The Common Ground project is simple: In a debate that has been framed us versus them, can a person find the common underlying motivators and drivers for a life lived in agriculture?
Over the next year, I plan to meet and interview young farmers (aged 20 to 40) who live a life connected to the land. In each state I visit, I will interview one “conventional” and one “organic/sustainable” farmer. These are members of the new generation of farmers in America, people from diverse backgrounds, with different educations and who hold varying perspectives of the world, but all have ultimately been called to the land. Why? Are there fundamental differences or commonalities between those who chose one form of agriculture over the other? And what can an average person take away from the discussion?
My own background follows a similar track to many within this group of the new farmer. I was surprised to be called to a life of agriculture, but once called I found passion, excitement and awe at the complex life a farmer has to live, no matter what side of the debate they operate. My family owns and runs a small, conventional dairy farm in upstate New York but my friends vary from USDA certified organic vegetable farmers, grass fed/grass finished beef ranchers who provide medicine to their herd raised on certified organic pastureland, to a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) dairy farmer with more than 500 milk cows and 1,000 young stock, what many would call a “factory” farm. If my friends represent the spectrum of agriculture, can there really be a clear divide?
I hope to introduce passionate people who love what they do. People who nurture the food we use everyday to nurture our own families.
If you are interested in being involved in the Common Ground project, please feel free to contact me at jjennings at gmail dot com. I plan on visiting as many states as I can and meeting as many individuals as possible, so drop me a note!