Founded and organised by David Schafer and Dennis McDonald way back in 1988 and bolstered by a generous grant from the Kellogg’s Foundation, Green Hills Farm Project emerged as a grassroots driven and attended by farmers, ranchers, and anyone interested in sustainable agriculture each month. Farmers volunteer to host a farm walk at their place for nearly each month of the year and these dates are posted now on a facebook page by the same name. We share our stories, improvements, failures, successes, and plans for the future with attendees who then volunteer experiences and ideas amongst themselves and the host. This is an amazing group of forward-thinking producers trying to help each other be financially as well as environmentally sustainable.
With dues still at only $20 per individual or family, this is the best investment going. Green Hills Farm Project members also put together an annual winter seminar with nationally known popular speakers making presentations in our little town of Linneus, Missouri with attendance fees varying from $20-$40! This is for speakers who typically command upwards of $500 per person!
Farm walks have traditionally been scheduled for the evenings of the third Thursdays of each month, but have increasingly been held on moveable Saturdays at noon, include a potluck meal with meat or main dish, service, and drinks provided by the host family. The actual walk itself typically lasts 1-2 hours followed by a very short meeting. Green Hills Farm Project encourages families, even the youngest children to attend since one of the goals is to promote and assist future farmers.
Since 1862, the number of producers in the United States dropped from 97% of the population to today’s less than 2%! Due in part to increased mechanisation (thank goodness!), but also that farming is hard work, long hours, low pay, and low return on investment. Little wonder young people continue to leave the home place in droves! The USDA agriculture census indicates that a 30 year trend of less young people entering farming as the average age of a farmer continues to rise. Additionally, not quite half of the 2.1 million American farmers site farming as their main source of income!
With less than 1% of the population engaged in full-time farming, is the United States setting itself up for a food security meltdown? How much do we want to depend on others to provide our food? Time will tell as most Americans continue to buy the cheapest food possible, regardless of the cost to their own health, the health of their communities, and environments, or the welfare of the country at large.
If you’d like to join and/or participate in Green Hills Farm Project farm walks, contact me or for up-to-date information, ‘like’ Green Hills Farm Project facebook page. Next farm walk is Saturday, November 29th (2014) at Greg and Jan Judy’s Green Pastures Farm. Meet at 11:30am with tour starting at 1pm. Bring a potluck dish to share.