I could list many reasons why I support Farm Aid, and why they inspire me to support the “Good Food Movement.” Because Farm Aid promotes the family farmer, organic food, and community living through music, for example. Or because Farm Aid has raised $48 million dollars over the past 30 years to help farmers in crisis and to help provide a force to oppose corporate ownership over the family farm. You might then say, “That’s fantastic, but I’ll still buy my cheap factory grown chicken and hotdogs. I don’t have enough time in the day to risk buying expensive food that I won’t have time to cook”.
Make your friends and family feel your [Farm Aid] experience. Tell it to them as a story. What did you smell, taste, see, and most importantly what did you hear?
The problem is not that you disagree with my reasons or that they are false, but that they lack the emotional capacity for transforming a person’s behavior. They lack inspiration. Words need feelings to motivate people into action. At the very least it will take more than the reasons I listed to transform thought into action. How many? I don’t know, but I do know that a story from a trusted story teller, whose motives I know are sincere and driven by all the best intentions, can go a long way to get me to think differently.
That is why I am pleading with all of you who went to Farm Aid’s 30th concert: Please tell everyone you know about your experience, especially those who know and trust you. Don’t just tell them about the line-up, the killer songs, or the mud, sun and fun. Make your friends and family feel your experience. Tell it to them as a story. What did you smell, taste, see, and most importantly what did you hear?
I heard that we’re losing the fight with factory farms. I heard that we’re undervaluing food made by our neighbors. I heard that our soil and water are suffocating under monoculture. And I heard that as a generation of farmers retires there aren’t enough young farmers to take over that land.
To me, the Farm Aid experience is transcendent, a mystical experience that connects people across generations and localities. You don’t even need to meet everyone at the concert to feel connected. When you’re at a Farm Aid concert, you become part of a living being, a cocoon of activity that slowly builds up and vibrates as the music plays. You come to the show a slow caterpillar and you come out transformed to take flight and ready for action.
I want to share a picture I took of the crowd:
I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the single most important picture I took that day; one that will remain with me as I close my eyes and think of the concert in the days to come. I will remember the faces of those closest too me, their smiles, laughter, singing, swaying, and cheering. I will remember the beers I shared with friends and family. I will remember the challenging conversations I shared with them about how to make sense of the road ahead for small family farms.
But ultimately this picture reminds me of the energy and the experience we were a part of at the Farm Aid concert. It’s not just any concert, and it’s not just about any cause. For me the Farm Aid experience provides a venue for humans to share a short time with each other, to put down their cultural biases and open their hearts to the possibility of community. A community that wants to support the family farmer, one that wants to protect the environment, and one that supports each other as we whirl around on this blue planet and face the challenges that life throws at us.
So please tell your story and remember: “What happens at Farm Aid must not stay at Farm Aid.”
This guest post was written by Chris DeFeo. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and photo, Chris!