October 24, 2016

My name is Aiden Irish, and I am the author of a newly released Fair Farms report, “Diversifying the Agricultural Basket:Risks in Conventional Poultry Growing on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Opportunities from Diversified Local Agriculture,” which highlights the need for, and opportunities from diverse agricultural systems.

portraitWhile my work, research, and education revolve around food system policy, I owe that vocation to my upbringing on my family’s farm in the Snoqualmie Valley of Western Washington State; the home of Carnation Milk. Helping produce the resources that filled my stomach, kept me warm in the winter, and sheltered me from the elements gave me more than calloused hands.

My upbringing taught me about the dynamic world in which we live. It afforded me with endless memorable stories, including an animate (headless) chicken!  While the memories of my farm’s vitality are enduring, equally so are images of nearby farms that – one by one – succumbed to unseen forces. The decline came at the expense of farming families, communities, and the land.

diversify-ag-basketThis report is a call to recognize the critical importance of agriculture, not only for production, but public health, sustainable environments, and viable rural economies. The impact of this information, however, does not stem from words on a page, but rather from people like you who take the time to learn and share this information.

I invite you to read the report (PDF), take our short quiz to test your knowledge, and most importantly, start a conversation. Whether with your neighbors, your political representatives, or your local farmer, these conversations among passionate, involved people are what give me hope for the future of our food system.

Like you, I hope to see a future for agriculture that not only nourishes the population, but sustains the health of the land, along with the people and economies that depend on it. With movements like Fair Farms and consumers like us working together, I know that vision is a real possibility.

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