People start farms for all sorts of reasons. They may love working with animals or be drawn to the way food tastes when you grow it yourself.
Finding land and money to get started is essential. Grants like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher program are available to help you.
John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Dave Matthews stood before a standing ovation at the Ruoff Music Center in Noblesville on Saturday morning. But the music titans held no instruments in their hands and no belting of song lyrics had brought the crowd to their feet.
Instead, the audience in the intimate, quarter-full amphitheater joined in a single, succinct chant:
“Family farms, yes. Factory farms, no.”
Farm Aid returned to Indiana for the first time since 2001 on Saturday. The state’s last Farm Aid festival came 18 days after the attacks of September 11 and centered around unity and strength for a nation in grief. At Saturday’s press conference, Farm Aid board members and local growers addressed less visible but just as existential threats: climate change, corporate greed and lack of diversity in agriculture.
Sobremesa Farm in Bloomington, said.
Founded in 2013, Sobremesa utilizes permaculture, a collection of farming practices intended to regenerate soil and mitigate negative ecological impact. With the aid of grants and state funds, Sobremesa delivers produce to food banks and pantries the day it was harvested.
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One of those next-generation farmers is Lauren McCalister, co-owner of 3 Flock Farm in Bloomington. McCalister is keenly aware of the growing trend toward commercialization in farming, especially as a Black farmer.
“As a Black farmer, resistance is my entire existence,” she said.
The same goes for Deanthony Jamerson, a sixth-generation farmer at Black-owned Greer Farms in Lyles Station, an unincorporated community in Gibson County. Jamerson and his mother Denise cited the decline in Black farmers over the last century, saying more needs to be done to improve diversity in modern farming.
just 1.4% of farmers identified as Black or mixed-race in 2021, down from 14% a century prior.
Jamerson said that not only would increased diversity benefit farming, but that farming can benefit marginalized groups.
“I think it’s vital for people of color to get into farming,” he said, “because I believe it’s empowering to be able to grow your own food, to know where your food comes from, to build people up.”
Young echoed the importance of knowing where your food comes from. He said the work family farmers like Jamerson or Frew put in doesn’t matter if consumers insist upon the cheapest, easiest option.
“I’m not going to descend into the corporate farm assault, but I would like to say that we have the choice,” Young said. “Without the people behind the farmers, we can’t help.”
Young recalled early Farm Aid festivals in the ‘80s, where he would see attendees in bright red shirts that said “stop factory farming” in bold capital letters. Immediately, a man in the middle of the crowd at Ruoff stood up wearing that exact red shirt.
up for renewal at the end of this year.
Frew, McCalister and Jamerson are part of a movement trying to disprove the belief that feeding people has to come at the expense of workers or the planet. McCalister said when family farms work together and support one another, farming isn’t just commercial, it’s communal.
“Indiana grows food for ourselves,” McCalister said. “We grow food here to feed our community.”
“Stop the rumor: Indiana grows food, and we do it together.”
Contact dining and drinks reporter Bradley Hohulin at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @bradleyhohulin.