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Growing Our Next Crop of Farmers

From Seed, To Farm, To Market, You Might Not Recognize The New Face Of Farming In The Valley

Lindsey Parks, executive director of the Seed Farm with local farmers who participated in the program.

(page 1 of 6)

“I don’t know about you, but for me there came that moment during every visit to the farmers’ market when I wanted more. I wanted to be the one standing behind the folding table, a truck of organic produce at my back, displaying my heirloom tomatoes…and handing over glossy sheaves of Swiss chard. I wanted to be that…person at the farmers’ market. The one with ideals and produce to sell.”

Excerpt from Home to Woefield by Susan Juby

We used to be a land of farmers. No longer. Not that long ago, farming as an occupation was basically hereditary, and new farmers were raised pretty much like the rest of the crops: naturally. But large-scale crop production changed things. Soil became depleted, many farms were developed, and crop-growing land decreased by 70 million acres.

Nowadays, just two percent of us are farmers or ranchers. Add to this the average farmer’s age (58) and his offspring making other career choices, and the picture’s not pretty.

It’s a nationwide phenomenon, and across the country, solutions are being proposed. Part of the problem locally is that, in the 1980s, farmland was being preserved like jam in August.

But there just weren’t enough people interested in farming those acres. Jeff Moyer, Farm Director at the Rodale Institute, recalls, “We looked at all of the farms without farmers and realized we needed to do something to create new farmers.”

 

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