Audra Mulkern is a 2019 James Beard nominee, writer, photographer and international speaker who is changing the way you look at farming and the food on your plate.
She is the founder of “The Female Farmer Project™” – a multi-platform documentary project that chronicles the rise of women working in agriculture around the world. From in-depth stories, personal essays, photographic portraits, a podcast, and in-development documentary film -- the project gives a powerful voice to the fastest growing demographic in agriculture-- the female farmer.
Audra is the Co-Executive Producer and host of the in-progress documentary film, Women’s Work: The Untold Story of America’s Female Farmers.
Audra and her storytelling partner, Debbie Weingarten are 2019 James Beard Award nominees for their investigative reporting work on discrimination practices against black farmers.
'It's not fair, not right': how America treats its black farmers
The Female Farmer Project™ has garnered international recognition, and has been featured and published in a number of outlets including The Guardian, The Today Show, Condé Nast, Huffington Post, PBS, The Seattle Times, and has been in exhibition at the United Nations in New York, the IFAD building in Rome, La Maison Rouge Gallery in Paris, FarmAid30, TEDxManhattan 2015 and is in permanent exhibition at the USDA in Washington DC.
Readers Digest Country Woman Magazine identified 45 "Amazing Women" in honor of their 45th Anniversary. Audra Mulkern was honored alongside Temple Grandin, Krysta Harden, Sandra Day O'Connor and many others who represent the movement in embracing and celebrating women and the country way of life.
Audra also won the Cascade Harvest Coalition Wendell Berry award for 2015, the PCC Farmland Trust Barn Raiser award in 2018 and the Tilth Alliance ‘Advocate of the Year’ award in 2018 for her work on passing legislation to help fund mental health resources at the state and federal levels.
Audra currently serves on the Refresh Food and Tech Working Group representing women in agriculture. The Refresh Working Group brings together farmers, small business owners, researchers, corporate partners, nonprofit leaders, educators, community organizers, and innovators working across the food system to explore—and hopefully finding consensus around—intersecting policy issues at the nexus of food and technology. The project is initially funded by Google and led by Swell Creative Group.
For event speaker inquiries, contact Audra here.
For video production and hosting services contact Audra here
Team FFP are volunteers to this project, I am endlessly grateful for their passion, talent and time.
Meet them below.
Debbie Weingarten is a Tucson-based writer and editor, who believes that food systems are stronger if the women working within them are connected with and empowered by each other. As a former vegetable farmer, she geeks out to USDA statistics, goat dynamics, and convening with other female farmer-mover-shakers. She is obsessed with storytelling and amplifying the voices in rural America. She is the co-founder of the Farmer Education & Resource Network, serves on the City of Tucson's Commission for Food Security, Heritage and Economy, and on the Leadership Council for the Pima County Food Alliance.
A history buff on the side, and a science geek for life – Greta Hardin has degrees in Biology and Education. She’s taught AP Chemistry, led Elementary School Art-Programs and written a cookbook for beginners at the Farmers Market. She’s currently delving into her family’s forestry business, and slowly working towards a cookbook on Farmers Market proteins (beef heart Sauce Bolognese?). Such wide ranging interest and a passion for research and writing mean a chance to dig into the past and present roles of Women in growing, harvesting and producing our food is about as exciting as it gets.
To contact Greta for speaker or panels on women in forestry, contact her here.
Jo is a professional documentary and action photographer in Olympia, Washington. In 2011, her husband Greg, a veteran of the US navy special forces, took his own life after struggling for years with "moral injury," post traumatic stress and chronic pain. After Greg's death she experienced deep grief, guilt and bewilderment, particularly as she came to realize how little she understood about addressing veterans' health and well-being.
Shortly after Greg's death she left her career as a lawyer to dedicate herself to telling the stories of community-based organizations, particularly those serving veterans. Since that time she's continued to document and participate in veteran-led programs that work to prevent suicide and improve veterans' quality of life, including the Growing Veterans' farmsteads near Bellingham and a veterans' spiritual wilderness retreat with School of Lost Borders. She is also a community organizer with Forefront Suicide Prevention at the University of Washington School of Social Work.
Jo intends to further document the work of veteran farmers across Washington State, many of whom have joined together recently to establish the Washington State chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition.
To contact Jo for speaker or panels on veteran suicide issues, contact her here.
Melony Edwards is a first-generation farmer currently working as Farm Manager at Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle. Bringing her unique perspective as a young, African American woman working on a small farm, Edwards started her food journey in the culinary and hospitality field. Driven by her personal love for food and insatiable curiosity, Edwards has worked in many different aspects of the culinary world, quickly climbing the industry ladder. Starting out as an intern in a four-star Seattle restaurant, Edwards has also worked on cruise ships, managed the ordering and event details for a division of Boeing’s Eurest catering program, and worked at Whole Foods Market. Since starting at Willowood Farm in 2016, Edwards immediately immersed herself in the small farming community she now calls home. She quickly rose through the ranks at Willowood, starting out as a field crew grunt hand, which lead her to her current farm management role. Edwards has been involved in local efforts to relaunch the Whidbey Island Grown brand, helping to promote Whidbey as a unique culinary and agricultural destination. In addition, Edwards is currently working on a program in collaboration with Finnriver Farm and Cidery and Port Townsend Land Trust to bring more young African American students interested in farming to local Pacific Northwest farms so they can experience farming and get their hands dirty.
Edwards holds a degree in hospitality and restaurant management from Johnson & Wales University Miami as well as a degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu.
To contact Melony for speaker or panels on women of color in agriculture and food systems, contact her here.
Kate Doughty is a graduate of the University of Washington with a double degree in Environmental Studies and Comparative History of Ideas. Her studies have ranged from ecological aspects of agriculture to socio-cultural and community related aspects, allowing her to take an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the food system. Kate was drawn to the Female Farmer Project because she believes that by empowering women and amplifying their voices through storytelling, the gendered barriers that face female farmers daily can be dismantled, and the invaluable service they provide can be supported as it deserves to be. In her work with the Female Farmer Project, she hopes to help capture and embody the complexities of the female farmer identity, and make a positive difference in the representation of women in the fields.
Lucia Wyss is a farmer, writer, and mediator who believes that resilient community and resilient ecology are inseparable. With her partner, she runs Hidden River Farm growing organic grain and pigs on land once inhabited by the Chehalis tribe. She is also the coordinator of the Washington Young Farmers Coalition doing social, political, and educational organizing to empower young and beginning farmers. Her degree is in Environmental Land Use and Community Development from the Evergreen State College.
To contact Lucia for speaker or panels on women in agriculture and young farmer issues, contact her here.
Our 2019 Intern
Sara Klausner is a student at Northeastern University where she majors in environmental studies and focuses on food systems and sustainability. So far, her classes have allowed her to look at the issues of climate change and social equity through the lens of agriculture. On weekends she loves to have her hands in the soil as a volunteer at Gaining Ground Farm. Here, she has learned about the importance of food as a tool for community empowerment. Sara hopes to leverage this knowledge to engage with marginalized stakeholders and spread the adoption of regenerative practices. She sees The Female Farmer Project as an authentic way to restructure our perception of the food system by honoring the foundational laborers behind it. Sara looks forward to further representing women and sustainability in the agricultural narrative, whether that be through policymaking, grassroots organizing, or storytelling. When Sara is not working to be a better environmental steward you can find her writing poetry, rock climbing, or making up a recipe as she goes (if you add an egg on top it’s gourmet, right?).