I grew up in a touristy ski town in Vermont that is virtually run on three seasons: the summer getaway, fall foliage and ski season. We bring in people from all over, and without them, the local businesses that make up Manchester would be gasping for air.
For us, supporting local business has just always been the norm, and the farming towns that surround Manchester have always been very grateful for that. Thursday farmers markets brought the whole town to the local green, and samosas from the Samosa Man or Grandma’s Apple Pies were always on the shopping list. And it isn’t just food that keeps our tight knit community loyal. I sometimes have a hard time finding cell phone service in the middle of Boston, but seem to have a consistent five bars the deeper I hike into the Green Mountains. Perhaps it’s the obscure Vermont phone company that I have, but it happens that the owner of the company branch is a very good family friend, and supporting them over Verizon or AT&T seemed like a no-brainer to my dad. Although it can be frustrating, I guess in an emergency I would rather have service in the middle of nowhere than on the corner of Columbus and Mass Ave.
Sometimes we get lost in the modern day, and it is really refreshing to return to Vermont and see the simplicity of things. Farming there is truly an art, devoted completely to the betterment of those around, and meant to be a source from which everyone can benefit. Supporting local farms puts the profit back in the hands of the people who work so hard, and it is sad to see farms today shut down because of small margins and skyrocketing overhead costs. Perhaps I am biased because I have seen it happen to those around me, but for a lot of people here in the city, there is little connection to or understanding of the struggles our farmers face.
That was what got me so interested when I saw Farm Aid as an option for a co-op placement through my university. Along with the ability to bring awareness about local farms to both Boston and Vermont, I could also be part of a greater initiative that involved some of my favorite musicians of all time. For me, this was an incredible experience that I just couldn’t pass up. I have been a musician for all of my life, and some of my biggest influences have appeared dozens of times on the set list for these concerts. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to work alongside names like Dave Matthews and Neil Young, and to be part of a growing awareness that is way more important than me.
As for my dad, I think he is even happier, having this vicarious connection through me to his favorite bands of all time. This year I found the DVD pack of the Farm Aid concerts under the Christmas tree, but they mysteriously disappeared just hours before I left for school… I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my dad had no idea where they went.
So here I am now, working alongside people who are truly passionate about supporting family farmers. I am confident that I am going to meet some really awesome people while working here, and am very excited to expand my knowledge of local agriculture and of course the musicians who founded this organization. Hopefully with some of my experience in supporting sustainability and local farming efforts, I can make a lasting impact on this organization and make its founders proud. And maybe, if I am really lucky, get a quick autograph for my dad so he will stop nagging me every day.
I really look forward to writing more for the blog; thanks to everyone for reading!