Molly Rockamann first learned about the impact of industrialized meat production on the environment (like how it takes a lot less water, land, and resources to produce a pound of vegetables than it does a pound of meat) in sixth grade. It really got her thinking...
Now, at 29 years old, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a farmer and founding director of EarthDance, a non-profit program that trains apprentices in sustainable farming. And as if that werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t enough bragging rights, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also this yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NRDC Growing Green Awards Young Food Leader. A panel of eco-experts including Michael Pollan and Maria Rodale, Chairman and CEO of Rodale, chose her because, well, sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just that awesome.
We got her to stop digging around in the dirt long enough to get some of her top tips: How can women start farmingÃ¢â‚¬”even if they arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t near the EarthDance farm? My first piece of advice to aspiring farmers is to meet other local farmers. Surround yourself with like-minded people who are smarter than you who can teach you. Attend conferences and workshops to meet these people. Equally important is to get your hands in the dirt and start growing something. You can volunteer at a community garden or local farm if you don't have a place of your own where you can grow. You can even apply for an internship or apprenticeship at a teaching farm like EarthDance!
How can you make a difference if you arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t interested in getting your hands dirty (literally)? Everyone can support the good food movement by eating healthier foods and making environmentally sound choices, such as buying vegetables from your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, grass-fed beef, eggs from the farmerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s market, and organic fruit.
EarthDanceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s slogan is Ã¢â‚¬Å“celebrating the culture in agriculture.Ã¢â‚¬Â What does that mean? People farm because of the culture of farming is a way of life: living outside, making things from scratch, enjoying the rewards and challenges of the weather, raising families that work and play together, eating and feeding people good food, knowing one's neighbors, helping each other out, and putting in a hard day's work.
At EarthDance we are not only growing food on our farm but also growing a community. This has been one of the most gratifying aspects of the organization: People come to us wanting to learn organic farming and come away with so much more. EarthDanceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mission is to grow and inspire local FARMS, an acronym for Food, Art, Relationships, & Music, Sustainably!
- Sonya Grayson
Photo: The Compound