Farm Aid 2010 kicks off today, celebrating 25 years of making a difference for family farms across the nation.

Fifteen acts are slated to perform, including the show’s founders – Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young. Back in 1985, the three threw the first concert in Champaign, Illinois; inspired by comments Bob Dylan made at Live Aid earlier that year. "I hope that some of the money," he said."...maybe they can just take a little bit of it, or two million, maybe...and use it, say, to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and, the farmers here, owe to the banks...."

Since that first musical gathering, more than $50 million has been raised to help struggling farmers and promote environmentally-friendly agriculture. In fact, Neil Young's annual speeches on sustainability have become a highlight of each concert.

Some of the green themes at this year's concert include concessions featuring local and organic food, a massive composting effort, opportunities to meet local farmers (Wisconsin is second only to California in number of organic farms), and the nation’s largest plug-in electric hybrid school bus fleet to shuttle volunteers and production staff. 

Beyond Mellencamp, Nelson, and Young, other acts slated to appear include Dave Matthews, Kenny Chesney, Norah Jones, Jason Mraz, Jeff Tweedy, Band of Horses, Amos Lee, Robert Francis, BoDeans, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Randy Rogers Band and The Blackwood Quartet.

If you're not currently in Wisconsin already enjoying Farm Aid, you can still catch the concerts courtesy of YouTube. The online video site will be broadcasting the event starting at 6pm EST tonight live in high-definition.

For more information, check out the official site here.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Farm Aid 2010 celebrates 25 years
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