Giving Compass' Take:

• Female farmers have to address the difficult challenge of being a mother to their children and managing a farm. The dual responsibilities of motherhood and farming make it hard to find the proper balance that will satisfy all the expectations of them. 

• What are ways that female farmers can create networks and grassroots efforts to build day care centers? 

• Learn about female farmers in India and how they turned to eco-farming practices. 

Like many female farmers, Jonnah Perkins hoped she could balance farm work with the demands of caring for her first baby. But it didn’t take long for her to find out that doing both at once is nearly impossible

When Perkins had her first child in 2012, the couple had no childcare plans. She tried bringing her newborn son with her into the farm’s corporate office, and also into the network of greenhouses, hoophouses, and fields. But her new role as a mother quickly became incompatible with the rigors of the job. “We have a big farm, a lot of labor and people to manage, and that became a pretty big stress in my life,” she says.

Perkins soon found herself staying awake all night just to keep up. She also hadn’t taken into account the physical rigors of farming on her postpartum body, especially while she was nursing.

Perkins eventually found a group of people in her community and put together a few hours of off-farm child care over the week. She considers herself fortunate to have had local people with whom she felt safe leaving her son.

But not everyone is so lucky. Though lack of affordable, accessible child care is a problem for many American families, regardless of where they work and live, farm parents can face unique challenges. They live in remote areas, where opportunities to hire help are slim. At the same time, agriculture’s extreme seasonality makes scheduling difficult; inconsistent revenues can make regular payments another obstacle.

Then there are the cultural factors—including the fact that farming communities tend to be built on an ethos of stubborn self-reliance. Many female farmers struggle with the idea they should be able to do it all, and they feel like failures if they can’t.

Read the full article about female farmers by Danielle Beurteaux at The New Food Economy