Notes From the Young Farmers Conference

Thursday, December 19, 2013 // Eva Agudelo Winther

Hundreds of young farmers and activists gather in the “Hayloft” at the National Young Farmers Conference.

In early December, I was lucky enough to attend the Young Farmer’s Conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY. There were hundreds of beginning farmers in attendance, and New Entry was invited to moderate a panel discussion on Farm Incubator Projects alongside Maggie Donin from the Intervale Center, and Mike Sands from the Liberty Prairie Foundation. The workshop was very well attended and received, and New Entry was able to further our mission of strengthening the food system as a whole by telling the world about how important it is to train and support the next generation of farmers.

In addition to moderating a panel, I was also able to attend the keynote event where Wendell Berry, arguably the most respected and revered agrarian thinker of our time, spoke with his daughter Mary Berry at length about the new/old ethics of slowing down, enjoying “country pleasures,” and how sometimes trying to make change feels “like trying to turn an aircraft carrier in the Kentucky River.” It was truly inspiring, and complemented by a panel discussion the following day with former USDA Undersecretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree (D – ME), and Lindsey Schute from the National Young Farmers Coalition. These highly dynamic and experienced women spoke strongly in favor of every one of us stepping up to make our voices heard in the halls of government at the local, state, and federal levels.

I absolutely loved being able to connect with farmers, activists, service providers, and the good food loving public at this very special event. If you ever get a chance to visit Stone Barns, I highly recommend it. Their farm is gorgeous, they have lots of educational programs for kids and grown-ups alike, and they’re doing truly wonderful work to support local food systems and the farmers who make them possible.