The country’s longest running benefit concert series, Farm Aid, will be coming to Massachusetts for the first time this September. Back in 1985, American farmers were struggling in an economic lull so musicians Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp came together and played a benefit show to raise money for those in need.
“In the beginning it was Willie’s intention to take it different places where as many farmers as possible could go to the show,” said Farm Aid executive director Carolyn Mugar. “Family farming has grown enormously in New England, and they’ve been asking us for a long time to come here. We’re very happy to be shedding a light on New England agriculture and how people can do more to support it.”
The Farm Aid mission is very simple, keep family farmers on their own land
“The only way to solve this is to do it locally,” said Nelson. “Let your neighbors grow your food so you don’t have to import it. That addresses not only the big expense, but the environmental problem. And at the same time you’re getting better food.”
The Farm Aid show will take place at the Comcast Center (formerly the Tweeter Center) on September 20, 2008.
“Farm Aid is vital in the sense that they’re here every year,” said Philip Korman, the group’s executive director. “The challenge with foundations is this year they’re excited and next year they’re excited about something else. Farm Aid supports the mission year to year.”
This year’s Farm Aid headliner, Dave Matthews, also supports the mission. Matthews who first performed at Farm Aid in 1994 was invited to join the board in 2001. He owns the Best of What’s Around farm, close to Scottsville, Va., where he grows organic vegetables, flowers, and herbs through a community-supported agriculture program.
“The corporate philosophy still dominates, but people are realizing that it’s not healthy and that we need to change the way we view ourselves in connection to the planet,” Matthews said.
Other performers are expected to be officially announced over the next few weeks while the official announcement of the show will come today by Mellencamp who is holding a news press conference at the Copley Square Farmers Market. Performers expected inlcude Mellencamp and Willie Nelson.
Farm Aid tickets will be available soon.