Earlier this summer, the United States Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, a grass-roots organization dedicated to educating the non-farming public about the truth about where their food comes from and how it’s raised put out the call to farmers and ranchers across the country to be the “Face of Agriculture”. Two farmers from the Carolinas were chosen as finalist; Eric McClam, owner of City Roots in Columbia, SC, a diversified urban farm growing vegetables, micro-greens, chickens, tilapia and bees is a finalist and explains why he threw his name into the hat:
“It was something that a friend of mine brought up. I have done a lot with our farm, being an urban farm, to bring it to the forefront of local food. We do a lot of educational things with the schools and farm to table dinners as well. It’s something that I am very passionate about.”
Bo Stone, of P & S Farms, near Rowland, NC, grows corn, wheat, soybeans, hogs, 70 cow, cow-calf herd, sweet corn, and strawberries, and other assorted produce, and he describes what he sees as the purpose of USFRA and the Face of Agriculture:
“I wanted to get involved for several reasons. One of the first things I was told when I came back to the farm was the people would be making decisions that affected my livelihood and I needed to get involved in that process because nobody understands what we do better than we do. So I am trying to be active and involved in several organizations. This contest in particular was important to me because I feel like that as farmers we do a great job of preaching to the choir. What we don’t do as well is step out of our comfort zone and reach consumers and other groups that we don’t have that connection with. This program is an opportunity to open some dialogue to solve some problems. It gives us the chance to explain how we do things and why we do them that way.”
South Carolina’s McClam explains what he feels is important for the Face of Agriculture nominee:
“I hope they will be able to sit at the table with diverse types of farmers and ranchers in the US, as well as those who are not farmers, and be able to discuss with them what it means to be a farmer. What their struggles are, the importance of food, what it means to them, and their local economy and environment.”
McClam mostly direct markets the product off his inner-city three-acre farm in Columbia. While not certified organic, City Roots utilizes organic farming methods.
North Carolina’s Stone explains why he feels he would be a good fit for the Face of Agriculture program:
“If I am selected, I would hope to achieve is to be able to reach out to the consumers and consumer groups and tell them why we do the things that we do. I feel I would be an asset to this program because of the diversity that I have with my farm. We are involved in a lot of different commodities. That gives me a different perspective. I’m passionate about what I do.”
P&S farms uses strip till cultivation and conventional pesticides and fertilizers.
Through Dec. 15, people can visit www.fooddialogues.com to learn more about each of the nine finalists and the work they do.
Consumers, farmers and ranchers are asked to vote for who they believe best represents those across the country who work to bring food to the table. These votes will be factored into the decision to determine the Faces of Farming and Ranching.