The NY Times published an interesting article recently about Kimbal Musk’s (brother of Elon) foray into farming.
Mr. Musk is promoting a philosophy he calls “real food,” which nourishes the body, the farmer and the planet. It doesn’t sound much different than what writers like Michael Pollan and everyone who has ever helped start a farmers’ market or community garden have preached for years.
Musk having spent years working in the tech industry has set his sights on ‘innovating’ the food world motivated by his passion for healthy food and what he sees as the ceremony of food. He has effectively dedicated himself to changing the way Americans eat. He is keen to promote soilless farming a controversial, disruptive opinion within the organic farming world.
For all his business and tech acumen, Mr. Musk can sometimes seem tone-deaf. At a conference on food waste in New York last month, he declared from the stage that “food is one of the final frontiers that technology hasn’t tackled yet. If we do it well, it will mean good food for all.”
When the comment was posted on Twitter, Lawrence McLachlan, a farmer in Ontario, Canada, shot back: “You might want to visit a Farm Progress show. Or even a farm. I think you might have missed 70 years of Ag history. It’s Hi-Tech stuff bud.”
As you may be aware, Japanese society is contending with the combined societal challenges of an ageing population, low birthrate, and the decline of primary and local industries in a highly globalised world. This trend has also led to a significant and rising level of inequality between urban and rural areas in Japan. While Japan may be the first country to have to contend with these challenges on such a large scale, these same issues are in the pipeline for all developed and developing nations, the US included. We now know that the average age of the US rural farmer is about 57, and yet there are significant barriers for the next generation of young farmers who wish to access land. We here at Greenhorns know this as well as anybody else, our mission is to support and motivate the young farmers movement!
In response to these challenges, the Japan Society and the Japan NPO Center have joined forces for Resilient and Vibrant Rural Communities in Japan and the U.S., and are bringing together leaders from Japan and the U.S. dedicated to the revitalization of rural areas and small towns experiencing economic stagnation and declining population. Leaders from Japan will visit West Virginia, Ohio and Nebraska in the first stage of the project. Through the sharing of best practices that build back community resilience and vibrancy, the project contributes to leadership development through a unique international learning exchange and experience, and strengthens the work and impact of the participants’ organizations and their respective communities.
Applications are currently being accepted for UVM’s farmer training program! The six-month program offers a certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and provides students with a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience managing the school’s 10-acre education farm. Each year, 25 students are accepted and learn everything from crop rotation to marketing. If you’re looking for an learning experience that is more formally structured (and probably more comprehensive) than the traditional farm apprenticeship, this program might be right for you!
The program runs May-October and is “designed for people interested in immersing themselves in sustainable, local food systems in a hands-on educational setting. Candidates include, but are not limited to: new and beginning farmers, urban and community gardeners, farm educators and students interested in deepening their understanding of sustainable farming systems in an intensive and focused learning environment.”
You can learn more at UVM‘s website and order an information packet for the program. Admission is given on a rolling basis.
Greenhorns, in partnership with Organic Consumers Association were in attendance last month at the national gathering of the FFA. The FFA National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, saw a sea of 60,000 students representing every nook and cranny of America (and its territories) gathered together for fellowship, belonging, education and scholarly competition. Between the ages of 13 and 18, many of these students are next-in-line to the family farm and occupy a strategically powerful position in the future of American Agriculture; they are kids with land. With a self-confidence rarely seen in teenagers and impeccable public speaking skills, these students in their blue corduroy jackets cut quite the impressive figure, particularly in a stadium context.
They are team-spirited, motivated and articulate, and most of them credit these qualities to the organization that brought them together, the FFA. The FFA is turning these next-in-line farmers, agriscientists, ag teachers and farm sympathizers into successful leaders, fierce entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans…for Big Ag.
This polished youth constituency at the FFA sing the praises, almost exclusively, of Big Ag. How did this happen? Lets start with the obvious place; let’s follow the money.
This video is the first thing you see when you click on the EXPO page of the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) website. This video has nothing to do with agriculture and everything to do with image. It’s the women’s version of the Marlboro Man.
Is this the right role model for these future farmers?