D. Bryon Darby, Design; Paul Stock, Sociology & the Environmental Studies Program, and Tim Hossler, Design
funded Fall 2014
This collaborative research project documents and empowers the diversity of the
new American farmer. Given the rising age of the American farmer (approaching 60), and the
increasingly fraught economic model combined with more volatile environmental forecasts,
mainstream farming in the United States risks collapse. Despite these extreme challenges, more
people than ever before are giving farming a try for the first time. What does contemporary
farming in America look like? Who is the American farmer? This project tells the story of a new
breed of farmer — the first-generation, small-scale, sustainable farmer.
This collaborative work brings together a visual artist, rural sociologist, graphic designer,
and a host of independent farmers. The project draws inspiration from historic collaborations
documenting the erosion of American community and farming with an emphasis on the hope and
diversity crucial to make farming a key economic and social aspect of flourishing communities.
Drawing on photographs and interviews with first-generation farmers in the American Midwest,
the results of this study include: a printed newspaper that incorporates writings, stories, and photographs
that collectively stand as a document of this pivotal moment in agriculture, as well as a formal
traveling exhibition. In addition, this project documents methods of interdisciplinary
For more information, visit the New Farmers website: www.newfarmersproject.com.