Sure, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow and other music greats are a big draw for Farm Aid 2017, but organizers are also touting the food and displays which will highlight agriculture in Pennsylvania at Key Bank Pavilion.
Farm Aid's "Homegrown Village" will showcase various skills that concertgoers can learn.
“There’s going to be a lot of information about bees and honey, pickling, there are going to be exhibits about soil and water and food and farming," said Glenda Yoder, associate director of Farm Aid. "Throughout the day there will be a space called the Farm Yard where artists and farmers will team up and talk about issues that are important to them and to the community.”
Farm Aid was started in 1985 to raise awareness about family farms, which were struggling—some facing foreclosure. The festival has evolved, but helping American farmers is still the main goal of the now-year-round organization. Proceeds from Farm Aid go to support in-house programs that connect farmers to needed resources, among other things. There are nearly 60,000 farms in the commonwealth.
“Pennsylvania also has more than 6,000 dairy farms and one of the most urgent needs is to keep dairy farmers on the land and that’s a big challenge, not just here but around the country,” said Yoder.
Yoder said that’s because prices are not keeping up with production costs.
Food at the concert is sourced from family farms and businesses in the area. Leftovers from backstage catering will be “rescued” by 412 Food Rescue and donated to a public housing complex in Washington County as part of an expansion.
“It’s a launch into Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties,” said Leah Lizarondo, CEO of 412 Food Rescue.
The organization has volunteers who sign up through an app. When there is edible food that is going to be thrown away, a notification goes out and someone picks up the food and distributes it where it’s needed.
Food donations from concertgoers will also be accepted and will be donated to the Greater Washington County Food Bank. More information can be found at FarmAid.org.