Farming Females

Last month I enjoyed interviewing several women for a special section in Farm Indiana on women in agriculture. While some didn’t consider themselves farmers, all had valuable perspectives about what it means to bring a female sensibility to agriculture.

Many spoke of women’s connection to the earth as something deep and primal. Several compared the nurturing of plants and animals to caring for children.

And Kay Niedenthal, an urban farmer in Indianapolis, might have been talking about our procreative power when she said, “It’s like magic to make something from nothing. To start with dirt and a seed and then have a meal.”

Anna Welch of Fields of Agape in a field being prepared for hull-less oats.

Anna Welch of Fields of Agape in a field being prepared for hull-less oats. (The periodical has a much better photo of Anna by the terrific photographer Josh Marshall.)

I was intrigued by the fact that Anita Spencer of Homestead Growers didn’t start out growing organically. She and her husband were Miracle-Gro fans at the start. When a friend asked if they’d ever considered going organic, she said, “We laughed at her!”

But that question planted a seed all its own. They took a look at the contents of the famed formulation and realized they didn’t want all those chemicals in their bodies and those of their children. Nor did they want to sell produce grown that way.

Now Anita is proud to offer high-quality, chemical-free food to her customers through both Homestead Growers and its spinoff line of tomato sauces, Local Folks Foods.

(As a side note, this anecdote showed me how questions can spur behavior change, even the questions don’t seem well-received. I resolve to ask more questions!)

For the full story, including seven mini-profiles of women in agriculture and Josh Marshall’s beautiful photos, see the current issue of Farm Indiana (page A8).

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