Since 2012, the number of women-led farms and agriculture enterprises has increased by 27%, driving the number of women-led agriculture to make-up over one-third of all farms, ranches and ag-businesses across the US.
And behind the scenes, sharing those stories, is Marji Guyler-Alaniz, better-known as FarmHer. Each week on her television show, podcast and YouTube series, Marji shares the lives of the 36%; telling the stories of the farms, but more importantly, the stories of the women who lead those farms.
In our latest AGI SureTrack CoffeeTalk, we had a chance to sit down with Marji, to learn more about FarmHer, traveling the country to share the stories of farms of all sizes and what’s next for her team.
“After spending 11 years in corporate agriculture, I knew that I needed a change. And so, the very weekend that I left that position the Super Bowl was on and I watched Paul Harvey’s ‘So God Made a Farmer’, and like the rest of America, that Sunday, I was in awe,” Marji shares.
But it wouldn’t be until the following week, when she read a follow-up article to the popular commercial, in the local paper, that the idea to share the stories of America’s farm-women was born.
“I read this article, from a central Iowa newspaper, and it talked about how the poem was great, but where were the women? Why didn’t we see the women? There is this 30% that we aren’t seeing,” she says, “It made me mad and in the middle of the night, on April 17th of 2003, I woke up with this idea for a photography project.”
Armed with a background in photography and multimedia, Marji set out to tell the story of women-led agriculture through the lens of her camera and what she describes as a “simple website”. And the support she received, almost immediately, would serve as the foundation for what the US has come to know as, “FarmHer”.
Marji describes the journey of FarmHer as snowflakes that quickly became a snowball.
“We put up this very simple website, and in the first week I felt both overwhelmed and welcomed, at the same time. I got over 200 emails in those first few days, from women telling me that we needed more, offering the stories of their sisters, their mothers, their friends…we needed more women in agriculture.”
Today, FarmHer continues to tell the stories of American women-led agriculture, from the small micro-greens operation to the 10,000 acre ranches and everything in between; today, those stories are told through multiple lenses, to reach more than a million people every week.
“We still hear from a lot of small farms, but we are also hearing from women on traditional and conventional farms that aren’t used to putting their hands up (to be recognized),” Marji says.
“We’re hearing them say, “I may not drive the tractor every day, but I do a whole lot of other things on the farm.” And FarmHer is helping to give those women a voice.”
Every episode, whether a 10 minute YouTube video, full FarmHer RFD-TV segment or podcast conversation, leads with a story that centers on a person first and agriculture second. An approach that Marji shares has helped the FarmHer platform connect and resonate with both agriculture and non-agriculture audiences, alike.
Another commonality that has emerged in the nearly decade-long FarmHer journey, is the adoption of technology on farms of all sizes.
“Documentation, tracing where food is coming from, where it’s going and everything that happens throughout those processes, is being implemented no matter the size of the farm,” Marji says. “Tracking and food safety is important; it’s something that helps the consumer to have more confidence and also helps the farm to be more efficient.”
Looking forward, Marji shares that the FarmHer team will continue to forge a path between women-led agriculture and the consumers they serve to reach new audiences with new and fresh content.
Listen to our full conversation with FarmHer’s Marji Guyler-Alaniz, and remember visit our Facebook and Community pages to stay up to date on everything SureTrack.