Brief Interviews with Brave Farmers

First in a series that imagines new frontiers in food

Photo by Molly Peterson

Forrest Pritchard | Smith Meadows Farm | Berryville, Virginia

Forrest Pritchard is a seventh-generation farmer practicing holistic land management in the gorgeous corner of Virginia that nestles against Maryland and West Virginia.

A NYTimes bestselling author, Pritchard easily occupies the combined role of cultivator-educator. Smith Meadows opens its gates to visitors every year, allowing city folk to see a pasture-based farming operation up close and personal. Here are some of his thoughts.

Please summarize your personal food philosophy in one sentence.

The land can’t speak for itself, so I do my best to be its ambassador.

How does this personal stance connect to your work on the farm at large?

Everything starts with healthy soil; ultimately, whatever my daily focus happens to be, it can always be distilled down to reinforcing this premise.

When you think about the long list of problems hindering our food system, what is the low-hanging fruit? [What’s one thing which could be fixed in a hurry? A policy, subsidy, distribution kink, bureaucratic bottleneck, etc.]

Our food system is essentially 96% conventional, 4% organic/ local/sustainable, etc., and since so much “conventional” production is federally subsidized, even a slight increase in funding could nudge the “other” 4% towards a competitive ballgame.

Photo courtesy of Smith Meadows Farm

What about agriculture in 2017 works really well?

Customer demand influencing responsible production methods.

What’s missing from the system?

Young wanna-be farmers apprenticed to/mentored by older, successful farmers.

What is one thing you wish grocery store consumers knew?

That the “meat” you’re gobbling up is five times worse than you ever imagined, in all the ways; as an insider, take my word for it.

Look for the next installment of Brief Interviews in June. -A