The other night at the dinner table, my three-year-old, Leona, asked, “Mama, what are our farmers’ names?” “Paul and Molly,” I replied. And of course, being a curious preschooler with a never-ending list of questions, she followed with, “But...what is their baby’s name?” “It’s Yoshi, little one.” Curiosity satiated, at least for the next few minutes, she proceeded to devour some delicious pastured chicken raised by Paul Glowaski and Molly Nakahara, the farmers behind Dinner Bell Farm. Perhaps an atypical dinner conversation, especially with a three-year-old, but one I sincerely hope gets talked about more and more, because we should know who the people feeding us are.
Today is World Food Day, and this year’s focus on family farms holds significance for us at Kitchen Table Advisors. Not only are we celebrating the small farmers worldwide who are working toward an ecologically sound and productive food system that can feed the world for the next century and beyond, but we are celebrating the local families who are feeding our families.
This is an enormous undertaking, and the challenges that confront aspiring sustainable farmers like Paul and Molly are daunting. Agriculture is historically one of the most unforgiving professions, even for those who were raised in it. Trying to earn enough to scrape by, while balancing student loans and the expenses of starting a family, is just part of the reality of being a small farmer in the United States.
At Kitchen Table Advisors, our mission is to support young farmers, like Paul and Molly, by equipping them with the tools, knowledge and resources to survive in the rough and tumble world of business. We are on the phone every other week with Paul, providing a sounding board to him on his business challenges, and helping him think through how he can make Dinner Bell Farm viable next year and beyond. And yet, even with this personalized support, competing in a marketplace dominated by large conventional producers is still an uphill battle for small farmers.
The critical question of how to steward and feed our fragile planet will not be answered quickly, but it will be answered by those who take risks and try. Fortunately, the pressing need for a new model of agriculture is inspiring folks like Paul and Molly (and little Yoshi) to bravely jump in and make a difference by dedicating their lives to producing food in a sustainable way. These young farmers are incredibly passionate about finding models of farming that produce wholesome food for our communities while protecting the environment.
On this World Food Day, let’s pledge to help them succeed by voting with our dollars and giving our time to advocate for a healthy and equitable food economy. I know Leona and I wholeheartedly will!
Pei-Yee Woo Associate Director, Kitchen Table Advisors