by guest blogger Susan Sink, vice president of development and external affairs for the American Farmland Trust
We all have seen it: endless miles of malls, parking lots, and red lights in a world scaled for bulldozers and cars but not humanity. The sprawl of unchecked development eating into the fertile lands closest to our cities--our agricultural heritage disappearing forever under concrete. But we can help.
American Farmland Trust (AFT) is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980, AFT has helped to permanently protect more than 5 million acres of farmland. We are the people that have been saying No Farms No Food® for decades.
This summer, join our I Love My Farmers Market Celebration. Simply visit lovemyfarmersmarket.org and sign the online pledge form to spend an extra $10 at your favorite local market. At the end of the summer, the Top 100 most celebrated markets will receive a special logo honoring their achievement, No Farms No Food® gear, and recognition on the celebration's website.
Why an extra $10, you may ask?
Not only does your pledge help your farmer's market earn national recognition--for every $10 spent on local food, as much as $7.80 is re-spent in the local community, supporting local jobs and businesses.
Also--and perhaps more importantly--the farmer takes home $8 to 9 instead of the $1.58 that farmers and ranchers receive when food is purchased through the traditional retail market. That money goes directly into farmers' pockets instead of paying into a maze of wholesalers and distribution.
That's why AFT's I Love My Farmers Market Celebration encourages consumers to pledge to spend an extra $10 at their local farmer's market.
Right around the same time that AFT was founded, my late husband and I purchased Sinkland Farms in Virginia. We raised our three children there and taught them to respect the land. I know firsthand the economic pressures facing our farmers. Weather, seed and feed prices, rising interest rates, pressure from development, transportation concerns, rising labor costs--all of those complex issues rain down every day. It could overwhelm anyone.
Yet every year, every day, every moment, our farmers wake up before the dawn, pull on their boots, and work the land to feed us. I am proud to be working with AFT and to be given the opportunity to pledge my support to family farmers by participating in the I Love My Farmers Market Celebration.
In addition to her role as vice president of development and external affairs for the American Farmland Trust, as the owner of Sinkland Farms (bought with her late husband, Henry, in 1980), Susan Sink has helped to transform a dairy and beef production operation into an educational institution that teaches the community about the heritage of agriculture while emphasizing conservation practices for environmental sustainability.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com