Farm Aid 25th Anniversary Event Showcases Family Farmers' Contributions to Health, Economy and Environment

Oct 02, 2010, 12:00 ET from Farm Aid

Nelson, Mellencamp, Young and Matthews headline historic benefit festival in heart of "America's Dairyland"

MILWAUKEE, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Family farmers are growing hope for America, according to the artists, issue experts and advocates gathered here to mark Farm Aid's 25th year.

"We never intended to be here this long," said Farm Aid president and founder Willie Nelson, "but we know our country needs family farmers, and we will be here as long as family farmers need us. It's up to all of us to work together to keep family farmers growing."

Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America marked the first time the event has taken place at a Major League Baseball stadium. Brewers Stadium at Miller Park hosted music fans, farmers and food lovers who watched a star-packed 10-hour show that included Farm Aid board members Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, along with Kenny Chesney, Jason Mraz, Jamey Johnson, Norah Jones, Band of Horses, Jeff Tweedy, Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real, Amos Lee, Robert Francis, BoDeans, Randy Rogers Band and Blackwood Quartet.

At a press event earlier in the day, the Farm Aid artist board members discussed the challenges and opportunities for family farmers with Executive Director Carolyn Mugar, Iron Chef Michael Symon, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), author Anna Lappe, Growing Power founder Will Allen, and family farmers Sarah Lloyd and Tony Schultz. Tavis Smiley, host, Tavis Smiley on PBS and Tavis Smiley Show on PRI, moderated the discussion.

"Family farmers offer hope for solving our country's most urgent crises," said Mugar. "Their innovations and their contributions positively impact our health, our economy and our environment."

Farm Aid's HOMEGROWN Village featured hands-on activities such as beekeeping, composting and preserving that gave concertgoers a chance to meet farmers, get their hands dirty, and learn about the ways family farmers are enriching our soil and protecting our water. The concert also featured food with local or organic, family farm-sourced ingredients at concessions. HOMEGROWN Concessions included burgers, veggie burgers, pizza, hot dogs, veggie dogs, jalapeño corndogs, bratwursts, sausages, cheese curds and French fries, as well as BBQ ham steaks, pork chops, and pulled pork sandwiches from Patchwork Family Farms. In addition, concertgoers bought fresh, local fruit and baked goods at a farmers market at Miller Park.

Farm Aid partnered with Milwaukee businesses to help achieve zero waste goals at Miller Park. With the help of Oconomowoc-based White Oak Farm, all compostable waste at the concert will be turned into Purple Cow Organics Activated Compost with Micro Life. Volunteers from Milwaukee Community Compost Network, a project of Victory Garden Initiative, worked with White Oak Farm at Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America to help concertgoers differentiate between landfill-bound trash, recyclables like plastics and compostables.

Farm Aid 25: Growing Hope for America was sponsored by Horizon Organic, DirecTV, Anvil Knitwear, Dodge Ram, and Organic Valley, among other generous donors.

Farm Aid's mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid's work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $37 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.