Loss of Knowledge Exchange Impacts Farming Community
Posted: March 30, 2012
As the farming system in America evolved and the number of farmers drastically declined, this informal exchange of knowledge and labor slowly disappeared.
The evolution in agriculture brought with it a shift to large scale single-crop farming that revolutionized food production. However, within the last decade, many people have begun to challenge this system and its associated risks to human and environmental health. Demand for locally and sustainably grown food has steadily increased and a growing number of new farmers are entering the market to fill these demands through small scale, diverse, sustainable and/or organic production.
Many of these beginning growers are transferring from other careers and have no background in farming. They have the enthusiasm but lack the production and in some cases business experience or knowledge to create a successful enterprise. The disconnect that exists between these beginning farmers and older established farms can leave current farmers in need of skilled labor, but without the time or resources to train these new laborers themselves. Without production knowledge and experience, new farmers may be unable to secure financing for equipment and land, preventing them from entering the business at all.
Penn State Extension is addressing several of the training needs of these farmers through educational programming that helps new and established growers build their businesses.