Farm Aid brings support for family farms to Washington

Sound Consumer | September 2004

Farm Aid logo

(September 2004) — Farm Aid artists Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Dave Matthews and John Mellencamp will play a concert to benefit family farmers on Saturday, September 18 at the White River Amphitheater in Auburn. This is the first time Farm Aid has ventured west of the Rockies, bringing an educational mix of music and farm activism to Puget Sound.

The organization — founded in 1985 — shares a mission that's closely aligned with the work PCC has done over the past five decades to support local, sustainable agriculture and family farms. Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar cites Seattle's existing support for locally grown food, sustainable agriculture and a growing network of organic farms as major incentives for bringing the tour to our area.

Farm Aid, the brainchild of musicians Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, held its first concert in Champaign, Ill., in 1985 to benefit the high numbers of small farmers who were losing their land because of debt. Since then, Farm Aid has raised $26 million to promote the preservation of family farms and locally controlled, sustainable agriculture. A recent $3,500 Farm Aid award went to the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network, a grassroots, statewide advocacy organization for sustainable agriculture and family farms in Washington state.

PCC will join representatives from Farm Aid during their 10-day series of community education sessions at Pike Place Market, leading up to the day of the concert. These gatherings of agriculture advocates, family farm representatives and community leaders are designed to educate consumers on how to support family farms by buying locally and learning more about food issues.

PCC Nutrition Education Manager Goldie Caughlan, and members of PCC's merchandising staff are scheduled to be on hand at the Market on September 9 to discuss ways to learn more about the food consumers find in their grocery stores. On September 15, Goldie — who serves as a consumer representative for the National Organics Standards Board — is also scheduled to answer questions and join discussions on how PCC supports local farms, the growing organic movement, and how it has affected local and national grocery retailing.

The 10-day Pike Place Market education events will correspond with Farm Aid's "Ten Ways to Ensure Healthy Food for You and Your Family" campaign. The campaign urges consumers to learn more about where their food comes from and seeks to raise awareness on the importance of supporting local, family farms.


Ten ways to ensure healthy food for you and your family

PCC shoppers and members are keenly aware of the importance of supporting local farms by buying locally. To spread the word, Farm Aid has developed the following action items to support family farms:

  1. Know your food — Ask questions to learn about how and where your food was produced.
  2. Be an active food shopper — Tell your local grocer and restaurants that you want them to source their food from family farmers. Support those who do!
  3. Ensure that your food dollars support family farmers — Buy from family farmers directly and look for family farm-identified food at the grocery store.
  4. Get to know a family farmer — Plan a family visit to a nearby farm to learn more about how food is produced.
  5. Teach children how to grow food — Plant a vegetable garden with children and help them plan and prepare a meal.
  6. Bring food and farm issues to your community — Organize a neighborhood gathering and invite a family farmer to discuss the benefits of local, sustainable food production.
  7. Strengthen local support for farmers — Ask your office cafeteria, public schools, colleges, hospitals and nursing homes to buy from local farmers.
  8. Get involved in grassroots efforts — Form or join a citizens' group that opposes industrial agriculture and works to strengthen family farm agriculture.
  9. Demand democracy in our food system — Your voice counts! Hold elected leaders accountable to your demands for safe and healthful food. Stop agribusiness from determining our farm and food policies.
  10. Become a food and farm activist — Learn more about Farm Aid by calling 1-800-farm-aid or visit their Web site at www.farmaid.org.

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