Thursday, December 13, 2012

"The only thing I want to do is farm."

JoelAs Farm Aid's farm advocate, I work directly with family farmers to find solutions. Even when the constant refrain on the Farm Aid hotline this year was drought, I felt uplifted by the hopefulness and determination of the new and aspiring farmers who call. They include rural as well as urban folks, farm kids and college students, military veterans, new immigrants, mid-life professionals and retirees. All are longing to connect to something authentic.

One of my favorite calls was from an 80-something-year-old woman from rural Arkansas who called to learn how to set up a CSA farm. She wants to create an alternative to the industrially processed food products available in her neighborhood. "The food here is pathetic," she said. "There are just too many hungry people here eating bad food."

A young Oklahoma couple in their mid-20s emailed seeking help finding land on which to pursue their dream to raise pastured poultry, pigs, and cows as well as vegetables.

And a returning veteran from Ohio, seeking to re-start the defunct family farm, recalled being 10 or so when his dad taught him to plow. He said, "It was hard but I loved every minute of it. I'm now 36 and the only thing I want to do is farm."

As the hotline continues its work to save family farms, the silver lining is that more and more Americans, of all kinds, are investing themselves personally in growing, sharing and celebrating good food. Will you invest yourself in this mission too?

Every farmer deserves a fighting chance at success: access to land, affordable and dependable financing, training in sustainable and organic production methods, and fair markets in which to compete. Please consider a gift to Farm Aid today to make these things possible.

Even as the drought drags on, I'm heartened to know that family farmers are working to stay on the land and new farmers are following in their footsteps. Here's to a future of good food from family farms, and to the role we each play in making this future a reality.

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