Young Farmers Emerge

By Isolde Raftery

In addition to “Social Meat” events, which are public gatherings where attendees can share ideas, opinions and experiences, Red Meat Market offers a “Meat 101” program as part of our “Arc of Engagement” that connects everyone interested in good meat. Meat 101 is a focused and formal learning experience for specific groups of steak-holders, like graziers, processors, butchers, chefs and institutional buyers from places like universities, hospitals and corporations. The science-based fundamentals of food safety, nutritional quality and environmental & economic benefits of grass-fed meats are the foundation of our Meat 101 courses, which are designed to enable all participants to learn from each other.

The Joneses say they and their peers are succeeding because of Oregon’s farmer-foodie culture, which demands grass-fed and pasture-raised meats.
Through Meat 101, Red Meat Market offers learning experiences that advance the practices of producing, processing and preparing good meat for local markets. For example, graziers can enroll in Webinars about on-farm Good Agricultural Practices, chefs can attend charcuterie short courses and butchers can participate in apprenticeships and certificate programs. As a social enterprise, Red Meat Market connects pastures-to-plates so the collective knowledge, skills, abilities and ideas of our groups of steak-holders has value for every member who joins our community.

A New York Times article published in 2011 reveals the revival of young farmers, but they are challenged by a lack of access to the wisdom of experience that their grandparents (and great-grandparents) had gained from living off the land. Finding mentors has been difficult.There is a knowledge gap that has been referred to as “the lost generation” — people their parents’ age may farm but do not know how to grow food. The grandparent generation is no longer around to teach them. Their adaptive strategy to bridging the knowledge gap is entirely social: consulting with older farmer mentors and learning from each other.