News from the Farm | March 27, 2023

March is Women’s History Month, in addition to being the month when National Ag Week (March 21-27), National Ag Day (March 23), and International Women’s Day (March 8) are observed. Every day is an excellent opportunity to recognize and celebrate the countless women working on farms and ranches to provide food (plus flowers, fuel, fiber, and countless ecosystem services) to our communities. 

On a national level, according to the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture, women accounted for 36% of the country’s 3.4 million producers, 56% of all farms had a female producer, and 9% of farms were run entirely by women. In California, 37% of producers are women with 32.5% of agricultural operations reporting a woman as a primary producer, and about 1/3 of farmerworkers are women. 

While these numbers have changed over time (especially since 2017 when the USDA changed how they count female producers, which resulted in a large increase), agriculture is still a male-dominated industry, which has wide-ranging implications, from implementation of conservation practices to sexual harassment of farmworkers. There isn’t enough room in the Beet to go over all of these issues, but they’re important, and if you’re interested in exploring more, there are lots of resources out there, including great work from The American Farmland Trust’s Women for the Land Program (including this document on California), the  Women Food and Agriculture Network, and groups like Lideres Campesinas, just to name a few.

Women have played a key role in running Full Belly Farm since day one, and that proud tradition continues through today. Currently, our farm is 50% female (though not in every role – our office crew and flower team are female, and we don’t have female tractor drivers and irrigators), and women hold many leadership positions. Collectively, they have hundreds of years of farming experience, and they are truly a group of inspiring, kind, caring, and funny people who are great to work with. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are a few of the women of Full Belly Farm! 

From left to right: Francisca (she runs our wash and pack area and supervises flour milling and other dry goods and value-added products), Judith (owner-emeritus, still helps out with special projects), Yesenia (leads the kitchen crew).

Isabel: leads the flower team

Chica: she is in charge of seeding and watering all the greenhouse starts. Almost every summer tomato you enjoy is due to her hard work!

Joaquina: leads the CSA line each day and runs the other half of the wash and pack area (melons, squash, broccoli, roots)

 Dru (one of our six owners) and Jan (our farm manager) – they both do a little bit of everything.

There are so many more amazing people who I didn’t get a photo of: Stephanie (HR), Paola (sales), Catalina (leads the daily truck loading process), Becca (in charge of animals and our egg program), Hannah (floral design and social media), plus many other inspiring women who have been at Full Belly Farm at some other point in our 40-year history. Thanks to all of these women for making Full Belly the special place that it is.

Elaine Swiedler, CSA Manager