Women Farmers: Ain’t I A Woman?

Women Farmers: Ain’t I A Woman?

I was just recently at the National Women in Sustainable Agriculture conference in Portland, Oregon and  I come back freshly inspired. In the United States, like the rest of the world, women are far and away the demographic most ready and willing to experiment and the ones reinvesting into their families and their communities, and I met many of the women doing just that at this conference.  Women on a global level are also a force to be reckoned with, by and large doing the lion’s share of the work that continues to feed our families.

Women Feed the World, from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says:

ON A GLOBAL SCALE, women produce more than half of all the food that is grown. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, they produce up to 80 percent of basic foodstuffs. In Asia, they provide from 50 to 90 percent of the labour for rice cultivation. And in Southeast Asia and the Pacific as well as Latin America, women’s home gardens represent some of the most complex agricultural systems known.


I spent a week with this beautiful woman, Ines, in Bolivia. She is the first woman to be the president of her local honey cooperative, one of the many amazing farm woman feats she’s made.

And in the United States, when thinking of the stereotypical Farmer John, more and more, we can also think of and thank Farmer Jane, says Civil Eats in this very informative article:

Women now account for 30 percent of the farm operators in the U.S., a number which has almost tripled in the last three decades, creating the fastest growing segment in agriculture. But beyond the numbers, women are at the forefront of an important shift in today’s farm landscape.

Namely, women tend to farm on smaller pieces of land, grow diverse crops, favor sustainable practices, and prioritize food over commodity crops.

Local Roots Farm, Duvall WA Siri

Siri Erickson Brown; Local Roots Farm, Duvall, WA.  She is an impressive woman and one of the owners of the first farm I worked at.  Photo credit: Audra Mulkern, the Female Farmer Project

Women play a large role world wide in agriculture and in feeding our planet.  In the United States, the last 60-70 years largely separated women from their role and relationship with the land and in food production, as U.S. agriculture became more industrialized, and more masculine and aggressive in it’s form.  Women around the world are currently growing food and are able to step into greater roles of leadership so that our voices, our openness to experiment, and our wiliness to share information and resources will benefit not only our communities more, but also our shared earth.

And now, for some absolutely amazing, classic poetry.

Ain’t I A Woman  

By Sojourner Truth, 1797-1883

That man over there say

A woman needs to be helped into carriages

And lifted over ditches

And to have the best place everywhere.

Nobody ever helped me into carriages

Or over mud puddles

Or gives me a best place…

And ain’t I a woman?

Look at me

Look at my arm!

I have plowed and planted

And gathered into barns

And no man could head me…

And ain’t I a woman:

I could work as much

And eat as much as a man-

When I could get to it-

And bear the lash as well

And ain’t I a woman?

I have born 13 children

And seen most all sold into slavery

And when I cried out a mother’s grief

None but Jesus heard me…

And ain’t I a woman?

That little man in black there say

A woman can’t have as much rights as a man

Cause Christ wasn’t a woman

Where did your Christ come from?

From God and a woman!

Man had nothing to do with him!

If the first woman God ever made

Was strong enough to turn the world

Upside down, all alone

Together women ought to be able to turn it

Rightside up again.

Good poetry straight gives me goosebumps, and this one kinda sets a Christmas tone, wouldn’t you agree?  For other articles that show powerful women standing strong and organizing in support of agriculture and Mother Earth, check out these other pages.  Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Female Farmer Project

Meet the Indigenous Eco-Feminists of the Amazon

Women Are the Backbone of the Standing Rock Movement


A lady with a plan. To Bike Latin America. To Document Agriculture. Live with intention and hope. Make change for the better. In everything, every day.

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