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29680844595_50d3d59619_z“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.” – Kahlil Gibran

On a Thursday afternoon in early August, the women filtered in. One, two at a time, we filled the pavilion at French Broad River Park, carrying our shared dishes in strong arms and calloused hands. Organic Growers School called for a gathering of ”Women in Agriculture.” There was no agenda, no workshop, no featured speaker. This was just the calling in of the tribe. I came–sungold cherry tomatoes in hand–in the hopes that these women would be as powerful and profound as I imagined.

We commiserated about the good ol’ boys at the Feed & Seed over lovingly donated French Broad Chocolate Lounge truffles and glass bottles of Buchi. We found comfort in each other’s exasperation and questions, for they belonged to all of us. How do I grow vegetables and children at the same time? Do I wait for a life partner or buy land on my own? How can we bridge the gap between chef and farmer? What would foster support for women farmers in the broader community? I felt such joy at being held in a circle whose common language felt familiar, intimate, to me.

When one woman talked about farming as not just a profession but a lifestyle choice, I heard and echoed the collective sigh of assent. We were blessed by the range of ages and life stages–20s to 60s, elders and apprentices, single and partnered, mothers and maidens. We came from market farms, community gardens, agricultural support organizations, homesteads, restaurant kitchens, and non-profit farms. Across this range of lived experience, we seemed to agree viscerally that farming is a calling. We women, we farm because our hands belong in the soil, because our backs are made to carry bountiful burdens.

As with all great gatherings, there were more questions than answers. So we shared resources, favorite NPR segments, and farming memoirs. We offered our own experiences and thoughts as partial answers to large questions. Numbers were exchanged and plans made for future potlucks. I walked away so joyous, so jazzed to be part of this tribe of wild women–a group who knows that the earth delights to feel our bare feet and the wind longs to play with our hair.

Sarah Seldin writes, farms, and plays in the wilderness. She is a 2016 full season intern at Living Web Farms, a nonprofit education and research farm in Mills River, NC. Sarah worked at The Lord’s Acre, a community garden in Fairview, NC, as their 2015 full season intern. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014, where she studied American history and socioeconomic justice.

Interested in future Women in Ag gatherings? Email farmer-programs@organicgrowersschool.org to get on the mailing list!

OGS

OGS

Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.