Guest post by Farmgirl Susan. Please visit her blog, Farmgirl Fare.
While the music stars are rocking out on the Farm Aid 2009 stage, farmers and the environment are stealing the show over in Homegrown Village. In the FarmYard, concert-goers can visit with real farmers, while exhibitors (many of whom are farmers, too) aim to educate, enlighten, and encourage everyone to learn more about where their food comes from - and how they can personally help and support our family farms.
Did you know that if everyone converted just 10% of their diet to organic, we could capture an additional 6.5 billion pounds of carbon in soil? That's the equivalent of taking 2 million cars off the road each year! And did you know that thousands of newly hatched baby roosters at a time are tossed--while still alive-- into dumpsters at large commercial egg laying operations because they're useless? Or that with an aquaponic system you can organically raise edible plants and fish (and have enough compost material to fertilize your tomatoes) using a fraction of the water required for traditional hydroponic gardening and without creating any waste? Or that you can turn three plastic water bottles into a shirt? Or that you can earn a sustainable agriculture degree at dozens of colleges across the country?
These are just a few of the interesting things I learned while chatting with the friendly (and enthusiastic!) folks in Homegrown Village. I also watched busy bees buzzing around a hive and discovered how honey is produced, was given a seed saving lesson by one of the greenhorns (who know that 'our seed is our future!'), learned how plastic soda bottles become clothing, and watched a poultry processing demonstration (using toy birds).
You may not be familiar with many of them, but there some wonderful organizations working tirelessly - and in all sorts of ways - to help keep our family farms alive (see links below for websites). The Center for Food Safety is the nation's leading non-profit membership organization addressing the impacts of our current industrial food production system on human health, animal welfare, and the environment. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service maintains an 800 number farmers, perspective farmers, university cooperative extension agents, and members of the media can call for information anything related to sustainability and organics. Sustainable agriculture educational programs are such a growing trend that the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association was formed as a resource exchange.
These are just some of the exhibitors at Homegrown Village, which is hopping!