Each year, the Farm Aid festival and its associated events provide a unique space for farmers, advocates, leaders and citizens to come together in community. Farm Aid hosts focused gatherings that bring us together in common purpose and strengthen our movement.
Read below for more information and to register for this year’s events.
Thanks to our generous sponsors who helped make these events possible:
Thursday, September 20
On the Road to Resilience:
Moving from Individual Crisis to Collective Power
The Lyceum, 227 Lawrence St, Hartford, CT
Doors open at 9:00am; Program starts at 10:00am
“We don’t run, we don’t compromise.
We don’t quit; we never do.
We look for love; we find it in the eyes.
The eyes of me. And the eyes of you.”
~ Willie Nelson
There’s a reason Willie Nelson’s “We Don’t Run” plays when you call the Farm Aid office. Whether you’re a farmer looking for advice, a colleague connecting over our shared work, or an excited fan looking for ways to support farmers, the song is a reminder that the mission to keep family farmers on the land and thriving requires stamina. The work is driven by steadfast a belief that everyone is deserving of basic respect, equality and justice and it’s sweetened by a love of each other.
The antidote to our troubled times is real connection. We find our way out of the wilderness through the strength we find in each other, and the simple joy of coming together in a shared respect and love for the work we do. On the Road to Resilience will inspire our strength to persevere and explore strategies for resilience, through speakers, sessions and activities that call upon our compassion and ingenuity in tough times.
Read the Draft Agenda here:
- Steven Reviczky Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture
- Bishop John Selders Ordained minister at United Church of Christ, Assistant Dean of Students at Trinity College, Moral Monday CT leader
- Savi Horne Executive Director of Land Loss Prevention Project in North Carolina
- Sarah Lloyd Director of Special Projects for the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU)
- Abel Luna farmworker, organizer for Migrant Justice’s Milk with Dignity campaign in Vermont
- Isa Mujahid founder of CTCORE-Organize Now! (Connecticut Community Organizing for Racial Equity)
- Amani Olugbala Assistant Director of Programs at Soul Fire Farm
- Stephanie Peterson farmer and board member of Dakota Rural Action in South Dakota
- Rachel Sayet Mohegan tribal member and professor of Native American Studies at the University of Hartford
- Shirley Sherrod Executive Director of the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education
- Daniel Teague farmer and Agribusiness Management at Mississippi Association of Cooperatives
- Brett Tolley National Program Coordinator at Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA)
The Lyceum, 227 Lawrence St, Hartford, CT
7:00pm – 9:30pm
Farm-Fresh Refreshments at 6:30pm
Only 100 years ago, New England produced most of its own food on 16 million acres of farmland. In the past 50 years, the region has lost over 10,000 dairy farms. Today, fewer than 2,000 farms remain, covering 1.2 million acres of farmland and producing almost all of the milk consumed regionally. As we strive to revive local and regional food systems, we have much to learn from dairy farmers who have managed most of the farmland and sustained the region’s farm economy all along. Farm Aid is pleased to host a screening of Forgotten Farms, followed by a panel discussion on the nature of the dairy crisis rolling out across the country, what’s at stake in the Northeast as more dairy farmers go out of business, and how people are rallying for long-term solutions.
- Sarah Gardner, Forgotten Farms producer
- Ellen Whitlow, House of Hayes Farm/Sweet Pea Cheese
- Bonnie Burr, University of Connecticut-Extension
- Patty Edelberg, National Farmers Union
Friday, September 21
The Lyceum, 227 Lawrence St, Hartford, CT
8:00 am – 10:00 am
When Farm Aid comes to town, food and farm leaders from the festival region connect with each other and with leaders from across the country joining us each year. With a farm crisis advancing in the country, the widespread turmoil caused by a divisive political atmosphere and ongoing Farm Bill negotiations, connection and rejuvenation could not be more important. Breakfast Connect will offer a casual space for nourishment of all kinds.
A Taste of New England Farm Tours
All tours depart from The Lyceum, directly following Breakfast Connect
10:00 am – 5:00 pm*
(*All tours Return to The Lyceum by 5pm)
Hosted the day before the Farm Aid festival, our farm tours are always in demand, particularly among food and farm leaders visiting the concert region from different parts of the country. Farm tours offer an authentic opportunity for peer-to-peer exchange among farmers, as well as on-the-ground exploration of pressing issues facing local food systems for farmers, advocates, activists and eaters.
Growing Righteous Fruit
Nothing says fall in New England like apple picking! But growing good fruit in this region faces its own challenges, from cold snaps to invasive pests to market consolidation. This tour will introduce participants to leading orchards utilizing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and certified organic practices, and marketing strategies like Pick Your Own and Red Tomato’s Eco Apple label. Enjoy this quintessential New England experience and learn what keeps the region’s most successful family orchards thriving. Sites include:
- Rogers Orchard – Established in 1809, Rogers Orchards represents eight generations of family fruit growing in Southington, CT. A bicentennial farm, Rogers Orchards is a Connecticut landmark and a proud testament to the state’s farming heritage.
- Lyman Orchards – Founded in 1741 as a 37-acre parcel of land, Lyman Orchards now covers more than 1,100 acres of scenic farmland and is one of the most popular attractions in New England. Celebrating its 275th year, members of the 8th & 9th generations of the family steward this orchard in Middlefield, CT.
- High Hill Orchard – Sitting on a hill high enough to glimpse Long Island, 25 acres of fields grow apples, pears, peaches, plums and more through certified organic practices. Gnarled trees, planted more than 75 years ago, are part of the charm of this Connecticut gem.
Hartford Community Food Systems
Food insecurity and diet-related diseases are entrenched problems for Hartford communities. Nearly one-third of Hartford residents live below the poverty line, while one-in-four live in a food desert. But through food entrepreneurship, community gardens, incubator farms and healthy food access programs, leaders from around the Hartford area are channeling food’s unique ability to empower individuals, create jobs, restore health and strengthen communities. Sites include:
- KNOX Hartford – Since 1972, KNOX has transformed acres of vacant lots into edible, productive gardens to combat food insecurity in Hartford, overseeing 26 community gardens and urban farm sites that serve over 350 local families today. KNOX also provides green jobs training and career counseling to residents in Hartford, including horticultural training and life skills workshops.
- Billings Forge Community Works – Provides job training, food access, and sustainable social enterprises to help people change their lives and transform neighborhoods into models of vitality. At this lunch and conversation stop, participants will get a taste of Billings Forge’s sustainable cafes and catering businesses and join a panel for a conversation about how food systems work is shaking up Hartford.
- Gifts of Love Farm – Gifts of Love Farm is a unique farm; deeded to the town of Simsbury in 1893 for the purpose of feeding the poor, a mission that is still being met today. Gifts of Love is a certified organic farm growing produce for Simsbury Social Services, Gifts of Love Food Pantry and Shelters in Hartford. An equal strength is teaching urban and suburban future generations about the importance of sustainable farming.
Then & Now Fisheries Tour
Southern New England is home to many historic and vibrant fishing ports. Participants will visit coastal communities to learn about the historic fishing fleets famous to these waters and the transition of both the industry and surrounding communities that has lead us to where fishing is today. This tour will provide an analysis of the themes that have defined this “Then and Now” transition and will allow participants an opportunity to speak with commercial fishermen to hear the stories of what fishermen have seen throughout their careers, what they hope for the future of New England’s fishing communities and how they are building collective power to get there. Highlights include:
- Watch Hill Lighthouse has served as a nautical beacon for ships since 1745, when the Rhode Island colonial government erected a watchtower and beacon during the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War.
- Lunch at a fisherman-hosted waterfront clambake
- Stonington Town Dock and Memorial will include a tour of this commercial fishing port with discussions with local fishermen.
- Mystic Seaport Museum is the largest maritime museum in the United States. It is notable for its collection of sailing ships and boats and for the re-creation of the crafts and fabric of an entire 19th-century seafaring village.