Agriculture is not an industry that has traditionally championed women’s roles (beyond home-making and child-rearing that is!). Earlier this year I stumbled across Marji Guyler-Alaniz’s Farmher page and was taken in by her candid and beautifully subtle photographs of farmhers in the US.
Marji believes that “by infusing images of women in agriculture into farm imagery we can change the way people perceive a farmer.” This idea fits well within the Future Feeders mandate as we set out to change perceptions too.
In a physical working environment like a farm it’s difficult to ignore men and women tend to have more natural capability in some areas rather than others. Believe me, it pains me to admit it but it appears to be true.
Despite this reality, abilities (and gender roles) can be developed simply by being given the opportunity and environment to learn and a bit of encouragement.
According to National Geographic female farmers make up 8% of the world population while male farmers make up 11%. That's 564 million women farmers. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says women are just as good at farming as men however “simply do not have access to the same inputs, productive resources and services” required to match the yield output by male farmers.
During our days on the farm we often share a healthy exchange of banter that features some friendly gender-based rivalry and teasing:
“You’re a girl, you can’t do that!”
“You wouldn’t understand, you’re a boy!”
However, underneath this harmless taunting lies a firm mutual respect for each other’s talents and abilities. When it comes down to it, rather than calling out limitations we encourage each other to try new things and benefit from the chance to learn from one another.
So far we have distributed the physical workload across the team with each member – men and women -tackling the full set of diverse tasks. This is one way to avoid pigeon-holing tasks as either men or women’s work. Brush-cutting, machete-wielding, secateuring, mule-driving, lantana-clearing, chook-poo-dumping, tyre-changing, 20kg-bagstacking – we’re all doing it all!
We don’t ignore difference – we recognise it and we even celebrate it by playing to our strengths when necessary. At the same time we allow space to develop the skills that perhaps we haven’t had the opportunity to explore yet. Future Feeders is proud to be challenging farming stereotypes head on and providing a work environment that values men and women in equal measure.
We'd like to acknowledge use of Marji's farmher concept with her permission. Thanks Marji, we love it!
Future Feeders Team