This week’s Know Your Farmer video of Howie Prussak at High Meadows Farm explains that when communities support local farms, the small farms often become the foundation of the local economy. However, if small farms struggle, as many are now, a ripple effect is felt throughout the community.

Howie farms 12 acres of veggies and 30,000 sq. ft. of greenhouse tomatoes on 65 hilly acres in southern Vermont, just East of the Green Mountains. He obtained organic certification back in 1976, and just might be Vermont’s first certified organic farm! He grows cover crops for two years before rotating land back into vegetable production. Keeping roots in the ground builds soil life and grows fertility.

The impact of small farms is widely understood in Europe. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to visit with organic certification bodies in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany where I witnessed just how much local farms are valued. There I met farmers who were giving back to their communities by instructing young farmers, volunteering as fire fighters, entering local politics, and shoveling snow!

Rural America has thrived on small farms too. Just a few industrial operations cheating the organic rules, can have a devastating impact on thousands of organic farms across the country. We are all witnessing this blow right now. Rather than feeling helpless, organic farmers have come together to do something about it in the Real Organic Project.

Yours in the Dirt,