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Stone Hill Farms and the Young Farmers Conference
11 Jul 2012
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From "Finding Sustainability in 'Generation Organic'":

The Young Farmers Conference is hosted each year by the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Tarrytown, New York. Located 25 miles north of Manhattan, the Center is a fully operational farm that works to train farmers and design public outreach programs that communicate the benefits of "healthy, seasonal and sustainable food." In particular, the Center is charged with a mission to bring this message to children, that next generation of consumers and potential farmers. 

The Center fosters some extraordinary rural-urban connections, and, as exemplified by their introduction to the Young Farmers Conference, they also focus in detail on that other aspect of farming: the fact that farming is a business. The Center is also raising a new generation of rural entrepreneurs. All of these facets of the mission revolve around what Dan Barber, of the well-known Blue Hill restaurant and farm, shares in the video above: that "you need to be inspired by a place, and have that place become a part of that experience."

More than most media produced about "generation organic," or whatever one wishes to call this movement, this video can give us great hope. The portrayal of the sustainable agriculture movement as floating in a pastoral, romantic light – a kind of soft-filtering of Wendell Berry's hard truths – is greatly unfortunate. We are not having a serious discussion about the "sustainability" of this movement (culturally, economically) until we've brought the mass of new urban-born farmers into discussion with those farmers and communities rooted in their rural place, until we have "conventional" and "organic" farmers sitting down at a table together. Too often the urban/university-driven dynamic to this movement can seem to slight, or outright condemn, those farmers who have lived for decades on the land. That attitude is the least sustainable element of the movement.

Yet, when we hear this diverse group of young farmers explain their motivations, we can't help but be heartened.

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