Common ground

I am about to embark on a big, exciting, daunting adventure that is (I hope) going to take me across the country and onto all sorts of farms. I’m calling the adventure Common Ground and here is the idea: Are there connections between what is known as organic/sustainable and conventional agriculture?

I’ll admit the question is pretty darn big, and within it there are lots of other, equally important questions like:

  • Why do  people go into agriculture?
  • Why do they choose the form of agriculture that they do?
  • What benefits (both spiritually and economically) have they gained?
  • And conversely, what are the challenges they face?
  • What drives them to live a life in agriculture?

There are a million other questions I can ask, but won’t bore you with the lists and lists I have. I ask these questions because I love agriculture, which to be honest was the last thing I thought I’d ever say. I love meeting and learning about the individuals who create the community of farmers across the country. I feel enriched and rewarded by learning the motivations they have for living a life connected to the ground and to the animals they care for. And I feel most excited about these discussions when I speak with the new generation of farmers, people my own age, who range from their early 20’s to their late 30’s.

But I ask these questions as well because I have become frustrated with the material available that discusses agriculture in America today; material that creates a divide of us versus them. The argument usually runs along these lines – you can either chose food that is local and organic or conventional and industrial. Life, however, has never run on an either/or scale and there are points where a commonality can be found.

Where is the middle ground?

How can an average consumer pick their way through the minefield that is becoming our food system? I think the answer comes from knowing the people who grow, tend and nurture the food that we use to nurture our families. And I want to get to know more about these people, these new farmers.

My first adventure is coming up at the end of March when I travel down to Virginia. In each state I visit, I plan to meet and interview two young farmers – one conventional and one organic/sustainable. By doing so, I hope to learn more about both sides of the debate and to find the areas of common ground between the two if for nothing else, so that I can plot my own course through the food system of today.


To learn more about the Common Ground project, click on the tab above. If  you are (or know of) a young farmer who is excited about what they do and interested in being interviewed, feel free to contact me at: jjennings98 at gmail dot com.



Filed under Common Ground

2 responses to “Common ground

  1. Jaime Toth

    Best of luck to you on all of your latest adventures! If you will be passing through the rich farmlands of South Central Pennsylvania let me know. I will be staying there with a former Amish family for the month of July. Be well!

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