Farm Aid’s sold-out 30th anniversary festival is celebrating the progress that has been made for family farmers since 1985 and the importance of the local food movement.
That year, Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews hosted the first Farm Aid concert with the goal of keeping family farmers on the land. Farm Aid is the longest running concert for a cause in America, raising $48 million to help family farmers thrive.
“When we started Farm Aid, a crisis was gripping farm country,” said Nelson, president and founder of Farm Aid. “Farm Aid called on America to stand up for family farmers. They showed up then, and they’re still showing up. All different types of people are coming together for family farmers, and we’re making a difference.”
The day-long festival kicked off with farmers, farm advocates and eaters joining Farm Aid board members Nelson, Mellencamp Young and Matthews in a conversation from the Farm Aid stage about the roots of the family farm movement and the future of family farm agriculture. The conversation, moderated by WBEZ radio’s food and agriculture correspondent, Monica Eng, focused on the many actions people have taken in fields, kitchens and communities since 1985 and how those actions have added up to make a huge difference for family farmers and the food system.
With Farm Aid’s leadership, the rise of farmers markets, sustainable food companies, and demand for organics and local food, family farmers have more economic opportunities than ever before.
The 26,000 concert-goers also enjoyed Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Concessions, featuring food that is sustainably produced by local family farmers, and a HOMEGROWN Village, which featured hands-on activities with farmers, including cheese making, beekeeping, making seed balls, and composting, that emphasized the experience of agriculture.
“The legacy of Farm Aid is twofold: in the change we’ve made in our farm and food system, and in the rich musical record of concerts held since 1985,” said Mellencamp. “The list of artists who have played on the Farm Aid stage is a who’s who of the best artists of our time.”
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