Friday, August 30, 2013

On the #Road2FarmAid with Carlene Carter

#Road2FarmAidWe chatted with Carlene Carter, one of the Farm Aid 2013 artists generously donating their time and talent for family farmers, about her #Road2FarmAid.

FA: Hi Carlene, thanks for sharing your #Road2FarmAid with us! Is this your first Farm Aid appearance? Are you excited to be part of it?

CC: Yes, this is my first Farm Aid appearance! And of course I'm thrilled to be a part of the festivities! I'm not sure why I have never been able to suit up and show up for it.... But here I come!!

FA: You were at the very first Farm Aid in 1985. How did you come to be there? Any special memories?

CC: In 1985 I was there as a supporter. I was with my friend Charlie Sexton and I had a wonderful time even though I wasn't part of the show.

Carlene Carter

FA: Do you feel a special kinship with rural America in light of your Carter Family roots in Appalachia?

CC: Being a "farm girl," as my mother was too and my grandmother, I've always appreciated the hard work and sweat that goes into being a farmer.

We always had a huge garden when I was growing up, and I spent most of my summers as a child tending to it. I know it's nothing compared to being a "real farmer," but I still always try to keep my hands in the dirt. I love the gratification of growing your own food.

FA: Were members of your family farmers at any time?

CC: My Grandma and Grandpa Smith were farmers, as was my Grandpa "Pop" Carter. I'm sure there were several generations of farmers in my family.

FA: Your dad, Carl Smith, raised cattle. Where was that and would you call it a "family farm?"

CC: My Daddy, Carl Smith, raised horses and cattle in Franklin, TN. I don't think we ever ate anything except the cattle he raised and put into the deep freeze to feed us for the winter. He had around 500 acres of land there and it was called "Smith Ranch." But growing up.... I always would say, "Momma, I'm going to the farm."

Me, Momma and Rosey (my sister) lived on 15 acres in Madison, TN. We had horses and everything I love on it. Then, when I was 12, Momma married "Big John" (Johnny Cash) and he truly loved growing things--I mean anything! He took a large part of the land we owned and filled it with every kind of animal you could think of: emus, ostrich, goats, pigs, chickens, horses, cows, etc. etc.!

Great fun! And, though fishing isn't necessarily farming, it sure was a part of farm life for us kids!

Back when I first was a young mother at the age of 16, I had learned to can from Grandma Carter, and we had a very large field of every vegetable so we could "put'em up." LOL.

We had so little money and I was so happy to have learned how to live off the land more than most of my other friends were doing.

I raised a couple of calves every spring so we'd have meat for the deep freezer my Momma and John had given me as a wedding gift.

We raised chickens for eggs, had a couple of goats, and shot rabbits when we could. I can honestly say I hope I never have to pluck another chicken in my life, but feel like I could if that's what needed to be done

FA: Talk about Willie Nelson -- he's one of Farm Aid's founders and I'm sure you've known him for years.

I've known and loved Willie Nelson since I was 11 years old, before he left Nashville for Texas. So I'm extra pleased this year to be part of things because I'll be performing for the first time some of the songs off my new CD "Carter Girl" being released in early 2014 on Rounder Records! This recording is a tribute to 3 generations of Carter Family music. Willie and I are performing "Troublesome Waters," which was written by my grandmother Maybelle Carter and my Grandfather Ezra Carter and Dixie Hall back in the early 1960s. I have always wanted to share a song with him! And hopefully someday we'll be able to perform it live together!!

FA: Maybe at Farm Aid 2013! Thank you, Carlene, for sharing your #Road2FarmAid!

CC: Thank you! Love Ya!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Genevieve’s Farm and Food Roundup

GenevieveThere's a popular movement for labeling of food products that contain genetically engineered ingredients but did you know there's a demand for GMO-free music? Whole Foods Markets is selling GMO-free vinyl records in five locations in California. Now you can get your Frank Sinatra, Rolling Stone, and Bob Marley records GMO free, along with a side of “locally sourced” wooden headphones!

Kansas farmers are encouraged to start conserving water now, as new studies of western Kansas land predict a timeline of when their wells will go dry. For “the family farmer who’s trying to see into the future, and trying to pass on his or her land to their grandchildren,” this raises concern and preparation.

The USDA’s Rural Development Agency has requested that a 4-year old girl shut down her vegetable garden in her South Dakota backyard so the property can be re-landscaped. Rosie’s mother and the Kitchen Gardeners International organization are working to save this little girl’s garden, arguing that the government meddling in the matter is unnecessarily crossing a line.

Recent surveys from the National Young Farmers Coalition prove that fewer young people are driven to become farmers than in years past. Therefore, it is not a surprise that the average age of the American farmer has reached 60. Young people are finding it difficult to gain access to land and capital, and are taking more of an interest in smaller-scale operations as part of an environmentally friendly generation. This raises the question, what does this mean for the future of the American farm?

Good news for farmers! Just after celebrating National Farmers Market week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has confirmed the growth of farmers markets, proving them to be a critical part of our nations food system. The USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory lists 8,144 established farmers markets across the country, up 5,000 from 2008.

An heirloom corn cultivated by Native Americans hundreds of years ago has been revived under the name New England Eight Row Flint corn. Already extremely popular in Itlay, grain enthusiast Glenn Roberts is eager to expose the US to this “phenomenally flavored” corn, and sent a sample to chef Dan Barber in the Hudson River Valley years ago. Now, Barber has been growing the heirloom corn at the farm next to his restaurant, creating a popular dish among customers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Help Us Celebrate the Release of Our New Cowboy Boot Bangle

CorneliaWe recently announced the release of Farm Aid's Cowboy Boot Bangle, created in partnership with Charity By Design by Alex and Ani. We would love to celebrate the release with you at the following Alex and Ani stores on the dates below. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 29
  • Alex and Ani Boston
    115 Newbury Street
    Boston, MA 02116
    (617) 421-0777
  • Alex and Ani Cherry Creek
    2827 East 3rd Avenue
    Denver, CO 80206
    (720) 398-9837

Thursday, September 12

  • Alex and Ani Georgetown
    3068 M Street, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20007
  • Alex and Ani Saratoga Springs
    327 Broadway
    Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

The events listed below are another way that you can support Farm Aid! These stores will be celebrating Made in America and one year anniversaries, and 15% of all sales from the evening (6-8pm) will go directly to Farm Aid.

Thursday, August 22

  • Alex and Ani Southampton
    38 Jobs Lane
    Southampton, NY 11968
    (631) 353-3309
  • 8/22 - Alex and Ani Red Bank
    12 Broad Street
    Red Bank, NJ 07701
    (732) 268-7274

Wednesday, August 28

  • Alex and Ani Portsmouth
    104 Congress Street
    Portsmouth, NH 03801
    (603) 766-6793

Wednesday, September 11

  • Alex and Ani Cherry Creek
    2827 East 3rd Avenue
    Denver, CO 80206
    (720) 398-9837

Thursday, October 3

  • Alex and Ani San Francisco
    2103 Union Street
    San Francisco, CA 94123
    (415) 673-2841

Thursday, November 7

  • Alex and Ani Burlington
    207 College Street
    Burlington, VT 05401
    (802) 497-3609

Thursday, November 14

  • Alex and Ani Rochester
    145 Culver Road
    Rochester, NY 14620
    (585) 730-8018

Thursday, November 21

  • Alex and Ani Portland
    215 Commercial Street
    Portland, ME 04101
    (207) 899-4319
  • Alex and Ani Ridgewood
    134 East Ridgewood Avenue
    Ridgewood, NJ 07450
    (201) 857-0911
  • Alex and Ani Rye
    52 Purchase Street
    Rye, NY 10580
    (914) 481-1506
  • Alex and Ani Victor
    236 High Street Extension
    Victor, NY 14564
    (585) 598-3853

Monday, August 26, 2013

Music Monday Celebrates Farm Aid 2009

MattToday's Music Monday features the debut of videos from Farm Aid 2009, which was held on October 4 in St. Louis, Missouri. Farm Aid members have been enjoying videos from 2009 in the members-only area on our site, but now we're starting to share the goods with fans on our YouTube channel. The lineup featured a diverse mix of styles, with Wilco, Jason Mraz, Jamey Johnson, Gretchen Wilson, Will Dailey and more joining our board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews. Also performing that day are the two artists below: Ernie Isley and the Jam Band and Phosphorescent.

Ernie Isley is part of the legendary group The Isley Brothers and displayed his singing and guitar prowess on "Back to Square One," "Shout," and "Who's That Lady"

Matthew Houck releases music under the name Phosphorescent and in 2009 released a tribute album called To Willie (any guesses on whom it was dedicated to?). Featured here are "Reasons to Quit" (a cover of a 1983 song by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard), "I Wish I Was In Heaven Sitting Down" and "A Picture of Our Torn Up Praise."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Genevieve's Farm and Food Roundup

GenevieveA New York family farm won a battle against a large-scale utility project this week. The four-generation farm successfully persuaded the state to reconsider their approval to build 21 miles of transmission lines that would tear up their fields of soy, wheat and corn. The state agreed to work with the Krenzer family to devise an alternative plan, allowing them to continue their 100-year tradition of family farming.

More blueberry bushes and good weather have led to a surplus of the popular berry this season. The lower prices are good news for consumers, but not for farmers. Some blueberry farmers are suffering from 60 cents less per pound this year, but hopefully that won’t be enough for them to quit planting in the future.

"Rooftop farming is under consideration in every major city in America," says Steven Peck, president of the nonprofit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. Restaurants in Chicago, New York, and soon Boston are creating the next great farming frontier, growing and picking fresh produce on their rooftops to carry directly down to the kitchen.

In an effort to increase the health benefits of carrots, plant breeders have been experimenting with their pigment, creating a variety of purple, yellow, dark red and white carrots that each offer different nutrients. These colorful carrots have recently become popular among small-scale farmers, and are likely to earn a spot at your local farmers market.

Customers of the Chisholm Family Farm in Unadilla, NY, feel so strongly towards its efforts and contribution to the community that they are volunteering their time and energy to help build a creamery barn. A project that was abandoned by the farm's hired contractors, the dairy barn is now expected to be complete by November thanks to these kind-hearted volunteers.

President Obama spent the week touring upstate New York to promote his education plan, but instead found himself in the midst of the fracking debate. Activists and concerned New York residents swarmed the president in protest of the controversial issue that he has openly supported.

The new computerized inspection system used by 6,500 of the nation's meatpacking plants was apparently shut down for two days this month. Millions of pounds of beef, poultry, pork, and lamb continued to go out the door before workers could check for E-coli and other bacteria, putting consumers at risk. USDA officials insisted that the breakdown of the $20 million computer system had not compromised the nation’s meat supply. But officials from meatpacking plants say this and other breakdowns undermine the department’s assertions that the new technology has improved the safety of the nation’s meat.

A NPR story covered the biggest challenge new farmers face: access to credit. That's only one of the reasons the millennial generation of farmers often eschews traditional forms of agriculture and favors small-scale operations. Said one farmer, "It's a very rare person who's not grown up on a farm that's going to go out and say, 'I want to plant 100,000 acres of corn. I want to invest $300,000 in a tractor. I want to get a confinement hog barn with 300,000 pigs.'"

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The 2013 Farm Aid Farm Tours

AliciaWell folks, this season of concert planning has left us completely wowed by the power of the Good Food Movement in New York State. We here at Farm Aid are so lucky to get the chance to connect with amazing farmers and leaders in the Saratoga Springs area, and we couldn't help but give our concertgoers the same opportunities to get to know the farmer heroes of the region.

We are so excited to announce three different farm tours available to the general public on Friday, September 20th, the day preceding the Farm Aid 2013 concert in Saratoga Springs, NY.

For those traveling from around the country to attend Farm Aid 2013, or for people local to the area, get ready to learn from some of New York's agricultural trailblazers by joining one of the stellar tours we've put together.

All tours cost $25 per person and will include lunch. Buses for the tours will depart at 9am sharp from Saratoga Spa State Park.

Register by September 1 at and check below for details about each of these fabulous tours. We hope to see you there!

Farmer Communities + Networks
Roxbury Farm CSA, Kinderhook, NY
Gather your friends and put on your muck boots, 'cause it's a Crop Mob!  Help Roxbury Farm CSA, a 400-acre biodynamic vegetable and livestock farm prepare for garlic planting. Tours led by farmers Jean-Paul Courtens and Jody Bollyut will precede a lively discussion led by local farmer mentors and apprentices. Conversation will focus on the communities that support our family farmers – from CSA members to farmer-to-farmer networks. The views of the Catskills aren't so bad either.
Tour returns at 3pm

Achieving the Small Farm Dream
Pleasant Valley Farm, Argyle, NY
Join us for a tour of Pleasant Valley Farm and meet the leaders in season extension, winter storage, direct marketing, and much more!  Situated on 180 acres of land in Argyle, NY, Paul and Sandy Arnold will share their inspiring story to show how small family farms can be prosperous and profitable.  This tour will highlight the essential partnerships with NY organizations and agencies that helped Pleasant Valley Farm pursue the small farm dream.
Tour returns at 2pm

Creative Solutions for Family Dairy Farms
Willow Marsh Farm, Ballston Spa, NY
Dairy farmers have to get creative to stay in business. Join us at Willow Marsh Farm, where Chuck and Darlene Curtiss are using value-added dairy products to reach new customers and respond to local demand for their milk. Their 25-cow dairy now offers 40% of its fluid milk as bottled raw milk, cheeses, and yogurts, and also sells fresh products (including their own beef) from local vendors at their farm store. The Curtisses are building an on-farm creamery to process their own cheese and yogurt products. Get ready to taste some of the best farm-fresh dairy products around and engage in meaningful discussion around the challenges and opportunities facing family dairy farms in NY and across the country.
Tour returns at 1:30pm

Monday, August 19, 2013

Music Monday Celebrates Willie Nelson

MattThis week's Music Monday celebrates Willie Nelson with his set from Farm Aid II, which took place outside Austin in Manor, Texas on July 4 on 1986. It may sound silly as someone who's worked at Farm Aid for over five years, but I've been in a very "Willie" sort of mood lately. I recently picked up old copies of his Stardust, What A Wonderful World, and Somewhere Over the Rainbow albums and I find myself often putting them on while I'm making dinner or relaxing around the house.

Just a couple weeks ago, Willie performed Stardust in its entirety for the first time ever, at the Hollywood Bowl. While I was at home a couple thousand miles away, I can look forward to seeing him at Farm Aid 2013 in another month and in the meantime I'll look back at some of the classic moments he's had on stage over the past 28 years at Farm Aid.

This video playlist includes both his own set and a few of the collaborations he had throughout the day at Farm Aid II (like with Julio Iglesias and Waylon Jennings). Hopefully this year's concert will include more of those one-of-a-kind duets. Enjoy!

See our YouTube channel for more Farm Aid videos.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Genevieve's Farm and Food News Roundup

GenevievePaul Quinn College in the heart of Dallas, Texas has turned their football field into an urban farm, growing and providing fresh fruits and vegetables for the community. The "We Over Me" farm is an effort to encourage organic growth by offering students urban farm classes as well.

Ron Finley, L.A. resident and self-proclaimed "gangster gardener," drew quite the attention back in 2010 when he began growing vegetables outside his home, made free for anyone who walked by. Now, Finley has drawn attention yet again, in his recent TED Talk where he encourages city dwellers to "get outside and plant." His "gangster gardener" persona has earned him 1.3 million views, and has sparked a green-thumb phenomenon in L.A. Watch his 10-minute TED Talk here:

Chipotle Mexican Grill had fans worried when word spread that they were considering serving beef that had been treated with antibiotics due to the recent beef shortage. Chipotle has made clear that they have not changed their policy of serving only "responsibly raised" beef, but they may consider beef from animals that have been treated with antibiotics due to a specific illness. As for now, their ban on meat from animals treated with antibiotics for non-therapeutic use still stands.

Two years ago, a farm in Colorado supplied cantaloupes with listeria bacteria that led to one of the most harmful foodborne outbreaks this country has ever seen. To this day, the farmers of Rocky Ford, CO, are taking a huge hit. Even after making radical changes to equipment and cleaning practices, cantaloupe growers are planting and selling less and less of their crop, finding it hard to bounce back, let alone sell outside of the state.

Following in the footsteps of their Maine neighbors, members of the New Hampshire House subcommittee began work this week on a GMO labeling bill. The bill would require all products that have been in any way genetically modified to be labeled so, with the exception of meat, dairy, and eggs. If successful, it will take effect next July.

Sue and Ray Short of Tarrant County, Texas, prove that you can farm at any age. In their 70’s and well past retirement age, the Shorts stay busy maintaining their apple and peach trees, harvesting eggplant and okra, and mowing 11 acres of the land they have lived on for 30 years now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Music Monday, Starring Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

MattThis week's Music Monday brings us more music from Farm Aid II, which took place outside Austin in Manor, Texas on July 4 on 1986. Like our recent Bob Dylan post, this one was also enjoyed via satellite, as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Dylan, and the Grateful Dead performed at Rich Stadium in Buffalo, New York. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers also played at the first Farm Aid concert, so this marks the second and last (so far!) appearance by Tom and the crew.

Check out "Even the Losers" and "Spike" below:

See our YouTube channel for more Farm Aid videos.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Farm Aid 2013 auction starts tonight!

KariTo celebrate our annual concert, Farm Aid is launching another amazing online auction! We are working with Auction Cause and eBay Giving again this year to bring you unbelievable auction items as well as awesome experiences at Farm Aid 2013 in Saratoga Springs, New York, on September 21.

We are fortunate to have incredible relationships with artists and friends who believe in our mission to keep family farmers on the land. Loyal Farm Aid supporter Jeff Tweedy of Wilco is going to personalize an autographed guitar to one lucky winner. Jack Johnson is back on the Farm Aid stage this year, and this time he's signing a ukulele for you! And our good friend Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report did some redecorating on his set, and is sending us his interview table, full of scratches by some pretty famous folks.

On top of that, we have two front row seats to Farm Aid 2013 with VIP privileges, photo pit seats to get you closer than front row, backstage tours and more! When you bid, you're ensuring Farm Aid is able to continue to grow a strong, family farmer-centered vision of agriculture. I hope you'll support Farm Aid and family farmers, and have a little fun yourself by being part of our auction starting Sunday, August 11 at 9pm eastern! The auction will run through August 21 on, so be sure to bid and bid often to keep family farmers thriving!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Genevieve's Farm and Food Roundup

GenevieveThe American South, a place that relies heavily on their hot summer days to produce cultural staples such as tomatoes, peanuts, tobacco, and peaches, has struggled immensely this season due to unusual amounts of rain. While many are hopeful that the fields will dry up in time for fall crops, some farmers worry about the tendency of the southern climate in these situations to remain either dry or wet.

It has been found, in a recent study of more than 700 farmers, that weedkiller is making farmers clinically depressed. Researchers are unsure of whether it is the chemicals in the weedkiller that is causing this, a theory that will require further research. It does however raise more questions about genetic engineering, which has increased chemical use in spite of its goals to decrease use of inputs, and the potential health hazards of chemical exposure in our food.

On a lighter note, 16 teams made up of family farmers competed in the Family Farm Olympics held at the Phillips County fairgrounds in Holyoke, Colorado, at the end of July. Activities included a variety of relay races, involving wheelbarrows, tire-flipping, and eggs on spoons.

A food bank in Tucson, Arizona, is helping their clients become farmers, going above and beyond the expectation of merely distributing food. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has helped more than 50 families establish garden plots, allowing them to reap the benefits of growing their own fresh produce, instead of the processed food typically given out.

Students at the University of Minnesota are growing their own food to be sold at local farmers markets and school functions on their Cornercopia Student Organic Farm. The success of this on-campus farm has recently led the University to grant them more land, in an effort to feed the local community, and increase awareness of organic and sustainable farming.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared August 4-10 as National Farmers Market Week! Farmers markets have become a critical part of our nations food system, proving benefits for both farmers and consumers who seek fresh and healthy food. Which one of the 8,1444 farmers markets in the nation will you be visiting this week?

The first lab-created hamburger was unveiled this week, after years of research. Said one lucky(?) taster, "It wasn't unpleasant." But at a cost of more than $300,000, is this the protein of the future?

Farm Bill update: Congress has begun their August recess with still no Farm Bill resolution in site. Here's the latest on what to expect when legislators return to session in September.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Music Monday Celebrates Songs About Food and Farms

MattThis week's Music Monday is a little different. Instead of highlighting music newly uploaded to our our YouTube channel, we're widening the focus to celebrate food and farm-related music of all kinds! Over the weekend, I asked people on our Facebook page to share their picks for favorite songs somehow connected food and farms. I started with "Vega-Tables" by The Beach Boys, who performed on the Farm Aid stage three times (although they never played this song):

Below, enjoy some of the responses we got. First up is Johnny Cash singing "Dirty Old Egg-Sucking Dog" on The Muppet Show.

Next is a song and artist Farm Aid fans will be familiar with: John Mellencamp's "Rain on the Scarecrow," performed here at the first Farm Aid concert in 1985.

Here's Grand Funk Railroad's "Save the Land"

This is "All the Pretty Horses" by Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real:

Another Farm Aid board artist included is Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" (performed here live at Farm Aid 1992).

Going a child-friendly route, "Oats Peas Beans and Barley Grow" was mentioned next:

Merle Haggard and Marty Stuart's song "Farmer's Blues"

Taking us way back, Marvin & Johnny's "Cherry Pie"

"Sodbuster" by Danny St. Clair was suggested by his wife Bonnie.

Next up is Grateful Dead, who played at the first two Farm Aid concerts live via satellite, with "Let it Grow"

The next one is certainly new to me... The British "Scrumpy and Western" band The Wurzels with "Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)"

Traffic's "John BarleyCorn"

Neil Young's "Homegrown" was suggested by a few people. Here's a version from last year's Farm Aid concert with Crazy Horse and Willie Nelson helping out:

I feel like I heard this next song about 12,000 times back in the mid-90s. "Peaches" by The Presidents of the United States of America:

Levon Helm's "Poor Old Dirt Farmer"

Elton John's "Country Comfort" (another Farm Aid veteran, performing in 1990)

Alabama performing "40-Hour Work Week" live at the first Farm Aid concert:

Another Farm Aid pick! Here's John Denver and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with "Back Home Again" also at the first Farm Aid:

George Strait's "Heartland"

And finally, to end things, another English pick. Here's The Who's "Now I'm A Farmer"

We spend a lot of time thinking about music, farms and food, so if you've got more suggestions, please feel free to share them in the comments!