What’s the future of food?

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Author: Laurie House

 

 

Young farm startups go back to the land

"Will the future of food look like the past?

 

Past the muddy edges of Mace Chasm Road, live music rang out from a glowing white tent near the tiny village of Keeseville, NY, one recent Thursday night. A crowd surged around a brightly lit food truck and eddied near a tiny brewery built inside a barn. Dylan Badger, trained in sustainable agriculture, and his brother, Dan, a trained brewer, decided to bootstrap the AuSable Brewing Company after discovering Essex County — a community filled with entrepreneurial young farmers and an appreciative customer base. As patrons crowded the brewery/barn, the tent and the truck, 27-year-old Dylan reflected on the gathering crowd. “Everyone travels for beer, from 75-yr-old retired couples to young people who are just excited to come check out the Adirondacks. So while they’re here, we also point out the farmland, the people raising meat and veggies and dairy. They’re the ones who are really sustaining this area for us.”

In fact, the sustainable farming scene that has emerged in Essex County is so fertile that one national young farmer’s advocacy organization, The Greenhorns, even relocated its headquarters there from the Hudson Valley. And while farmers across in the U.S. are transforming the future of American food through CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), farmers markets and a profusion of farm-to-table initiatives, the most successful farm startups grow healthy community resources, not just healthy greens. These supportive networks are multidirectional, benefiting town, farmers, and customers alike. Longtime residents say that the fire department has plenty of volunteers, unlike some neighboring towns. Meanwhile, when one farming couple’s barn fell down after a heavy snow, CSA members rushed out to help “their farmers” pull it down before it could damage other structures. And as CSA member Jen Kavorchak says: “Just after buying our first house, we accidentally got pregnant with our third babe, and 9 months later lost our jobs. The first person I saw was [our farmer]. I was the size of whale, utterly freaked out, and she just hugged me and said, “well, at least you know you’ll be able to eat.”

Essex farms grows beets and young farmers. Photo by Kristin Kimball.

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