The Next Generation of Farmers

This past year, one of the most rewarding episodes I wrote/produced for Growing A Greener World (on PBS) was the one on “Young Farmers”. It was all about who will be growing our food in the future.

The farmers and JennyJackson Farm in GA

As you probably know, the average age of the American farmer is 60 and most farming is done conventionally with the use of chemicals and industrialized methods. But there is a new generation of farmers emerging and they are young, passionate about the envirnment and willing to work hard to grow food sustainably and distribute it locally.

There were so many wonderful people making a difference, it was difficult for me to narrow down where we should film or who we should feature for that episode. But we ended up filming in the Atlanta area and showcased some really wonderful people who I am proud to have growing food for us. (Shown above are the farmers at Jenny Jack Sun Farm in Pine Mountain GA. Don’t you just love the t-shirt?)

Remember that we vote with our dollars. If we buy locally, organically grown produce, we support our local farmers – many of whom are just starting out with sustainable farms. Take a look at this episode (Link Below) and know that with our support and dollars these people can make a difference in the way our country eats.

To watch the full episode go to: Episode 213 – Young Farmers

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About the Author

Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive TV Producer and the On-Air Canning/Homesteading Expert for the national PBS gardening TV series, Growing A Greener World. She is a lifetime canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program. She studied both sustainable horticulture and professional culinary arts and she is a wrangler of chickens and two teenage children. (Not necessarily in that order.)

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Marnie Clawson February 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Would you do a piece on how this young farming generation will be able to “scale up” what they are doing in order to feed the population? I love my organic garden, but cannot imagine how my small production that feeds three families could handle the 300 million of us in America. Please speak to that issue.

    Marnie Clawson

    Reply edit
    • tinkhanson March 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      I don’t know that any small organic farm can grow as large as today’s commercial giant farm, but even so that is a fantastic question – what would it take to scale up such a hands-on operation and maintain food quality, pest control and service standards.

      It might also be worth questioning whether huge, large-scale farms are what we need in the first place, organic or not. Maybe what we need is more people like you, growing your own for you and your family!

      Not everyone wants to do that of course, but add in community gardens and schools producing for neighborhoods, urban farms and reclaimed lots producing in the cities, small organic farms selling at farmer’s markets, and then medium-sized organic farms producing more of the bulk.

      Reply edit
  • Theresa Loe/LivingHomegrown February 15, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Hi Marnie,

    Thanks for your comment.

    Well, your small organic garden is not meant to feed 300 million.

    This whole discussion about organic vs. conventional farming is all about the tipping point; changing a mindset in how we all think and then act. It’s the collective efforts of many, that will allow that to start to happen.

    Our episode on Young Farmers (and the movies GROW, FRESH and others) are about making people more aware of the problem so that they can be part of that tipping point. You can’t change a problem until you know one exists. Only then can you take steps to change. And on a problem of such magnitude, it will involve many.

    Yes, commercial ag. is dominated by traditional farming and GMO’s, for now. In Maria Rodale’s book, Organic Manifesto, she talks about how farmers don’t necessarily “want” to farm with chemicals, but that’s where demand is and pricing, thanks to many govt. subsidies. They’ll grow what the market demands, if they can do so profitably. It must start by all of us demanding organic. It’s supply and demand. It will eventually impact farming on a commercial level and then change would be real.

    It’s a big goal, but it is possible. So even backyard organic farmers can play a role in change. Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

    Reply edit
  • The Prudent Homemaker February 19, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Profitably is definitely the question. There are so many factors involved, and becoming certified organic is ridicidulously expensive.

    Reply edit
  • Theresa Loe/LivingHomegrown February 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Hi Prudent Homemaker,

    You are SO right. That’s why so many of the farmers we interviewed were not certified organic. They grew organically, but were not certified. It was their hope to become certified eventually. But it is a tough row to hoe (pun intended).


    Reply edit
  • Bruce Weaver April 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Great Video on young farmers. Worth adding some resources for New Farmers.

    Reply edit

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