Next Generation Farmers: Getting kids excited about farming
Organized by: Lauren Upton
My son asked me the other day, “Do you know why there aren’t tomatoes on McDonald’s hamburgers?” Of course, I had no idea where he was going with this. He went to explain that it is because there aren’t enough tomatoes grown to put on every McDonald’s hamburger in the world. He goes on to say that there just aren’t enough farmers anymore. You can’t imagine how happy it made me! My son is starting to think the way I have been thinking. Do you know where your food comes from and how it was raised? Concerned about the environment and the livelyhood of the years and generations to come?
Create a homestead environment to educate our community about the opportunities and benefits of local farming and homesteading as an alternative to the “normal” nine to five job. By setting up a non-profit this will give us the ability to provide experiences and learning via hands on instructional classes on organic gardening, humanly raising chickens and other livestock, processing wool, making butter and cheese, and more. We do not want to stop at adults with interest but provide students and our younger generation opportunities to get involved and excited about about farming.
We are currently in the process of filing for 501(c)(3) in order to become a non-profit charity. Funds are needed to ensure the applications are filed properly and secure a down payment for land. We are currently forming a board of individuals in the community who are already making progress towards the cause in their own way. This includes local farmers, homesteaders, conservationists, accountants, and others who feel this way and are already educating others. If you believe in the movement, I encourage you to donate and/or share with your contacts. We all deserve quality food, and we cannot guarantee the future of our agriculture without new farmers emerging from the next generations.
Benefits to Sponsers:
Become a part of the next generation farming movement. Make a difference in the future of our country's food supply. Join us for upcoming fun, exciting events as well as opportunities to particpate in free classes.
My name is Lauren. I am a single mom, a CPA, and I like to think I am unique. I have reason for this. I had my son at the age of 16. I wasn’t able to finish high school, but obtained a GED. At the time I graduated college, with an accounting and finance degree, only less than 3% of teenage moms graduated college. I am a statistic. I have “drive”. The drive needed to not only to succeed in my goals to provide healthy, sustainable food for my family but to share my passion by educating others to be able to do the same. Please assist in supporting our cause by helping fund us.
More on the Founder:
I grew up in North Carolina in a typical middle income suburb. My exposure to farming at a young age was horse camp and my grandparent’s garden. I can still say today that they grew the biggest, reddest, best tasting tomatoes. They gave me a great appreciation for home grown vegetables, and I have never out grown it.
I’ve always loved animals but have an, I guess some might say unusual, understanding of the circle of life. I love animals not just for their companionship but also what they give back. I was able to live on a farm for several years in Tennessee and got a sample of farm life which I long to have back. There we raised chickens, cows, goats, and horses. It was a truly beautiful period of my life.
I am a country girl at heart, but I have since moved to the greater Atlanta area. I have been obsessed with how to enjoy those same farm experiences here. I have been taking advantage of volunteer opportunities at local farms, reading, and enrolling in all types of homesteading type classes. It wasn’t until my son showed interest that I knew my calling. I want to educate youth and others in my community about the need and benefits of local farming.
We are still looking for a name for our homestead. Current thoughts don’t seem to have the impact desired: “The Learning Homestead”, ” Next Generation Farmers”? Please suggest any ideas you might have for our cause even if you are unable to contribute. We truly appreciate your time and interest.
David Fursdon: Article from TheGuardian.com
“The future of agriculture depends on attracting young talent by making them realise what a modern, challenging career it is”
The Need for New Farmers: 2009 article by Oregon State University
“U.S. farmers are getting old”
“There’s a joke that asks, “What do you call a dairy farm willed to the kids?” And the reply: “Child abuse.” Which, in addition to all of the economic, political, and technological forces highlighted above, points to a cultural element in this saga of farmer aging and attrition. It’s the mainstream stereotype that has dogged agriculture over the past half century: that farming is a life sentence to work your way out of, not into. This notion alone has been one of the most powerful constructs spurring successive generations off the farm in search of higher paid, better respected desk jobs.”
“The result is a U.S. food system that resembles an inverted pyramid teetering precariously on its nose, a system in which just 3 million people – most of them grandparents - feed three hundred million and the world beyond. It’s also a food system in which a startling majority of people don’t have a clue about where their food comes from and in which the average fifth grader can identify more corporate logos than local plants.”
Bill McKibbon: Think Big
“Right now the agriculture that we depend on in this country is very heavily fossil fuel based."
Question: How does farming need to change?
“The average bite of food you eat has traveled 2,000 miles to reach your lips. It’s marinated in crude oil by the time it gets there. The incredibly intense energy use of agriculture is an astonishing problem. It generates lots and lots and lots of our greenhouse gasses and it depends on a supply of petroleum that is quickly running short. So we need something different and the outlines of that something different are pretty clear I think. We need to replace some of that fossil fuel with human labor and energy on farms. At the moment, one percent of Americans farm. There are half as many farmers as prisoners in this country. We’re never going to go back to 50 percent of Americans on the farm, but we’re going to have to head a little bit in that direction because we need more hands at work growing our food and substituting for some of that endless fossil fuel. And it turns out there are lots of people who want to do that kind of work. And as we see demand grow—farmers markets have been the fastest growing part of the food economy for 10 years now—as we see that growth taking place we get more and more and more farmers coming forward to meet it, which is very, very nice to see. It will help immensely if we put a price on carbon at the congressional level, at the global level. The day that that happens the logic of the farmers market will be immediately apparent, not just to people who want good food, but to people who will quickly understand what an insane subsidy we’ve been giving in the form of cheap fossil fuel to big industrial agriculture.”
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