The Young Generation Of Farmers

The average age of farmers nation-wide is nearly 60 years old. There is a new generation of farmers, environmental enthusiasts, and foodies, though, who are trying to change that.  From the family behind Freddy Guys to a 30-year-old couple, Oregon is seeing a renaissance in the farming industry. There has been a renewed interest in farming, spurred by the idea that our food should be locally grown and that we should have knowledge, even intimate knowledge, about how it is grown. It is still very difficult, though, for young farmers to get hold of enough capital to buy land, equipment, and seeds, and of course, to learn the basics of farming. The government has been trying to help, for example, by distributing $18 million through the 2008 Farm Bill to educate young farmers and ranchers.

One major obstacle in learning traditional farming methods, not driven by pesticide or artificial fertilizer use, is that most of the people who did this are no longer living. The new farmers' parents were part of a generation of farmers who were enthusiastic about the potential that non-natural growth aids offered. Younger farmers now look to sources such as YouTube for tips and peruse Craigslist for sales of antique farming gear.

Groups such as The Grange in Oregon are great sources of inspiration -- they have lowered the median age of membership from 65 to 35 and provide social and educational support for each other.

To read more about the new generation of farmers and their struggles, go to the full New York Times article