SOIL SISTERS

Female-Gardening-65381001Female Farmers Come of Age

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.

Historic Roots

“Women have played an integral role in farming for centuries, but in the last 100 years they’ve started to self-organize and be recognized for their important work,” says University of California garden historian Rose Hayden-Smith, Ph.D., author of Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War I and editor of the UC Food Observer. “During that war, the Women’s Land Army of America, a female-led initiative, recruited nearly 20,000 mostly middle-class urban and suburban women to enter the agricultural sector as wage laborers at farms, dairies and canneries, often in rural areas, where farmers urgently needed help while the male labor force was off fighting.”

Women also helped feed Americans during the Victory Garden era of World War II. “It’s also estimated that more than 40 percent of fruits and vegetables consumed on the American home front then were grown in school, home, community and workplace gardens,” says Hayden-Smith, possibly resulting in America’s highest period of produce consumption ever. Read More

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