When I first heard of the Agrarian Trust project, I misheard, instead hearing A Growing Trust. I liked it. In the dreams of many young farmers is a growing sense of renewing a trust in the land that helped build the agricultural beginnings of this country.
Any U.S. citizen is a part of the agricultural community, whether directly or indirectly through the purchase of food, fiber or cotton based clothing, plant-based fuels, etc. That community stands on a precipice. US Department of Agriculture studies have shown that the average age of farm operators is rising. The fastest growing group is those 65 or older, and in 2007 the average age was 58. In 1945 the average age was 39.
New movements, spearheaded by organizations like the greenhorns have encouraged young people to go back to the roots, fruits and leafy green of the American farm. They are an enthusiastic bunch of new agrarianites ready to fill the muddy boots of aging farmers. This movement is an inspiring lean away from damaging mono-crop models, and towards the security of a network of small farms. With this type of farming, consumers can feel secure knowing that their food is grown by people they know and trust, and not doused with chemicals or improperly handled.
Yet, these young would-be farmers often find themselves stalled by the lack of another kind of green.
Increasingly unaffordable agricultural land often seems to make farming seem inaccessible to those without the cash: an unacceptable outcome in a world that will need a predicted 50% more food by 2030.
Agrarian Trust seeks to change this. I will be helping them by rounding up profiles of young farmers across the country, seeing what has worked and what we need.
Last night, I had my first interview. It was easy, just a couple farmer friends living the good life in Montana. They reminded me how much I love farming, and how much farmers in general love farming.
Almost every question I asked led to a new line of exciting anecdotes, historical context and referencing. There is a lot of their story that will not go into my profile, because it does not address land access, but is still so important in understanding the needs of new agrarians.
So, I decided I’ll do a little double duty. In the coming weeks and months you’ll be able to find a farmer profile section, short stories of real farmers, excited about the land, food, and life. Here, I’ll include what can’t go into the official version, because the focus there is specific.
Stay tuned . . . and eat your veggies.