by thomas
Categories: People.

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I went from Farm Aid last Sunday to Central America the next day, so I haven’t had a moment to rehash the concert online till now. I’m on my way home, however, and thanks to the magic of free Wi-Fi, figured I’d take advantage of a three-hour layover in San Jose, Costa Rica, to share some concluding thoughts about the concert….

I think everyone had a fantastic time and I applaud Willie Nelson for having the foresight to bring the message of supporting local farmers to the Empire State–to Queens, of all places. And yet, as those of us who live in New York know and those who hail from neighboring New Jersey–yes, folks, the Garden State–realize as well, just because we have gridlock and skyscrapers doesn’t mean we don’t also have our share of farms. Among my favorite produce from the New York metro area are blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes from New Jersey and now-in-season apples from New York State.

A few disappointments:

*Having to beg Darryl Hannah for a photo and this was all I could get:

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*Despite the organizers’ great emphasis on bringing in local vendors with local produce, I was really disheartened to see that the bulk of long lines were not for farm-fresh produce, but for Heineken and funnelcakes. (The produce was there. People just weren’t buying it like they were the junk food.)

*Just as Michael and I discovered after Live Earth, the mess left by concert-goers after the night was over was appalling. As Matt Krautheim and I walked the grounds to catch a shuttle back to Manhattan, there were massive piles of refuse everywhere. And there was just no excuse for it….there were plenty of available trash bins throughout the fairgrounds, carefully designed to allow for separation of recyclables and compostables.

But to focus on the positives:

*The farmers were out in force and were there to share the message of buying local to anyone who would listen. One of my favorite booth visits was with a New York State farmer who had set up a pretend farmstand. “Customers” selected produce from bushels in front of his booth, which they then brought up for “checkout.” As they did so, the farmer sent people away with a receipt that listed the miles each piece of produce had traveled to be there (you don’t even want to know how far the journey of the bananas was) and also the amount of gasoline used to transport that particular fruit or vegetable. It was an eye-opening exercise.

*Willie Nelson presided over the festivities like a proud grandpappy. What started as a wild idea 22 years ago has continued to grow and Nelson has proven his ability to attract top-draw performers, from John Mellencamp (who looks not a day older than he did during his Scarecrow days) to Neil Young (who admittedly looks a tad older than he did during the heyday of CSNY).

You’ll see Matt’s photos in this post, but here are a few more (in case you haven’t yet gotten your fill) shots from the day, taken by Melissa Rosenberg. My complete set of images can be seen here.

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For more of the latest and greatest from New York City, visit my blog, www.newyorkinsider.tv.