Monday, September 30, 2013

Music Monday Celebrates Farm Aid 2013

MattToday's Music Monday features our first videos from Farm Aid 2013! It was quite a show and there will be lots more great music and other videos to share from the September 21 concert, but I felt it necessary to start with my most memorable performance of the day: Pete Seeger's surprise appearance at the show where he performed, "If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)" and "This Land is Your Land" with a little help from Farm Aid board artists Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews.

And since John Mellencamp introduced Pete Seeger above, here's his set too:

Our YouTube channel has 1,300 other Farm Aid videos and we'll be bringing you more Farm Aid 2013 videos in the coming weeks!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Farm Bill Update: Time is Running Out (again); Here's What's at Stake

JenLast year, Congress failed to pass a new Farm Bill before the September 30, 2012 deadline. Instead, they bought themselves more time by passing a one-year extension of the farm bill that passed in 2008. Now history is repeating itself as the minutes tick down to that September 30th deadline again. Although the bill expires on Monday, many farm programs will continue until the end of the year because such programs extend through the crop year. But many of the newer programs will expire – programs that support new and beginner farmers, local and regional food systems, organic farming, and so much more. The Farm Bill, which has historically been a bipartisan piece of legislation, is so mired in partisan politics that it looks like the now two-year-long process of passing a new farm bill will continue to drag on.

Where We're At

The Senate passed a comprehensive food and farm bill in May. Its bill was expected to save $23 billion over the next 10 years by eliminating, consolidating and reforming hundreds of agriculture programs. The House, pushing for larger cuts in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, more commonly referred to as food stamps), decided to change things up. To that end, in July the House passed a stand-alone farm bill that separated the nutrition programs from the overall bill for the first time since 1973. Last week, the House passed the nutrition program bill, slashing $40 billion from nutrition programs.

With more Americans than ever before in our history now receiving nutrition program support, those opposing the cuts call the bill unconscionable. SNAP enrollment has risen from 26 million Americans in 2007 to close to 48 million today. Those who point to SNAP as a crutch to keep people dependent on the government ignore the simple fact that the average food stamp benefits are $4.45 per day and that two-thirds of SNAP recipients are children, the elderly or the disabled. The rest of the recipients are adults with children. Not to mention that the program has been proven to help raise children out of the cycle of poverty.

It remains to be seen, now, how the Senate and House versions of these bills will be conferenced, the next step in the process of sending a farm bill to the White House. The Senate’s version of the bill is a comprehensive farm and nutrition bill. Up until last night, the House had two separate bills. Today they will try to bring a vote to the floor on a bill combining the farm and nutrition bills back into one. The Senate has made it clear that they will not agree to the House’s gutting of SNAP. The outlook for meeting Monday’s deadline is grim.

What's At Stake

As our partner, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), says, "Without a new farm bill—or at the very least a modified, reform-oriented extension of the current farm bill—the innovative programs and policies that invest in the future of healthy farms, food, and people are completely derailed. Put bluntly, this represents hundreds of millions of disinvestment in a better food and farm future that we may never get back."

Programs that will lose funding include conservation programs, programs to help elderly people access nutritious food at farmers markets, and export programs that open up new markets to family farmers. Programs that will continue to be unfunded since last year’s extension include programs for beginning, minority, organic, and specialty crop farmers. Also un-funded will be programs that create value-added farm businesses, encourage rural small business, and grow renewable energy.

NSAC’s advice for Congress: "Congress should pass a new five-year bill that includes robust funding for the programs that keep our families fed and healthy, build local economies, protect and restore natural resources, and spur the next generation of farmers." If they’re unable to do that, they should approve a multi-year, reform-oriented farm bill extension that includes funding for the programs that have helped build strong local and regional food systems, bring good food to school cafeterias, and put new farmers on the land, among many other advances.

As Willie Nelson, Farm Aid founder and president, notes, "...people in towns and cities everywhere are taking matters into their own hands. They're standing up with family farmers and insisting on food that is best for them and their families. They're seeking out food from family farms at farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants. They are organizing to change the food served in schools, hospitals and public institutions. They're making their voice heard and voting for family farm food every way they can."

Willie continues, "Our message is hard to miss. America needs family farmers. Congress, can you hear us?" The future of our farm and food system depends on it.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

On the #Road2FarmAid with Micah Nelson

MattFrom the get-go, we've said the #Road2FarmAid doesn't end at Farm Aid 2013... it keeps going. Here's an interview with Micah Nelson, son of Willie Nelson and member of the band Insects vs Robots. Micah was super busy leading up to Farm Aid 2013, but on Saturday morning before the concert, he told us he'd get us these answers. True to his word, here they are. Just another example of someone doing their part, even after the Farm Aid concert is over. Thanks, Micah!

Farm Aid: How many times have you appeared on a Farm Aid stage? What is the most exciting part about performing at Farm Aid?

Micah Nelson: I've been coming to Farm Aid since I was old enough to food... I've played a few times with my family... I don't remember exactly how many times exactly.... I was very excited to finally play there with my second family, Insects vs Robots!

The energy at Farm Aid is always just right. It's a time when I feel most proud to be part of a family of movers and shakers that is fighting for one of the most important causes of our age...using the power of good music to bring folks together to support our family farmers. I think everyone who comes to Farm Aid is feeling how crucial the issue has become and it's quite a righteous feeling to know that we're making a difference while having a great time and also learning about how to continue making a difference in your daily lives.

FA: Why is supporting America’s family farmer an important cause for you?

MN: Our family farmers are the backbone of the country... they are the ones toiling out in the fields every day for you and me, growing good food. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't survive very long. It's a symbiotic relationship, like humans and trees and bees.

Climate change is the most important issue of our time; the farmers feel it before anyone else. The only way we will heal our planet is through the soil...This is what farmers are supposed to do: create healthy soil for good food to grow and so carbon stays in the ground. This is why becoming a sustainable farmer is probably the most heroic thing anyone can do. They should take all those "BE ALL YOU CAN BE" Army recruitment billboards and replace them with images of sustainable farmers. "THE FEW, THE PROUD, THE FARMERS."

The average age of family farmers now is 57 and there aren't enough young people to pass the torch to. We need to start educating and recruiting young people in schools to become farmers and spread the message that if you really want to serve your country, become a sustainable farmer! I met a lot of people at Farm Aid 2013 who are trying to do just that. I don't believe Farm Aid will save the humans on its own however... every day has to be Farm Aid if any real change is going to happen... every time we spend money on food we have a choice. It all comes from us. It's the little things that add up to big changes.

Also, every farmers market should have live music going on. We need to bring American culture back home....great local food, great music... that's what folks should be putting their energy towards. And bringing good food to places that need it the most, places where kids are unaware of how important the issue is for their future...we are in a dire situation and most young folks either have no clue what's going on or they just don't care ...but it's going to be too late when our parents are gone and we've inherited the planet... It would be great to not have to hit total rock bottom before people wake up, but it's pretty hard not to be cynical.

FA: What advice would you give your fans about what they can do to help family farmers thrive?

MN: My advice would be to kill your TV for starters (making a slow-motion video of you or a friend destroying it with a baseball bat is a fun one), spend less time on your computer and more time outside, in nature. De-program yourself. Get yourself free. Get rid of your lawn and plant a garden instead. Learn all you can while you still can about how to be as resilient as possible. Download an app called "BUYCOTT," which allows you to see exactly which companies profit from what you're buying, all the way up the pyramid. Shop local. Eat local. Support your local farmers market. And if you can, come to Insects vs Robots shows! We will be having a Farm Aid donation booth at our merch table where you will get a free download if you donate to Farm Aid.

FA: Tell us about Farm Aid’s Board Members – Willie, John, Neil and Dave. Obviously you've got a pretty special connection.

MN: I see my dad and uncle Neil as sort of like elders of the human tribe. I've learned so much from them growing up and am proud to be part of their lives and sort of walking in their footsteps. It is always so inspiring to hear them and Dave and John speak at the Farm Aid press conference. They don't mince words and really bring you into the moment and remind us all why we are there. It's like the annual tribal gathering of the superheroes who are trying to save the world. I loved Dave's quote this year "...if you have to frack something, why don't you frack yourself." Classic Dave.

It made me so happy for my dad to invite my band to play at Farm Aid this year. We love nothing more than playing music together and so I know my dad would support any musical project I am involved in, but I'm so glad Insects vs Robots (IvR) has been so genuinely welcomed by his fans as well, even though for many of them they probably never would have been exposed to our music. We've opened for him a handful of shows now and it's always such a great family-oriented time....people seem to have as much fun at our shows as we are having, which is good.

It was also a super cool feeling to have Neil come up after our set and give me a big hug and tell me how much he loved our set. He brought us on his bus and we talked for a long time about music and recording and he imparted some valuable wisdom and ideas to us, which we soaked right up. We are all a bunch of audiophile sonic-wizard-nerds like Neil so we all geeked out and bonded over that stuff. He has always made his music on his own terms and he always keeps it real so we connected on that as well. IvR has always lived and made our music that way and so I am glad that energy came through even in our 15 minute set. And every time I ran into Neil the rest of that day he would look me in the eye and say "GREAT SET TODAY. GREAT BAND." It made us feel really proud of ourselves for how far we've come as a band and all the love and energy we put into our music since Neil has always been an incredible inspiration to all of us. We are extremely honored to be a part of Farm Aid and hope to continue to use our music as a voice for helping sustainable family farmers thrive.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Time in the Village - The Skills!

GenevieveWhile it sounds like the majority of my time in the Village was spent eating, this was not the case. When I wasn't busy stuffing my face with burritos and cider donuts, I took the time to explore the crafts and activities the HOMEGROWN Skills tent had to offer.

In the tent were people of all ages doing crafts, making signs with potato stamps, and learning all about the significance of growing your own food, and how you can do it too!

The first HOMEGROWN Skills share I sat in on was Pancakes 101 with Amy Halloran of Farm Scratch Club and Thor Oechsner of Oechsner Farms. There they told us the story behind the popular breakfast, how the grain is grown and milled on farms in New York and later ending up on our plates. After, I spoke with Katie from Saratoga, who was shocked by the pancake demonstration and said, "I had no idea that you could get grains from the Northeast. I totally thought they came from the Midwest!"

While all this was going on in the tent, I was also able to reap the benefits of live music by The Parlor and Will Dailey on the HOMEGROWN Stage the whole time! I must say, I have become one of Will Dailey's newest and biggest fans since my time at Farm Aid. His sincerity, and interest in our mission is truly heartwarming, and not to mention his music is fun, catchy, and mellow all at the same time. I clearly wasn't the only one to think so, as concertgoers danced their hearts out on the open lawn.

Later, I made my way back over to the Skills tent with the hopes of making a friendship bracelet out of llama wool. At Fiber 101, Linda Woods of Saratoga Llamas taught folks where wool comes from, and showed everyone a spinning demo, and how to make their own bracelets. Unfortunately, the event was such a hit that by the time I made it, there was no more llama wool left!

That pretty much sums up my time in the Village! Fortunately, I got to explore everything I wanted to before the lawn got too crazy, for it took little 5-foot me over an hour to push my way back down to the venue. Now back to the concert!

My Time in the Village - The Food!

GenevieveWith this being my first Farm Aid, I was just as eager to explore the HOMEGROWN Village as I was to attend the concert itself. As a health nut, I was thrilled knowing that Farm Aid's HOMEGROWN Concessions® were made up of nothing but good food from family farms. With so many local and organic foods to taste, lemonades to chug, and eaters to interact with, I didn't even know where to begin.

Thus, I started with what I know best: coffee. I made my way over to Dean's Beans Coffee, waited in the world's longest line, and came out with possibly the best iced coffee of my life. I had a life-changing experience of what it means to be one-hundred percent organic and fair trade, and don't know how I can ever go back to my daily cup of Dunkin.

After this coffee revelation of mine, I made my way over to the Grow NYC YouthMarket, where I met Tom, a first time concertgoer like myself. There we tried the cider donuts, and the only words I could get out of him as he stuffed his face were, "they're so tasty and so starchy!" Is starchy a good thing? I guess take that as you will. Nevertheless, I found them to be nothing short of a delicious combination of moist dough and crunchy sugar crystals.

Right next to the Grow NYC tent was Jalapeño Corndog, serving hand-dipped corndogs and fresh cherry limeade. There I met the lovely couple, Tom and Erica from Saratoga. Tom appeared to be very inspired by the Homegrown Concessions, and revealed that farming is something he wants to be more active in. "I am amazed that everything here is local," said Tom. "I'm excited to pay because I know the money is going into the right pockets," he added. Beside him, Erica indulged in a jalapeño corndog, calling it "savory and spicy, all in one delicious package!"

Other popular concessions included Chipotle Mexican Grill, Amy's Kitchen, Patchwork Family Farms, and an endless supply of Ben and Jerry's stands. Guilty of trying almost every single one, I sit here writing this uncomfortably full, but with absolutely no regrets.

"If you want a better world, it starts with you" - Checking in from the Farm Aid 2013 Press Event

Genevieve"The small family farmer has to survive, in order for us to survive. We're not happy, till you're not happy," said Farm Aid founder, Willie Nelson.

This morning I had the incredible opportunity of attending the Farm Aid 2013 press event here at Saratoga State Park's Little Theater. Board artists Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews sat down to discuss the reasons why Farm Aid is still taking place after 28 years. They were joined on-stage by Farm Aid artist Jack Johnson, Carolyn Mugar, and farmers Ben and Lindsey Shute.

Photo by Genevieve Decatur

These artists, advocates, and farmers have all gathered as eaters to create a stronger movement for a change in our food system. They said that in order to fuel the good food movement, we need family farmers, now more than ever. We need a farm and food system that nurtures our health and values our soil and water, a message that these participants powerfully communicated.

"It is a collective commitment to make family farmers the center of our food system, and we will never give up," said Farm Aid's Executive Director, Carolyn Mugar.

Photo by Genevieve Decatur

Neil Young discussed the problems with climate change and the possible solutions aided by the help of farmers, while John Mellencamp discussed his concern for the loss of small towns and farms across America. Both emphasized that farmers are the backbone of our country, who continue to struggle to keep their farms growing good food and that is why Farm Aid is still here today. Farmers are the people who are going to grow and maintain where we live, and we need to do everything we can to support them.

"If you want a better world, it starts with you," said John Mellencamp. He is right. It is all about connecting and coming together to take action and make a change. The push to keep growing, and keep supporting the family farmer appeared to be the major theme of the event. It certainly left me, and probably everyone else in the room thinking, "What can I do this year to stand up for family farmers?"

fa board_0001_1
Photo © Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

On the #Road2FarmAid with Ron Stern, Farm Aid's Producer

MattLast week, I talked with Ron Stern, Farm Aid's producer of 28 years, about his #Road2FarmAid. During his storied career, Ron's been on the road with the Rolling Stones, Sting and Paul McCartney.

How did you get started with Farm Aid?

Well, I got brought in on the first one, when Willie and the then governor of Illinois, Jim Thompson, decided to pull together a concert to help farmers during the height of the farm crisis. We had 54 bands that day before 78,000 fans. There were only a few weeks to get the show ready and Willie's booking agent got a hold of me to head up and all-star production team.

Stadium shows were a relatively new concept and I was one of the most experienced of a handful of production people that did stadium shows and I was based in Chicago. It was an amazing day. I've only missed once since.

And you manage the quickest set changes possible by utilizing something that has gained mythical status at Farm Aid: The rolling riser. What's that about?

Most set changes are up to 30 minutes; we do many of ours in 6, 8, 10 minutes thanks to rolling risers. We have three rolling risers, or band carts, in use throughout the show. The audience, looking at the stage, always sees the cart that's loaded and ready to go, and the band plays on that. Behind the curtain or the video screen, there are two additional carts. One of those has just been rolled off the stage from the previous band, and we're taking that gear off and putting on a later band's gear. The third cart is always loaded, and we are checking that cart out with a separate team of roadies and sound techs to make sure it's ready to go as soon as the band on stage is ready to come off. Once it gets on stage, we're pretty much ready for the next band right away.

Ron Stern

How is the Farm Aid concert different from a regular tour?

It's a completely different experience. When you do shows with McCartney, or the Stones, or Sting, you have lots of rehearsal time, you do the same show every night in a different country or city so you build up a rhythm--you have a system so it becomes routine. Farm Aid is a one day show that happens once a year in a different place every year. So we design the show for the venue and we don't have too much time to practice or rehearse. We build in a little practice and rehearsal time, but it's nothing like you do with a tour.

Right, we do it once a year! People marvel that this is my 11th concert – but I tell them, "On concert day, it's kind of like my 11th day on the job!"

Yeah, and every year is different, every market is different, the local people we do it with are different. It's kind of refreshing. You throw a lot of energy in for one day, but as you know Jen, it doesn't happen in one day, we plan it all year.

Tell us about the "Farm Aid vibe." What's that?

Well it's awesome and that's a big reason why you and I and so many other people come back every year. It comes from Willie. Willie has a spirit of caring and togetherness, and everyone is equal in Willie's eyes. So the vibe of Farm Aid is nothing like a regular tour, which is kind of businesslike. There's tension and deadlines. There are deadlines here, but because Willie is so giving of his time, all of us are giving of our time. And because Willie is so fair to everybody, his way of being infects everybody. The roadies, for instance, they all want to come back every year. Many roadies tell me it's the favorite show that they work on. Because of Willie's example everybody wants to be part of it.

What's it like for the artists who play on the Farm Aid stage?

For the artists, it's special too. At Farm Aid, we have Neil, John, Dave, Willie, and other headliners. On a regular day, they're used to being the one star and everything is focused around THEIR show. At Farm Aid, we have 15 stars. You give them what makes them comfortable, but they have to share a little bit.  Their set time won't be as long, their dressing room isn't available for them all day, their backstage catering is communal and I think the bands kind of like it. Farm Aid is one day when they're part of a team—a community—instead of individuals.

What have been some of your best Farm Aid moments?

Oh, the collaborations we've seen over the years – it's endless. But the best moment was seeing Elton John on Farm Aid IV in 1990. He dedicated his performance of "Candle in the Wind" to Ryan White, who you might remember was a teenage boy diagnosed with AIDS after receiving an infected blood transfusion. Elton was our surprise guest that year and when he was on site he got news that Ryan White was dying. I asked him, "Elton, do you still want to do this?" And he said, "I just want to play." So I took him to the stage and he did the most amazing rendition of "Candle in the Wind," just him and the piano. I don't know how to put that in words... there's a million Farm Aid stories.

How has Farm Aid changed you?

It makes me eat better. When I started, I did it for the production end because that was my career. Now, I really hear, and live, the message. I eat organic, I buy local. And I enjoy meeting the people who believe in what Farm Aid believes. I find them to be sort of un-conventional people.

Farm Aid makes me realize there's a bigger picture. It doesn't all have to be about your daily grind. You can give back a little bit. The trick is finding a job that you want to go to every day. Farm Aid is my favorite job. The first Farm Aid concert was the hardest job of my life. And keeping Farm Aid going, for 28 years, I'm kind of proud of that. It's not just the concert… it's so much more than the concert.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Farm Aid 2013 Lineup Schedule

MattMost of the Farm Aid staff has arrived here in Saratoga Springs, New York and we're watching the pieces start to come together for Saturday's concert. Those of you who've downloaded our Farm Aid 2013 app for iPhone and Android have already seen the schedule for the lineup, but here are the details for everyone who hasn't had a chance to install it yet. (And if you haven't got it on your smartphone yet, you're missing out on creating your own schedule of performances and exhibits, a map of all the details at the venue, and late-breaking news and contests for concertgoers.)

Please be aware that the schedule is still subject to change. Last updated 9/20/2013.

  • 12:30pm - Blackwood Quartet
  • 12:40pm - Jesse Lenat
  • 12:55pm - Sasha Dobson
  • 1:10pm - Insects vs. Robots
  • 1:35pm - Pegi Young & The Survivors
  • 1:55pm - Bahamas
  • 2:20pm - Carlene Carter
  • 2:50pm - Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
  • 3:20pm - Toad the Wet Sprocket
  • 3:50pm - Amos Lee
  • 4:30pm - Kacey Musgraves
  • 5:10pm - Jamey Johnson
  • 5:55pm - Jack Johnson
  • 6:55pm - Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds
  • 7:50pm - John Mellencamp
  • 8:50pm - Neil Young
  • 9:50pm - Willie Nelson

Before you head out to Saratoga Performing Arts Center, be sure to take a look at the venue policies on our information page. And remember to help our food drive with Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York by bringing non-perishable food and non-food items that are in boxes, cans or plastic bottles (no glass). Suggested donation items include canned tuna and protein, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, hearty cold weather meals like stew and soup and peanut butter. (More details on the food drive and everything else you could want to know is on our About the Concert page.)

Doors open at noon and the show will run until 11pm. You'll want to come for the whole day — you won't want to miss any of the generous artists who have donated all the expenses for their travel and performances, and to see the unique on-stage collaborations that happen so often between artists at Farm Aid.

You'll also want to set aside time to explore the HOMEGROWN Village, which is open from noon until 6pm, to experience hands-on, interactive exhibits from a wide variety of food and farming groups to learn more about farmers and where your food comes from. Stop by the HOMEGROWN Skills Tent to learn skills like making your own cheese or bacon and much more.

And finally, if you're not joining us in Saratoga Springs this year, remember to tune into our webcast, Farm Aid 2013 Live Presented by Amy's Kitchen from 5-11pm Eastern on And if you're on Twitter, use the hashtags #FarmAid2013 and #Road2FarmAid to share your experiences!

Monday, September 16, 2013

On the #Road2FarmAid with a Rockin' Volunteer

#Road2FarmAidThis will be my 16th Farm Aid concert. I work for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), an organization born from the same parents as Farm Aid: the U.S. family farm crisis of the 1980s.

IATP and Farm Aid are fraternal twins.We definitely belong to the same family, we’re very close in age, but as often happens, one sibling is the cool one, hanging out with rock stars while the other, the nerd, spends time studying policy and international trade agreements and not wearing hip clothes.

I’m in charge of fundraising at IATP. This means I get to talk a lot about the work we’re doing, but I don’t often get the chance to interact with our partners and friends around the country. My volunteer job at the Farm Aid concert has been pretty much the same over the years; I help match members of the press with farmers, so that the actual stories, struggles and successes of farm families have a voice. Unfortunately, not everyone gets a one-on-one interview with Willie – but everyone can have an interview with a real family farmer. And I can help make that happen!

The annual Farm Aid concert is my chance to see everyone, catch up, and be reminded of the critical parts each individual, group and organization plays in this tremendous and important battle, fighting for family farmers and a safe and healthy food supply for all of us.

The battle isn’t getting any easier – not only do we have national and international policies stacking the deck against family farmers in favor of multinational corporate interests, but climate change is making extreme droughts, floods and storms commonplace.

The Farm Aid concert is one of the highlights of my year. For me, Farm Aid is a chance to recharge my batteries and remember who and what we’re fighting for -- and be buoyed by the excellent work being done by others in our extended family.

I can’t wait to meet the local farmers, oh, and eat as much Patchwork Family Farms pork as I possibly can. You can find them in the HOMEGROWN Concessions area – have a ham steak early, and then go back later for a pork chop. Trust me on this one.

If you can’t be with us in Saratoga Springs on Saturday, make a point to stop in at a local farmers market, buy some really great food, and thank the farmers who grew it. If you’re not sure, ask them their favorite way to prepare their food – I guarantee they’ll have an answer for you, and it will be delicious.

Kate Hoff
VP for Development
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Eating Well on the Road to Farm Aid!

HildeIt’s in these final days before Farm Aid staff pack up and head to the concert venue in which the magic really happens. It must be magic, because miraculously months of concert planning and event programming come together just in the nick of time.

I wish I could say the same about my suitcase. While I’m generally pretty on top of things, when it comes to concert packing I find myself throwing clothes into a heap minutes before heading out the door and inevitably I forget something I really could have used. One thing, however, I’m glad I won’t have to worry about is packing good food or thinking about how to find it while I’m away from home.

Thanks to the great folks at Eat Well Guide, Farm Aid 2013 has its very own special Eat Well edition connecting concertgoers and Farm Aid staff alike to all the farm-fresh options in and around Saratoga Springs. From restaurants and grocery stores to farmers markets and the farmers themselves, the guide makes it super easy to support family farmers and enjoy some delicious eats in the days surrounding the concert. For those of us road-tripping, the Eat Well En Route mapping tool highlights good food stops along the #Road2FarmAid as well.

On concert day, HOMEGROWN Concessions® keeps the good food coming, offering family farm food throughout the venue all day long.

Visit to print the Eat Well Guide or download it to a mobile device. And make sure to download the Farm Aid 2013 app to check out all the HOMEGROWN food & drink offerings on concert day.

Friday, September 13, 2013

On the #Road2FarmAid with Kacey Musgraves

#Road2FarmAidWe caught up with Kacey Musgraves a couple days after she was nominated for six Country Music Awards, tying the record for most nominations!

Kacey is nominated for the year's top female vocalist, new artist, album for her debut "Same Trailer Different Park" and single for her debut single "Merry Go 'Round." She has two song of the year nominations, an award that goes to songwriters. One is for co-writing "Merry Go 'Round" and the other, for co-writing Miranda Lambert's hit "Mama's Broken Heart." And, we're proud to say, she's on the Farm Aid 2013 stage! Kacey had time to answer a few questions about her first Farm Aid appearance and what it means to her on the #Road2FarmAid.

FA: How many times have you appeared on a Farm Aid stage? What is the most exciting part about performing at Farm Aid?

KM: This is my first time! I'm excited to be part of such a musically credible and humanely beneficial event!

FA: Why is supporting America's family farmer an important cause for you?

KM: Pure food can be our best medicine. Who better to support, than those who support us, by supplying the food we were meant to eat?

FA: What do you think the most challenging issue facing family farmers is right now? What advice would you give your fans about what they can do to help family farmers thrive?

KM: Buy locally! Stay away from genetically modified foods!

FA: Tell us about your connection to Farm Aid's Board Members — Willie, John, Neil and Dave.

KM: I'm so honored to be a part of such a great cause with musicians I've looked up to my whole life! Can't wait for Farm Aid!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A note from a Farm Aid supporter on the #Road2FarmAid

KariI have the pleasure of working with some amazing people who support family farmers and Farm Aid with generous donations. Travis Webb, a trauma surgeon by day, intermittent farm hand for his dad on their Illinois family farm, is one of those people. I wanted to share a recent note he sent to me. It's hearing stories like this one from people involved with Farm Aid that inspire me all year long - but gives us all an extra boost of energy when we are in the thick of concert season.

Just thought I would send you a couple pics from my recent trip back home with the boys to my parents farm. My dad happily put me to work! Admittedly, I hadn't baled hay in many years, so I was pretty excited to do it… The tractor I'm driving was my Grandpa's first tractor. Dad had it refurbished last year. Pretty cool!

We are certainly excited to be joining the Farm Aid family again this year in a couple of weeks. It's hard to believe another year has passed. I look forward to the rejuvenation of spirit and focus on the family farm and locally sourced food. The experience that we have had with the Farm Aid concerts and the interactions with everyone associated with the organization has been inspiring and "life changing." That may seem corny, but it is true. I truly appreciate the work that you and everyone in the office and those championing the cause continue to do. Every day, I see the growth of locally sourced food, and I take a tiny bit of pride that I have something to do with that movement.

For example, my sons' school changed their cafeteria food sourcing this year to local family farm produced food. The really cool thing about this is how excited my kids are about the change. It's all about spreading the word and culture and getting people to buy in and understand the impact and importance of supporting local farmers and how that can translate into healthier lives and communities.

On the opposite side, it is so disappointing to hear about public schools rejecting the federal healthier choice lunch programs because kids and parents don't like the fresh food and smaller portion sizes. In other words, there is a lot of work to do...

We're all fired up to keep doing it! And we can't wait to see you in a couple weeks!!

Hope all is well.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, September 09, 2013

Music Monday Celebrates Jamey Johnson at Farm Aid 2009

MattToday's Music Monday features a new upload to our YouTube channel with Jamey Johnson's performance at Farm Aid 2009. Jamey has been a great friend to Farm Aid, performing at all the last five concerts and he recently announced he'll be joining us in Saratoga Springs for Farm Aid 2013!

Check out his 2009 set, with "Mowin' Down the Roses," "In Color," "Can't Cash My Checks," "That Lonesome Song," and "High Cost of Living" in the video playlist below.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

We’re on the #Road2FarmAid

JenIt's just a little more than two weeks until Farm Aid 2013 and the energy is high around the Farm Aid office. It's crunch time, and many details have to come together in the next two weeks. It's hard work to pull off an event like the annual Farm Aid concert, but for those of us who work at Farm Aid year-round, it's the best time of year!

The lineup on the stage is set and the scenic, rigging and lighting has been mapped out. We're working with a number of photographers to put together the images for the video set that will be the backdrop for the amazing music on the Farm Aid stage. The photos will reflect the farmers and agriculture of New York State, good food, and the reason Farm Aid exists in the first place. Artists are letting us know when they're arriving on site in Saratoga Springs and we're scheduling sound checks and set times. We're organizing their airport pickups and bus load-ins and making sure they have hotel reservations, tickets and backstage credentials. We're coordinating dressing rooms and backstage catering.

We're mapping out the speakers for the press event that kicks off show-day. The message they carry sets the tone of the day – it's a balance of celebration, appreciation, rallying for change, and fighting the powers that threaten the fulfillment of our vision of family farm-centered agriculture. We're organizing shifts and tasks for the hundreds of volunteers who make the Farm Aid concert possible, from the folks who help out in catering to the Green Team who helps us make sure we create as little waste as possible through our recycling and composting efforts. We have to organize right down to the detail of what time the truck arrives to pick up our compost material and how long it will be until that material becomes the "black gold" that will help a farm or urban garden grow. Our awesome t-shirt designs are finalized and merchandise is being screen-printed on organic cotton tees.

HOMEGROWN Village exhibitors are finalizing their exhibits that will inspire, inform and engage 25,000 people on September 21. Times for HOMEGROWN Skill Shares are being set so that concertgoers can take part in fun activities like making cheese and bacon and spinning llama wool for handmade friendship bracelets. Farmers are picking the apples and pears that will be served at our HOMEGROWN Youthmarket. The menus for HOMEGROWN Concessions are being finalized, and the last ingredients secured from family farm sources. The official Farm Aid 2013 app is being approved and will be up in the Apple and Android stores soon! The live webcast and the live broadcast on SiriusXM are being promoted and planned so that everyone, no matter where they are, can take part in the day.

And that's just half of the things that are being worked on! I didn't mention the farm tours, farmer meetings, film screening and after party (but you can read more about those here!).

The frenetic work of putting together a concert like Farm Aid means long, and often late, hours but it's a labor of love. And it isn't just staff members at Farm Aid, but people across the country working to put on the best Farm Aid yet. In the coming weeks, we'll be interviewing and posting guest blogs from those folks, to give you an idea of how the Farm Aid concert comes together. It takes a community, that's for sure, and we think we've got one of the best communities of amazing people out there.

We invite you, too, to tell us how you're getting ready for Farm Aid 2013, whether you're joining us in person at SPAC or watching and listening from home. We want to know what your road to Farm Aid looks like, and what you do in your daily life to support family farmers and good food. Share your photos, videos, status updates, etc. on your social media outlet of choice, and tag it #Road2FarmAid. And, as an added bonus, we've just announced a contest with the grand prize of two front row tickets! Together, as a community, we'll paint a picture of what this crazy concert means to all of us and inspire others to take action to rally for family farmers in their own communities and at their own tables.

Farm Aid's vision is for eaters and farmers working together to transform agriculture. We know you share this vision; we want to know how you're working towards it. We're all in this together, and it sure as heck isn't going to happen without all of us pitching in.

We look forward to seeing you on the Road to Farm Aid—we couldn't ask for better traveling companions!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Music Monday Celebrates Wilco at Farm Aid 2009

MattWhile today is Labor Day in the United States, a few of us are at the Farm Aid office making sure Farm Aid 2013, coming up in less than three weeks, will be a great celebration of music, food and family farmers! So this Music Monday has music from Wilco that will keep me motivated. The band has performed at Farm Aid three times over the year, with the most recent being in 2009 (Jeff Tweedy did perform at Farm Aid 25 a year later without his bandmates — watch that here). This is a recent upload to our YouTube channel and features "Hoodoo Voodoo," "Impossible Germany," "Heavy Metal Drummer," "Hate It Here," "Casino Queen," and "Bull Black Nova."

Wherever you are this Labor Day, I hope you're enjoying food from family farmers and a little beautiful music.