“We don’t need farmers who raise commodities; we need human beings who raise food,” Kristopher Flack
They say it takes a village to raise a child. We’d like to add it takes a community to grow a farm.
Barclay grew up on an organic farm and bakery in New England. Tony’s family had multi-generational agricultural interests in Peru before his family left that country in the 1960s. We’ve now been farming and baking here in beautiful, pastoral Norwood since 2002. Growing vegetables, raising pastured chickens and turkeys, milking goats, baking amazing granola, breads and other delicacies. At times it’s been a long and lonely road, although we’ve had tons of support and encouragement from neighbors, apprentices, employees, friends, family, CSA members and regular customers at the farmers markets.
When we started, we felt like we might be walking the plank, so to speak. Farming, let alone organic farming, was barely on the radar screen for most Americans. The movement, if you will, was in its early stages of what has now become a modern-day renaissance not seen since the 60s. Many of our friends thought we were nuts. The US Census Bureau had even taken farm work off its list of employment choices. But we were determined. We wanted to farm. We wanted to grow food. We wanted to share that passion with others. We wanted to eat healthily and raise our children in this environment. We wanted to offer an alternative choice, that of local organic agriculture, to the regional community. We wanted to create a vibrant economy around food. We felt a sense of urgency.
At the time, there were too few of us venturing into the challenge of connecting with nature to grow food. The fact of the matter is, there still aren’t enough of us. The vast majority of this nation’s food still comes from large corporations who have gobbled up most of the arable land in this country and used dangerous forms of technologies, herbicides and pesticides to increase production. Something like 80% of this country’s food is produced by just five corporations. Imagine that for a minute.
Vocational programs in high schools have all but disappeared. While a few colleges teach sustainable farming, it’s rarely a career choice among the next generation of would-be farmers. Most colleges that are offering degrees in agriculture are still stuck in the old mindset of conventional, industrial, chemical and factory farming. For many aspiring farmers, work opportunities are far and few between. A paradigm shift is really hard to come by, especially in a corporate-dominated world. Fortunately, we’ve had a stellar crew of interns over the years, most of them deeply committed to the movement.
We just heard from a previous intern who was here for two years right out of college. Of her experience, she wrote, “That (first ) summer season changed everything, personally and professionally, for me.”
When we have folks who work the land around us at the dinner table, in coffee shops, or just shooting the breeze around the bed of a pickup truck drinking a beer together after a long day of work, we’re in heaven. Most folks — young and old — that want to farm are really turned on and motivated. They want to help out; they want to learn; they want to dream; they want to pursue their passions. They want to be a part of a movement that they see as vital to the very survival of the planet and its inhabitants. But they need our help.
To that end, we’re proud to introduce a new program here at Indian Ridge Farm & Bakery: the Love a Farmer Fund. From here on out, a percentage of the sale of every ounce of granola sold will be collected and put in a fund to help out a small farmer somewhere across this land. Like us, we want the little guy to succeed. We had help when we started from a generous neighboring landowner, Loey Rignquist, who shared our vision. She made it possible for us to purchase the land and water needed to get started. Aspiring farmers today need that same kind of help — to acquire land and accumulate capital. It’s our turn to give back.
Won’t you join us?