*Please follow along with us as Five For Farmers takes shape into an entity armed to give a hand up to small farmers. By banding together as a community with a minimal contribution, your safe and sustainable food sources will be secured for future generations... Please donate and share our mission!
If you had said "let's raise $500,000 for farms, $5 at a time" 5 years ago... I would have doubly scoffed. $500,000? For a *farm*?! By $5 donations? Repeatedly? Scoff, scoff, scoff. Then I became a farmer. A commercial homesteader of sorts called Violet Hill Farm in West Winfield, Herkimer County, NY!
Pastured meats, letting animals be loved and live naturally rather than spending their lives in misery and in filth. Wild foods, mushrooms and medicines - so many of which I didn't know existed and have the blessing of now identifying from my backyard. I have become a weekly part of many peoples' shopping routine which I adore. I have also learned the dark, largely unspoken, side of doing things "right" in the world of food.
Exhaustion, no holidays, no days off, no maternity leaves, worry of bills, overhead, loss. Suicide rates among farmers in the US are nearly double the national average. Why? You work your fingers and nerves and checkbooks to the bone and in a single week, a failed crop, a horrible market, you can lose it all. You can stare at the bills, measured in thousands or tens of, and wonder if you can steal just a little more from your sleep and if it would even help. You pack up yourselves, and sometimes your children, and drive or do daily chores or check on sheep birthing in the middle of the night...
So why do it, then? I think those of us "farming by choice", as I like to call it, have been called here. To reconnect, to learn, to educate, to provide. Maybe it's pride that keep us here, working week in and week out. For me it's the added weekly interaction I have with customers at our Union Square Farmers' Market in Manhattan. Stories of family meals, feeling better, enjoying food again and sometimes personal ones of struggles and illness. Cliche as it may seem, many are like family. So another week it is until there is simply no more that can be squeezed from the old cow. In this case, me.
So. I have never been one to think finitely, whether it a blessing or a curse I've yet to decide but here it goes. 2 cups of coffee this month and next and the next and so on. $5 (or more if you are so inclined). 100,000 people a month offering to help sustain their food sources. With more than 8.4 MILLION people in NYC alone, 100,000 suddenly seems obtainable. I must start closest to home, right here at Violet Hill. Last year this little farm brought several hundred thousands of dollars to this little upstate community yet there isn't enough leftover to keep this place going as it should. Not even close.
So where is Five For Farmers headed? An assembled board, a non-profit created, an application process and off we go! If it works, I know this place is hosting a fantastical pig roast. If it works, there are so many, many farmers and their families who would suddenly have a good night's sleep. Whose profit margins would increase, and many of whom, I believe, will instinctively pass the surplus on as donations, product price reductions, etc.
What can it mean for farmers? In the case of Violet Hill, it is the outright purchase of the farm, a tractor with the works (most everything is presently done manually), the addition of an onsite humane poultry facility, a certified kitchen for further processed goods, much needed practical fencing and the renovation of the second house for Adventure Agritourism stays. Self sustainability, the ability to do more good, to include our struggling neighbor farmers in our sales outlets and on and on.
So, my question to you... are you up for the challenge? To pledge to help sustain our food sources for yourselves, your friends, neighbors? $5. Skip a coffee or two? Or, let's be honest, keep the caffeine and skip the donuts, instead. ;) Become part of the farming family, be proactive and make $5 mean something huge, every month, to your food source and the people who work tirelessly to keep it coming.
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