As the average age of American farmers surpasses 60, a growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs for the rigors and rewards of farming. A new documentary, Farmers for America, examines young farmers’ challenges and triumphs, and a free public screening will be held at the Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton on Friday, April 13th at 7:00 pm. Come on out and join us for the film and to learn about programs helping new farmers in northeast Tennessee!
Half of American farmland will change hands within the next 12 years, and the future of many Tennessee farms is in question. Narrated by actor and host of Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe, Farmers for America celebrates young farmers as they take over the great responsibility of feeding America. The obstacles these farmers face as they seek to obtain land and make ends meet can be prohibitive: “I spoke to farmers all across the country, and everyone was saying it was hard for young farmers to get started,” said the film’s director, Graham Meriwether, in a press release. “I started filming with young people around the country who have successful farms and also who face some challenges.”
Following the film screening, a panel of local farmers will sit down to discuss the particular challenges and changes coming to Tennessee agriculture. Camille Cody (Jonesborough), Melissa Rebholz (Greeneville), and Ethan Gouge (Roan Mountain), are three farmers who will lead a group discussion, moderated by Amy Davis.
TN Farm Link, www.tnfarmlink.org, a new program and website created by the Appalachian RC&D Council in response to these challenges, seeks to facilitate connections between farmland owners and young farmers seeking land access. “Farmers for America asks one of the most pressing questions in agriculture today: who will step up and farm our land?” says Amy Davis, who coordinates the TN Farm Link Program, “and events like this one are great opportunities to get the community involved in the discussion about local agriculture and what will happen to our farms in the coming years.”
The Appalachian RC&D Council runs the Field School, www.arcd.org/field-school, a beginning farmer training program. Age 37 is the average age of Field School participants over the past 3 years.
The East Tennessee Young Farmers Coalition chapter is a grassroots local chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition. NYFC represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success. Light refreshments will be available for purchase, and proceeds will go to the East TN Young Farmer Coalition.
Visit www.tnfarmlink.org or www.arcd.org, or find TN Farm Link on Facebook for more information about the event and how you can get involved in local agriculture. We can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 423-979-2581.
The Bonnie Kate Theater is located at 115 S Sycamore St, Elizabethton, TN 37643