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by Slow Food USA intern Melissa Rosenberg

We read two blog posts lately that got us stewing about the task we have ahead of us. That is, the task of helping to nurture, support, and sustain a new generation of farmers. One post was by Kerry Trueman about young farmers being our future, and one was by Leslie Hatfield featuring a young farming couple and the older couple who showed them the ropes.

One way to support this push is to contribute to the Grow A Farmer Campaign this spring and help to financially secure UC Santa Cruz’s six-month Apprenticeship organic training program . The campaign goal is to raise $250,000 by June 2009. The funds raised will help build required apprentice housing on the UCSC Farm to keep the program affordable and accessible to trainees for generations to come. You can help ensure that there will be a new generation of farmers dedicated to increasing ecological sustainability and social justice in the food and agriculture system.

By way of background: The United States is in dire need of a new generation of farmers. According to the most recent USDA agriculture census, the average age of a U.S. farm operator increased from 55.3 in 2002 to 57.1 in 2007. The census also conveys the number of operators 75 years and older grew by 20%, while the number of operators under 25 years of age decreased by 30%. As the average age of farmers continues to rise, and these farmers retire, who will grow our food?