In the 100 year anniversary of International Women’s Day, I thought it was important to focus on the role of women in agriculture. Although women produce most of the food in the world, there has been an unfortunate lack of recognition of this vital and nourishing role women play in feeding the population of the plant.
Oxfam America has launched a new campaign to address this problem-Sisters on the Planet. Oxfam has great programs worth supporting any day of the year, I encourage you to check out the links.
There has been a marked increase in the number of rural women in the United States over the last decade or so, which could explain why I had the pleasure of being surrounded and supported by a fantastic network of women farmers in my career as farmer. Activist turned author Terma Costa sounds like she has had a very similar experience, which inspired his wonderful book Farmer Jane. Temra writes in his fantastic website farmerjane.org (full of good connections, a blog, and other useful resources):
As farmers, mothers, entrepreneurs, chefs and activists, women are changing the way we eat and farm. They are the fastest growing demographic to own and operate sustainable farms, comprise the largest percentage of sustainable agriculture nonprofit employees, own sustainable food businesses, cook most meals from home, and control of household budgets. “Farmer Janes” are creating a healthy, safe and sustainable for present and future food system.
The book outlines a diverse group of women farmers and food activists, a couple of them are friends, colleagues and personal-like inspirations Jess Greenblatt Seeley Director of Buy Fresh, Buy Local (and new mother).
Within the state of Pennsylvania is another great resource-Pennsylvania Women in Ag Network. Agriculture Network Women of Pennsylvania (PA-WAGN) supports women in agriculture, providing a positive learning environment, networking, and empowerment. I have to say that as a farmer women within this active network and support, I feel blessed and lucky, especially considering the plight of my counterparts around the world. I felt some real injustices. My only complaint is when it comes to finding tools, clothing and equipment. The simple act of buying work pants really brings to light the lack of connection – paper thin low-rise jeans adorned with rhinestones just do not cut it in the field (and for some strange reason, this type of jean seems to be a staple in agricultural supply stores, along with John Deere pink t doll). Luckily for all men farmers and gardeners out there, a wonderful new company oriented tool for women was started here in the southeast
Not only is their website full of great business opportunities for agricultural and gardening tools designed specifically for women’s bodies, it is also a great resource. Check out this link full of warm-up exercises to maintain health in the field. If you are serious about farming and gardening without injury I suggest you explore the site in its entirety.
Green Heron Tools appeared in a recent article in Mother Earth News, click here to read. His story is truly an inspiration for their own. Happy International Women’s Day!