sustainable agriculture education
What began for Darrell Frey as a desire to homestead and learn basic self-reliance skills evolved into a passion for applying environmental science to design ecologically based farms and gardens. Drawing inspiration from the writings of Bill Mollison, the so called ‘father of permaculture,’ and the innovative farming techniques and bioshelter building strategies developed by the New Alchemy Institute in Massachusetts, Frey launched his farming operation, Three Sisters Farm in 1988 on five acres of land in Sandy Lake, PA to promote permaculture. At the center of his operation sits a unique bioshelter that employs permaculture design and utilizes sustainable agriculture methods, technologies and practices.
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, a nonprofit 80-acre four-season farm and education center in Pocantico Hills, NY (a hop, skip and a jump from Manhattan) is looking for aspiring farmers to counteract an alarming trend in agriculture: an aging population of farmers that isn’t getting any younger.
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, as of the 2002 Census, the average age of all U.S. farmers was approximately 55. More distressing, though, is that from 1982 to 2002 the number of young principal farmers under 35 years old has declined from 16% to 9%. Stone Barns Center attributes this decline in young farmers to years of economic forces that have deterred young people from regarding farming as a viable career opportunity.