Inspiring a New Generation of Farmers

Inspiring a New Generation of Farmers
Jeff Squires
  • 20 february 2009

Ever since the slow food movement came to prominence in the 90s, there has been a general shift in the way we perceive food and how we expect it to be produced. First, there was the whole fair trade thing, then it was all about being organic, now, it’s all about being local – and one of the latest trends we’ve been noticing is young urbanites taking matters into their own hands, and growing their own food.

The Greenhorns is a documentary currently in production focusing on the lives of America’s young farming community. Speaking with farmers from Maine to California, the film is intended to support, promote and recruit young farmers. According to Severine von Tscharner Fleming, the 27-year-old director, the film is “focusing on young farmers’ toughest obstacles, like training and the cultural bravery required to take on a job that no one in their family really quite understands.”

While the term ‘greenhorns’ was originally used to refer to agrarians who embrace organic and sustainable farming methods, but over the course of production, the term morphed from working title and description of the subjects to become the name of a nascent agricultural advocacy organization as well as represent an entire movement. This past Fall, the organization received a non-profit status and has since gone on to advise Hillary Clinton’s office on how to facilitate institutional purchasing of organic foods as well as establish a database and mapping project called Serve Your Country Food that unites young farmers.

In Fleming’s directorial statement, she describes the role of Greenhorns as stewards of the environment and emphasises the diversity of their adherents:

We young farmers are an emergent social movement. We exist. There are a lot of us from coast to coast, and all sorts of unexpected places between—all over the world. We are serious, and if there were about 20 million of us, we could probably feed the whole United States.

My premise is simple. If I can make a movie showing you what is possible, introduce you to these myriad rockstars, I believe I can inspire more of my generation to become farmers.

Our job in this generation is to rethink, recycle, retrofit and restore our land and our community; the Greenhorns have come to this revelation and taken action. This film is a way to convene a movement that is for now quite thinly spread out on the ground. Population density of young farmers might be as low as 1-2 per county in America. Yet, once seen as a whole in the film, you will find it an attractive and coherent sub-culture: proud, strong, tough, and a little bit nuts.

Being a young farmer is a good thing, a fun thing, a hard thing, and worthwhile. My parents are skeptical about farming, and so are many of my friends. The point of the movie is to prove that it is possible to succeed. The young farmers that we’ve been meeting are the leading edge of a revolutionary trend. They are tracing the shape of an agrarian future: more farms, more farmers, better food.

Watch the trailer here.

The Greenhorns

[via Edible Brooklyn]


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