The founders of First Generation Farmers in Brentwood, California have spent the morning squatting and stooping uncomfortably as they hand-harvest row after row of asparagus. “This is the hardest work we’ve ever done in our lives,” says Larry Gaines, hauling a bin of asparagus to his car. His business partner, Christian Olesen, announces that he feels like puking from the effort. Read more
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In wrapping up a recent conversation with Kiva Zip’s Justin Renfro, I asked him whether there was anything else he wanted to say about the crowdlending platform he helps to run. “Please let more farmers know about us,” he said.
It was an offhand request, but a remarkable one. In his mission to connect small farmers and food makers with sources of interest-free capital, his plea wasn’t for more people to write more checks–it was for more people to give checks to. Read more
If you find yourself at a Farmer’s Guild meeting, you’re as likely to find a date as you are a tractor. With seven chapters across Northern California, the Guild has become the “it” destination for agrarians looking to mingle. Small farmers and farm-curious folks arrive at these once-a-month gatherings to swap planting tips and talk rural life over beer and a homegrown potluck. The Guild is half party and half knowledge exchange. And it’s entirely about face-to-face connections at a time when most social networking has lost touch with its in-person origins. Read more
It’s spring, the first season of the first year at Alewife Farm in upstate New York’s pastoral Duchess county. Owner and head farmer Tyler Dennis coaxes weeds–miniscule dandelions and tiny bunches of grass–from a neat, compost-dusted bed.
Last week he made his first sale, 1,000 pounds of pea tendrils destined for kitchens in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, via the curated community supported agriculture (CSA) company Quinciple. The sale was a relief for Dennis and proof that his fledgling effort to reform an “unsustainable” food system could compete with established operations in the Hudson Valley. But more than cash flow, it was validation. Read more
When a friend of mine moved to a rural part of California, she called her new home “BYOB” or “Bring Your Own Boyfriend.” “The pickings out here are slim,” she said.
The problem with this advice was that my dater’s luck in the city hadn’t been so great either. And on the many nights when I waited for a guy to call, I doped up on rural romances. I treated my disappointment with the hope that outside city limits there was a place—Farmland, America—where the cowboys were monogamous and the vegetable growers knew how to ask a girl out. Read more
Filmmakers Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson say that their new documentary Terra Firma isn’t another movie about “messed up vets.” In a story that is more about healing than politics, the directors of Grow! follow three female soldiers as they overcome post-traumatic stress disorder by planting seeds and raising food. Read more
You may not get to own it, but a patch of soil could be yours, young farmer–if you find the right tools and partnerships. This was a core takeaway message at last weekend’s Agrarian Trust Symposium in Berkeley, California. The gathering drew over 800 young farmers, food movement thinkers, and potential land patrons seeking to expand the discussion around land transfer and the difficulties facing many young farmers in search of a place to farm. Read more
As Executive Director and co-founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), Lindsey Lusher Shute has united thousands of farmer-activists and supporters from all 50 states. NYFC is now in its fifth year of advocating for beginning farmers, helping them overcome significant hurdles.
Shute has a history of agricultural action: Before starting NYFC, she transformed an abandoned lot in Brooklyn into a flourishing community garden. Along with running the Coalition, she and her husband, Ben, are raising two daughters while farming 25 acres of vegetables and managing a flock of laying hens and a dozen pigs on Hearty Roots Community Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley. We talked with Shute about her work. Read more