5 million small farms have been lost since the 1930's and the remaining 500,000 family farms are in rapid decline. Each week hundreds of farmers retire, lose their farms, or the farmland itself is lost to housing developments or commercial farming.
With the loss of family farms, there is a loss of local, natural produce along with the loss of the culture and historical traditions family farms have brought to their local communities. School field trips, family visits to the pumpkin patches, and corn mazes, and the interaction of children with animals, gardens and fields provides valuable experiences, memories, and education.
You can help preserve small farms in simple ways; 1) Buy Local, Attend Farmers Markets, or Join a CSA (Weekly Produce Boxes delivered by Family Farms) 2) Visit Local Farms and Attend Farm Events
Small farms now depend on seasonal events to keep going; so buy tickets to Farm Dinners, Harvest Festivals, Pumpkin Patches, Holiday Celebrations, Petting Zoos, and other events out at the farms.
Encourage Local Schools to arrange field trips to farms. Children are the new generation and if they are given the chance to interact and learn about local family farms they will understand where their food comes from, learn to eat a variety of produce and meats, and understand the importance of buying local. Best of all, they will gain lifetime memories of their visits, volunteering and attending events at local family farms.
3) Volunteer Volunteer at a Community Garden or Local Small Farm. Small farms are becoming more dependent on interns and volunteer help to survive. Did you know the average small family farmer makes less than $3 an hour by the end of the year? This is even though most farmers are up at dawn and leave their fields at dark. Many small farms have programs allowing volunteering, interning or farm stays to help, this gives the small farmer extra help and the volunteer gets hands on learning experiences. If you don't have a small farm where you can volunteer, check out your local community gardens they are worthy causes that promote local, fresh produce too.
4) Donate Supplies or Money DONATE SUPPLIES: Did you know that your old tools, unwanted household items, or those unused items and decorations n the attic could be just the thing local farms and community gardens might need? Checkout the wishlist on their website or send a message to your local farmer or garden and see if those things sitting around the house might go to good use. DONATE MONEY: There are many wonderful non-profit organizations helping to save small farms and help community gardens. These organizations always are in need of funding to keep doing their good works. Consider donating funds or setting up an endowment fund.