Fresh & Local
Choosing Where to Live and Work
Column #18, Publiahed Jan 20, 2012

Last week, I wrote about how for the first time in more than 100 years, the number of farmers may be increasing. There will be a new agricultural census taken this year, and it is likely to show that large numbers of people - including people in their 20s and 30s Ė are going into farming.

I cited an Associated Press article that suggested that one of the reasons young entrepreneurs are going into farming is they find the corporate world stifling and see no point in sticking it out when there is little job security.

I have said many times before that interest in locally grown food is growing and here to stay. Fresh and local food is something that a lot of people feel passionate about, and that is undoubtedly attracting new people.

There is at least one other likely reason: the ability to choose where you live and work.

Last October, I wrote a couple of columns about the local food wholesaler FreshLink. I didnít have space in the columns to include this, but I asked Mollie Visosky what the biggest surprise was about running their business. Mollie said that she is constantly amazed at how much production many of the local market farmers get from very small amounts of land.

That intensive farming opens up a lot of possibilities. We have all grown up with the idea that farms are always located in rural areas. Therefore, it follows that if you want to farm, you have to live in a rural area, right?

But if a farm does not require large amounts of land, then there is nothing to prevent a fresh and local market farm from being located in an urban area. If you donít believe me, run a Google search on the words ďurban farming.Ē Welcome to a world you probably didnít know existed.

Urban farms save a considerable amount of money transporting their goods. And sometimes they donít even have to own any land. Some cities have programs to lease vacant parcels of land to local market farmers.

The point is that another attraction of fresh and local market farming is that you can potentially live just about anywhere you want.

No matter how you feel about the fresh and local food movement, it is bringing many new people into agriculture.

Update: Last October 31, commodities broker MF Global declared bankruptcy. MF Globalís clients included 38,000 farmers and ranchers who hedged the prices of their crops with futures trades. MF Global made a series of bad investments in European debt, and investigators have determined that $1.2 billion dollars is missing from accounts belonging to those farmers and ranchers.

ABC News reported that Montana farmers have filed a class action suit on behalf of all 38,000 farmers and ranchers against former U.S. Senator and New Jersey governor Jon Corzine. The suit alleges that MF Global siphoned funds from segregated client accounts to cover the European debt losses.

MF Global itself cannot be sued while it is in bankruptcy, but the companyís former executives can be sued personally. The Montana suit seeks to recover their missing money from Corzine and other former top executives, as well as accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and bank JPMorgan Chase that held the funds.

Bryant Osborn and his wife Terry own Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County. His column on fresh and locally grown food runs every Friday. He can be reached at