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Farmer Think Tank


Upper Midwest CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training), along with 12 other CRAFT farmer alliances from across North America, met at Hawthorne Valley Farm, Jan 2-4 in Ghent, New York, for an inaugural in-person meeting of CRAFT farmers and coordinators. This special meeting happened in conjunction with, and was hosted by, the Farm Beginnings Collaborative, a network of 9 US nonprofits--including Angelic Organics Learning Center--that offers the Farm Beginnings strategic farm business planning program to their farmer networks.

The 3-day meeting offered a powerful space in which networks of both grassroots organizations and nonprofits shared best practices about on-farm beginning farmer training, CRAFT apprentice programs, and strengthening farmer networks. During our third day the CRAFT farmer networks committed to meeting again in person in 2015 and to carry forward a specific set of action items to strengthen

1) the farmer-apprentice dynamic in CRAFT programs,

2) individual CRAFT farmer networks, and

3) the work and objectives of an umbrella North American CRAFT collaboration. This was a great step in fortifying the presence of CRAFT farmer alliances across the country!

Creek Iversen adapted a traditional farm song with new lyrics for this event and led us all in song to close out the gathering. The song captures some of this enthused participation:

Let Union Be in All Our Farms

 New lyrics: Creek Iversen, for the first C.R.A.F.T./Farm Beginnings national planning conference 2014
Note: some maintain this song's association with the Grange and/or union of farmers in England

Farmer trainers, come be jolly
root out winter melancholy
not to gather will seem folly
when we are together

Let union be in all our farms
Let all our farms be joined as one
We'll end the day as we began
We'll end it all in pleasure

Rite Folla-rolla-rye tu-ra-lie-doe
Rite Folla-rolla-rye tu-ra-lie-doe
Rite Folla-rolla-rye tu-ra-lie-doe
When we are together

So leave your laptop, grab your wool vest
brave the storms and Polar Vortex
the trek is fierce, but all for the best
when we are together


Comparing, sharing ways is charming
dancing, singing there's no harm in
seeding a future ALL can farm in
when we are together


From Ozarks, Ontario, California
the Northeast, Mid-West, Carolina
throughout the Americas, there's no finer
when we are together

Back to the roots at Hawthorne Valley
to sprout the farm culture that shall be
a CRAFT and Farm Beginnings rally!
when we are together


To hear the tune and original song, check out this video!

Post by Jenny Meyer, Program Director, Farmer Training Initiative