Let me take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Matthew Kochka. I am the newest member of the Farm Aid team. My job is to develop and manage our Farmer Resource Network. Some of you may know that we have more than 500 resource providers that we refer hundreds of farmers to annually. We do this through our website and through our hotline, 1-800-FARMAID. My duty is to help the Network grow and to make it more accessible to farmers and resource providers.
I came to Farm Aid “straight from the fields. ” I was working on both research-based as well as community-based vegetable farms for the last 10 years. I held positions from laborer to farm manager. I have always held farmers in the highest regard because my family has been involved with farming on the same land in New Jersey for over 200 years. For the last three generations, however, my family has relied on the farm less and less for income.
Through working on community farms, I came to know many farmers and resource providers all over the country. As a research farm worker, I got to know the breadth of innovation that occurs on farms. Through living on and working with my ancestral land, I know the depth of importance that farmers have when they are working to save their family’s farm.
When I saw that there was an opportunity for me to use my knowledge and skills to expand the work of Farm Aid, I had to jump on it. I have known of Farm Aid all my life, because my family loves Willie and I grew up in a farming county of “the Garden State.” When I moved to the Boston area, I realized that Farm Aid was right down the street from my apartment and I said to my wife, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I someday got a job at Farm Aid.” Six years of farming later, here I am writing this blog at my desk in the Farm Aid offices.
Now that I am not spending most of my waking hours in the field, I spend much of my free time hunting, fishing, playing the guitar and cooking delicious, locally grown foods that are very abundant in the Boston area. And I look forward to meeting and talking to you all!