Female Farmers Come of Age
Photo by: Art Is Life Studio
More women are becoming farmers, bringing with them a passion for producing organic and sustainably raised fare and transforming America’s food system. The U.S. Census of Agriculture reports that their numbers rose by more than 20 percent between 2002 and 2012, to 288,264.
Natural Awakenings Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex spoke with with Marie Tedei, of Eden’s Organic Farm, Jennifer Chandler, of Chandler Family Farm and Deep Roots CSA, and Beverly Thomas, of Cold Springs Farm and CSA.
What is it like to be a part of the evolution of female farmers?
Tedei: This is something that is a natural fit for me. Most women have a real nurturing side to them, whether for children or seedlings. I live on the farm, nurture it, change all tractor implements, haul the 50 bag pounds of feed from truck to barn; everything. Women are tackling a lot of roles that they didn’t in decades past. Doors are more open and there is less stigma attached.
Chandler: It feels great. A lot of people in community respect the fact that I am a younger woman farmer. My dad is a farmer, and I understand the perception of older men being farmers, but the majority of farmers I know are women. I’m a single mom and the days are long, but its okay because I know that this is what I'm supposed to do and the right thing to do. It is difficult, but I think women are capable of everything that men are and even more.
What are some of the benefits that farms and community supported agriculture (CSA) bring to you, your community and society at large?
Thomas: Farming is in my blood, and it's all I ever wanted to do. Because of my background in ornamental horticulture and postgraduate in weed science/plant pathology, I feel I am a better steward of the soil than many farmers. Local, farm-fresh produce often tastes better because it is picked at the height of ripeness, and it directly bolsters the local economy. I also have a VeggieVan that allows me to carry my organic produce, and there is a freezer on board so I can sell pastured beef, pork, poultry and lamb. I take my van to food deserts to help people with little to no access to fresh food.
Tedei: One lady told me the first food her baby ever ate was a piece of organic peach from a tree I just harvested. This was overwhelming and touching for me. CSA allows for consumers to have a direct relationship with their farmer.
Do you have any words of inspiration for those interested in joining a CSA or growing their own food?
Tedei: Care about what you put into your body. Do not grab food because it is cheap and on sale; think about it. It is inevitably true that you are what you eat. If you are eating things that lack nutrients and minerals, then are you supplementing what you are not getting from that fruit and vegetable? Or, are you assuming because it looks like a tomato that it has all of the benefits of a tomato? It’s the best feeling when you look at an ingredient list and everything is grown by you or someone you know.
Thomas: Wendell Berry said, "Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”