The Year of Female Farmers

The Year of Female Farmers

Propelling the Female Farmer Movement

How much has changed in your own life over the past ten years? As you know, much has changed nationally, too, and the prolific amount of news stories is a constant reminder of that. But amidst the chaos is some hope, changes that are for the better. One is that we’re experiencing a rise in female farmers across the U.S. In fact, since 2012 there has been a 27% increase, with female producers now making up 36 percent of farmers. We saw evidence of this rise right here at Wolfe’s Neck Center…

A Notable Crew at Wolfe’s Neck Center

If you visited us at Wolfe’s Neck Center this summer, you may have noticed a welcome sign of change: both our organic dairy apprentice crew and fruit & vegetable intern crew were comprised solely of females. They all felt a sense of pride for representing to our many young visitors what a farmer can look like. Having a role that is public facing reminds them that their impact goes beyond their personal endeavors, and they may be inspiring future generations of females by pursuing their passions.

Committed Growers in the Veggie Plot

When we posted our fruit & vegetable internships at the start of 2019, 95% of applicants were female. This led to a strong crew comprised of women with a great mix of skillsets, interests, and personalities. Eliza and Emily (top photo, left to right) worked with us from May to October to learn more about organic farming. Their dedication was integral to the success of our CSA and Farm Store enterprises, and Eliza will be returning for the 2020 season in a leadership role.

Sarah (bottom right) fulfilled the second year of her internship and came away with practical experience to potentially start her own small-scale enterprise one day. And because the size of our production plots have grown over the years, this season we had two part-time interns, Amanda (bottom left) and Grace, whose presence made for a dynamic day-to-day growing season.

Pursuing Careers in Organic Dairy

“Being a female pursuing a career in a historically predominantly male profession doesn’t bother me one bit. I feel strong and proud to work in agriculture.
—Corinne Carey (pictured bottom left)

Tierney, Caitlin, and Corinne (pictured clockwise from top) are the current cohort of apprentices in our organic dairy program, where they gain immersive, hands-on training in all aspects of operating a livestock farm enterprise.

“When I decided to go into agriculture I did it because I have a passion for taking care of and watching animals grow and succeed. During my time at UMaine majoring in Animal Science, I had an amazing female herd manager as my mentor. She is someone who I admire to this day. As a woman in a predominantly male field I find myself needing to work harder to prove that I can do everything the guys can do and to be taken seriously on the job. The hard work all pays off in the end though if I can pave the way for other up and coming female farmers to make this field a more balanced one.”

—Caitlin Morgan (pictured bottom right)

“As a female pursuing a career in farming, a predominantly male profession, I am provided with a platform to show others female farmers can achieve the same success as our male counterparts. A well known issue with today’s agricultural system is that the average age of a farmer is nearing 60 years old, close to retirement, and we need new farmers to come into the industry and take over.

This opens the door for female prospects to be introduced into the sector, trained, and be a part of rejuvenating the nation’s agricultural industry. We can accomplish the same jobs as our male counterparts and help continue to grow and shape our farming landscape for the better.

—Tierney Lawlor (pictured top)

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