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Agrarian Trust: Investing in the Future of Young Farmers

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

Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture

The Land Institute sits atop a sloping hill on the south end of Salina, Kansas, its 600 acres showcasing a living laboratory of grasses and grains being bred to “solve the problem of agriculture.” Founder Wes Jackson lays out the urgent necessity of this task in his latest book, Consulting the Genius of the Place: An Ecological Approach to a New Agriculture, published in October 2010. Read more

Shifting Paradigms at the Young Farmers Conference in New York

Last week, 200 young farmers gathered at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY for a conference with the aim to provide education and support to sprouting farmers. This was the second year of the Young Farmers Conference, filled to capacity and begging the question, will the conference go national next year, or stay local?

The feeling in the air was one of excitement; despite the obstacles, these twenty- and thirty-somethings were eager to better their skills and be a part of the revolution in how we feed ourselves. Workshops included those on composting, poultry processing, creative ideas for accessing land, navigating Farm Bill programs for beginners, soil nutrition, agroforestry and tree crops, farming through the winter, permaculture, bringing meat to market, and more. Read more

A Lunch with Wes Jackson: Thoughts on Sustainability

I recently had the pleasure of eating lunch next to Dr. Wes Jackson, President and Co-Founder of The Land Institute in Kansas. Among a plethora of other accolades, Rolling Stone Magazine just named him as one of the nation’s top 100 “Agents of Change” due to his lifetime commitment of creating a healthier agricultural system. The setting was a sunny spring afternoon on Earthbound Farm in Carmel Valley, in conjunction with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Cooking For Solutions annual Sustainable Foods Institute for members of the media. We sat there, sipping iced tea and munching on salads and savory tarts (all made onsite at one of the few completely certified organic commercial kitchens in the U.S.), but the pleasant environment, the chitchat of food lovers and chirping birds nestled in the children’s herb playground, seemed to highlight an ironic contradiction as the self-described “Dr. Doom” earnestly discussed with me how we are running out of time. Read more