American Neo-Gothic: Meet the Newest Crop of Farmers
In a time of deep economic uncertainty and concerns with our food system, interest is gaining around one of the oldest and most noble vocations. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Philomath, Oregon, these 21 young farmers are knee deep in local agriculture and despite the tremendous challenges of making a living farming, they're thrilled with their calling. Meet the newest crop of American farmers.
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Lee Kornhauser & Heather Colburn Ages 26 and 35 | Elder Fire Farm Arts | Dowling, Michigan
"Be patient, each year gets easier! Not everyone is cut out for this sort of lifestyle, but even if you grew up in the suburbs or the city you can learn what you need to know to be a successful farmer—the earth will never stop teaching you."
Kristen Johanson Age 37 | Blackberry Meadows Farm | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
"My husband and I became dissatisfied with the commercial food system and were seeking a more meaningful and sustainable life. On a whim, and with no experience, we chose to quit our jobs and start farming. The road has been long and full of bumps, but we have since found our home here, with our friends at Blackberry Meadows, where we live and work with our new son and the rest of the farm crew."
Adrianna Moreno Age 25 | Wild Garden Seed | Philomath, Oregon
"I became a farmer to more tangibly address my concerns for the environment, and now it has become so much more than that to me. Farming can be a nexus of community, health, ecological education, and delicious food. Farming is important because we all have to eat. So vote with your fork-or pitchfork- and join us!"
Evan Driscoll Age 27 | Green Gate Farms | Austin, Texas
"Diversifying food production will be an important aspect in recovering from our malicious relationship with most everything on this planet. I thought I could change the world through media arts, but realized that everyone and their puppy-dog is doing the same. Almost no one is farming. My calories are better expended producing calories."
Samantha Joelle Honey Lamb Age 27 | Early Bird Acres | Hobart, Oklahoma
"I began to tire of just talking about what should be done in farm practices with all of my Agrarian friends, so I decided to practice farming myself. Young people have an amazing opportunity to till the land and make it grow with their own ideas. I like to say we have the opportunity to grow happiness and sustain joy, through good food."
Leah Penniman & Jonah Vitale-Wolff Ages 31 & 32 | Soul Fire Farm | Grafton, New York
"We farm because to be disconnected from soil and land is to lose a piece of ourselves. Especially as young African-Americans and young Jews, we can look to our ancestral stories of both deep connection to and alienation from land. To own land, to till land, and to feed our communities is our birthright and the full expression of our heritage on this earth."
Katie Godfrey Age 27 | Blue Roof Farm | Hillsboro, Wisconsin
"As Thomas Jefferson once said, 'Farmers are the most valuable citizens.' I started farming because I think growing healthy food for people is meaningful work, and I hope more young people start to see farming as a valuable vocation."
Courtney & Jacob Cowgill Ages 32, 34 & 19 months old (Willa Cowgill) | Prairie Heritage Farm | Conrad, Montana
"We started farming partially because it was in our blood and partially because we wanted to live and work closer to our families, our food and the land, but mostly because we saw it as a moral imperative. The landscape and communities that raised us -- in rural Central Montana -- needed more families, needed more food and needed more farmers. It was a call we couldn't ignore."
Photo by Jeremy Lurgio
Josh Morgenthau Age 28 | Fishkill Farms | East Fishkill, New York
"I was a painter. I studied art in school, and I originally moved back to the family farm to paint. Once I started planting vegetables, and raising chickens, I could not go back. The farm was like a living, changing work of art, and it took me captive."
Jenna Woginrich Age 29 | Cold Antler Farm | Jackson, New York
"I became a farmer because I realized that the only way novels are written, symphonies are composed, and wars are fought is because someone else is out there growing their food. The rush of independence and accomplishment the soil returns, be it lamb chop or fresh cut of kale, is the most wonderfully visceral thing I have yet to experience."
Photo by Jon Katz
A.M. Thomas Age 25 | East Hill CSA | Middlesex, New York
"Farms are a microcosm of civilization. If we have heartless, industrial, unhealthy farms, then our country will be heartless, industrial, and unhealthy. But if we have good farms that care for our land and the food that they produce, then our country will be rich with wellness."
Alex Needham & Alison Parker Ages 31 and 33 | Radical Root Farm | Grayslake, Illinois
"If you’re willing to work really hard, you can make it, and each year you grow, it can get easier. We need more farmers out there, especially eco-conscious ones!"
Ruby Olisemeka Age 37 | Stone Barns Center | Pocantico Hills, New York
"I am working with the community to deliver a new system of thinking about how food is grown. To help willing individuals manage and develop open greenspaces, even spaces on roofs, on walls for the educative, communal and nutritive benefit of my community."
Sharon Leopardi Age 25 | Backyard Urban Garden (B.U.G.) Farms | Salt Lake City, Utah
"For young folks, the future of our ecological systems is quite uncertain, let alone the future of the job market and financial system. Young people will have to lead the way into this uncertain future in coming up with innovative, flexible, small scale, community oriented ways of providing for our basic needs."
Michael Meier, Age 25 | Brooklyn Grange | Long Island City, New York
"Over the years, I started experimenting with small-scale urban homesteading and learned how to grow food and compost waste. I started to consider larger-scale farming as a career opportunity. I apprenticed last season with Brooklyn Grange, and by the end of that experience there was no turning back for me."
Zoe Ida Bradbury, Age 32 | Valley Flora Farm | Langlois, Oregon
"There is little other work that is so elemental to our daily lives and our basic existence. To have the skills to feed yourself and your community - to serve your country good food - it is honorable and important work. Young farmers make local economies more robust; it makes the food supply more resilient; it makes communities more engaged with their dinner plate."
Desi K. Robinson Age 39 | DeVyne Crown Farm | Queens, New York
"I want to make people excited, particularly young people in communities of color, about putting their hands in the ground and knowing where their food comes from, about sustainability, food justice, using farming to understand science, math, and enjoying friends and community in the sun and showers."