Archive for the ‘Farm Aid’ Category

Farm Aid’s Farmer Heroes

Thursday, October 8th, 2015


One benefit of moving the Farm Aid concert to a new location each year is getting to meet new people: new music fans, new organizations working to help family farmers in their region, and new chefs and businesses connecting people to good food. But best of all is meeting new farmers! We’d like to introduce you to someone we met in Chicago this summer: Darius Jones.


Darius Jones is a farmer from Chicago’s West Side who went from a jail sentence at age 17 to running the McCormick Place Rooftop Farm in his early twenties. “Before I went to jail, I didn’t know anything about gardening or where food comes from. But this is going to be my career for sure. Making things grow, feeding people, is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Read his inspirational story to see why we’re proud to call Darius one of our Farmer Heroes here.  

Farm Aid 2013 (Saratoga Springs, NY)

Friday, October 2nd, 2015


Thanks so much to Alice from Georgia, for her photos of Farm Aid shirts that she took in Chicago.

Thank you Farm Aid

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

THANK YOU to everyone who came to the show or followed online today! #FarmAid30

Thanks to the Farm Aid Board Members, employees, musicians, volunteers and supporters.

To show your support and learn about the work of Farm Aid:

Willie Nelson & Family, Farmers & Friends: Pick of the Day

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


30 years and close to 100 Million Dollars is what this one man, his Family, and his Friends have raised to help the farmers of America. It took 30 long days to make these picks.  That’s nothin’. It takes up to 100 longer days, every day, to grow one ear of corn. That’s somethin’. Designed by Buddy “Budrock” Prewitt and a guy that knows that being a farmer is one of the most difficult jobs on this earth. Here’s to you Willie and every single Farmer in America. Enough said.” — Guthrie thomas

Thanks so much, Guthrie.  They are beautiful.

Willie Nelson, Farm Aid 30 (Chicago)

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

_DSC2801willie nelson

Thanks to Mary Francis Andrews for these great photos she took at Farm Aid in Chicago on September 20th.

_DSC2816willie nelson

_DSC2813willie nelson

Stop Factory Farms

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


Margot McMillen of Fawn and Fiddle – Radio Station KOPN 89.5 FM:
Thanks to Alice from Georgia, for taking this picture.

Willie Nelson, “Still is Still Moving To Me” (Farm Aid 30) (Chicago, IL)

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Farm Aid 30: Why Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews are still involved

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

by:  Nick Krewen

CHICAGO — To say that Farm Aid, the annual music festival fundraiser for family farms and farmers, “celebrated” its 30th anniversary this month at Northerly Island would be a bit of a misnomer.

Certainly, there were some festivities, as an impressive lineup of top musicians including Farm Aid founders Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp, Farm Aid board member Dave Matthews, rock band Imagine Dragons, R&B legend Mavis Staples and singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, provided nearly 12 hours of music, entertaining an estimated 27,000 in attendance at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Sept. 19. But the truth of the matter is that 30 years after Nelson organized the first Farm Aid in Champaign, Illinois — raising more than $48 million towards the cause over the last three decades, excluding the most recent event — the plight of the U.S. farmer remains in crisis.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists the current number of U.S. farms at 2.2 million; it also admits that less than 1 percent of the country’s 313 million citizens “claim farming as a profession;” that farm production expenses average $109,359 per year per farm and that “fewer than 1 in 4 of the farms in this country produce gross revenues in excess of $50,000.” Foreclosures, deep debt, industrial agriculture muscling in and manipulating prices to the point where non-corporate agriculturalists are lowballed for less-than-market crop prices, and high-level stress that often leads to depression and suicide.

The situation is still dire, warned the non-profit charity’s co-founder Neil Young at the Farm Aid 30 press conference.  “The American farm is disappearing. This is a reality,” Young stated. “We keep saying, ‘We’re fighting…we’re fighting,’ but it is disappearing.”

Young says a dearth of younger generation farmers isn’t helping the cause, especially when aging farmers hand over their livelihoods to their kin, only to watch it be sold to corporate interests. “We’ve only got a few young people involved. The farms are going to change hands.  We know when the farms change hands; that’s when the corporations come in and grab another slice.”

Still, war wages on, fighting commercial behemoths like agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant, and genetic seed modifier Monsanto and Tyson Foods Inc., the world’s leading processors of poultry, pork and beef, two companies whose multi-billion-dollar deep pockets and alleged government collusion have transformed them into formidable foes, said Young, whose latest album The Monsanto Years particularly takes one company to task.

“We’re up against a gigantic force that keeps coming at us from everywhere,” Young stated. “It’s centered in our government, and it’s backed up by multinational corporations who have taken over the farmland of the United States, who produce 90 percent of the corn.”

Farm Aid 30 press conference — photo credit: Nick Krewen.Young says the latest crisis farmers are facing is “seed control.”

“Seeds are owned by these companies, so farmers can’t trade the seeds,” he explained. “Currently, there’s a bill in the Senate that, if it passes, will make it illegal to trade seeds farther than 3 to 5 miles.

“Because of our government and the money that they’re taking from the multinational corporations, we are being forced to give up the right for our farmers to trade seeds,” he added.  “We need seed justice in this land.”

This public advocacy is one of the crucial differences Farm Aid has made in the lives of farmers: standing up for the little guy.

“The fact that Farm Aid even exists has given every farmer out there a stand against companies like Monsanto where they didn’t have one before,” country artist Jamey Johnson, who was performing at his eighth Farm Aid Festival, told Samaritanmag in an exclusive interview.

“If you don’t have a voice or a vote, there’s no way you can make anybody change. Farm Aid gives every farmer out there a platform to stand on while they make their case. Farm Aid helps farmers that get pushed out by ever growing corporate business and helps them make a new start on their own, helps them stand up against the Goliath.”

Besides offering hope, Farm Aid also supports farmers through third party administration with programs like The Family Farm Disaster Fund — which helps families survive weather-related disasters by providing emergency funds to buy food and cover living expenses, an emergency hotline and provides legal and financial counseling when foreclosure is threatened — and The Farmer Resource Network, a grid of 700 organizations recommended by Farm Aid that provides “resources, tools and opportunities to help (farmers) thrive.”

Every annual Farm Aid concert funds a year of activity, as artists and crews donate their time and talent, with all proceeds going to the cause save for a small amount of production expenses.

Here’s how it breaks down according to Farm Aid website: 41 percent of proceeds go toward promoting “fair farm policies and grassroots organizing campaigns to develop and bolster family farm-centered agriculture;” 39 percent goes toward “helping farmers thrive; providing farmers with the services and resources they need to access new markets and transition to more sustainable and profitable farming practices;” 14 percent to natural disaster and emergency response and 6 percent towards “growing the Good Food movement,” a crusade that espouses finding and shopping for organic, naturally grown farm food rather than the genetically altered stuff.

Willie Nelson launches into “Whiskey River” — photo credit: Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve, Inc.“When we started Farm Aid, crisis was gripping farm country,” said Willie Nelson, who launched the idea following a remark he heard from Bob Dylan at Live Aid regarding a similar charity for farmers, at the press conference. “Farm Aid called on America to stand up for family farmers. They showed up then and they’re still showing up. All different types of people are coming together for family farmers, and we’re making a difference.”

Farm Aid has also influenced other musicians to lead by example and make a difference.

Jack Johnson, and his wife Kim, for example, have implemented a healthy snack program via their Oahu-based Kõkua Hawai’i Foundation called AINA in 16 local schools, a farm-to-school initiative that promotes childhood health by pushing healthy eating habits, contributes to a healthier local food system by supporting Hawaii’s farming community and their produce, and connects children to the land and water that sustains them.

For this school year, AINA is in 16 schools across the state, where students will experience garden-based learning, compost and nutrition lessons.

“Basically, during the school hours you can come into the classroom with locally grown food,” Johnson explained. “We have parents come down in the morning, they cut it all up, it comes from the farmers, it gets put into the classrooms and kids get to taste it.

“Any kids who don’t want to finish it we get them to put it in a little bin, and we take that off to worm composting. They’re learning about how it goes back into the soil, and what healthy soil is, and we’re happy to be part of it.”

Jack Johnson told Samaritanmag that because his foundation is self-financed, there is a lot more flexibility and direct action in what they’re able to do.

“We’re pretty lucky with our Foundation, it’s all self-funded,” he admitted. “We’ve gotten some grants, but we’ve done music festivals that kind of support it and a lot of the touring I do, I pour money into it from there. So it’s been different than a lot of non-profits that have to rely off the grants, year after year. In that sense, the finances haven’t been a huge challenge but I know it’s been a challenge for other non-profit groups.”

For the Imagine Dragons, Farm Aid is an inspiration to change their eating habits. Guitarist Wayne Sermon, whose grandfather and father were farmers, said the band is doing its part to promote better eating by setting an example and actively searching out farm-to-table restaurants whenever they’re on tour.

“When I first started this band and we actually got successful, was when I first realized that I can’t eat the way I used to eat,” Sermon told Samaritanmag exclusively. “I have to eat fresh meat and vegetables, making sure knowing where my meat comes from, the non-GMO stuff. It became apparent and actually made a difference in my life. We also definitely encourage people to go out to grocery stores that support local farms as well.”

Even Micah Nelson, son of Willie and brother of Lukas, who fronted his own Insects Vs. Robots and joined Lukas’ Promise of the Real to perform with Neil Young at Farm Aid, said he’s going to Kauai this winter to help his cousin start a food forest. “I’m going to go help him out and learn as much as I can and apply it to my own life, instead of just going out there and preaching about it,” he said.

The fact that a trio of second generation artists, Micah and Lukas Nelson, and Ian Mellencamp, all performed at an event that initially took place either before they were born or just after, suggests that the Farm Aid will take the fight for the farmer well into the future. is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.

– See more at:


“Farm Aid is so much more than the music” — learn about the National Center for Appropriate Technology

Monday, September 28th, 2015

ot Redfern, Norm Conrad, and Pat Keeney
photo:  Alice Kaufmann

Thanks so much to Pat Keeney (Miss Tex), from Texas, and Dot Redfern, from Florida, for speaking with Norm Conrad, of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and taking this video.  And thanks to Alice, for taking the picture!  Pat, Alice, Dot are a few of the kind folks and Farm Aid supporters who help tell the story of Farm Aid here on the blog.  Thanks, friends.


“While at Farm Aid 30 in Chicago,I talked with Norm Conrad who is with National Center for Appropriate Technology.  The NCAT is a private nonprofit organization, founded in 1976, which manages a series of projects that promote self-reliance and sustainable lifestyles through wise use of appropriate technology. Its programs deal with sustainable and renewable energy, energy conservation, resource-efficient housing, sustainable community development, and sustainable agriculture.

Norm Conrad from Linda Banks on Vimeo.

Norm was at Farm Aid to educate the public on how factory farms pose an environmental risk to the ground water & ultimately us. The government approves of these factory farms but they are not checking the water for us. Since they are on private land there is no one to monitor or control what is being done to our water. Disgusting when you stop and think about it!

Farm Aid is so much more than just the music.”

Pat Keeney

Farm Aid Tee Shirts

Monday, September 28th, 2015
T-shirts from the First Farm Aid – A Concert For America 1985
University of Illinois Memorial Stadium
Champaign, Illinois
September 22, 1985
Thanks to Alice Kaufman of Georgia, for taking these cool photos of tee shirts at the Farm Aid concert in Chicago on September 19th.
You can get your own 2015 Farm Aid shirt at:
Corky Jones – Farmer Hero    1996
Corky Jones, former president of American Agriculture Movement and dedicated Farm Aid supporter.

Farm Aid Board Member Paul English, Farm Aid 30 (Chicago) (9/19/15)

Monday, September 28th, 2015

hoto:  Alice Kaufman

Farm Aid Board Member Paul English, at the Farm Aid 30 press conference.

Farm Aid celebrates 30 years (Chicago, IL) (by Jennifer Bronenkant)

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

photo:  Jennifer Bronenkant
by Jennifer Bronenkant
Bronenkant Web Design, LLC

In the midst of a nationwide farm crisis, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp gathered about 50 artists to perform the first Farm Aid in Champaign, IL to a crowd of 78,000 fans. That first Farm Aid raised five million dollars to directly assist farmers suffering during the farm crisis and to raise awareness of the plight of America’s family farmers.

The three original founders have served as board members since the beginning and were joined in 2001 by Dave Matthews. These members along with unseen board members and staff have worked tirelessly over the years ensuring a continuing effort to bolster the family farmer and ensure good safe food for the American public. In the 30 years since the first concert nearly 500 artists have donated their time, talent and expenses to perform at Farm Aid concerts. The movement and mission has changed with the emerging needs of the farmer. The rise of factory farms and the public policies that support corporate interests have severely threatened the family farms. The organization has morphed to serve the growing needs of today’s family farmers by concentrating efforts on supporting the Good Food Movement, promoting farm policies and grassroots campaigns along with directly supporting farmers in transition to more sustainable growing methods along with natural disaster and emergency response assistance.
Kicking off its 30th year, Farm Aid was honored in February by the GRAMMY Foundation¨ for its legacy of harnessing the power of music for social change.

Farm Aid held it’s 30th anniversary concert at FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago on a beautiful Summer-like September day.

The venue is an outside amphitheater on an island in Lake Michigan with breathtaking views of downtown Chicago. This urban oasis provided plenty of room for the tasty family-farm identified local and organic food including jalepeno corn dogs, grilled pork chop sandwiches, baby back ribs, vegetarian tacos, sweet desserts and fun drinks.

HOMEGROWN Village educates and entertains festival goers with ongoing skills demonstrations, hands-on activities and discussions of issues by panels of farmers advocates. Several of the musicians added their star power to draw crowds to the panel discussions including Jamey Johnson discussing how to bring in the next generation of farmers, Lukas and Micah Nelson discussing Chicago’s urban gardening community, and Jack Johnson discussing farm to school programs.

Of course the star of the festival is the music and this year’s lineup was stellar. The high energy mix included a wide variety of styles from gospel, rock, alt, folk, and of course country.

The day started following the long tradition of Willie Nelson opening with a prayer followed by a gospel set by the Blackwood Quartet.

The crowd warm up started with short sets by lesser known acts who although they may not be household names yet come from solid musical heritage including model and singer Ian Mellencamp (nephew of board member John Mellencamp) and Americana singer Holly Williams (daughter of Hank Jr. and grand daughter of legendary Hank Sr.). Two of Willie Nelsons sons rocked out early in the day with their bands: Micah Nelson with his alternative rock band Insects vs Robots and blues rocker Lukas Nelson and The Promise Of The Real.

By mid afternoon the crowd had filled in substantially and the sets got longer and featured more nationally known names.

The infectious hoe down music of Old Crow Medicine Show really got the crowd moving by performing favorites of their own like “Alabama High-Test” along with a cover of “City of New Orleans.” They featured special guests Willie Nelson’s harmonica player Mickey Rafael and multi-intrumental musician David Amram who has performed at all of the Farm Aid concerts.

Farm Aid regular and modern Outlaw Jamey Johnson opened with a defiant cover of Willie Nelson’s “Write Your Own Songs” followed by several of his own hits and closing with Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” He brought Hawaiian singer Lily Meola on for a pretty duet of one of her original songs “We Go Good In Bad Weather.”

Kasey Musgraves featured the best costuming of the day wearing a retro cowgirl ruffled dress and western boots while her band was dressed in pink Nudie style suits. Her contemporary Country music includes enough heart and soul win acceptance by traditionalists along with popularity with new Country fans. She ended her set with a sassy cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking.”

Jack Johnson brought in his mellow island vibe with a set of his hits. The highlight was the last song which he had just written and had to read off of a sheet of paper. Called “Willie Got Me Stoned And Stole All My Money,” it was as humorous as the title implies.

Chicago hometown star Mavis Staples brought her unique soulful music on next. Her joyful performance had the whole audience up and dancing especially with the Staple Singers’ hit “I’ll Take You there.”

Kicking the energy level up into a completely new sphere, Imagine Dragon’s, Dan Reynolds hit the stage with so much excitement the stage couldn’t contain him and he spent most of the first song “It’s Time” bouncing around in the front of the pit and into the audience. It is easy to see why this band has been so hot this year.

The rest of the night belonged to the board members beginning with Dave Matthews who brought along guitarist extraordinaire Tim Reynolds for a mix of DMB favorites including “What Would You Say” from the early days to a more recent “Corn Bread.”

John Mellencamp began his set with a newer song “Lawless Times” but mostly played audience favorites from the 1980’s like “Authority Song” and “Pink Houses.” A master showman, Mellencamp had people of all ages up on their feet dancing and singing along.

Neil Young has been on tour this summer backed by Willie’s sons Micah and Lukas and The Promise Of The Real in support of his latest protest album The Monsanto Years. The combination of age and experience with youth and enthusiasm couldn’t be better. Young seems to be revitalized and having more fun than ever and the members of the band have become even better musicians after spending time with the master. The set started with new songs from the current album but went on to include older favorites including the rarely played “Alabama.” It seems that year after year, the highlight of the festival is usually Neil Young.

Willie Nelson along with his band and family members ended the show with a traditional Nelson set opening with “Whiskey River” and ending with gospel music “I Saw The Light.” Many of the performers of the day joined in on stage for the finale. Another successful and memorable Farm Aid has just joined it’s predecessors in the history books.

For more information on Farm Aid, visit
Read Jenn’s article and see lots more great photographs here:

Sunday, September 27th, 2015


Sunday, September 27th, 2015


Willie’s Reserve at Farm Aid 30

Sunday, September 27th, 2015


I saw lots of Willie Reserve Shirts and hats at the Farm Aid concert in Chicago last week.



Order this LIMITED EDITION tee designed by renowned artist Micah Nelson in celebration of the recent announcement of Willie’s personal brand of marijuana.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit “The Realm Of The Caring” (


Get yours here.