Greenhorns: Building A Movement of Young Farmers

Almost two years after its founding in a basement in Berkeley, California, The Greenhorns has
matured from an idea for a recruitment film into a widespread national
community. We are now happily rooted on my first commercial farm,
Smithereen, on rented land in the Hudson Valley of New York.

In the autumn of 2007 we officially began seeking out mentors and
characters for a film, traveling the country with a confident intuitive
sense of an emerging movement of young farmers and a series of borrowed
cameras and generous cinematographers. On the road for these 2 years we
have found that the movement has emerged--scrappy, resourceful, adaptive
young Americans have brought the products and the spirit of this
movement into the sun, and we are proud to be the reporters of its
successes and a hub for a much-needed centralized network.

This is America, and it takes all kinds. All over the country we
have met enterprising, hopeful greenhorns: descendants of family
dairies, punky inner-city gardeners, homesteaders, radical Christians,
anarcho-activists, ex-suburbanites, graduates with biological science
degrees, ex-teachers, ex-poets, ex-cowboys. The sons of traditional
farmers, the daughters of migrant farm workers, the accidental
agriculturalists and the deliberate career switchers all mark our maps.
In foothills, warehouses, back valleys, and vacant lots they are
popping up as we reclaim human spaces in the broad lazerland of
monoculture that has engulfed rural America.

This Obama spring finds the young farmers as unlikely poster
children of a new zeitgeist. Aptly so. Ranging around the country in my
filmmaking, I have met hundreds of new and aspiring young farmers. I
have found them a powerful, proud and wily sub-culture. I have found
them to be charismatic icons of change, patriots of place, sensible and
sensitive stewards of land and resources. They are the creators of a
retrofit future, and just in time. We now have the political change.

We have reawakened our democratic will and discovered a dilation in
the realms of possibility. We must take advantage of the moment. Yes!
We are farming! We are hopeful.

The produce of local agriculture is in hot demand with the most
loyal of customers. CSAs all have waiting lists, and healthy mothers
determined to have healthy babies are fiercely devoted to nutrition and
the farmers who provide it. Popular literature and sensibility is
gravitating to our message of health for our selves, our soil, our
social fabric. I have learned that it is possible for us to succeed, to
prosper; meanwhile the market continues to grow!

Farming in America is simultaneously a privilege and a service. And
no, it is not easy. Young farmers in America face tremendous structural
obstacles. They seek access to land, capital, education, and business
training. They seek cultural support and open minded consumers. They
need reasonable paths to acquiring mechanical equipment and other
infrastructures of medium-scale agriculture. These are missing
components of our culture and our laws, and they are deeply missed by
young farmers who are forced to improvise and invent new institutions
to serve their new needs and new marketplace.

The movement is for real. Its practitioners are skilled, savvy and
ferocious. They are assets to their community and guarantors of our
future. They are shovel-ready, shovel-sharpened. Relishers of flavor,
recipients of the generosity of photosynthesis. Hellbent on recovering
from the age of convenience. They are young farmers with young muscles
wisely applying their lives to the problems at hand. But it takes the
applied passions of thousands, hundreds of thousands of courageous
actions to repair a nation. It will take a radical shift in the
structure of the Farm Bill, in the literacy of eaters, in the shape of
commerce and land management. It will take the support of you all.

If you are thinking of farming, do!

If you cannot join us, connect with your stomachs and please buy and savor and share our products!

If your kid wants to farm, tell them it's ok! Help them open a
savings account or lend start-up capital to a young farmer in your town.

Please collaborate. Please facilitate. Please donate. Please join us or rally on your own to ensure the success of America's young farmers.

*Editor's note: The Greenhorns need a boost of funds in order to
finish editing their film. A 15-minute preview was paid for using the
deposit on their former office. I know these are hard economic times,
but donate on their website if you are able!

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