Meet Evan Wiig, the executive director of the Farmers Guild, a wave of farmers who came together to create a network of support and education for small farmers and local food producers. This community of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural advocates gather monthly to share resources and build relationships within the industry.
Evan’s story is quite inspiring. After spending an afternoon with him, I couldn’t believe his accomplishments and his humble nature. After helping to start The Farmers Guild in Sonoma County, Evan and it’s founders have been helping other counties across the state to form their own guilds.
I was not aware of the struggles of the small farmer before meeting Evan. These hard-working individuals needed something like the Farmers Guild to help support each other through hard times, learning curves, herd sharing and more. We talked a lot about how the average age of an independent farmer is much older than it used to be. Farmer’s children and families aren’t choosing to follow in their footsteps and the farmers have no one to pass on their knowledge of sustainable agriculture to. Those of them that have chosen to be a young farmer have chosen a very difficult path with long hours, little pay, and very hard physical labor. According to Evan, they are choosing it because they see it as the only sustainable alternative. It’s an “If we don’t, who will?” kind of situation.
The foodie in me was really inspired by Evan’s love for the potluck. He describes it as an underrated and often forgotten tradition that gives farmers and home chefs a chance to show off. While he encourages dining at farm-to-table restaurants that support and endorse local farmers, he also encourages to go directly to the source, buy from the farmer’s stand and cook with your friends and family. Evan is a huge advocate for food preservation. He loves canning and is particularly fond of curing meats.
There are many opportunities to get involved with local Farmers Guilds in California and ways to support them, even if you aren’t a farmer. Want to learn more about what Evan and his friends are up to? Visit http://www.farmersguild.org/