One weekend a year, I leave my happily average life in a small town near the coast of New England to try and act normal (forget cool) around a bunch of really great people, some of whom are pretty famous for their organizational, inspirational or musical talents. I’ve been fortunate to play a very small part – tiny, in fact – in helping throw this very important event we call Farm Aid since 1997.
I don’t come from much of a farming background; I’m a kid from the suburbs. But I remember milk being delivered to our front stoop by the local dairy and being drafted to help out in my grandfather’s garden under the hot Carolina sun. Later, I attended college in Ohio where I’d ride my bike down long country roads with fields on either side as far as the eye could see.
I was a freshman when the first Farm Aid was broadcast live a couple of states away. They sang and spoke about the plight of the family farmer in this country when mass production, distribution and profits had essentially replaced the notion of “local.”
Fast forward a dozen years and I found myself helping out in the Farm Aid office between other jobs, enabling me to learn even more about the organization, its small and incredibly dedicated staff and critical mission. Since then, I’ve done all kinds of things in all kinds of concert weather but these days I primarily focus on helping the development team share the mission of Farm Aid through various concert experiences like backstage, press conference and photo pit tours.
My hope is that some of these translate to long-term support from those I’m able to interact with by familiarizing them with just how impactful this organization is. While many of them think of Farm Aid simply as a concert that benefits America’s family farmers, they may not realize that through a number of related initiatives, Farm Aid is also about the sustainability of whole communities. In other words, our economies, environments, health and well-being are interdependent and the neighbors that feed us are on the front lines.
But why else would I – like all the other great volunteers, artists, crew and staff that gladly contribute our collective time – do it year in and year out? Glenda Yoder, Farm Aid’s Associate Director, says good food and good music feed her soul and I couldn’t agree more. Farm Aid feeds my soul. Through a celebration of music and food that’s actually good for you, it brings diverse people together to celebrate exactly what America, and communities everywhere, are all about. So if you can’t make Raleigh this time, host your own Farm Aid from wherever you are… And join us next year!
Farm Aid’s associate director Glenda and executive director Carolyn with amazing volunteers Steve and Rob!
Written by Steve Snyder.