Women in Agriculture…….

Mango is one of many tropical fruits grown in South Florida

For those who are not familiar with the geography of South Florida between Miami and the Florida Keys, this area is one of the remaining major agricultural areas. Not the land of citrus – that’s further north. Here is a combination of ornamentals; more palms than you can imagine, acres of tropical plants, mangos, papayas, avocados, and other exotics such as carambola (starfruit), lychee, etc.,., as well as crops of pole beans, tomatoes, and incredible  strawberries. As with so many places, agriculture, real estate developers, and those concerned with waterways (in our case, salt and freshwater) often clash over issues. That, however, is not the point of this post. Notwithstanding the difficulty, let us acknowledge for the purpose of this post that there are sustainable solutions for all to co-exist peacefully. (I didn’t say that everyone gets everything they want.) What I want to talk about is some great women that I met a couple of weeks ago when I covered the 2012 Women in Agriculture Luncheon for the local weekly paper. The Dade County Farm Bureau Women’s Committee selects a woman each year to highlight her contributions to agriculture in Dade County.

Even though I grew up going to my grandparents’ farm in Arkansas multiple times a year and watched my grandmother manage a large garden, the chickens, and the myriad chores a farmer’s wife is responsible for, neither my father or any of his three brothers wanted the farm. So my familial connection to farming was nothing compared to many of the women in attendance. There were fourth generation farming families there and I still owe a follow-up visit to interview some of the high school girls who are members of the Future Farmers of America. The woman who was being honored was intriguing because even though her parents had established a farm specializing in tropical fruits and vegetables, she had gone into banking. She was quite successful and while she was not active in the farm, she was active as an advocate for agricultural issues. After her father passed away, she began to help more with the farm and when her mother passed away, she left banking and immersed herself in continuing the legacy they had built. She not only took over the existing farm, but also expanded into the organic egg business. Her farm was recently recognized as being the first in Florida to have the highest rating possible given by the Cornucopia Institute for Authentic Organic Egg Production. Oh, while she was doing all of that, she was also elected to be the President of the Dade County Farm Bureau.

There were multiple speakers who presented different plaques and proclamations, and yet when the time came for the woman to speak, her message was succint. She thanked everyone, said she was overwhelmed with their kind words, and wanted to say that everyone helped inspire her passion for the land and agriculture. In the few minutes that I was alone with her, there was no doubt of her sincerity. It was an engaging time listening to all these women (there were a few men present) talking about agriculture. I enjoyed myself and it reminded me of the diverse professions that women can excel in.



2 thoughts on “Women in Agriculture…….

  1. What a wonderful event to attend. The story of the woman being honored reminded me so much of the female farmer I met in England. She had grown up on this dairy farm and had decided she wanted nothing to do with cows! She became a very successful business woman, but when her dad was taken ill, she found herself back on the farm. She used her experience to turn around a flailing organization and found a very profitable niche.

    I spoke with her both on her farm (where she encouraged visitors) and at a farmer’s market. She was (is!) a remarkable woman.

    • That’s a great story, Tammy. I absolutely understand growing up in an agricultural situation and wanting to do something else. It’s the coming back and embracing it later that I find interesting.

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