Women farmers & food leaders
January 31, 2016 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Oregon Tilth's magazine, In Good Tilth:
Our inaugural issue of 2016 celebrates women farmers and food leaders. Stories include: An interview with Doria Robinson of Urban Tilth; a photo narrative by Audra Mulkern; an analysis of why women farmers have been invisible for so long; a look around the United States at female leaders in our good food movement; and more.
(probably not mobile-friendly)
posted by aniola (12 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Women were not invisible on RFD-TV 2 years ago. From FFA to crop insurance experts, women were well represented. Mo. and Fed. experts at the regional goat husbandry seminars were predominantly women for, at least the last 6 years.

I think the media needs to catch up with reality. Women have been important users of U. S. D. A. Programs going back to the 1930's.

P. S. Yep not phone friendly site.
posted by ridgerunner at 8:32 PM on January 31, 2016

The photography here is wonderful!
posted by Gin and Broadband at 11:49 PM on January 31, 2016

I actually know Doria -- she's an amazing person, and Urban Tilth is a treasure. Here's Doria interviewed.

Whoever designed the Oregon Tilth website needs to tumble in a laundromat drier for a million years, though. People, this is not OK web design. Stop.
posted by mississippi at 3:44 AM on February 1, 2016

Monsanto's board was 25% female in 2013, so maybe organic farming is just slow to catch up.
posted by mikewebkist at 6:19 AM on February 1, 2016

I think the media needs to catch up with reality.

That's the point, isn't it? Women farmers are not seen as decisionmakers and serious business people. They weren't recorded as farm operators because of the default of putting the male head of household. Their representation on farm boards and committees is dismal in part because they don't even see themselves as qualified enough to lead, regardless of having equal or greater farming experience. Women's leadership roles have been historically split out into "women's committees." So yes, if you are in ag you see women all the time. But there are plenty of places where you don't hear them. It's a work in progress.

maybe organic farming is just slow to catch up

LOL no. In 2012 there were 2% more female farmers in organic, and I bet the split is widening.
posted by zennie at 9:58 AM on February 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I thought their actual website was fine; it seemed like it was the magazine hosting (flipsnack?) that wasn't all that great.

Nearly all of the small organic farmers I've known have been women. There is one (1) company designing farm tools for women.
America tucked itself in the night of Dec. 31, 1997, snug in the assurance that the status quo would greet it in the morning. It was wrong. Because suddenly there were female farmers everywhere, practically springing up out of the ground -- 13.4 percent more of them, so it seemed.

It was a miracle.

Well, not really. The USDA simply changed a question on the 2002 Census of Agriculture, and the number of female farm operators suddenly spiked in the data. To whit: the agency made room, in its epic five-year census, to list more than one operator per farm.

Changing a question seems like a minor thing. But it's not. It is a statistically bewitching statment about the invisibility of women in America, particularly when they're engaged in something productive and meaningful.
I also liked the full page "ad" for the Women's Land Army.

And I liked learning about the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project protecting communities from CAFOs:
In 2006 Kimbirauskas and her husband started their own 46-acre farm raising heritage livestock. She joined the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and in 2012 became its CEO. SRAP gets SOS calls from communities who discover that a CAFO wants to locate there. Kimbirauskas says these operations typically have everything lined up before neighbors have a clue. "We have about 25 people across the country who specialize in different areas - lawyers, community organizers, media specialists - and we jump into action," she says. "We figure out what we can do to stop the operation."
And the farmer whose husband solved a problem by carrying a business card that said "THE FARMER'S HUSBAND" for when they went to the feed store together.
posted by aniola at 10:42 AM on February 1, 2016

That's the point, isn't it? Women farmers are not seen...

I guess it depends on how you value pencil pushers and talking heads vs. people that actually make food. Different strokes...
posted by ridgerunner at 1:12 PM on February 1, 2016

Thanks, zennie, I think that was a great summary of the magazine's theme!
posted by aniola at 1:41 PM on February 1, 2016

Thanks for posting, aniola.

I guess it depends on how you value pencil pushers and talking heads vs. people that actually make food. Different strokes...

I'm talking about women farmers being Real People to the ones who change local zoning laws and apportion funding and whisper in the ears of lawmakers.

Pencil pushers? Really?
posted by zennie at 4:49 PM on February 1, 2016

I'm talking about women farmers being Real People....

And I'm talking about people like Susan Kerr, DVM, PhD of Mount Vernon, WA or Vickie Kensinger of Fordland,MO who took on 2 big dairies 30 miles down the road when she started Memory Lane Dairy to provide BGH and antibiotic free milk to people without their own cow. People that took the conditions on the ground and made a better way of farming happen.

Leadership by example was the old school name for what they do. Another is Penelope Papadopoulou, who pushed top-bar bee hives to decentralize honey production by going out and building them.

And yeah, pencil pushers. Really. Why not? My dialect has been around as long as any around here outside NDN. Would it have changed the point if I'd spelled out "petty bureaucrats" or " media personalities "?
posted by ridgerunner at 6:21 PM on February 1, 2016

Those women are the decisionmakers and businesspeople I mentioned earlier, whose voices I want to hear more. So...
posted by zennie at 10:48 AM on February 2, 2016

You can google (a land grant university name) + "extension" , then check out the events/calendar page. There's lots of smart, dedicated women involved in agriculture named on those pages. They do tend to be addressing specific problems and possible solutions and how to get production going.

Apparently that's not sexy enough for major media outlets.
posted by ridgerunner at 8:00 PM on February 2, 2016

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