The occasion brings together some of the greatest musicians around, including Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson and board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews.
Though the concert may be the most celebrated and high-profile event for the organization, every day Farm Aid works to help farmers through its various programs, including a hotline and online Farm Aid Resource Network where farmers can connect to advocates who will help them with everything from legal issues to financial counseling. Farm Aid’s also provided financial support to a slew of organizations, including the Farmers’ Legal Action Group, which has helped thousands of farmers stay on their land. And Homegrown.org, Farm Aid’s online community, is a spot where people interested in activities from canning to brewing to raising backyard chickens can come together to share ideas.
The 31st annual Farm Aid concert is this Saturday, September 17 at Jiffy Lube Live, an outdoor performance amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia, about 30 miles west of Washington, DC. Besides the music, concertgoers can check out Homegrown Village, where food and farming organizations will show off the work they’re doing and the food they’re growing. The Farmyard Stage, located within Homegrown Village, will be the setting for conversations with farmers and musicians hosted by The Washington Post.
Homegrown Concessions will serve local and organic food, sourced from family farms that practice sustainable methods and from companies that pay farmers a fair price. That includes Shenandoah Valley Organic, a company that allows its farmers to raise their own birds humanely on organic feed, and then sell them to the company at a premium per-pound price – as opposed to companies like Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson, where farmers don’t own the chickens and have little to no say in how they’re raised. “It’s a great story, and I was happy to talk to them and learn about their model,” says Glenda Yoder, Farm Aid’s associate director. “It’s a lot of work to do the scouting and look into all the ingredients to ensure that we have a good production story for each ingredient.”
Lest we forget about the musical side of Farm Aid: Besides Nelson, Young, Mellencamp, and Matthews, this year’s lineup includes Sturgill Simpson, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Alabama Shakes, Jamey Johnson, Margo Price, and many more.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. Courtesy of the band
Steve Johnson, Brittany Howard, Zac Cockrell, and Heath Fogg of the Alabama Shakes. Brantley Gutierrez / Courtesy of Farm Aid
“It’s music. It’s food. It’s the homegrown village experiences. It’s community building,” says Yoder. “[Farm Aid] can be life a life-changing experience when you begin to understand the importance of family farmers.”
We’ll be at the show sharing photos and videos on our Instagram, along with Josh and Katie McCullock from Oklahoma’s Wild Hill Family Farm, who scored two VIP tickets as the grand prize winner of our #iamamodernfarmer contest. “Good music and good food, what’s not to love?” says Josh.