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The Greenhorns: Young Farmers Unite

February 20, 2012
A grassroots non-profit group for young farmers. (Photo by: The Greenhorns)

“The Greenhorns are a posse of young people who care a lot about the future of agriculture.” – Severine von Tscharner Fleming

The young, agrarian and eco-conscious are gaining numbers and momentum, thanks in part to the efforts of The Greenhorns, a grassroots non-profit organization that aims to recruit, promote and support young farmers in America. This trailer for their documentary, also called The Greenhorns, gives you a good sense of what they’re all about:

The group employs a variety of media to meet its mission, including films, a weekly Heritage Radio show, a book of essays by young farmers and a wiki-based resource guide; they also host social and educational events nationwide. On the horizon: an almanac covering everything from agricultural history to wildlife rescue, apron design, farm hack case studies and brownfield restoration.

I recently spoke with the group’s director, Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a Hudson Valley-based farmer, activist and organizer.

Q: How would you describe The Greenhorns?

A: The Greenhorns are a posse of young people who care a lot about the future of agriculture. We share that caring feeling by producing media, events, conference programming and fun for young farmers across the country. We made a documentary called The Greenhorns, about the phenomena of young farmers starting out, the challenges they face and the policy actions needed to pave the way for these entrepreneurs.

The next film project, OURLAND, confronts serious structural obstacles for sustainable agriculture in the American food system. Our current system is characterized by concentration and monopoly, international market orientation, degrading practices, rural de-population, speculative land values, toxic practices and exploitative labor. We envision a farm economy that is stable, sustainable, satisfying and prosperous. This will take some restructuring, and brave entrepreneurs who can straddle the gap. OURLAND is about their tactics… about building the new economy inside the current one.

Q: What are three things non-farmers can do now to help our young farmers?

A: Here are four:

1. Sign up for a CSA, preferably a start-up one.

2. Become a farmer’s teammate. Figure out what they need; support them with your social network.

3. Get policy literate. Join the National Young Farmers’ Coalition to learn about policy measures that directly impact the new farmers of America. While you’re at it, consider the Center for Rural Affairs and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

4. Come help set up young farmers mixers, and stop kidding yourself. YOU WANT TO FARM TOO!


If von Tscharner Fleming is right, and your inner farmer is crying out for attention—check out The Greenhorns Guidebook for Beginning Farmers, available for download here. For more insights, as well as news about the young farming movement, sign up for the Greenhorns mailing list and/or follow their blog.

Images courtesy of The Greenhorns.

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