Beginning farmer advocate to keynote farm conference

GRANVILLE — How land, equipment, and knowledge is passed on to the next generation will impact the U.S. farm economy, according to farmer and National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) Executive Director Lindsey Lusher Shute, featured keynote speaker at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 37th annual conference, Growing Right by Nature, February in Granville, Ohio (Licking County).

In her Saturday, Feb. 13, keynote address, “Building Our Collective Strength: An Agenda for the Next Generation,” Shute will discuss the structural obstacles getting in the way of this transition and the opportunities to strengthen family farms through policy change.

“Today’s young farmers and ranchers are…taking tremendous personal and financial risks to feed the country and build a healthy food system,” Shute wrote for, where she was named a Future of American Agriculture Champion of Change. We must shape “a country where young people who are willing to work hard, get trained, and be entrepreneurial can support themselves and their families in farming.”

She and her husband, Benjamin, own and manage Hearty Roots Community Farm, a 70 acre farm in New York’s Hudson River Valley. They grow about 25 acres of certified organic vegetables and care for a flock of laying hens and a dozen pigs, which are marketed through a 900 member community support agriculture program.

In a 2013 Tedx Talk, Shute pointed out that there are 28 million fewer farmers in the U.S. than in 1920, and the country has grown by 200 million people.

“If we are going to rebuild American agriculture, provide a pathway of opportunity for people of modest means to become farmers in the United States, and for us all to feel and experience the benefits of all these farmers caring for the land will bring, then we need… to invest in the next generations of farmers,” said Shute, who, as Executive Director and co-founder of NYFC, represents, mobilizes, and engages young farmers to ensure their success.

On Friday, Feb. 12, Shute will facilitate a full-day, in-depth pre-conference event designed for beginning farmers, titled “Answering the Call to Farm.” Following the pre-conference, aspiring farmers seeking land and landowners seeking farmers are invited to attend a free Farm Land of Opportunity networking event.

On Saturday morning, Shute will also lead a one hour workshop, “Is DC Helping Sustainable Farmers? What’s Happening in Congress That’s Affecting You.”

“We’re excited to welcome Lindsey to this year’s conference, so we can shine a spotlight on the resources, tools, and support these young farmers need to succeed, along with the policy changes that the future of farming requires,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.

Shute will speak as part of the state’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, an event which draws more than 1,200 attendees from across Ohio and the country.

In addition to Shute, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker John Ikerd on Sunday, Feb. 14; more than 90 educational workshops; three in-depth pre-conference workshops on Friday, Feb. 12; a trade show; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced and from-scratch meals, a raffle, book sales and signings, a seed swap, and Saturday evening entertainment.

For more information about the conference, or to register, visit


Staff report