Guy Kilpatric, educational farm manager at the University of Maryland’s Terp Farm, will be speaking at the Washington D.C. Food Tank Summit, titled “Cultivating the Next Generation of Young Food Leaders,” in partnership with The George Washington University, The World Resources Institute, the National Farmers Union, the National FFA Organization, and the National Young Farmers Coalition on February 28, 2018.
Guy grew up in the foothills and valleys of Western Maryland and although he is the first farmer in his family, he grew up in a community steeped in agricultural heritage. His diverse skill set and thoughtful approach to farming follows many years of training and experience on organic fruit and vegetable farms, and his completion of the Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the years, Guy has picked up the knack for agricultural sustainability which, along with his deep passion for growing delicious food, inspires anyone to drop by his farm.
Food Tank spoke with Kilpatric about mentoring the next generation of farmers:
Food Tank (FT): What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
Guy Kilpatric (GK): I grew up in the countryside of Western Maryland, but did not come from a farming family, and my educational background is in the liberal arts. When I first came to farming, I romanticized the agrarian lifestyle, and needed a lot of training and gained a lot of experience of the years, which lead me to my position managing Terp Farm. My work today is about helping other beginning farmers like me find the tools and inspiration they need to have a successful career in farming.
FT: How are you helping to build a better food system?
GK: The food system relies on a foundation of food producers. I am helping to grow the next generation of producers and teaching them to view things through a lens of sustainability that emphasizes economic, environmental, and social justice.
FT: What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
GK: I believe that farmers and farmworkers, as well as food service workers, are undervalued in our society. Current food production and distribution strategies take advantage of those who are all already working in the industry, and drives away many of those who might otherwise be attracted to it. It’s a diminishing return that is already causing a lot of issues, and will continue to get worse unless we can figure out a way to change that perception and develop more equitable practices.
FT: What innovations in food and agriculture are you most excited about?
GK: It may seem basic, but as a farm operator I am always very excited about new developments in tractor and equipment technology, especially for small farm applications.
FT: What is one small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference?
GK: A small change every person can make in their daily lives to make a big difference is to stretch a little, both in mind and body.
FT: What is the best opportunity for young or aspiring farmers and entrepreneurs to get a foothold in America’s agricultural future?
GK: Aspiring farmers should seek out an accredited training program that emphasize agricultural sustainability, the practical application of farming skills, and developing business management practices.
FT: How can we best stimulate young people’s curiosity about food and agriculture and encourage their participation in building healthier food systems?
GK: What I have noticed from hosting thousands of visitors to Terp Farm is that simply setting foot on a farm is enough to stimulate people’s curiosity, young and old, about food and agriculture. Making that connection is sometimes all that is needed to get people to start thinking about how they engage in the food system..
The D.C. Food Tank Summit is SOLD OUT but tickets remain for our Seattle Summit!. Register HERE for the Seattle Food Tank Summit, Growing Food Policy on March 17. This event will sell out – register today!