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MJ Pickett, young farmer from Calder Farms in Gunnison, CO with her support team, Bingham and Ralph.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a farmer? Spending your days outdoors in the elements tending to the land and livestock, while growing healthy food our communities need to thrive. It sounds ideal doesn’t it? The reality is the number of famers in the United States is decreasing. There are many challenges farmers face today, that weren’t an issue a century ago. It’s becoming harder and harder to buy accessible land, and make an actual livelihood from farming. But that can all be changed, and needs to change, if we want our communities to have accessible foods. Foods that aren’t grown in other countries then shipped many miles in the back of a refrigerated truck.

Young farmers, and changes in government policy, are part of the solution. The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) conducted a survey in 2017 and collected information from thousands of farmers in the US. According to Lindsey Lusher Shute, Executive Director and Co-founder of NYFC, “Ensuring the success of our nation’s newest farmers and ranchers requires deliberate policy change at all levels of government,” said Shute. “It also demands the support of every stakeholder—individuals, communities, and businesses.”

Please take the time to read the full report called Building a Future With Farmers II RESULTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE 2017 NATIONAL YOUNG FARMER SURVEY. This is extremely relevant and important information.

In addition to land access, young farmers face barriers such as affordable health care and high student loan debt. That sounds familiar doesn’t it? These are issues currently faced by many people in the United States. However, in the business of agriculture the ripple affect can already be felt within local communities as what the USDA has defined as Food Deserts. Do you live in a food desert? If so, I’d love to hear from you about the challenges you face and the solutions you think are possible to change this. Please contact me: nellsnewvistas[at]gmail.com with Food Desert in the subject line.

Like many regions in the US, there’s great and growing concern here in the west. In January of 2017 I traveled to Gunnison, Colorado and met with Western State Colorado University (WSCU) graduate candidate and young farmer, MJ Pickett of Calder Farms. MJ is one of many young farmers in the US who gives us hope.  Her final graduate project was to help create more food security in the Gunnison Valley of Colorado. To learn more about her project, her pigs and sustainable ideas, please watch this motion short I created. Then, head to your local farmers market and pick up some great, locally grown, fall vegetables. And remember, it’s Giving Tuesday. Please consider supporting the NYFC or a local farm in your area. Thank you for reading, watching and paying attention!

Building Food Infrastructure: Community Farm Master Planning from Nell Jordan on Vimeo.

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