Happy International Women’s Day! What an incredible time to be alive, when the goal of equality between the sexes is no longer something whispered about but celebrated with parades, literature and active discussion. We still have a long way to go, but I am so grateful for the women who came before me, who endured the unimaginable, who made it possible for me to expect more from the world I live in.
I can’t begin to list all of the women who have helped make me who I am today, but they were and are all strong, vibrant forces to be reckoned with, and I aim to honor their legacies every day. I’m also so grateful to all of the women in agriculture who have dug their toes in to create space in the American farm world. Although only 36% of farmers in the United States are women, those who have fought for their place hold space for those of us coming up in agriculture. From Facebook farm groups to the growing number of female flower farmers, there is an inherently female energy emerging across America and I am so grateful for it. Even in our community here in the gorge, if you asked me to list my inspirations, they are largely women. Women business owners, women farmers, women artists... Especially, of course, my own grandmother.
My grandmother started our farm about 40 years ago, and I won’t pontificate again about all of her merits, but I do think she is one of the most incredible examples of women creating something from nothing, and thriving against all odds. One of my favorite anecdotes of hers is how she got hired by the post office as a single mother of three back in the day. She wrote her first and middle name as a series of initials, and her credentials spoke for themselves. It was a time when no women were hired to be rural carriers, and the likelihood of her getting the job was slim. But due to her intense belief in her right to be there and her ability to do a “man’s job”, she excelled in her position, routinely out working and outperforming her male counterparts. She provided an excellent life for her kids (and met my grandad) all because she had the guts to say “I’m just as capable, and I dare you to prove that I’m not!”
Alongside her postal position, she nurtured an incredible English cottage garden on a few acres, selling what she grew to reinvest in more plants. Now, thanks to her incredible spirit, I have a career that I love and the ability to carry on her vision. While the small flower farm boom is breaking across America, I can point at my grandmother, a true visionary, and say “You did this first!” She, like so many of our mothers and grandmothers, crawled so that I could run.