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Series: Farmers Under 40


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The demo- graphics of farming have been grim for decades. But young farmers are part of a countertrend.

It's hard to pin down the numbers. The last agriculture census was almost five years ago. It includes a familiar story: over the last 20 years, the North Country lost 50% of its dairy farms. But the total number of farms has dropped by just 10%.

It is relatively new alternative farms--vegetable, fruit, and livestock--that are filling the gap.

Many are owned by young people. 40% of all farms in Franklin and Essex counties, dairy included, are owned by beginning farmers. Beginning farmers own 30% of the farms in St. Lawrence and Clinton counties, 25% in Jefferson and Lewis counties.

In our series Farmers Under 40, we're hearing from farmers of all kinds, big and small, from traditional dairy, to alternative small farms. But they're all young, and most of them college-educated.

From NCPR Blogs:

The New York Times “Room For Debate” opinion pages asks whether American farms can survive without illegal labor. Economists, activists and policy researchers all weigh in. And so does Benjamin Shute, co-owner of Hearty Roots Community...
No, this isn’t another new regular feature here at The Inbox, but I thought I send your way a couple of interesting pieces about food to send you into your BBQ and picnic-filled weekend. NPR’s Dan Charles really nails the heart of one of...
NPR’s Morning Edition aired a story this morning that fits right in with our Farmers Under 40 series. Hardwick, Vermont, is the town, according to author Ben Hewitt, that “food saved.”  Local food, that is, and the smal farms,...
Apropos of our series on the broad range of young farmers in this region, a friend sent a very interesting set of photos this morning, which Google tracked down to a  photo essay, from the book Hungry Planet, showing what families from...
We’re focusing this month on Farmers Under 40, so it was perfect timing to point out this article. Federal Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has said the nation needs 100,000 new farmers, and some folks think Congress will need to tinker with the Farm...

Organizer Severine von Tscharner Fleming, photo courtesy of Cathryn Kramer
Organizer Severine von Tscharner Fleming, photo courtesy of Cathryn Kramer

Motley crew of farmers celebrates a passion for the land

Beginning farmers from both sides of Lake Champlain gathered at the Grange Hall in rural crossroads of Whallonsburg in late June for a sort of mixer.

The mixer was organized by the Greenhorns, a nonprofit group that works on behalf of young farmers. The day included area farm tours, workshops, food, a puppet show, and camaraderie. Typical old grange-style stuff. But it wasn't farm business as usual.

Sarah Harris found the young farmers there are on a mission to change agriculture in America.  Go to full article

Farmers Under 40: young farmers have market savvy

It used to be dairy farmers in the North Country didn't think too much about marketing their product or who would be eating or drinking it at the kitchen table. A truck owned by your co-op rolled up and emptied the bulk tank. Off went your milk to be processed by someone else.

That's still the case on many dairy farms. But in today's diversified mix of organic and vegetable and pasture-raised livestock farms, things are changing. And Bernadette Logozar says young farmers are leading the way. Logozar is the regional local foods specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension.

She told David Sommerstein farmers under 40 are using new tools like Facebook and Twitter and good old-fashioned word of mouth to market their own products.  Go to full article
Ater readies the tractor and transplanter.

Grown up and growing food on their own

This week we begin a series of stories and conversations about the next generation of farmers in the North Country. We're calling it "Farmers under 40". They're young, energetic and willing to make sacrifices to be part of the farmer-foodie culture.

Community Supported Agriculture, or "CSA", is a growing trend across the region with people who like to know where their food is grown and that it's fresh. It's like subscription agriculture. Members join before the growing season begins, giving the grower the money to buy seeds and supplies. They also share in the farm's seasonal bounty.

One such CSA, Fledging Crow Vegetables, is run by Ian Ater and Lucas Christenson. Todd Moe recently visited their small farm just outside of Keeseville, south of Plattsburgh. Chances are you've seen the Fledging Crow booth at a farmers' market in the Adirondacks or Champlain Valley this summer. Ater and Christenson are both college educated, but growing and peddling spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and carrots wasn't in their early career plans. Now in their late-20's, the two friends are committed -- physically and financially -- to dirt, sweat and feeding the North Country.  Go to full article
Derek, 28, and Jake, 23, Conway in their freestall barn.

Farmers Under 40: business sense and passion for young dairy farmers

Today, we continue our week-long series Farmers Under 40 with a look at the young people getting into what many consider a shriveling industry.

Dairy remains one...  Go to full article
Young farmers gathered near Tarrytown, NY in 2009.

Young farmers connect, ready to grow

Two years ago, about a hundred young farmers gathered in Tarrytown, New York and came up with the idea of creating an organization to support young people wanting to work the...  Go to full article
Ian and Joe Birkett with a hops vine. Photos: Angela Evancie.

Farmers under 40: new direction for an old farm

"Get big or get out" is a common wisdom in the dairy industry. And many small-scale farms have gotten out. Northern New York has half the dairy farms it did 20 years ago,...  Go to full article
Middlebury College Organic Garden. Photo: Dan Kane

Farmers Under 40: Liberal arts students try their hand at farming

Land grant schools like Cornell University have long specialized in teaching agriculture. But across the country, liberal arts colleges are adding programs about food,...  Go to full article

Farmers Under 40: National FFA no longer farmer-focused

Even as young adults are learning to farm in college, one of the most iconic organizations for kids growing up in rural, traditionally agricultural communities, Future...  Go to full article
Todd and Michelle Asselin raise free range livestock and work day jobs.

Farmers Under 40: Big and Small, We Need 'Em All

There's no doubt farming's a volatile industry. With grain and gas prices constantly fluctuating, and more and more consumers searching for low prices, it's no wonder the...  Go to full article
Joe Orefice, mid-butchery. Photo: Kate Glenn

Farmers Under 40: A farmer and a teacher, too

Our Farmers Under 40 series continues throughout the summer. Today we have a profile of Joe Orefice, an assistant professor of forestry at Paul Smith's College.
...  Go to full article

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