Farm Aid Inspiration
Last week, we were lucky enough to be able to send a small group of staff to the Farm Aid concert, held in Hershey PA this year. Will, Kate, Megan, Laura and I drove down to the venue to add to the educational elements of the event, and spent 3 days learning, teaching, and being inspired by all the interest in small farms, good food, and great energy and music. Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land. In recent years Dave Matthews also joined their board of directors. All of the board members, and many other great musicians gift performances to Farm Aid to raise money for their cause.
The concert is just one day but folks from all over the country gather in the preceding days to attend workshops, teach-ins, and to participate in farm tours, reception dinners, and social gatherings of farmers, farm advocates, educators, and eaters alike. On Friday we went to a workshop and learned about how awful hydro-fracking is, and then we visited the Rodale organic farm. On Saturday, Will hosted a teach-in on genetically engineered foods. We all learned so much listening to the panel of experts Will put together, including Will. himself who has a wealth of knowledge and experience behind him. Featured on the panel were activists and farmers from around the country, including Ronnie Cummins, executive director of the Organic Consumers Association, and scientist Michael Hansen, the senior staff scientist for the Consumers Union.
After the GMO Teach-In, our crew moved on to the Homegrown Village where we set up a really fun educational booth called “Seedy Technology: Cultivating Thought About Genetically Engineered Foods”. With a backdrop of gorgeous photos of our produce, our staff, and students enjoying and learning on our farm, we engaged concert goers in some farm-based educational games: ‘Seed Match’ is a game where you have to match the bag of seeds with the picture of the vegetable produced; ‘Brown Bag Botany’ encourages knowledge of which part of the plant a given food product comes from; and ‘How’s It Grow?’ requires participants to put 12 cards in order, picturing the cycle of wheat seed from field to bread. The Homegrown Village is a paperless area, meaning we were not allowed to give away any handouts or stickers. We gave away buttons with a url to our website, leading to a page where we have collected a wide range of resources about genetically engineered foods. Included are articles, opinions, links to studies, and videos. Check it out.