In the Mid-Atlantic, Our Future Depends on Getting Farming Right

 

My grandfather had the most incredible hands.

They were strong and calloused. Deep lines cut through them, and they were permanently stained with soil. My grandfather was a farmer.

As a child, I spent summers on our family farm in Nebraska. I woke before the sun and headed to the field with my grandfather to help him haul pipe and drive the tractor. On those sweltering mornings, I learned about farming and food. I also learned about family, tradition, and stewardship.

I didn’t know it then, but that time with my grandfather set me on a path and ignited my passion for farms, food, and nature.

This path led me to The Land Institute in Kansas, where I studied natural systems agriculture under a founding father of the sustainable agriculture movement, Wes Jackson.

It led me to the rolling hills of Costa Rica, where I worked with sustainable coffee bean farmers.

It led me to protect the natural resources that make farming possible, building program and policy movements to ensure healthy land and ample, clean water.

And now it has led me to American Farmland Trust, where, as the director of the Mid-Atlantic region, I work with an inspiring team of colleagues and partners to protect farmland, promote sound farming practices, and keep farmers on the land.

Our work couldn’t be timelier.

America is losing irreplaceable agricultural land every minute of every day. We need every acre of farmland and ranchland – to feed us, to sustain us, and to protect our planet.

It has become especially evident how critical farmland is to our nation’s food security, yet it continues to be paved over, fragmented, or converted to residential, commercial, energy, and industrial uses. We simply cannot withstand severe shocks – like the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change – without ample and productive agricultural land.

Farming holds promise to nourish our communities and to restore our planet. I see that promise here in the Mid-Atlantic.

Our future depends on farming, and I couldn’t be more excited to be part of AFT, working to ensure a healthy, thriving future for farmers like my grandfather – and ultimately for us all.

If you would like to support farmers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Mid-Atlantic and nationwide, please consider contributing to the Farmer Relief Fund. To get the latest on our work in the Mid-Atlantic, sign up for updates.

About the Author
Jamie Mierau

Mid-Atlantic Regional Director

jmierau@farmland.org

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