By Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator, FAO-Washington, DC.
Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day Network, Perspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme. This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics. Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.
In Today’s Perspectives we return to the important topic of the next generation of family farmers. What entices young people back to farming or to be the first generation of farmers in their family? George Boody, Executive Director of the Land Stewardship Project and Beth Satterwhite share interesting perspectives to consider.
“Part of what this new generation of farmers is seeking is an opportunity to be part of a community—human and natural.” “Farming can help such a community thrive by relying on diverse cropping systems and livestock production techniques that utilize continuous living cover to restore soil structure, organic matter content and water holding capacity, while being productive.” George Boody argues that “It’s time to shift this narrative to a story about food and farming systems based on sustainable, community-based approaches that keep the land and people together, provide healthful food to eat now and the chance for future generations to do so in the future.”
Beth Satterwhite explores her journey to become a farmer, from researching food systems to directly impacting them through producing food. “What’s my favorite part about farming? I really love the physicality of the work and being outside, experiencing all of the seasonal changes and weather extremes. I also love interacting directly with my customers at farmers’ markets. It’s a huge moral support to be able to chat with folks about what they’re making with our food, new veggies they’ve discovered, and so on, especially since I spend so much of my time alone in the fields. Farming is incredibly personal. Until you become a farmer, it’s hard to understand how invested we are…emotionally, financially… We go all in! Having those conversations makes it all worth it.” “What advice do I have for young people interested in getting into farming? First, you have to learn by experience: if you’re interested, do it for a year and then re-evaluate. Second, if you love it: go for it. Although it’s tough to earn a living from farming at first, with work, creativity, and good research you can find a way to make it work.”
Read both articles in today’s Perspectives.