FARM AID: A Song for America hits bookstores in time for the holidays

Book recounts 20 years of music for family farmers and good food

SOMERVILLE, Mass.—For the first time, Farm Aid has released a “coffee table” book of photos and essays to tell its story of 20 years of music for change. An ideal gift, FARM AID: A Song for America (Rodale, $35), will bring inspired music and food from family farms to the forefront this holiday season.

FARM AID: A Song for America features in-depth interviews with Farm Aid President and Founder Willie Nelson, as well as board members Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews, who offer their reflections about food, family farming and music, revealing the depth of their personal and family commitment. Readers are given a front-row seat at the performances of the vast and varied roster of Farm Aid performers—from Arlo Guthrie and Bob Dylan to Eddie Van Halen, Phish, and Sheryl Crow.

Never-before-seen photographs by rock photographers Paul Natkin and Ebet Roberts reveal the compassion and commitment of dozens of Farm Aid artists including the late Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Dave Hoekstra, a writer for the Chicago Sun-Times who has reviewed many Farm Aid concerts, translates the energy and passion of the more than 300 artists who played on the Farm Aid stage into compelling and insightful interviews.

The combined voices of performers, farmers and activists call attention to the family farmers who produce our food, urging Americans to seek food from family farms. “This holiday season, as families and friends gather to enjoy meals around the common table, this book will deepen our appreciation for family farmers. Food grown with the most care, close to home, from a family farm tastes better, is fresher, and satisfies us deeply in ways we might not be able to put into words,” said Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid.

FARM AID: A Song for America takes readers on a memorable, 20-year “road trip,” introducing them to family farmers across the country and to the many artists who have committed to seeing a future of family farm food. Essays by such diverse writers as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Barbara Kingsolver, Eric Schlosser, Wendell Berry, Howard Zinn, Michael Pollan, and Ruth Reichl are interwoven with hundreds of exclusive photographs and inspiring imagery to create a tapestry that chronicles the mission, achievements, and ongoing challenges of Farm Aid and the family farms they help.

The mid-1980s saw the emergence of concerts-for-a-cause, Band Aid, Live Aid, “We Are the World,” and Farm Aid, which paved the way for dozens of other fund-raising concerts representing a wide range of social issues. It was Bob Dylan’s comment at Live Aid that sparked an idea in Willie Nelson that created Farm Aid as a concert, a community, and ultimately a movement. Farm Aid was the only event to gather momentum to become an enduring force for change that has spanned two decades. Fueled by the combined voices of performers, farmers and activists, Farm Aid’s heartfelt chorus calls attention to the critical importance of where, how, and by whom our food is produced. It urges Americans to seek food from family farms. As a result of this call to action, the demand for family farm-identified food has increased, but unfortunately, the United States continues to lose more than 300 family farms every week.

Farm Aid has raised more than $28 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture and continues to develop its grassroots network and to launch important new initiatives. As Neil Young is quoted in FARM AID: A Song for America, “We’ll be back next year. And the year after that. We’re not giving up.”

From the Nov. 9-15, 2005, issue

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