What do you get when you combine good music, local food, and family farm advocacy? Farm Aid!
As an organization, Farm Aid works year-round to build an agricultural future that centers family farmers, and once a year they host a music festival to raise money to support their work and vision. This daylong event celebrates family farmers and builds awareness about the importance of good food, soil, and water.
OSA was honored to participate in the most recent Farm Aid event at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin. The festival kicked off with a press conference that included four musicians serving on Farm Aid’s board of directors – Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, and John Mellencamp – and dozens of farmers from across the state.
We heard from Sarah Lloyd, a Wisconsin dairy farmer who underscored the shared mission for the day: “Our common interest is the survival of the family farm.”
Dave Matthews asserted that “the over industrialization of farming separates us from the earth,” while Neil Young pointed to the role of policy: “We need people representing us … who believe in sustainability. Our soil is losing its richness. It’s losing its life. We are in such a crisis and we need to come together.” Later that evening, during his musical performance, Neil would declare: “It all begins with seed.”
Also during the press conference, John Mellencamp shared musings on nature and our human capacity for creative solutions: “Nature calls for diversity,” John said. “It’s important to observe what is happening around us, and to let creativity come. It’s what makes us the artist that allows us to solve problems, not just react, but observe what’s going on and to think creatively. It’s what we can be hopeful about and grateful for – our capacity for creative thought. As a young man I didn’t believe in miracles, but as an old man I do. The dirt under your fingernails: that’s the miracle of life.”
OSA spent the better part of the day at our organic seed exhibit under the Homegrown Village tent, where organizations educated concert-goers about the good work happening from the ground up to shape our food and farming systems. We greeted thousands of people, many of whom were eager to play our “Guess the Seed” game and participate in our photo booth. The rain did not stop all day, but that didn’t keep Farm Aid 2019 from being one of the brightest events of the year. Check out our slideshow below to get a feel for this rousing event.