Against the backdrop of an urgent climate crisis, Farm Aid 2022 highlighted both the ways that family farmers in North Carolina, the Southeast and across the country are impacted by this crisis and the positive ways in which they are addressing it―sequestering carbon and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.
At the sold-out festival at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek in Raleigh, North Carolina, Farm Aid President and Founder Willie Nelson praised family farmers for displaying tenacity and grit in the midst of mounting climate-related obstacles.
“By bringing Farm Aid back to North Carolina we can showcase what family farmers do to benefit everyone, thanks to their on-farm practices,” said Nelson. “Family farmers have an intimate relationship with the earth’s soil and water. By investing in the long-term health of our soil, water and climate, farmers give back to the land that brings good food to all of us.”
Joining Nelson on stage were Farm Aid board members John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews (performing with Tim Reynolds) and Margo Price, as well as Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Allison Russell, Charley Crockett, Brittney Spencer, Particle Kid, the Wisdom Indian Dancers, and the Red Clay Singers, who all donated their time and talent for the 10-hour show.
The daylong festival kicked off with a conversation between artists and farmers about climate change and the future of farms and food. At the morning press event, a diverse group of farmers and food producers shared their stories of how unpredictable and devastating weather patterns, exacerbated by climate change, put their land and crops at risk. Yet despite the hardships, each farmer described the ways they use regenerative agricultural practices, like pasturing livestock, farming organically and increasing biodiversity on their farms, to help lessen the impact of climate change on their own farms and across our country.
“Farmers stand on the frontlines of climate change and are all too familiar with its consequences,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “At the same time, family farmers are the best resources we have to minimize the toll of climate change. All of us need to support proactive farm and food policies that support climate-resilient family farmers and ranchers as they steward our soil and strengthen our food system.”
On Thursday, Farm Aid gathered farmers, climate and environmental justice advocates, activists and policymakers to dig into the challenges farmers face as a result of our urgent climate crisis, as well as the solutions they bring to fight climate change. The event was hosted at historic Raleigh City Market Hall, built in 1914 as Raleigh’s First Farmer’s Market. On Friday, Farm Aid hosted two farm tours to Raleigh- and Durham-area farms and a screening of “The Smell of Money,” a documentary film that illuminates the impact of industrial hog farms on North Carolina communities.
On Friday, Farm Aid community members were honored with the Spirit of Farm Aid award for their dedication to the organization and family farmers. Awardees included long-time Farm Aid show producer Charlie Hernandez and his wife and co-conspirator Andrea Fulkerson; artist Tim Reynolds who has performed with Dave Matthews each year since 2007; volunteer Adam Baker; Fairmont, North Carolina farmer Craig Watts; and farmer advocate Savi Horn of the Land Loss Prevention Project.
Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Village featured hands-on activities to celebrate agriculture and give festivalgoers a chance to meet farmers in person and learn how they enrich our soil, protect our water, grow our economy and bring us good food for good health. Local and national organizations participated, and attendees learned about gleaning and re-localizing food systems to prevent avoidable food waste; discovered North Carolina local farms, markets and farm products; and tested their food and farm knowledge in games, while learning about the dangers of corporate consolidation.
Throughout the day, artists and farmers joined together on the FarmYard stage to discuss challenges and opportunities in agriculture, including climate change, farmer mental health, food policy and Native agriculture.
Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN Concessions presented menu items made with ingredients that meet Farm Aid’s HOMEGROWN criteria: (1) produced by family farmers, (2) utilizing ecological practices and (3) with farmers receiving a fair price for their products. Food choices included North Carolina pasture-raised beef burgers, hot dogs pulled pork and links; local dairy soft serve, heritage Motherland Okra in a grains, beans and greens bowl; heirloom tomato sandwiches on bread from North Carolina-grown organic wheat; shrimp and grits, North Carolina-caught fish; and organic red beans and Charleston Gold brown rice salad. Youth from two local FFA chapters and the National Grange staffed a HOMEGROWN Youthmarket to sell local apples, peaches and muscadine grapes to festivalgoers.
Festivalgoers and fans tuning in at home can catch the whole show live on FarmAid.org, Farm Aid’s YouTube channel and DISH’s Facebook page beginning at 11 a.m. ET with―for the first time―the Farm Aid press event.
“Farm Aid 2022” will air on Circle Network at 7 p.m. ET, as well as on its Facebook, Twitter and TikTok pages. SiriusXM subscribers are also able to listen to Farm Aid 2022 on Willie’s Roadhouse (channel 59) and Dave Matthews Band Radio (channel 30) via SiriusXM radios and on the SXM App. The coverage also featured a behind-the-scenes look at the Farm Aid festival in Raleigh and the organization’s year-round work to strengthen family farm agriculture.
Sponsors of Farm Aid 2022 included DISH Network, Patagonia Workwear, Coastal Credit Union Foundation, Moink, Spindrift, Frontier Co-Op, Institute for Emerging Issues and Deep River Brewing Company.
Farm Aid will continue to offer rare and unique artist-signed and other memorabilia items, including guitars, albums and prints, with proceeds to benefit Farm Aid. The silent auction will run online at farmaid.org/auction through Oct. 7.
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, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews and Margo Price host an annual festival 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 $64 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.