The Times recently ran an article about the haycation: a working weekend at a small farm you pay to attend. Turns out that a certain strain of urban locavores are flocking from the cities to visit farms that double as Bed & Breakfasts. They go to get their hands dirty -- learn more about their food and become part of the process. Which means they pay farmers to milk goats, pull weeds, dig in the dirt, and chase the very chickens who will inevitably lay breakfast the following morning.
I also found out that a new magazine is launching called Urban Farm. It's geared for the same crowd. A collection of articles and ads compiled to inspire the inner homesteader for people who still have Metro passes.
As a shepherd-in-training and hopeful small farmer, I find this news beyond comforting. Knowing there is this level of interest in getting your fingernails dirty to better know your beet salad is actually kind of beautiful. However, as someone equally interested in pop culture as I am in farming: all these current farm trends lead me to ask...Is the green movement making farmers cool? And if so, what does that mean for small farms?
Not that the vegetable growers and grass-fed cattle ranchers of America are all that concerned about perception. (No one gets into agriculture for the social ego-boost, I'm sure.) But the impressions suburban teachers or urban bankers have about farmers does make a difference. If everyday consumers feel the people growing and raising sustainable food are people they admire -- they may be willing to pay a little more for humanely-raised and chemical-free foods. Every consumer dollar put into the local/organic market is a national vote for sustainable agriculture. And progress of this sort happens a sawbuck at a time.
If there are people willing to spend $300+ a night to sleep in a platform tent and spend Labor Day weekend as migrant workers, I think that in itself screams paradigm shift. A welcomed one, at that.