Young Farmers and The Future of Food

Featuring Moderator Jaklyn Van Manen with Panelists Ben Bruckenthal of The Fine Feast, Michelle Hughes of The Rolling Grocer and D. Rooney of Rock Steady Farm.

The future of agriculture is at a critical moment. The number of farmers over the age of 65 outnumber farmers under 35 by a ratio of over 6:1. Young farmers are at the forefront of ensuring a sustainable future of U.S. agriculture. This panel will bring together young farmers and food business owners to discuss how we as consumers can support supports practices and policies that will sustain young, independent and prosperous farmers now and in the future.


Jaklyn Van Manen, National Young Farmers Coalition
Jaklyn is the Development Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition. She has over 10 years in nonprofit management. Jaklyn recently moved to the Hudson Valley to begin small-scale farming to provide food for her family and friends.


Panelist – Ben Bruckenthal, The Fine Feast

Ben Bruckenthal is a chef and owner of The Fine Feast. Through his unique dining services, Chef Ben showcases the diversity and deliciousness of the Hudson River farming community. Sourcing seasonal produce, local grains, and humanely raised animal protein products is most important. The goal is to deepen the local communities relationship with the substance and sustenance that sustains, powers, and empowers us.



Panelist – Michelle Hughes, The Rolling Grocer

Michelle has been building programs that increase knowledge, collaboration, and equity in the food system for more than 15 years. She is currently the Co-Manager, Head Buyer and Director of Development for Rolling Grocer 19—a full-service grocery store and community justice project serving Hudson and greater Columbia County. 


Panelist – D. Rooney, Rock Steady Farm

D. is a mixed Latinx, gender non-binary vegetable farmer and Co-Owner of Rock Steady Farm and Flowers in Millerton, NY. D. was inspired to farm during her time as a certificate student at FarmSchool NYC. D. has extensive experience in social, environmental, and food justice movements through EcoStationNY, the Bushwick Campus Farm. D. was a Design Trust for Public Space Fellow and founder of Rise & Root Farm.