In Alaska, women are about as likely as men to take up farming

Niche crops and good funding opportunities have made farming an increasingly attractive career path for women in Alaska

December 6, 2019

Enter the Alaskan femme… farmtales? As Modern Farmer reports, a niche crop and good funding opportunities have made farming an increasingly attractive career path for women. 

Everything’s coming up… err… well, not roses

About 36% of US farmers are women. But in Alaska, women make up almost half the number of farmers — and that number has risen rapidly. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of women working on farms shot up by 56%. 

An increased demand for cut peonies is one factor contributing to the female farmer boom. In Alaska, these showy blossoms — typically a spring flower in the continental US — grow through late summer. In the 2000s — before the craze caught on — there weren’t many farms devoted to peonies. Now, there are at least 128.

Farming can be a family-friendly enterprise, and that also entices some women to turn to agrarian careers. Martha Lojewski started Mount McKinley Peonies so she could work while caring for her young children. Lojewski and her husband went on to start a peony co-op. The majority of the farms involved are owned by women or families.

There’s money for new female-fronted farms

Meanwhile, organizations like the USDA Farm Service agency set aside grant and loan money for women and minorities starting new farms. With these funding opportunities available, it behooves farming families to organize their businesses so a woman is the principal producer.

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