As farmers, moms, businesswomen, chefs, and activists, women are changing the way we eat and farm. They are the fastest growing demographic to own and operate sustainable farms, comprise the largest percentage of sustainable agriculture nonprofit employees, own sustainable food businesses, cook the majority of household meals, and control household budgets. “Farmer Janes” are creating a more healthful, sane, and sustainable food system for present and future generations.
FarmerJane.org is dedicated to featuring the efforts of women - both sung and unsung heroes – that are making positive changes for our food system.
Activist-turned-writer Temra Costa started obsessing about how she is surrounded by women in the food movement when she started working with CAFF in 2003. Whether participating in farm to school programs or directing statewide programs, she has been consistently surrounded by strong women with seasonal sensibilities. She's fascinated with women’s role in changing how we eat and farm, as well as with women’s willingness to do front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house work to create sustainable food system alternatives.
While researching this woman-dominated field, Temra met Gibbs Smith in the fall of 2007 at the Bioneers conference in California after a panel on women and sustainable food.
acknowledgements from the author
Farmer Jane wouldn’t have been possible without the women featured in these pages. They took time out of their hectic farming, writing, cooking, and advocacy lives to add content and robustness.
Thank you to Gibbs Smith, for being the vision behind the book, and Lisa Anderson, my editor, for working her magic; Severine von Tscharner Fleming, a gem for making the connections we need in this world; Logan Rockefeller Harris, an inspiring food activist, and the research engine behind this book; and Caiti Hachmyer who compiled the list of women’s agricultural organizations.
Lindsay Dailey, Jennifer Dalton, Jeremy Fisher, Leslie Jackson, Katy Mamen, Caron Obstfeld, Kristen Schroer, Jennifer Snyder, Elanor Starmer, Lisa Thompson, and Taber Ward encouraged, reviewed, and commented to help turn goose liver into foie gras.
Thank you to my parents, Jay and Dianne Costa, my brother Brett and his family, grandparents, Jim and Denise, Selvina and Hank, and my ancestors. Speaking of families, I can’t thank Patrick and Sienna Fisher enough for their friendship and for gifting me with such a fabulous human being as their son, Jeremy. He provided me with endless support, encouragement and words of wisdom that kept me going on the project everyday (especially the rough ones). A million and one thanks to Lindsay Dailey, who was there to lend a hand, an ear, a meal, and an editing tip - until the 9th hour. Thank you to Melinda Kramer, Leah Katz Ahmadi, and Destin Joy Layne who were a well of support throughout the process; and Charles Braquet, a saint, for letting me finish editing in his Paris apartment. And where would any of us be without trailblazers and mentors such as Denise O’Brien? She was an advisor to the book and is a pioneer of sustainable agriculture advocacy.
The following people were interviewed and/or provided critical insight:
Carrie Balkcom – The American Grassfed Beef Association; Brock Dolman – Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Dana Jackson – The Land Stewardship Project; Kennon Kay – Queens County Farm Museum; Kristen Kordet – Three Moon Farms; Margaret Krome – Michael Field’s Institute; Gail Myers – Grow Farms; Karen Parker – Growing Power; and Dorothy Suput – The Carrot Project.
A very special thank you to Lois Ellen Frank (http://www.redmesacuisine.com), Olivia Sargeant (http://www.farm255.com), and Jered Lawson (http://www.pieranch.org) for providing so many of their beautiful photographs to the Farmer Jane book and website. While they were not printed in the final book, they will certainly be loved online.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Bioneers, Ecological Farming Association, and the Women’s Earth Alliance, all wonderful organizations that have provided me with life changing opportunities and inspiration.