WORLDWIDE WOMEN & FARMING
Women Farmers & Global Warming
My grandparents were organic farmers in the Great Depression and beyond until my grandfather had a small stroke. Fruits and vegetables were their staples. They had chickens with a hen house and a very loud rooster who crowed in the morning. They sold Christmas trees and harvested them sustainably. They knew they could only cut so many. The chickens roamed around the huge pen all day long. At night they were placed in the hen house for protection from predators. Grandma canned pickles, beets, jellies and jams and sold them to grocery stores along with the fruits, vegetables and eggs.
In many farm families, the husband and wife are a team. In many Third World countries, women are the farmers while men work in the city. My grandfather was a part-time bookkeeper when the Depression ended. He worked for a Jewish man who had to use an Irish name on his junk business because of the prejudices of the time.
Climate change is seriously effecting farms all over the world. Women are on the forefront of adapting to changes in the weather. Some are inventing new organizations to deal with the crisis. Sustainable practices for farming are being taught to many women worldwide especially for coop members who sell produce and crafts to the West. For some this may be the opportunity to send their children to school. Some develop well systems so that women and children do not have to look for water for so many hours. Cooperatives foster the female farmer in Third World countries. Girls and women go to school when they do not have to look for water for so many hours of the day.
Planting trees is a practice which cuts down on the CO2 in the atmosphere. It is one small thing you can do for the ecology of the planet. Farmers know the ecology of trees as intimately as they know the ecology of the land.
More and more farming operations are being entirely run by women across the whole planet. Twenty percent of all farm operations in the United States are exclusively run by women. A common trend is that older women take over operation of the farm when their spouse dies. Yet there more younger women breaking out on their own developing a farming operation.
In Minnesota we have many food coops which sell organic food and Third World crafts. Minneapolis became a leader statewide and nationwide in this movement. If you go to a food coop, you will see people talking to each other to network and develop friendships. I often see people who are dedicated to the concept of community at the coops. Many women manage these coops and were great fore mothers in the Movement. Many have been employed at the coop for years. You often get to know who the farmers are who grow the food like the farmer's market in downtown Minneapolis. Farming couples are very common in organic agriculture. A new trend is the woman who strikes out on her own or with a friend to develop an operation. Some of these women get outside advise on the best farming practices, but they often learn while they are out in the fields. Neighbors often educate each other about best practices. The organization the Future Farmers of America give young people an opportunity to learn about farming. There are organizations who have developed classes for women who are farming on their own.
My grandmother was my inspiration when I was a child. In the farmhouse there was a photo of her as a beautiful 16 year old girl. This image has stayed with me all this time. She became a woman who developed an infinity with Mother Earth. She used to tell me about the ecology of the farm. Honeysuckle flowers pervaded the farm. They are beautiful American orchids. The great mystery of the lake which grandpa went to through the woods to catch fish was part of my life story. Animals which were always trying to steal food were part of my childhood experience. Raccoons were always sneaking into the farm trying to consume the crops. Their dog would often deter them, but sometimes the critter would succeed and cause damage to the crops. Goats were roaming around the farm at times. Her neighbors owned the goats. One time a goat ate the clothes off her clothesline. The neighbors were contacted about their terrible deed.
Farming is so important in our every day survival. We all need to eat the bounty of Mother Earth. In the coming years organic agriculture will have more women who start their own operations. More and more people will be organic farmers.
In India the farmers are protesting the policies of Prime Minister Modi. Monsanto has too much influence there with the terminal seeds which you can use for only one season. Many farmers have committed suicide when debt gets too high because the unsustainable practices of Monsanto which developed dangerous pesticides and terminator seeds. Dr. Vandana Shiva has organized these protests along with other organizations. Modi is trying to shut down the actions of non-profits who promote organic agriculture and environmental practices. This is very unwise. Recently Greenpeace was threatened by having their bank accounts frozen. Terminator seeds have become a source of frustration for farmers, Dr. Shiva and the general public.
We can do more when we get together for the health of the planet. We all can make a difference in life. More and more of us are loving the land. Mother Earth is a great mother who shares her bounty each and every day. When Pandit Munelal Maharaj comes to Minneapolis, June 10th to 14th, I will be Mother Earth with Her creatures telling Her children what they have done to bring about such a terrible global warming situation and what they can do to improve the situation. Earthquakes, floods and many other types of intense devastation is happening worldwide, but each of us can make a difference. Denial will not solve any environmental problem. As Gandhiji says, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
JAI SHRI MA! JAI SHRI WOMEN FARMERS! JAI SHRI MOTHER BHUMI!