The Female Farmer Project

documenting the rise of women in agriculture

guest essay: tributes to mothers, from daughters

 

My Mother kept a garden,
a garden of the heart,
She planted all the good things
that gave my life it’s start.
She turned me to the sunshine
and encouraged me to dream,
Fostering and nurturing
the seeds of self-esteem…
And when the winds and rain came,
she protected me enough-
But not too much because she knew
I’d need to stand up strong and tough.
Her constant good example
always taught me right from wrong-
Markers for my pathway
that will last a lifetime long.
I am my Mother’s garden.
I am her legacy-
And I hope today she feels the love
reflected back from me

Author Unknown

 

Thank you to the daughters who wrote these beautiful tributes to their mothers.


Camille - by Shara Green

My stepmom Camille is an amazing Female farmer - my mom passed away when I was 9 years old (Breast cancer) and my dad re-married to Camille - Camille gave up a real-city job in Seattle to come live/work on our fruit farm and raise me. I'm so glad my dad and her fell in love, because she has been an incredible inspiration and step-mom to me.

My dad passed away two years ago from a sudden heart attack while skiing at the local ski resort/mountain. He was in great shape and former ski patrol - it was a huge shock to us all.

Camille had been farming side by side with my dad since the early 1990's when they married- so she knows all of the daily operations, irrigation, tractor equipment - they ran Smith Orchards together (45 acres) for over 20 years full time. 

When my dad passed - Camille had to manage the entire farm all while dealing with the grief of such a shocking/unexpected loss. 

After her first cherry/pear harvest on her own in 2014, she asked my husband and I if we'd be interested in selling our house in Seattle and moving to the farm - so my husband could learn the ropes from her and help her out. We agreed and we moved April 29, 2015 - Camille is training my husband to know all of the things she does. She's an incredibly knowledgeable woman - she's one of the few female (sole proprietors) here in the Lower Yakima Valley I believe. She knows the wind machines, all 6-tractors on our farm, irrigation problem solving, hiring/payroll, the works - she runs it all and it is just amazing to me. 

Camille loves horses (she takes care of 2 in her spare time) she skis - even though it's very emotional to go skiing at the resort where my dad skied his last run, and she is a lover of local wine, and she is an amazing cook.

Camille is "a salt of the earth" kind of lady - she's not a makeup wearer - she is a super practical, hard working farmer and her inner beauty shines through every day. She is a rubber irrigation boot wearing, independent lady and I'm so proud of her for how much pride she takes in her work - her orchard is pristine and I am so impressed with her work ethic, and passion for farming - she loves being a fruit grower.


 

Ruthie - by Trina McAlexander  

(edited from her blog post here)

My mother is she is hands down the most generous person I know.  She never ceases to amaze me with her thoughtful extensions of love and support. 

I want to be like her when I grow up because she is the bravest woman I know on the planet.  From being the only girl willing to learn to play the trombone in 5th grade to being on the catcher on the first women's softball team at the University of Oregon this woman was made to be a pioneer and defy gender stereotypes from day one.  When I was saving up to buy our small family farm she told me she fell in love with farming at a young age and didn't care that their were no other female farmers.  She remembers driving around my grandparents orchard on her tractor all summer summer long around the tender age of eight, imagining what it would be like to raise a family on an orchard one day.  She explains that she responded to her calling of becoming a farmer easily and took on her families mantle of growing food for our region with great satisfaction and pleasure and she always hoped and prayed one of her daughters would follow along in carrying on the farming legacy.  I was unsure of what it would be like to be a single female farmer in such a small town but my mom assured me that if that was what I dreamed of then I should run after it with all my heart. 

She raises beautiful fruit and has learned the important of being a farmer that is well known.  She has been a farmer for 65 years and still farms just as hard since I bought the farm 2 years ago. She loves to have large school groups and international farmers come visit and she happily takes them on farm tours because we are a farm that really cares about agri-education and teaching people where their food comes from.  She also happily helps out other farmers on the street because she know how important it is to help one other out and be a farmer who is willing to assist another farmer, especially those just starting out.

She is such a compassionate woman and regularly gives away fruit to those who cannot afford it and annually gives fruit away to the Oregon Food Bank and many non profits and schools. My mom with her sisters when she bought the farm in the early 1970's

There isn't one job not the farm that she is not willing to do and she has taught me a lot about being a farmer that really values and honors their employees.  Many of the families that work on our farm have been here for over 40 years and we have many multi generational family members that help us harvest each and every summer because they have become kin and they believe in the mission of our small family farm. We believe in always upgrading housing, paying as much as we can afford and always extending generously to your employees is how my mother has taught me how to farm. It is a total dream come true to farm besides my amazing mother and I hope and pray she lives forever because deciding to come home and carry on the farm was the best decision I have ever made thus far in my life.  Sure do love you Mom. Thank you for being a farmer and encouraging me to follow after your farming legacy.  

You are my My SHero! xoxox Your grateful farmer, Trina


Mindy - by Heather Nedroscik

Mindy is a super awesome lady! She seriously is one of the hardest working people I have ever met, she is strong, tough and a country girl at heart but is also a very well traveled. She spent a year traveling literally around the world when she was college age and even after all that decided the best place on earth was her family farm.

After her travels, she studied at Cornel and completed a bachelor of science in Pomology, and then returned to the family farm in the late 70's. The farm struggled at times, as most farms do  -- but Mindy has been paramount in creating a farm that can sustain our whole family.

A lot goes on at Becker Farms these days; we do school tours where Mindy shares with the students about our family farm. We offer 'u-pick' fruit, we have a 200-person CSA, a winery, a brewery, a bakery and large private events section. Mindy does a little bit of everything at the farm, although her heart still lies with the agriculture.

She works almost every single day and can often be found on a tractor with her team of little dogs close behind. And even with that full-time-plus job, she somehow found the time to raise three children and enjoys lots of time with her granddaughter while still working super hard. 

Thank you Mindy!

 

 

Originally Published on May 06, 2016

Copyright Audra Mulkern 2017