Last night Garth and I went to a screening of the greenhorns. It is a documentary made over the last three years, directed by the farmer and activist Severine von Tscharner Fleming. She was there to discuss the film and take questions afterwards. There was a lot of information to take in, and I am apprehensive that I will misrepresent the details here, so I have linked to their site above and below.
Severine, disappointed by the fact that so many films about America's food are horrifying and depressing, set out to make a film that showcased young farmers across the country- hence the moniker greenhorns. It was so vivifying to see people succeeding in many roughly sustainable ways. The USDA stipulates that anyone who has been farming for 10 years or less be considered a beginning farmer. I would agree with that. The average age of the American farmer is now 57 and it is estimated that tens of millions of acres will change hands in this country within the next ten years. There are a lot of educated and motivated young people who would like to make a go of farming, but more often than not, these same people do not have the buying power needed to acquire land for themselves. The network Severine and her fellow farmers are creating (The National Young Farmers' Coalition) could assist tremendously in this transition. For instance, after the screening, three audience members came up to Severine to say that they owned land and that they wanted it farmed. She may very well know people who are looking for a favorable land lease agreement that would permit them to begin farming in earnest. There is so much potential here!
The film is just one arm of a larger movement aimed at supporting, educating and connecting young farmers to each other. They have an interactive map where you can place your farm and possibly find other new farmers near you. They participate in public events to show off sustainable ideas for farming and life. I heard they will be demonstrating a bicycle powered wool carder and a bicycle powered sewing machine at the New Museum in early May. They are working to level the agricultural playing field and advocating for a new farm bill. This is exciting stuff and it is so integral to a successful future in this country. I can't wait to get involved. Please support them (us)!