'Because they can do the work': women farmers in sustainable agriculture in Pennsylvania, USA

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Women throughout the West are up to three times more likely to be the operator of a farm in sustainable agricultural models than in productivist models. When women assume the role of farmer they transgress traditional gender identities on farms, which dictate that women are 'farmwives' and men are 'farmers'; these gender identities intersect with spaces in the agricultural community to imply appropriate behavior for women as farmwives. This research demonstrates that the sustainable agriculture community provides spaces that promote and are compatible with women's identities as farmers. Feminist analyses of space and agriculture suggest that productivist agricultural models marginalize women from spaces of knowledge, while sustainable agriculture provides spaces of empowerment for women farmers. The fieldwork for this project involved a purposive survey, in-depth interviews and participant observation with twenty women farmers over an 18-month period in the sustainable agriculture community of Central Pennsylvania.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0966369042000218491

Affiliations: Department of Geography The Pennsylvania State University USA

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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