One of the things I’m most excited about lately is meeting young people getting involved with farming—with community gardens and urban farms. We have this stereotype that kids just want to drink Coke and eat Fritos. But when given the choice and the access, we’re seeing that kids really love fresh, healthy food.
I recently visited Red Hook Community Farm, a 3-acre organic farm in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn. A 16-year-old farmer-in- training was there with her sister, who told me, ‘My sister’s work here has absolutely changed what we eat at home. Now we eat salad all the time, and I love all of this fresh produce. Once you start eating this stuff, it tastes so good; there’s no going back.’
The 2002 USDA Census of Agriculture reports that the average American farmer is 55 years old, so these young people really are going to be our hope for having access to the kind of local, organic food more and more of us want. If no one’s growing this food, we’re not going to be able to eat it!
When you look at the stats of who’s going into farming, it’s young people, it’s women, it’s immigrants. If we agree it’s important to eat local, organic food, we need to figure out: Who are the people who will be growing that food? And what are the policies we need to ensure these people can create thriving farms?
—Anna Lappé, co-author, Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and co-founder, Small Planet Institute (www.smallplanetinstitute.org)