Monday, June 20, 2011

Essex County Grange Hall Farm Mixer

The Greenhorns, a national nonprofit organization led by a self described “raucous posse of America’s new generation of farmers,” will host a grange hall mixer at the historic Whallonsburg Grange Hall on the shores of Lake Champlain this Saturday, June 25th beginning at 10 am and continuing into the night.

More than 150 aspiring, young, beginning and veteran farmers from the Hudson Valley, Champlain Valley, Capital Region, Adirondacks, and even some Vermonters are expected to attend this inaugural event.

The Whallonsburg Grange Hall (shown above) was part of a 19th century social institution where farmers gathered: a “fraternity of husbandry” critical for the social lives of the farming community. This Midsummer Essex Grange Mixer is expected to be a celebrational and educational event for networking and co-inspiration; a farmer driven, farmer-focused day for networking and relaxation to boost the next generation food and farm entrepreneurs.

Attendees to this free event will be treated to a farm fresh dinner including pig and hogget roasted on a custom-welded spit. Dancing, beers, and mingling by bonfire will be to music from We Are Jeneric and a puppet show by Justin Lander and Rose Friedman of Modern Times Theater. Experiential, horse-powered farm tours of the 400-acre Essex Farm and 100-acre Full and By farm will be followed by hands-on workshops and demonstrations in composting, oxen driving, bike-powered engineering, felting and dyeing, and farm succession planning.

Greenhorns will decorate the Grange hall with sheepswool pompom garlands, local wildflowers, and other agrarian artifacts. A patchwork tent built with a pedal-powered sewing machine will
provide ample shelter on the grassy lawns outside the Grange Hall along the Bouquet River. “The Greenhorns,” a documentary film about America’s young farmers movement directed by Severine von Tscharner Fleming, will also make its North Country debut.

“The Greenhorns” documents the decisive reemergence on our national landscape of a key cultural and economic force, the young American farmer. These new men and women in agriculture operate and thrive despite a longstanding trend of farmer attrition and aging, and the continued rapid loss of farmland to development. The average age of a farmer in
America is 57, and in New York State a farm is lost to real estate development every 3.5 days.

These young farmers are working to reverse negative trends in favor of healthy food, local and regional foodsheds, and the revitalization of rural economies, one farm at a time. Official mandates have called for the increase and successful resettlement of young farmers while farmland remains abundant, if difficult to access for most new entrants. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently called for 100,000 new farmers and over 400 million acres of farmland is poised to change hands over the next twenty years.

The event is co-sponsored by Northeast regional leaders in sustainable food and agriculture such as Essex Farm, Adirondack Harvest, and the Whallonsburg Grange. Professional resources and farmer-support organizations will include Glynwood Center, Adirondack North Country Association, NY State Cooperative Extension, DaCy Meadow Farms, Flying Pancakes, Lakeside Preschool and others.

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