seeing you back next year.

If you can't be here at the show tomorrow, keep coming back for the inside scoop on the fun and be sure to watch the concert on the Farm Aid webcast or see it live in Hi-Def on DIRECTV!

Last Minute Tickets Available!

We wanted to give a heads-up to our readers that the Comcast Center has just released a few last minute tickets to tomorrow's show. If you still need tickets, get yourself to Ticketmaster as soon as possible - I'm sure they won't last!

All About Tomorrow's Blogging

Some of you who have read our day of show blog in previous years have been used to our one personality. This year we're doing things a little differently; we're going to have guest posts all day long covering the same kinds of topics. We hope that this adds to your enjoyment by providing different voices and different points of view for how people experience the concert.

We'll identify who is writing each blog in the first sentence or two. Some
bloggers have their own blogs, some are new to blogging but good writers, and
some just speak for themselves! Stay tuned!

Boston Herald writes about Farm Aid

Check it out here!

Boston Herald

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What time does my favorite artist _________ go on?

One of the questions Farm Aid staff gets asked a lot in the week or two leading up to the concert is, “What time will my favorite artist, ____ _____, play at the Farm Aid concert?” We’re almost ready for the big reveal – Saturday at 9am we’ll post the artist schedule on the Lineup Page on FarmAid.org.

Farm Aid Concert Food Drive!

Farm Aid is partnering with The Greater Boston Food Bank, and calling on concertgoers to bring non-perishable food items to the concert on Saturday. As a result of rising fuel and food prices and uncertain economic times, food banks nationwide are facing increasing shortages of supplies this fall and winter. To help meet the needs of the hungry across the Boston-area, please bring non-perishable food items to be collected at the main entrance to the Comcast Center.

Click here to read guidelines on what The Greater Boston Food Bank can accept for food items.

You’ve Just Got to Expect Good Food at a Farm Aid Concert!

Coming to Farm Aid 2008 Presented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic should be a very unique experience! Not only will visitors see some great musicians perform, but when’s the last time you had local, organic, humanely-raised, and family-farm food at a concert? Some of the usual suspects like pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches will be joined by burritos, pitas, corn on the cob, baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables. All will be of the highest quality and demonstrate what is possible when you put a little effort in to bring family farm food to more people.

At Farm Aid, we’re big fans of composting, so the plates, serviceware, and napkins are all compostable, along with the food waste. We’ll have volunteers on hand to help differentiate between compostable items and recyclable items – do your part to minimize our trash.

Finally, remember that carpooling is good! Check out PickupPal if you have extra space in your car, or if you need a ride to the show.

For full details on how Farm Aid is transforming this year’s concert with family farm food and sustainable production, see our press release.

Farm Aid Grants Money to Help Hurricane Victims

Farm Aid today announced that initial grants from our Family Farm Disaster Fund would be made to southern farm and faith-based organizations to support family farmers hardest hit by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

“We might not know the full extent of the damage yet, but we do know that family farmers will need our help to rebuild and to get back on the land quickly, growing good food for all of us,” said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “Because we’ve been working with folks for 23 years in these rural and agricultural towns, we’re able to deliver immediate support to farmers who have been devastated by Ike and Gustav.”

Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana have been declared federal disaster areas, and initial reports indicate that the damage to agricultural communities is devastating. Farm Aid will provide $30,000 in immediate emergency assistance for local recovery efforts. As more information becomes available about the extent of the damage caused by these storms, Farm Aid will distribute additional funds where it can best benefit farm families.

“In the face of the destruction these hurricanes have caused in Texas and Louisiana, Farm Aid is proud to work with the individuals and organizations that have already stepped up and shown their support for family farmers. Together, we will help these farmers rebuild and protect our source of good food,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar.

Farm Aid will grant $7,500 each to Lutheran Social Services of the South, Southern Mutual Help Association, Louisiana Interchurch Conference and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

Contributions can be made to Farm Aid’s Family Farm Disaster Fund online at www.farmaid.org/disasterfund.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Farm Aid’s Newest Tool: The Farmer Resource Network

Today, Farm Aid announced the launch of its web-based Farmer Resource Network to help farmers answer the consumer call for more quality family-farmed foods. The Farmer Resource Network is a tool for family farmers to find new and innovative ideas to help them meet the rising consumer demand for more local, organic and sustainably-grown food. It's an outgrowth of 23 years of Farm Aid's hotline work, finding resources in each state to meet the needs of farmers. If you’re looking to become a new farmer, the Farmer Resource Network also contains tools to help put you on the land.

Willie Nelson had this to say about the Farmer Resource Network: "Family farmers are real heroes and true innovators. Everyday they're coming up with new ideas and now they have a tool to learn about what works from each other. Their ingenuity guarantees a strong future of family farm food."

We were lucky to have some partners in getting the Farmer Resource Network off the ground. These major organizations involved in promoting sustainable and organic farming include the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, the Organic Farming Research Foundation and Rodale Institute.

Family farmers gather to talk shop!

Every year, come concert time, family farmers and farm group activists join together before the show to compare notes on the past year and vision for the future. Thanks to Kathy Ozer with the National Family Farm Coalition, a meeting will be taking place this Friday, September 19th, at the First Unitarian Church in Cambridge.

National family farmers and farm advocates all the way from Texas to Indiana will have the chance to gather with regional farmers from Vermont to Massachusetts. The meeting will be a valuable time for folks to connect on issues and campaigns that are important to family farmers, share ideas, swap stories, and discuss topics that may be raised during the concert itself. Helping to bring family farmers together to talk and plan is just one more way Farm Aid works to see that farmers thrive.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wendy somehow finds time to bottle honey

Those who know Farm Aid staff personally know better than to ask us to participate in any non-Farm Aid activities leading up to the Farm Aid concert. With our small staff of 12 plus 1 intern, we all have way more on our plate than at any other time of year. We often joke that we are a mild-mannered Clark Kent of a non-profit nine months of the year and then for the concert months we all become our own version of Superman.

My one exception to the no-new activities rule is always bottling honey with my Dad. I put my Dad up into the Farmer Heroes' page (even though I wasn't eligible to win) just because he is so amazing. An engineer by trade, he has long aspired to farm. Amongst his many hobbies are rebuilding 1930s Fordson tractors and beekeeping. My dad's hives are located at his home in Connecticut and at his cottage on Cape Cod.

This past weekend, I visited my parents and participated in our family autumn ritual. My father had already taken all the frames off the hive (frames go inside the big white bee boxes many of us are used to seeing around orchards or farms).

We assembled into a working team of family. My brother and father taking turns using the de-capping knife (a hot electric knife that slices the top off the wax comb the bees store honey in), with my sister-in-law transferring the frames to the extractor (a big metal centrifuge-like thing that holds two frames at a time and whisks the honey off the frame and into the barrel). My husband, a more senior member of the extracting crew, fulfills the function of inspector to insure all the honey has been spun out of each frame. Additionally, he empties the honey out of the extractor into a bucket and carries it uphill to the house, where he dumps it into the bottling contraption (2 big buckets with a strainer and fine netting to strain the honey). Meanwhile, I'm bottling the honey as fast as it comes out of the spigot. In the background my Mom is cleaning bottles, wiping rims and sealing each jar. All of us are also keeping an eye on the four girls (ages 9-1) who are "helping."

Each bucket of honey is weighed before being emptied (my Dad likes to compare honey yield year to year that way). So far this year he has yielded 150 lbs out of seven producing hives.

All but two of those hives were started in the spring since the colony collapse disorder decimated my father's hives. Most of the honey came from two hives that were not impacted by colony collapse disorder and located on Cape Cod. In addition to the Southbury, CT and North Eastham, Cape Cod location, we also added honey from our hive at my brother's house in New Gloucester, Maine. We were missing my younger sister, also a senior member of the team and her husband, a newbie to the team last year, due to their inability to come out from Indiana. Dad doesn't sell the honey- he mostly gives it away and often Farm Aid staff gets to taste the bounty. It's a great treat in the soothing tea we need to drink when concert chaos means we need to take a break and relax!

Glenda gets a preview of Farm Aid pizza

Cornelia and I took a field trip to the Comcast Center last week to talk with the concessionaire, Robin Anderson, about food for the Farm Aid concert.

Great timing! She was testing out the pizza that she’ll be serving--Stone Hearth Pizza, from a local pizza chain that uses organic and local ingredients. Jonathon Schwartz, one of the co-founders of Stone Hearth was running his thin crust cheese pizzas through the ovens.

Everyone agreed! Mmmm. Delicious! Crunchy! Tasty!

Massachusetts and the Good Food Movement

The tradition of farming in New England is rooted in community. In fact, in the mid-1980s, New England pioneered the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement in the United States with the establishment of Indian Line Farm in Massachusetts and Temple Wilton Farm in New Hampshire!

Today, New England continues to lead the way in building vibrant local markets and in its dedication to people-centered, sustainable production. Check out our slideshow of farm programs at the forefront of the Good Food Movement in Massachusetts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike and Farm Aid

In the past 24 hours, Hurricane Ike has come ashore in West Louisiana and East Texas. While the news media has focused on the storm's impact in Galveston and Houston and on the oil industry, we are hearing from people on the ground in the hurricane zone that the storm will have a devastating impact on rural areas in those two states as well. If you're a farmer affected by Ike, please visit the help page of the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association website.

East Texas is largely agricultural, as is much of western Louisiana. There will be significant damage to farms, crops and rural communities throughout these areas. Folks in the area tell us it is still too soon to know the extent of the damage, but they are anticipating significant production losses.

This damage will come on top of the agricultural destruction from Hurricane Gustav just days ago.

Farm Aid is working with Louisiana Interchurch Conference, Southern Mutual Help and Lutheran Social Services of the South to assess damage and channel aid to farmers in the affected areas. We are also reaching out to the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (another Farm Aid funded group), which has established a hot line for producers in need of help.

Farm Aid will provide further updates in the days ahead. If you would like to help in this emergency response, go to the Farm Aid website and contribute to the Family Farm Disaster Fund.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fresh from the Farmers Market

Faces of family farming abound at New England's 460+ farmers markets, where consumers and growers are given a chance to meet and exchange ideas. Check out today's slideshow highlighting Boston-area market farmers, captured at the Brookline, Davis Square and City Hall markets.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Take Some Time to Picture New England!

Farm Aid is very happy to be hosting its first concert in New England! To celebrate, over the next few days, we’ll be posting slideshows of photos collected from across the region to present a colorful collection of the crops, faces and farm programs that give New England its special character.

From Cape Cod cranberries to Vermont maple syrup, agriculture remains a mainstay of the region’s economy. Check out our slideshow of New England Farm Products for a glimpse into the agricultural specialties unique to the region:

Own a unique piece of Farm Aid history!

We will be auctioning many unique Farm Aid items at Farm Aid Eve on Friday, September 19 at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge (did you buy your ticket for the event?!). We’ll also have an auction at the concert on Saturday, September 20.

Auction items include guitars, Tiffany-created guitar picks, DVDs, CDs, programs of years gone by, and t-shirts. ALL of the items are signed by the many talented artists that have played at Farm Aid over the past twenty-three years.

There are even a few TOP SECRET items that you won't know about if you're not there! As always, all proceeds go towards Farm Aid's work to keep farmers on their land, thriving and growing the good food we love.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The lineup! And Farm Aid in HD!

The official lineup for Farm Aid 2008 Presented by Whole Foods Market and Horizon Organic was announced a couple of weeks ago, but if you're not in the habit of seeking out press releases, you might just have missed it. Click here to check out all the great artists performing this year!

We also announced a few ways to experience the concert. The first, and obviously best way, is to be at the show live at the Comcast Center on September 20th! Unfortunately for some, the show is sold out, so that may or may not be possible for you. Luckily, DIRECTV will be broadcasting the concert live, without commercials, starting at 4pm on its channel The 101 Network. On the 101 you'll be able to see the concert in high definition with surround sound! You'll miss out on the delicious HOMEGROWN food we're bringing to the concert, but you'll get all the sights and sounds brought right to your living room. Finally, this year we will continue our tradition of offering a free live webcast on FarmAid.org starting at 4pm.

This blog will be updated throughout the concert with dispatches from the Comcast Center. Words not enough for you? We'll also be bringing you photos with the concert's flickr group and videos on Farm Aid's Youtube channel.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Kari says, "Join Us at Farm Aid Eve!"

My job here at Farm Aid sometimes involves planning fantastic parties. Luckily, I had a lot of preparatory work growing up planning Cabbage Patch Kids’ tea parties, so this is second nature to me. My job also requires that I ask people to donate money so that Farm Aid can continue to grow the Good Food Movement so that we all have access to the good food that only family farmers can grow. These two tasks come together in an event that I’m planning here at Farm Aid… an event I like to call “Farm Aid Eve.” The event will be held (you guessed it!) the night before the concert on Friday, September 19th.

I’ve been working with the lovely folks at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge, which will be site for Farm Aid Eve. Events can be a little hectic and stressful, but Jennifer McMahon and Jim Anello are a dream to work with.

Chef Peter Davis (Henrietta’s Table) has created an amazing family farm menu. Chef Jody Adams (Rialto) will also be on hand that evening to lend her talents. Grey Goose, Five Rivers Vineyards, Poland Springs, and the Cambridge Brewing Company are all donating their wonderful products to make sure we have a good time. Will Dailey will be there to entertain us with his wonderful music. Tickets are $100 per person and 100% of the evening’s proceeds will go to work for family farmers.

I hope you will make plans to join us. The festivities start off at 6:30 with cocktails! Click here to register online!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Less than three weeks to go!

The office is humming all the time here, with less than three weeks to go until the big day! In case you were wondering what it takes to make a Farm Aid concert come together, here’s a quick synopsis of what we’re doing:
  • Coordinating volunteers and all the jobs they’re doing
  • Helping artists with all of their travel logistics
  • Designing and writing for the program book
  • Working out the details for our webcast (live from 4-11 pm at www.farmaid.org!)
  • Mailing out Farmyard tickets, Farmyard goodie packages, and t-shirt orders
  • Filming on-farm spots for the tv show
  • Writing the script for our pre-show press event
  • Pitching stories to local and national media
  • Credentialing the more than 300 members of the press we expect on Sept 20!
  • Sourcing food and decorations from local farms
  • Designing banners and signs
  • Coordinating our composting and recycling efforts
  • Renting vans and coordinating shuttles to pick up artists, volunteers, and farmers
  • Ordering credentials so that everyone can get where they need to go
  • Finalizing sponsorship details
  • Organizing set times and length
  • Setting up site logistics (trailers, phone lines, tents, Internet access)
  • Finalizing the menu for the HOMEGROWN concessions that will be served at the show
  • Compiling the list of farmers and farm advocates who are coming
  • Selecting exhibitors for the HOMEGROWN Village
  • Finalizing t-shirt designs
  • Coordinating the food drive we do at the show each year (please bring non-perishable food items to the show to do your part!)
  • Planning the details for the Farm Aid Eve welcome party and, of course, the post party!
  • Answering TONS of phone calls!
  • Collecting photos from local farms and farm groups to celebrate the vibrant New England family farm food system
  • And trying, trying, trying to find time to blog about it!
We love concert season here at Farm Aid—it’s the best time of year!