People Have The Power!
Artivist Micah Nelson on sustainable agriculture, activism, his dad Willie, hemp,
and being part of the solution.
The passion for returning to sustainable agriculture and exploring renewable energy alternatives is in my blood.
An interview by Hannah Apricot Eckberg
B r u n e r
B r i a n
Willie, Lucas, and Micah Nelson join Sheryl Crow during 2017’s Farm Aid concert. Since 1985, Farm Aid’s raised over $50 million to help family farmers.
Hannah Apricot Eckberg (HAE): How and where did your passion for sustainable ag practices develop?
Micah Nelson (MN): From my parents mostly, and growing up on Maui, where I learned the importance of respecting the "aina" (Hawaiian for " the land"). When I was but a teenager, my mom, along with Bob and Kelly King of Pacific Biodiesel, started The Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance and my dad started his biodiesel company, Bio-Willie. One Thanksgiving we used the grease from the turkey to make Biodiesel in the backyard and Bob and Kelly King drove home on it.
My dad founded Farm Aid, the annual benefit concert for American family farmers. The passion for returning to sustainable agriculture and exploring renewable energy alternatives is in my blood. I was raised with the understanding that caring for the environment is basic logic.
Farm Aid is always like a big family reunion, but especially this year. I hadn't played a show with Insects vs Robots in a very long time. There was no time to rehearse, no soundcheck or anything... barely any time to even tune our guitars before we were on. It was totally bonkers! Super fun though…
It wasn't much different with Neil Young actually. We (Uncle Neil, myself, and Promise of the Real) hadn't played live together since Desert Trip/Old Chella about a year ago... the whole set was pretty much like driving a locomotive down the side of a mountain with no track. It was fantastic. A very cathartic set. I had the feeling Neil had been charging up all year for that. It was a spontaneously raging explosion of a song list that will go down in my memory as one of the greatest Farm Aid sets ever.
HAE: What is the main project you are currently involved with?
MN: I was recently elected as a board member of the National Hemp Association. The main goal we are working on is ending prohibition of American grown industrial hemp for commercial use so we can reestablish a sustainable agriculture economy in America. Hemp can be used to sustainably make every product fossil fuels claim to have precedent over. It's baffling how miraculous the plant is when it comes to growing and manufacturing everything from bioplastics and textiles, to renewable fuels, medicinal oils, and non-toxic breathable hempcrete.
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