We were born on the Illinois farm in 1925 and Marji is someone who is living out our values. We did a Q & A with her to learn the inspiration behind her purpose.
What encouraged you to start FarmHer? In 2013 I came to a point in my career where it was time to make a change. I wanted to spend more time with my kids who were 1 and 3 and take some time to figure out where I would go next with my career. The very weekend after I made the life-changing decision to leave my career in the insurance industry, the Super Bowl was on. One of the commercials on that year was “God Made a Farmer”. A two-minute-and-thirty-second commercial about American agriculture only held three, somewhat hidden, images of women. However, by the 2012 Census of Agriculture, women make up about 30% of ag producers in the U.S. This hit me hard.
In the spring of 2013, I started a photography project called FarmHer. I began photographing women in Central Iowa. I started a website to share those images, and a social media campaign. The instant reception - mostly from women in agriculture - was heartwarming. It validated the work that these amazing women do - the very real work of farming, ranching, operating a business, defining the culture that is agriculture, raising families, growing food, and feeding their communities.
Start them young!
How has FarmHer grown over the years? Today, FarmHer has grown into a place where women in agriculture can connect and be a part of a community built just for them. It’s the coffee shop, corner store, and kitchen gathering for all women. The business side of FarmHer includes a line of merchandise, an online social network, events to connect young women to future roles in agriculture, outreach, and most recently a weekly television show, airing on the national cable network, RFD-TV, that has been picked up for multiple seasons and airs weekly to an audience of 50 million homes nationwide.
What have you learned along the way? I have learned that agriculture isn’t one type of farm, or one type of person. Agriculture is a culture that is made of all different types of people and all different types of farms, that together, form our food and fiber systems. It’s the woman driving a tractor down the rural road late at night during fall harvest. It’s the woman riding a horse or a four wheeler, driving a herd of cattle. It’s the woman dropping off kids in the line next to you at school. It’s the woman working at a desk, making sure farmers are insured or have access to the necessary credit. It’s the woman at the grocery store buying food. It’s the woman raising food to feed her family, her community, her world. It's the woman who is drawn to the land or with a love of animals.
Want to give a shout-out to a woman in agriculture by thanking them for what they do? Tag them in the comment section and share this article. Interested in learning more about FarmHer? Read up on some of the common misconceptions in the agriculture world.