Farmers Rising! The First Annual Young Farmers Convivium

Fall is here. That means harvest time. The crops are coming in, the leaves are falling — it's time to celebrate the season of bounty. And who knows how to party better than farmers?

Farmers rising! Look out world: we're here, we're young, we don't know what we're doing, we don't shower very often and we're growing your food!

No one. That's who.

This year, Friends of Family Farmers, did an amazing job organizing the 1st annual Young Farmers Convivium at our 110-acre farm near Springfield, OR.

Author and farmer Rebecca Thistlethwaite presents on the nuances of farm financing and how to make sound business investments 

Author and farmer Rebecca Thistlethwaite presents on the nuances of farm financing and how to make sound business investments 

For three days, aspiring and beginning farmers had access to professional workshops on topics ranging from small engine repair and pest management to livestock breed selection and farm financing. We showed a great documentary called To Make a Farm (you can watch the whole thing on youtube for $4) about three beginning farms in British Columbia that is as inspiring as it is comical.  Afterwards we discussed our own experiences (read: frustrations) with farming and living a rural lifestyle, drank beer and 'networked'. 

Josh Johnson of Finnegan's Cider demonstrates the subtle art of grafting

We enjoyed incredible, locally-sourced cuisine provided by Party Downtown catering, and of course, hoedowns and bonfires. We had our own beer brewed by Agrarian ales with wild hops we found by the banks of the Mckenzie River and Emmer Farro grown on site by Lonesome Whistle Farms It was a young farmers wet dream.

For a full schedule of events and other information on the event click here.

This is how much trash 130 farmers accumulated in 3 days. Like I said, farmers know how to party

It was a great weekend. But it wasn't just the workshops, or the beer, that made it great —it was the people. The chance to mingle with so many young farmers (read: instant best friends) from different backgrounds, with different experience and skill sets was invigorating. We exchanged stories and ideas, plans for the future and anxieties about finding farmland, money, customers — every obstacle you can imagine to successfully running a farm business.

But there was a solace in knowing that we share not only our struggles, but our passion with an inspiring contingent of indiviuals. It felt like one massive group hug with everyone saying no, you're not crazy for wanting to be a farmer and no, you're not alone. 

Keegan and Jenny with Two Rivers Farm lead a group tour of the property on a typically foggy Oregon morning.

Keegan and Jenny with Two Rivers Farm lead a group tour of the property on a typically foggy Oregon morning.

I can only speak for myself but I would consider it a fair assessment that the event had a profound impact on everyone involved. Farming can be a lonely pursuit — with long, arduous days in the field and not a single day of paid vacation. Many young farmers are sacrificing something (money, family, friends, cable tv, reliable cell reception) to follow the call of the country. But the rewards can be vast, albeit not necessarily monetary, and if you're not farming because you absolutely love it, you're doing it for the wrong reasons.

The group discusses pastured poultry management outside our Welsh Harlequin pen

The group discusses pastured poultry management outside our Welsh Harlequin pen

That love of living simply and with intention is contagious and it's conduits like the Farmers Rising! Young Farmers Convivium that make sharing our passion and our resources possible. If we want to change the face of farming in America we can't do it alone. I'm thrilled and inspired to know that isn't the case.

If you're reading this and you were at Two Rivers for this fantastic weekend I want to say it was pleasure to meet you. We can't wait to see you next year.

 - Derek