What do you think of when I say the phrase "farm woman" ? I'll let you mull that over for a second.
Recent articles and stats have brought women farmers to the forefront of American agriculture. The agricultural census reported a 19 percent increase in the number of women farmers between 2002 and 2007, outpacing the number of farmers overall; national news heavy hitters, the likes of the New York Times and NPR, periodically feature stories about women embarking on agricultural adventures; town papers across the country are profiling their local farm ladies.
So, who are these women? And what does it mean to be a woman farmer?
For some, it means getting dirt under their fingernails on a daily basis as they seed, weed, and harvest their crops on their sustainable holding, like the women featured in this New York Times article. Other women are building raised beds or soiling rooftops right here in New York City, dodging exhaust fumes and landlords as they harvest chard, eggs, and even honey. There are also those who revel in the rural life as farmer's wives, specializing in cooking or crafting for the farm home.
Then there are the women farmers that don three-piece suits and prepare PowerPoints for investors, like the women in the video below, borrowed from the American Agri-Women's Vimeo.
Perhaps these women don't quite mesh with our romantic images of the farm woman ("Farmers wear business suits?!" Well, yeah, sometimes...), but they are participating in an aspect of farming that is arguably just as important as tending the fields. The farm, after all, is a business, and requires a certain amount of business savvy to stay viable.
Some food (or farm) for thought: what do you make of the many faces of the American farm woman?