Top 100 cultural trends shaping the West

The ideas, people, places, and things that are making life out here better right now

Farming's next generation
Photo by Jason Todd

#22-23: Farming

22 | Farming’s next generation: Back-to-the-landers used to drop off the grid. But today’s young farmers don’t want to check out—they want to be part of a community, whether that’s selling micro greens to restaurants from a city plot or operating a CSA in the burbs. Take Ilan Salzberg (pictured), a farmer-turned-lawyer-turned-farmer who manages Ekar, a nonprofit farm in Denver that donates most of its produce to a local food pantry. His take on the growing relationship between farmers and residents: “Someone who never related to farming can show up on a bike, harvest a cucumber, and keep going.” Sounds good to us. 

23 | Bold new farm schools: Law school? That’s so 1998. More students are heading to the West’s ag schools, drawn by new curriculum emphasizing organic methods, sustainability, and the business savvy they’ll need to thrive. The University of California, Davis, is creating a formal college major in sustainable agriculture, merging theory with roll-up-your-sleeves farm time. Washington State University now offers one of the country’s first majors in organic agriculture, while Cal Poly San Luis Obispo lets any undergrad, no matter what her major, minor in sustainable agriculture. 

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