Farm Aid 2013 Concertgoers Entertained, Educated

Lacy LangleyLife

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Farm Aid used their platform and annual benefit festival featuring over a dozen artists, to raise awareness and support families and farms. Yahoo reports that Board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews want to emphasize the responsibility, this year, of businesses, policymakers, and all eaters of food to help get the word out about the Good Food Movement.

"Every time we eat, we determine the direction of our food system," said Nelson, president and founder of Farm Aid. "Farmers are doing their part. When we all stand with them and do our part, we can bring about change that's good for all of us."

Farm Aid 2013 featured performances by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, and Dave Matthews with Tim Reynolds, in addition to Jack Johnson, Amos Lee, Jamey Johnson, Kacey Musgraves, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Pegi Young & The Survivors, Carlene Carter, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Bahamas, Sasha Dobson, Jesse Lenat, Insects vs. Robots and The Blackwood Quartet.

More than 25,000 fans attended the sold-out event, hosted at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. All those music lovers also enjoyed some incredible food. HOMEGROWN Concessions® brought family farm-sourced foods to concertgoers including organic burgers and corndogs, grilled cheese with family farm bacon and local tomatoes, and antibiotic-free pork chop sandwiches, poutine with organic fries and homemade gravy, and Chipotle Mexican Grill's beef barbacoa chili.

Seasonal menu items included grilled local non-GMO corn, a garden green vegetable wrap and local fresh fruit sold at GrowNYC's HOMEGROWN Youthmarket. Dessert offerings included fair trade coffees and local cider donuts, ice cream and maple cotton candy.

Farm Aid wasn't just all about the music. Farm Aid's HOMEGROWN Village featured hands-on educational activities where concert attendees learned disappearing agrarian skills such as curing bacon, growing mushrooms and making cheese. Farm Aid partnered with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York to help meet the needs of the hungry across the region by collecting nonperishable food items from concertgoers at the main entrances to SPAC.

Filmmaker Curt Ellis, also the founder of the nonprofit organization FoodCorps, moderated a discussion about the challenges family farmers face and strategies for a strong Good Food Movement. Chuck Curtiss of Willow Marsh Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y.; Ben and Lindsey Shute of Hearty Roots Community Farm in Clermont, N.Y.; and Jayson Rosado of GrowNYC's Youthmarket joined Nelson, Mellencamp, Young and Matthews, along with Jack Johnson and Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar, for the conversation.

Carolyn Mugar said there is new urgency for all Americans to fight for a safe, healthy, family farm food system and pointed to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing that industrial livestock agriculture is contributing to increased human antibiotic resistance.

"Farm Aid artists have all sparked a movement that many have now joined," said Mugar. "Farmers, community leaders, food businesses, schools, parents, chefs and eaters young and old are seizing opportunities to make changes that support family farm agriculture. The possibilities for good food grow exponentially when we all step up in whatever way we can."

According to Farm Aid's website, Farm Aid's mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid's work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $43 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.

“That’s our job, to keep the farmers on the land,” Farm Aid co-founder Willie Nelson said. “We think about saving the family farm. I believe the family farm will save us.”

Lacy Langley
Lacy is a writer from Texas. She likes spending time in the home office, homeschooling her kids, playing the didgeridoo, caring for her chickens (Thelma and Louise), Rolos, Christmas, and Labyrinth.