Why we need small farms

Why we need small farms

A photography project celebrates the small-scale and family-run farms that produce 70 percent of the world’s food.

During the 1980s, supermarkets stopped purchasing peaches from Mas Masumoto’s 80-acre organic fruit farm in Fresno, California. His heirloom peaches were deemed “too small,” they said.

He considered ripping out the trees to replant them with more commercially accepted varieties. In “Epitaph for a Peach,” an essay published in the Los Angeles Times, he asked why “no one wants a peach variety with a wonderful taste.”

In Somerset, England, Glebe Farm has been run by the Walrond family for over 200 years. Along with sheep, hens, and pigs, the farm raises native breeds of beef cattle.

He got an answer. Many of them, in fact—an outpouring that encouraged Masumoto to keep his trees and explore other venues for his peaches. His fruit went on to become a hit at local farmers markets and restaurants. And his perseverance has stirred his 31-year-old daughter to work alongside her parents and grandparents to continue the family tradition.

Small but fruitful
Large-scale, industrial agriculture is often held up as the solution for feeding the world’s growing population. But small farms—with about 25 acres or less—along with family-run operations like Masumoto’s produce over 70 percent of the world’s food.

Raising awareness of the contribution of these farmers inspired the We Feed the World photo project, a global exhibition that opens in London this week and coincides with National Farmers Day, celebrated annually in the United States on October 12. Forty photographers participated, including Carolyn Drake, Rankin, and Graciela Iturbide, who photographed the San Isidro farming community in her native Mexico.

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