The face of farming is changing in America. Among those heading back to the land are young farmers who hail from urban or suburban settings. They are supported in their work by a variety of initiatives and organizations, including the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Sena Christian (@senacchristian) has penned a wonderful summary article about the young farmer movement from Connecticut to California for The Guardian.
Christian writes about two farming newbies who are managing a city-owned farm in Connecticut:
On 1 January, Mantzaris, a mechanical engineer, and John Motsinger, a former environmental writer, began operating Sherman’s municipal-owned farm, which sits on a hilltop about an hour and a half from New York City. These two men epitomize the new generation of American farmer. They are both in their 30s, college educated, have worked their share of office jobs in large cities, and are driven to farm because of deep-held beliefs in social justice and feeding their neighbors. Neither comes from an agricultural background, instead consciously choosing this profession and the lifestyle and hardships that accompany it.
These new farmers face many of the same challenges farmers have always faced. But they also face increasing challenges accessing land, because land values are so high.
According to a 2011 survey by the National Young Farmers Coalition, 70% of farmers under age 30 rent farmland, compared to 37% of those over 30. The coalition was founded in 2010 by three young farmers in New York’s Hudson Valley frustrated with the barriers they faced, and 27 chapters now exist nationwide.
Absolutely worth a read.