Current Weather
The Spy FM

Newbie Farmers Find That Dirt Isn’t Cheap

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
November 15, 2011

Local food is fashionable. Customers are swarming farmers’ markets. Organic vegetables sell at a premium. So what’s to keep a young, smart, enthusiastic would-be farmer from getting into this business and making a good living?

The lack of hard, cold cash for land and farm equipment, apparently. The National Young Farmers’ Coalition asked more than a thousand young farmers what their biggest problems were. Most of the respondents said “lack of capital” and “land access.” Those difficulties ranked much higher than health care, finding profitable markets, or lack of marketing skills.

Yet the most striking aspect of the survey may simply be that so many young people with little experience in farming are willing to try it. Of the 1,300 respondents, 78 percent did not grow up on farms. The majority were between 25 and 29-years-old.

The survey, in fact, serves as a portrait of a social movement. Growing vegetables has never, in recent memory, been quite so cool, or so attractive to the young and well-educated. Waves of them, perhaps to the anguish of their parents, are migrating into the rural countryside, perusing seed catalogs and learning the finer points of organic weed control.

The people who took part in this survey certainly aren’t a random sample of all young farmers. The survey was sent out to organic farming networks, and the vast majority of those who responded are farming organically. They also were concentrated on the west coast, the northeast, and the upper Midwest.

If you’re interested in another, more visual, portrait of this movement, you can check out a documentary film that one of the founders of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition created. It’s called “The Greenhorns.” [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

9PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

View the program guide!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center