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As farming population ages out, coalition aims to help next generation

The Young Farmers Coalition is helping young farmers start their career. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

America's farming population is aging out, and in today's Carolina Moment we meet a Black Mountain farmer, who, with the help of local market and a national coalition, is working to reverse that trend.

"Five out of six farmers are over the age of 60 right now, so we need to promote the young people who choose farming as a profession," said Justin Bland of The Young Farmers Coalition.

The coalition, in conjunction with Roots and Fruits Market in Black Mountain, has provided 1/5 of an acre to 26 year-old Phillip Yannella to help him start his career.

Yannella, in his second year as a farmer, said, "Roots and Fruits has eliminated all of the road blocks for me into farming. Whether it is having the tools or access to land or enough capital to buy seed."

Yannella is an employee of the market, and serves as the head farmer on the plot. Phillip Crosby, 33, works the land as a part-time farmer; he left a tech career in New York to pursue his new passion. Several volunteers help with planting, harvesting and maintaining the farm.

The Young Farmers Coalition is active on the legislative front, working to classify farming as a public service profession similar to nursing, first responders and teaching. Bland tells us that designation would allow for some tax benefits and student loan forgiveness after ten years in the profession.

"Without the next generation of beginning farmers, we could have a severe food crisis in this country."

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