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>   A New Crop of Farmers More Women Turning to Agriculture
> <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2009/06/27/GA2009062702170.html>
>
> According to recently released figures, women now run one of every 10
> American farms.
> <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2009/06/27/GA2009062702170.html>
>
>     **
>
> By Lori Aratani<http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/articles/lori+aratani/>
> Washington Post Staff Writer
>
> Julie Stinar once worked with some of the top names in fashion: Donna
> Karan, Giorgio Armani, Tracy Reese.
>  This Story
>
>    - A New Crop of Farmers<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2009/06/27/ST2009062702959.html>
>    - More Women Turn to Farming<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2009/06/27/GA2009062702170.html>
>    - Census of Agriculture Web Site <http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/>
>
> Now she works with some completely different brand names: Cornish and
> Poulet Rouge chickens and Red Devon cattle.
> Stinar is the owner of Evensong Farm in Sharpsburg, Md., and an example of
> the changing face of American farming.
>
> Women always played important roles on the family farm. They kept the
> books, milked the cows and fed the children, often juggling another
> part-time job while the men worked the fields. Sometimes, they ran the farm
> after their husbands or fathers died.
>
> But increasingly, women such as Stinar are turning to farming on their own.
> According to the 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture released this year, more
> than one in every 10 U.S. farms is run by a woman. In Maryland, the number
> of farms in which a woman is the principal operator jumped 16 percent
> between 2002 and 2007. In Virginia, female-run farms also grew by 16
> percent.
> "Just as we've seen the numbers of women increasing in the workplace, we
> are seeing more women" in farming, said Stefphanie Gambrell, a domestic
> policy economist with the American Farm Bureau.
>
> Some say that the statistics simply reflect better outreach efforts by
> census takers, but others point to the growing number of female-focused
> farming organizations as proof that the number of female farmers is on the
> rise.
>
> Women's agricultural associations have popped up in Vermont, Connecticut
> and Maine. In Pennsylvania, membership in the Women's Agricultural Network,
> which is affiliated with Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, grew
> from 100 members in 2005 to 1,000 in 2008, said Linda Stewart Moist, a
> senior extension associate at the college.
>
>
> While men tend to run larger farms focused on such commodity crops as
> soybeans and wheat, women tend to run smaller, more specialized enterprises
> selling heirloom tomatoes and grass-fed beef to well-heeled, eco-conscious
> consumers.
> These smaller enterprises have gotten a boost from the popularity of
> farmers markets and programs in which people pay in advance to receive
> weekly produce baskets, as well as renewed consumer interest in buying
> locally.
>
> The lavender Deborah Williamson and her mother, Edith, grow on their farm,
> Seven Oaks Lavender Farm in Fauquier County, is sold locally at Whole Foods
> Markets. Stinar built her heirloom vegetable business by selling to her
> husband's office colleagues. The Internet has also made it easier for
> farmers to sell directly to consumers without heavy start-up costs, experts
> say.
>
> Women say they are drawn to farming for a number of reasons. Many like the
> independence and flexibility that comes with running a farm. Many younger
> women choose farming to do something positive for the environment by
> employing sustainable farming techniques, said Amy Trauger, an assistant
> professor of geography at the University of Georgia who has studied women in
> agriculture.
>
> Eight years ago, Jeanne Dietz-Band made a deal with her husband: She'd quit
> her job at a local biotechnology firm if they would buy a home in the
> country. Now Dietz-Band, who has a PhD in molecular biology and genetics,
> heads her own start-up, Many Rocks Farm in Keedysville, Md., where she
> raises about 200 Kiko goats. She sells meat, sausage, goat milk soap and
> lotions at farmers markets across the area.
>
> Dietz-Band, who grew up in Kansas, had no farming background. And her
> husband, born and raised in Boston, had no idea what he was getting into
> when the family moved to the 40-acre spread in Washington County, she said.
> Like many farming spouses, he kept his outside job as an electrical engineer
> to guarantee income and health coverage. He leaves the farm work to
> Dietz-Band -- with some exceptions.
> "If it involves the tractor, he's there," she said.
>
> Dietz-Band chose goats because they were small and she figured she could
> handle them. Her background in genetics has come in handy.
> "Even though I walked out of one career into a totally different one,
> everything came together," she said.
>
> Others follow a more traditional route: inheriting their farm. Martha
> Clark's farming roots go back to 1797, when her family first settled in
> Howard County. Her father, former Maryland state senator James Clark Jr.,
> thought Clark's brother would inherit the family farm. Instead, her father
> started his dairy farm and Martha took over more than 420 acres along a
> stretch of Route 108 in Ellicott City, where she raises livestock, corn,
> tomatoes and other crops. Her daughter Nora Crist, 21, recently graduated
> from the University of Delaware's College of Agriculture and Natural
> Resources and might be the next generation to run the family farm.
>
> For her part, Stinar always loved the country. After the birth of her son,
> she and her husband bought the 132-acre spread in rural Washington County
> that would eventually become Evensong Farm. She started with a vegetable
> garden and some mail-order chickens. Then came the cow, who had the calf
> they dubbed "Dinner." Those were followed by the homeless three-legged pig,
> who was recently joined by five piglets.
>
> Once a week, she drives to the Saturday farmers market in Silver Spring,
> where she sells an assortment of vegetables, herbs and eggs. Stinar chats
> easily with customers, and her passion for her work is evident as she bags
> fresh kale and offers samples of the spicy greens. ("Isn't that great?" she
> says to one woman. "I love them on sandwiches.")
>
> She breaks into a smile when one of her regulars pulls a bulbous green
> vegetable out of his weekly vegetable basket and looks at it, puzzled.
> "It's kohlrabi," she says. She points at the bulb portion. "You peel it and
> eat it. You can even combine it with apples. The flavor is mild."
>
> The man takes it all in and with a nod says he's game for something new.
> By 11 a.m., the fresh eggs are sold out, as is the last bunch of bok choy.
> Customers are already asking about the Poulet Rouge chickens, which Stinar
> says will be ready in July.
>
> "It's a great feeling to be able to grow food and to be able to share it
> with people," she said. "Being outside, growing food -- it's just a great
> way to live."
>
>
>
>
> --
> Dr. Teri Hamlin
> North Region Agriculture Education
> Georgia Department of Education
> 204C Four Towers University of Georgia
> Athens, Ga 30602
> 706-542-3679 / 706-540-0032
> [log in to unmask]
>