Women Who Farm: Georgia

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.


Cecilia Gatungo & Jamila Norman

For Cecilia Gatungto and Jamila Norman, farming is not a foreign concept. Jamila’s parents, from Jamaica and Trinidad, came to the United States connected to a long lineage of growers.

Celia Barss

Celia Barss was born in Newfoundland, Canada.Though she grew up far removed from farming, Celia was drawn to working outside, with food systems and her hands.

Charlotte Swancy

Charlotte Swancy is a Georgia native, born and raised in Americus. Her grandparents farmed, and she remembers laughing at the potatoes rolling out of the ground, and reveling in her grandmother’s rose garden.

Erin Cescutti

Born and raised in Rome, Georgia, Erin Cescutti began her career with flowers and ornamental plants before she became a farmer.

Haylene Green

For as long as she can remember, Haylene Green has been planting in the soil. Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, she has strong familial ties to farming.

Helen Dumba

Helen Dumba farmed organically long before the word “organic” began being used in heavy rotation.

Isia Cooper

Isia Cooper runs Crack in the Sidewalk Farmlet with her partner, Chris Clinton.

Jenni Harris

Jenni Harris is the fifth generation of Harris’ working and farming the family’s land in Bluffton, Georgia.

Jenny Jackson

Jenny Jackson grew up on the very same land she now farms with her husband, Chris.

Judith Winfrey

Judith Winfrey is an Atlanta native, the granddaughter of a sharecropper known as Shorty.

Lauren Cox

Born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, Lauren Cox was deeply influenced by her Aunt Mary’s garden and her mother’s Filipino cooking traditions.

Rebecca Williams

Rebecca and Ross Williams, both Atlanta natives, moved away to attend college and were deeply committed to food politics and doing something meaningful with their lives.

Susan Pavlin

Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Susan Pavlin’s proximity to farming came in the form of playing hooky from school after staying up all night to help her father can vegetables from her family’s garden.