This message is to discuss an issue I have been thinking about as well as a call to support NSAS by signing up to be a member here.
The farmers of Big Muddy Urban Farm are placed in the 25-34 age group in the ag census, considering us to be young farmers (although I think it is not time that defines youth, more as to action). Sometimes I feel like a better descriptor of where my number should be placed in the statistical data would be in a made up category called the 'mad' young farmer. A primary issue that gets my madness stirring and the reason I support NSAS - when looking out at a landscape that is vastly agricultural there is a sufficient lack of opportunities in sustainable agriculture education. To communicate this in numbers, 91% of Nebraskan land is reported as agricultural and for all this agricultural land, there are only two Nebraskan sources listed in a pretty out-dated directory of sustainable agriculture education and training.
Surveying the scene currently, there are a number of organizations in Nebraska that promote sustainable agriculture, and should not be dismissed. SARE is doing quite a lot in these efforts and there are opportunities active at Community Crops, UNL and the extensions. The number of these organizations are not many compared to the agricultural passion of our state. The number may be counted on the fingers of two hands (maybe less, but I want to be optimistic) and this does not set-up a good space for many young people, who are presently in the middle of experiences, having accumulated a couple of chapters of past experiences to pull from and having much more that they envision for in their future experiences. This demographic may not think of sustainable agriculture as a good situation in Nebraska and may send their passions elsewhere.
It is not all dark in Nebraska, the door to sustainable agriculture is not closed and thankfully I have a way of mellowing out my madness. From my point of view, I can say Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society has and is very important to Big Muddy as it has helped to provide a great deal of knowledge and resources when we were first starting up from Common Good Farm's presentation of their CSA model at the annual conference charging us with a guiding energy and the sharing activity from its members, like when Billene and Richard Nemec responded to our need of garlic seed. This organization continues to help and support beginning farmers entering into this way of life and thank goodness for it!
The support Big Muddy has received comes from the members of NSAS and not one sole person in the organization, this is because NSAS is a membership organization. If you find NSAS to be important, I ask you to please consider becoming a member or renewing your membership, because after all NSAS is stronger with you than without you. If you would like to join the membership please follow the link here.