As we look towards the Holiday season, here at USDA, we would like to give thanks to all of our farmers and ranchers, men and women alike, who provide us with a safe and affordable food supply. Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading our industry and helping other women succeed along the way. Last month, a man by the name of D.H. Strongheart commented on the USDA blog asking if he could share his wife’s story. Below you will find Jennie’s story, as written by her husband, on how her passion for food and agriculture has evolved and why she is inspiring other women in agriculture to pursue their dreams.
Jennie's farming career has been an inspiring example of how agriculture can be combined with education, career development training, equity and empowerment. She has worked at a diversity of farms from New York, Vermont, New Mexico and Oregon, usually in a small to mid-scale setting (3-30 acres) and has become a leader of her generation, a generation in which smaller scale organic agriculture has become a dignified and ever-more popular career choice. Anyone who has ever worked with her knows that she is a real embodiment of leadership, hard work and inclusiveness.
In Vermont, she worked as a farm educator with younger children, teaching everything from animal husbandry and plant diversity to maple syrup harvesting. In New Mexico she worked for a university in one of the state's poorest areas, helping populations of color and populations in poverty to learn agriculture-based economic development models and also helping these populations to access important resources of information, basic physical capital and business development strategies. She also developed from the ground up a farm and learning center for a small community in Taos, New Mexico.
In Oregon, Jennie has been managing a 20-acre urban farm with a 300+ member CSA. She has become a leader and educator to the employees at this farm, all of whom are young adults inspired by the same vision of healthy food, hardworking lifestyles and the simple core values that shaped this country. She encourages dialogue about how to make small scale agriculture financially viable for her and her colleagues, and is constantly working to identify innovative models to achieve this financial viability.
At 32 years-old, Jennie has already achieved a great deal, but her evolving passion for food and sustainable food systems has led her to a new opportunity working in seed saving and plant genetic diversity. Jennie understands that many of the broader challenges confronting her generation will demand enhanced resilience for plants, human communities and entire ecosystems. She has begun part-time work towards seed saving, seed banking and the preservation of genetic diversity in heirloom seed strains. She is also passionate about the meeting points of plants, seeds and human culture and social fabric, and has begun to gather and tell stories about the importance of seeds and agriculture to our human cultural diversity.
I have enjoyed reading some of the stories on this Women in Agriculture blog about other young women like Jennie who are passionate about food, health and revitalizing the agricultural heritage in our country. I consider you all the salt of the Earth, and please know that I'm rooting for you all! Keep up the good work, get some rest and Happy Holidays!
To learn more and connect with other women leaders in agriculture all across the country, we encourage you to join our women in ag mentoring network. Is there a leading woman in agriculture you would like to hear from? Send us your suggestions using #womeninag or via email at email@example.com.