"We need more young people farming". I hear you Palmerino!
Since starting down the path of farming my reading materials have transitioned from finance and Wall St Journal-related to substantially all farming-related. It even goes so far as to subscribing to multiple monthly magazines. I’m not talking ad-laden, glossy covered, highly-edited mags like Garden and Gun, I’m talking about old school, gray paper, stapled-together magazines like Stockman Grass Farmer and Graze Magazine. Nothing like reading a good A.I. vs. natural debate on the train to work...
I've subscribed to the monthly mailings of both magazines for about a year now and I enjoy them thoroughly. The columnists are almost exclusively older and wiser farmers sharing their experiences and tips for successful pasture-based farming and ranching. One of my favorite columnists (and farm-book authors) is Jim Gerrish. He’s written two incredibly helpful books on management intensive and extended-season grazing and he also writes a monthly column in Stockman Grassfarmer. While I absorb and relish the advice and direction provided by those magazines I sometimes want to hear about what other young farmers are up to. Unless I'm reading a blog, it is exceedingly rare to hear about what's going on with other young farmers.
So much to my surprise this past month Jim wrote about young, beginning farmers. It was awesome. Maybe it's silly, but I got really excited reading about his thoughts on the young farmer folks. The genesis of the article came from his visit to speak at the Quivira Coalition’s conference in Albuquerque, NM. He said the conference was packed with aspiring young farmers and that he was particularly enthralled by Severine von Tscharner's speech about the young farmer movement. So much so that he wanted to write an article about it. Nice!
In the article he refers to the young farmers as “punk urban farmers” and then goes on to discuss a few of the reasons he thinks they’re different from the back-to-the-landers of the Sixties. These kids, he says, are looking to make a profit, live off the land and embrace technology, while still learning from history. He writes a bit more about the changing mindset of the farming youth, the social values, the educated backgrounds and many other unique factors emerging from the young generation of beginning farmers. I got fired up reading his column because I felt like I could relate. It's also fun when one of your heroes directly addresses the cohort of people that you identify with.
Jim specifically referenced one of our favorite groups of young farmers: "The Greenhorns", of which Severine is the director. The Greenhorns mission is "to recruit, promote and support the new generation of young farmers". Their website was a huge help when we first started our research and we've since visited Severine on a couple occasions and we continue to keep up with them through their blog: The Irresistible Fleet of Bicycles.
Thanks for the column, Jim, it was really uplifting to know that you’re just as fired up about the young farmers as we are.
Also, as a strange aside, referring to it as the "young" farmer movement puts us in a weird position when we have to refer to the older generation. Are they the "old" farmers? In Severine's speech she said "old" and then backtracked to "revered". I like revered.
If you want to learn more about the young farmers movement take a listen to Severine von Tscharner’s presentation near the bottom of the Quivira Coalition’s conference page
You can read more about the conference and listen to many (if not all) of the conference presentations at www.quiviracoalition.org, which includes speeches from Bill McKibben, Jim Gerrish and many many more.