Last week was International Women’s Day. I’d like to say a few words. I was lazy last week due to the nice weather so I didn’t write anything, but really, this shouldn’t be limited to one day of the year.
Some statistics: the average age of a farmer in the United States is about 60 years old. Of all the farmers and ranchers in the country, 1/3 are women. Now, of all the young farmers who just started farming less than 10 years ago, 41% are women. Finally, and this is the most important point, even though there is no figure for this in the USDA census, I am willing to bet that the percentage of young farmers who just started farming less than 10 years ago AND are also farming organically is around 60%. Based on my decade of experience farming and what I’ve witnessed at conferences, apprenticeship programs, and workshops, there are many more young organic farmers who are female than there are male. Three out of the four farms I’ve apprenticed at are run by women (meaning, a woman makes all the decisions), and around 3 out of 5 farmhands at each of them are also women. At conferences and workshops, there are more women present, and at least half of the presenters are women.
We need more farmers. We need more young farmers. We need more young, organic farmers. And most specifically, we need more young organic farmers who directly supply their locale. Simply put, young women are at the forefront of the local organic food movement. It’s pretty encouraging.
On this (belated) International Women’s Day, thank you to all of the hard working, passionate women farmers and other food producers who have dedicated their lives to making a positive difference.
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