Who Are Women in Agriculture?
Women agriculturalists in Michigan play an important role. According
to the USDA's Economic Research Service, as of 2002, 11% of principal
farm operators within Michigan were women. However, many women are not
included in this statistic because the US statistics only allows for
one person to be named as operator of the farm. Furthermore, many woman
farmers make contributions that do not fit neatly into the "operator"
category. Stephen Hoppe's 2001
report on characteristics of farms in the US states that "Women
in farming have generally been characterized as helpmates to male operators
(e.g. farm wives), and their contributions to farming have often been
underestimated. Women contribute to farm businesses in a variety of
ways, with responsibilities that include production, marketing, record
keeping, and financial planning activities" (Sommer 2001:38). Unfortunately,
the contributions women make to agriculture are understated in Michigan
as well. This page aims to inform on the various important ways that
women are involved in agriculture in Michigan, from owning and operating
their own farms to researching and teaching on these issues.
Bios and Interviews of Michigan Women in Agriculture
Julie Slezak of Slezak
Farms discusses her grass-based agriculture in Clarksville, Michigan.
Bush of AppleSchram Orchard discusses her involvement in certified
organic apple agriculture in Charlotte, Michigan.
Allen of Laughing Acres Family Farm in East Lansing, Michigan, discusses
the combination of her personal life as a vegetable grower and her professional
career in contemporary medicine.
Raker of Cloverland Apiary in Calumet, Michigan, discusses her experiences
as a Michigan woman agriculturalist.
Clark of Roseland Organic Farms and the Michigan
Organic Food and Farm Alliance (MOFFA) discusses organic agriculture
Michigan State University's Women in Agriculture
DeLind, PhD, Senior Specialist in the Department of Anthropology
at Michigan State University, discusses community supported agriculture.
Snapp, PhD, Associate Professor of Horticulture/Crop and
Soil Sciences at Michigan State University, discusses her contributions
Alternative Agricultural Activities in Michigan
Located in Lansing, Michigan, the Allen
Neighborhood Center serves as a hub for neighborhood education and
capacity building. They offer activities that promote the health, safety,
and stability of families and neighborhoods. Their Food
Resource Project builds connections between East Side residents
and Lansing farmers to bring fresh, local, and affordable produce into
the neighborhood in order to promote food security. Their programs include
a farmer's market, a CSA project, a youth garden project, and many more
aimed at educating the public on food-related issues.
The Kalamazoo Community Gardens Initiative (KCGI) was created by Western
Michigan University students to promote agricultural sustainability
in the Kalamazoo area. Since then it has become an organization that
assists neighborhoods in the creation of community and urban gardens.
In the five years that the organization has been established, it has
helped in the creation of seven community gardens.
The City of Detroit is involved in several alternative agriculture
programs, including their Farm-A-Lot Program which was designed to help
residents supplement their food budgets. The City
of Detroit's Website offers a list of other environmental and agricultural
programs the city is involved in.
The Greater Grand
Rapids Food Systems Council (GGRFSC) is a grassroots organization
dedicated to building a just and sustainable food system in west Michigan.
The Food Systems Council is an initiative of the West Michigan Environmental
Action Council, a 35-year-old nonprofit environmental education and
advocacy organization. The organization's projects include a community
gardens committee, the creation and maintenance of farmer's markets
in the Grand Rapids area, and an annual conference to unite farmers,
educators, activists, and more.
is dedicated to helping people improve their lives and communities through
gardening. Based in Washtenaw County, Michigan, the organization works
with neighborhoods, schools, community groups, and families to develop
and sustain gardens. They build on the strengths of individuals and
the community to bring the benefits of gardens to all.
is a private, non-profit organization located in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
that enables urban residents to garden in an environmentally and socially
responsible way. Project Grow provides community garden plots, education,
and other resources to empower adults and children to work responsibly
with the soil and plants in order to achieve a higher quality of life.
Information About Agriculture in Michigan
USA Today posted an article about the increase of women and
Hispanics in agriculture, entitled "Women,
Hispanics Put New Face on US Farming." It features stories about
women farming in Michigan, pictures, and audio quotes, as well as a
chart of the increase in women and Hispanic farmers in the US by state.
American Farmland Trust
has compiled an "agricultural
snapshot of Michigan" that includes a summary of the Michigan-based
farming film "Red Barn," information on their completed Community Service
Study in Calhoun County, and the Michigan Ultimate Farmland Preservation
Included in the "Michigan
2003-2004 Highlights" are summaries of production outcomes by commodity
for the respective year. For more agricultural statistics on Michigan,
visit the Michigan Agricultural
"With These Hands"
is a documentary devoted to telling the stories of four farming families
in Northern Michigan. The focus is on the Michigan communities of the
Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas.
Michigan State University's own Extension Website offers useful information and resources. Their mission is to help
people improve their lives through an educational process that applies
knowledge to critical needs, issues, and opportunities.
The Michigan Farm Radio Network
has served as the voice of Michigan farm families for over 30 years.
Janelle Brose, the station's director, is a graduate of Michigan State
University's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a native
Michigan Farmer's Union (MFU) is a member of the National Farmer's Union. The
MFU recently elected their first woman president, Marilynn Momber.
The Institute of International
Agriculture at Michigan State University serves to help promote,
facilitate, expedite, and coordinate international development programs.
Their programs include an MSU-US/China Rural Development Training Program,
short courses, and information on topics such as biotechnology.
Ag Connection is a Website offering resources to the Michigan agricultural
community, including legislative updates and news relevant to Michigan
and the US. Michigan Ag Connection is a subsidiary of USAgnet.com.
Department of Agriculture, in its dual role of regulator and marketer,
provides Michigan citizens with quality services and information on
agricultural products by working cooperatively with many state, federal,
and local agencies and other organizations including universities, colleges,
Michigan Organic Food
and Farm Alliance (MOFFA) teaches and advocates that local organic
food systems create the necessary connections between healthy people,
communities, and the earth.
Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) is a collaborative effort to create
and support more sustainable food and agriculture systems for producers
and consumers in Michigan.
of Michigan is a USDA certified network of organic growers and farmers
with the purpose of providing various resources for those already involved
in or wanting to begin organic growing.
The Michigan Land Use
Institute was founded in 1995 to establish an approach to economic
development that strengthens communities, enhances opportunity, and
protects the state's unmatched natural resources. Information on growth
and management, transportation, and land and water use are all provided
with each area's relevant issues and ways to become actively involved.
a Lansing newspaper, features Michigan State University's Dr. Laura
DeLind and Michigan organic farmer Jane Bush in an article entitled
Farmers in Michigan: 'Creating and Maintaining Community around Food,
Farming and the Earth'."
El Nasser, Haya. 2004. "Women,
Hispanics Put New Face on Farming." USA Today.
Rowan, Isabella J. 2004. "Women
Farmers in Michigan: Creating and Maintaing Community Around Food, Farming
and the Earth." City Pulse.
Sommer, Judith E. 2001. "Female Farm Operators and Their Farms."
In Structural and Financial Characteristics of US Farms: 2001 Family
Farm Report, edited by Robert A. Hoppe. Resource Economics Division,
Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture. Agriculture
Information Bulletin No. 768.