What do you think of when you hear the word “farmer”? Do you envision a man? If so, you’re not alone. Considering that the traditional image of farmer-as-male has been embedded into our psyches since childhood, it’s hard to imagine women playing the same role. But they do and they have been. Through her FarmHer project, photographer Marji Guyler-Alaniz is bringing these women in agriculture to the forefront to better reflect what farming looks like today.
Women have always been an important, but mostly undocumented aspect of agriculture. Their ever growing presence is typically unseen. According to the USDA Economic Research Service report, the number of women-operated farms more than doubled between 1982 and 2007, and today, women make up 30% or 1 million of U.S. farmers.
Recognizing that women’s voices are growing in the agricultural industry, Marji, a native Iowan who worked in the field for 11 years, came up with her idea to document their presence while watching the Super Bowl earlier this year. She was struck by the Dodge Ram ad that paid homage to the American farmer. Once the emotion she felt from the moving commercial subsided, Marji wondered, “where were the women?” With that, the FarmHer project was born.
She explains, “I believe that the only way you change ideas and perceptions is consistency over time. These changes might be subtle, but I believe they will occur. When people see an image or idea regularly, they come to believe that it is the way things actually are. By infusing images of women in agriculture and into farm imagery, we can change the way people perceive a farmer.”
Through FarmHer, Marji is documenting the amazingly important role that women play in the agriculture system: providing food, giving to their communities and sharing with others. “I want to show these women to the world and I want to do that through beautiful images. Too often in our world, the beauty of a woman is judged by a face, these are beautiful women, doing beautiful work and my goal is to bring an appreciation to what they do.”