For anyone who’s stood in front of a woman farmer and said, you don’t look like a farmer, you probably haven’t been to Georgia. Women are the fastest growing group of farmers in the country, and in Georgia, women’s hands have been in the soil just as long as men’s. These farmers are not just cultivating the field. They are reconnecting their communities to land and to neighbors, re-shaping supper through local farmers’ markets, CSAs, and restaurants, and providing a deeper meaning for how people eat.
The farmers here are as diverse as their farms. They tend smaller acreages of land, while increasing the variety of crops. They forego machines for elbow grease. They’re balancing motherhood with long days in the merciless Georgia heat. While many didn’t start out farming, they found their way here because they want a better way to feed their family. Some do it because they want different choices, and some set out to change historical perceptions of farming.
These farmers come from down the street and from all corners of the world. They are introducing new seeds to Georgia soil, shaping a brand new story at the table. It’s no longer just about okra and sweet corn, squash, and tomatoes. They’ve carved new space for customers and chefs to experiment with produce like tropical pumpkins, tatsoi, and kohlrabi. They’re putting Georgia on the map for sustainable agriculture and cheese making.
Some of these women are working to feed Atlanta’s growing demand for locally grown produce, while others have created such strong ties to their rural neighbors they don’t have to travel to the city. Many of these women aren’t farming their own land, but working the soil of aging farmers who want the story to continue. Some grew up on the same land they farm today.
Farming isn’t romantic; It’s hard work. It’s celebrating abundance and weathering devastation. It’s putting your own livelihood on the line for the nourishment of others. It’s unpredictable and deeply rewarding. Look closely: Women farmers have always been in this picture of Georgia.
Funding from Anson Mills, the South Carolina grower and miller of grains, drives SFA's agricultural oral histories.