the agrarian - growing things farm
I spent a season documenting Michaele and Growing Things Farm - that photo essay series can be found here.
How long have you been farming?
I grew up alternating between my family ranching and grandparents farming. Took a brief few years off and came back to farming.
What kind of education or career did you pursue before farming?
I was a teacher.
What was the impetus to pursue farming?
It made my heart sing.
What did you do to prepare/educate yourself for this new role?
I had experience as a child through my family, but mostly just jumped in, and I am still learning.
What are the benefits/advantages in being a female farmer?
I don’t see any advantages.
What do you see as the biggest impediment to women entering the field of farming?
It’s still a man’s world. I’ve been farming as a profession for 25 years, and it took a long time before men took me seriously.
What personality characteristics do you have that drew you to farming in the first place?
I’m an introvert and don’t mind working alone for periods of time.
What has been the biggest reward?
Feeding people and their gratitude for the food.
What do you want your food to convey to others?
What does it mean to you to be able to farm?
A few years back I injured myself and had to take some time off. I was not sure I would be able to be strong enough to farm ever again. That spring, when the tractors started up all over the valley I walked to the center of my farm, laid down and bawled my eyes out. I willed myself better and whenever I get discouraged about something happening I remind myself how unhappy I was not to farm that one year.
What do you wish people understood about farming?
That we need to preserve our farmland and treat it as a natural resource just like we do with fish and animal habitat. A lot of people see farmland as potentially developed land and we are losing more each day to not just development but to animal habitat, fish restoration projects, mitigation and others.
What are some things we as can do to help create support, equality and awareness for women farmers and small-scale farms?
Here in King County (Washington State) small farmers are up against a large amount of ridiculous regulations that constrain them from advancing. I hear this is an ongoing issue throughout the nation. A few years back I had a contingent of women farmers from Africa visit the farm and they spoke of the exact same problem..
If you could change one thing about our current food system, what would it be?
Land access is one of the big challenges to smaller farmers. Do you own your land? Rent? Share?