The profession of farming evokes a rural way of life of the past. With rapid urbanization and sprawl, farming and farmland are at risk, just when we are learning how farming can help us to address and be more resilient to one of our greatest challenges: climate change. The team at Regenerative International explains that “regenerative agriculture” can build “healthy soil, capable of producing high quality, nutrient dense food while simultaneously improving, rather than degrading land, and ultimately leading to productive farms and healthy communities and economies.”
Yet we must overcome the hurdle of who is going to do the farming. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the average age of farmers and ranchers is 58 and the vast majority have no plan for succession. We must value our farmers and cultivate excitement for farming. Natalie Schwartz, 21, an intern at Clark Fork Organics, said, “I think it’s our generation’s responsibility to change the way we farm. Each action is making a positive difference in changing the way we approach one of the biggest causes of greenhouse gas emissions.” The experience of working with small local farms can inspire young people like Natalie to seek opportunity not just in our cities, but on our land. We are fortunate here in Blaine County to have young innovators building exciting new examples for our future, including Squash Blossom Farm, Lookout Farm, and Brett Stevenson who led the installation of a mill at her family’s Hillside Ranch bringing locally-grown and milled flour here for the first time! You can find these young farmers’ products at the Wood River Farmers Markets and local stores and restaurants – from Atkinsons’ to Nourish Me – we are lucky to get to eat their incredible products! We need this new generation to be passionate about farming in order to be the changemakers of the future!