Farmers from the Organic Valley cooperative are going on a 16-day road trip of Northeast college campuses starting Oct. 6 to educate young consumers about the benefits of organic.
The tour begins at Organic Valley's La Farge, Wis. headquarters and ends at the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 21. Stops include Bennington College, Williams College, Harvard University, Brown University, Yale University, Columbia University and Barnard College. In Washington, the company hopes to make a visit to First Lady Michelle Obama's organic garden at the White House. They will also meet with key decision makers on sustainable agriculture and related issues.
The bus, fueled by sustainably produced biofuels, will be driven by Generation Organic, a group of young farmers who have recently joined the 22-year-old organic farming cooperative. These Organic Valley farmer-owners, ages 18 to 35, are "a new generation of sustainable agriculture leaders who believe in the power of organic to change the world," according to the company.
The tour also aims to share information about the viability of a career in organic farming, and educate and inspire people about the many benefits of organic through presentations, school garden visits and grilled cheese socials. The farmers will urge consumers to "own their food" as they aim to educate them about how personal food choices affect the health of our bodies and our planet, as well as driving their future.
The tour is being promoted on the company's website at www.organicvalley.coop/GenerationOrganic and also via social media. The company will post tales from the road, photos and videos at www.organicvalley.coop, on Twitter @GenOrganic and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GenerationOrganic.
According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, farms have declined by 4.5 million farms since 1935. Most of the 2.1 million farms that remain are operated by farmers with an average age of 57. In contrast, the average age of Organic Valley farmers is 44.
The organic industry is one of the fastest-growing, most dynamic sectors in U.S. agriculture, according to Ken Cook, president of the Washington, D.C., based non-profit Environmental Working Group.