“What creates a life when everything is not just bought or handed to you?”
This was a question posed by journalist and filmmaker Jared Flesher during the panel discussion that followed the viewing of his film “The Farmer and the Horse” this past Wednesday night. Co-sponsored by Skidmore organizations The Environmental Action Club, SNAC, and FAT (Film Appreciation Troupe), the event focused on food production and sustainability as well as both the importance and challenges of young farmers. The film portrays several young adults who are pursuing a career in ethical farming and determined to use draft horses. The panel was comprised of Flesher, Michael Kilpatrick of Kilpatrick Family Farm, and two Skidmore students involved in sustainability efforts at the college, Anna Graves and Gabriella Stern.
Mark Bittman recently made the observation “farming is becoming hip” and both Flesher’s film and the youthful panel that discussed it exemplify this. Although the median age of farmers in the United States is about 55, there is a growing movement of young people taking a serious interest in producing localized and sustainable food through farming. These young adults are taking this risk for the benefit of the environment, as well as for better quality food, and aspiring to encourage others to do the same. The pursuit of using horses in farming, a focus of the young farmers in Flesher’s film, is tied to their desire to farm as ethically as possible. It also illustrates their passion to remain connected to the earth in a most literal way.
It is exciting to know that one of our local colleges is providing a strong support to students interested in sustainability. The panel discussion was lead by the college’s sustainability coordinator, Riley Neugebauer, who lead the panel in addressing the success and obstacles for new farmers as well as the efforts of Skidmore students to promote both sustainable farming and consuming at the college and beyond.