D. Bryon Darby, Design, Paul Stock, Sociology & the Environmental Studies Program, Tim Hossler, Design

New Farmers

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 collaboration.

For more information, visit the New Farmers website: