Sustainable farming still not a sustainable livelihood
At 23 years old I moved to Paonia to try my hand at farming. I loved everything about it — except dismal the prospects for my future. Knowing I would struggle to raise a family on a meager farmer’s income, I moved on to more lucrative prospects.
Many young farmers are more dedicated than me, according to Scott Condon, who writes of a “mini-explosion” of them in the Roaring Fork Valley (“Young farmers tackle problems to take root in Roaring Fork Valley,” Sept. 23, The Aspen Times.
And with the average age of Coloradoan farmers pushing 59, young farmers are integral to the future of our food system.
But to ensure the long-term success of these wide-eyed twentysomethings, we must find income streams that allow new farmers to stay in the business. Farmers markets and CSAs are a start, but they’re not enough. Health insurance and raising children require money. Until farming can support these expenses, I fear the careers of many young farmers will be short-lived.
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