22 Inspirational Women In Food And Agriculture


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Women are crucial to the functioning of a healthy and sustainable food system. At Food Tank, we are continually inspired by the hard work and creativity of women farmers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, community leaders, and family members.

Despite making up roughly 43 percent of the global agricultural workforce, women worldwide receive a fraction of the land, credit, inputs, and training as compared to men. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has spotlighted the gender gap in agriculture as a key obstacle to sustainable development. If women farmers had access to the same resources as men, for example, the added yields would reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 100 to 150 million. That is a 12 to 17 percent decrease in worldwide hunger through supporting female farmers.

Beyond the fields, women are working to make every aspect of the food system more sustainable, equitable, and innovative. Whether it is researching new technologies to reduce food waste or founding organizations to better feed the hungry, women are working around the world to build the future of food.

While there are innumerable women deserving recognition, Food Tank is recognizing 22 women that are inspiring others and creating a better food system around the world. See Food Tank’s previous lists: 25 Influential Women in Food and Agriculture and 23 Women Changing Food.

1. Elisabeth Atangana: Chair of the Regional Platform of African Peasant Organizations and a farmer by profession, Atangana is a lifelong champion for rural rights and women’s empowerment in agriculture. Atangana served as President of the Pan-African Farmers Organization from 2010 to 2012, where she worked to create training opportunities throughout the food and farming sector. In 2012, Atangana was appointed as Special Ambassador for Cooperatives to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

2 & 3. Jolanda Buets and Simone Heemskerk: Buets and Heemskerk are the co-founders of Por Eso! Peru, an organization that works with communities in the Peruvian Andes to start community gardens and improve local infrastructure. Por Eso! Peru is currently working with more than 1000 families in 11 villages, in which they have built 38 community greenhouses, planted 139 home gardens, installed 565 smoke-free kitchens, and much more.

4. Gabriela Cámara: A chef from Mexico City, when Cámara opened Cala in San Francisco she filled 70 percent of the staff openings with former convicts. Using this approach, Cámara continues to prove that if you treat your employees well, and pay them above minimum wage, the high turnover rates of restaurant staff will almost disappear. In addition to creating restaurant training and work opportunities, Cámara is dedicated to creating a cultural exchange through food that she serves.

5. Monica Garnes: Garnes is VP of Produce at Kroger, where she oversees more than 2,700 branches in 35 states. Garnes has prioritized relationships with local producers, providing consumers with clear information about where their food comes from, and expanding organic food options. As a result, Kroger has increased the number of local growers they buy from by 27 percent in the past five years.

6. Elise Golan: Golan is the Director for Sustainable Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this role, she manages programs that impact sustainable agricultural, natural resource, and community development including food security. Golan holds a PhD in agricultural economics, and her research has focused on land tenure in the Sahel and West Africa, regional food system models, sustainable land management in California, as well as food labeling and marketing.

7. Rachel Gray: Gray is the executive director of The Stop Community Food Centre in Toronto, Canada. The Stop is dedicated to building healthy, dignified communities through a broad range of programs including drop-in meals, a food bank, community kitchens and gardens, perinatal and family support, and youth engagement. Prior to joining The Stop in 2012, Gray worked nationally and locally with homeless youth and served as a special assistant to Ontario’s Minister of Health.

8. Wenonah Hauter: Hauter is the founder and executive director of Food & Water Watch. An expert in developing policy positions and legislative strategies, Hauter has worked extensively on food, water, energy, and environmental issues for nearly 30 years. Her book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America examines the corporate consolidation and control over our food system.

9. Jill Isenberger: Isenberger is the CEO of Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, a non-profit dedicated to developing more sustainable ways of growing food, and training farmers to implement those practices. For more than ten years she served as the chief of staff at The Nature Conservancy, the world’s leading conservation organization organization with more than 3,500 employees in 34 countries around the globe. Isenberger has previously worked for Harvard University, U.S. Senator Carl Levin, and an international architectural firm based in Cambridge, Massachussets.

10. Saru Jayaraman: Jayaraman is the co-founder and co-director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and a James Beard Leadership Award recipient. Her book Behind the Kitchen Door, which explores the struggles of restaurant workers in the U.S., was a national bestseller. Saru is the current director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley.

11. Elizabeth Kaiser: Kaiser is pioneering a new standard of sustainability on Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol, California. Alongside her husband, Kaiser is constantly evolving a model of farming that is non-mechanized and no-till. Thanks to advocates like Kaiser, no-till farming is gaining popularity across the U.S. as a method to reduce inputs and increase yield per acre. Kaiser is also an instructor at the Permaculture Skills Center, where she works to empower the next generation of farmers.

12. Sieta van Keimpema: As president of the Dutch Dairymen Board and vice president of the European Milk Board, van Keimpema fights for dairy farmer livelihoods at a time when European milk prices have been in crisis. She is an advocate for effective policy that would keep production down and provide appropriate farmer relief during times of crisis.

13. Gabriella Lucas Deecke: Lucas is a farmer from Queretaro, Mexico, an agricultural engineer, and the founder and director of CIASPE Mexico. CIASPE works with women in rural Mexico to adopt more productive methods of growing their own food, with the goal of increasing both family and community-level food security. Lucas is constantly experimenting with new methods of organic farming on her own land in Queretaro, to share her knowledge and empower rural women.

14. Kathleen Merrigan: Merrigan is executive director of sustainability at George Washington University, where she leads the GW Sustainability Collaborative, GW Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. From 2009 to 2013, she served as U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a $150 billion, 110,000 employee institution. Merrigan is deeply involved in numerous food and farming organizations, holding positions such as co-chair at AGree, member of the board of directors at Stone Barn Center for Food and Agriculture and FoodCorps, and senior advisor at the Kendall Foundation. In 2010, TIME Magazine named Merrigan among the “100 most influential people in the world.”

15. Ndidi Nwuneli: Nwuneli is a social entrepreneur and founder of LEAP Africa, a leading development organization aimed at empowering Nigerian youth through training programs on leadership, entrepreneurship, and employment skills. She is also the co-founder of AACE Foods, a food processing company that sources from farmers across Nigeria, and Sahel Capital, which consults with companies across the food sector. Nwuneli has been named on the Forbes list of “20 Youngest Power Women in Africa,” was an honoree of the Global Fund for Women, and was selected as a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum.

16. Denise O’Brien: O’Brien is the founder of the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network (WFAN) and has been farming in southwest Iowa for approximately 40 years. She served as president of the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), worked with the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, and directed the Rural Women’s Leadership Development Project. O’Brien has received awards such as the 2005 Practical Farmers of Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Iowa Farmer’s Union. In 2000, she was inducted into Iowa’s Women’s Hall of Fame.

17. Genell Pridgen: Pridgen is a ninth-generation poultry and livestock farmer, as well as an advocate for family farms. Through her work with Rural Advancement Foundation International in North Carolina, Pridgen was able to leave poultry contract farming and transition into pasture-raised chickens for local markets. Since then, she has been outspoken about the coercive contract farming system, recently penning an open letter urging the Trump Administration to adopt the “Farmer Fair Practice Rules” to protect family farmers.

18. Kavita Shukla: Kavita Shukla is the inventor and founder of FreshPaper, an antibacterial sheet that uses herbs to keep food fresh. Shukla aims to provide a food waste solution to the 1.6 billion people around the world that do not have access to refrigeration. After watching her Grandmother in India use fenugreek to fight off bacteria in tap water, Shukla spent years in research and development to harness those herbs to fight the bacteria that lead to food waste.

19. Lindsey Shute: Shute is the co-founder and executive director of the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), and the co-owner and operator of Hearty Roots Farm in the Hudson Valley. The NYFC is a platform for young, progressive farmers to have a meaningful influence on the structural obstacles in the way of their success. In 2014, the White House named Lindsey a “Champion of Change.”

20. Karen Spangler: Spangler is the Policy and Operations Manager at Food Policy Action, a collaboration of national food policy leaders that works to keep legislators accountable on food issues. Spangler is working to further develop the National Food Policy Scorecard, which provides voters with detailed information on how their representatives vote on food and agriculture.

21. Nahoko Takahashi: Takahashi is the founder of Yamagata Girls Farm. Having grown up working on her family farm, Takahashi wanted to bring more women into agriculture. Women can apply to work on the farm, with the goal of sharing these crucial skills to increase the number of female farmers. Takahashi has built up an online following across Japan, where she strives to change the perception that farming in Japan is exclusively male work.

22. Rowen White: White is the co-founder of Sierra Seeds, an organization in Nevada County, California, that focuses on providing growers with regionally adapted seeds and the knowledge to sustain them. In 2016, White led a tribal seed project at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, in which the organization collaborated with Akwesasne tribal members and SeedShed to grow a community garden using native seeds. White is Chair of the board of directors of Seed Savers Exchange.

Caroline Kamm is the co-founder of the Fresh Data Network, a start-up developing an app to guide consumers to locally-produced food. In summer 2017, she is embarking on a road trip from Monterrey, Mexico to Toronto, Canada, filming local food heroes for a video series called “The Food Less Traveled.”

This article was republished from Food Tank.

See also:
Here Are 17 Food Heroes Leading Us To A Brighter Food Future
Kiss The Ground Releases The Compost Story With A Celebrity Cast

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April 24, 2018

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April 2018

Usui Holy Fire II Reiki I Prerequisite: a desire to learn Reiki Study includes the history of Reiki, the Reiki principles, the hand positions used to give Reiki to yourself and to others,...

Cost: $175 (pre-registration required)

Where:
The Studio at One Earth
191 Emery Mills Road
Shapleigh, ME  04076
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Sponsor: The Studio at One Earth
Telephone: 207-636-2500
Contact Name: The Studio at One Earth
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Sunday yoga is back! Hatha Yoga with meditation to get you ready to tackle your spring intentions. Sign up for series or drop in. 

Cost: $75/5 classes; drop in $17.00

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd
Devens, MA
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Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-227-8297
Contact Name: Anita Perry
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Have you done yoga before but feel a little rusty? Haven't been on your mat in a while? Yoga Basics is a great place to begin again. Do you feel you need motivation to jump-start your...

Cost: $60

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
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Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-969-8968
Contact Name: Brian Serven
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This workshop is part of the At the Heart of the Matter: a series of workshops about all things HEART. How do we connect with our hearts? And what keeps us from staying connected? In this...

Cost: $35

Where:
Newtonville, MA


Telephone: 617-913-0683
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Cost: $18 drop in

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
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Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
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As springtime rolls around, many of us get out our trash bags, buckets, and boxes in order to clean out and tidy up our homes and offices. Physically cleaning our spaces is great and all, but did...

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WeWork
31 St. James Ave
Boston, MA  02116
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Sponsor: The Kabbalah Center
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Ayurvedic practitioner. Presenting a 28-day program designed to initiate and maximize detoxification and nourishment of your body, mind and soul, inspiring results that can last a lifetime. For...

Where:
Concord, MA


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This workshop is part of the At the Heart of the Matter: a series of workshops about all things HEART. What does it mean to be deeply touched inside? To feel something deeply? To be connected?...

Cost: $35

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Newtonville, MA


Telephone: 617-913-0683
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Join Mediums Laura Wooster and Andrew Dee for an evening of mediumship! In addition to sharing how you also can become more aware of your connection to passed loved ones, Laura and Andrew will...

Cost: $40

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01835
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Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
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YogaLife studio would like to offer this opportunity to slow it down, step back, notice your breath and sit quietly in community. Join us Thursdays from 5:40-6:30 PM. No Yoga...

Cost: Free

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YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut Street
Suite A
Exeter, MA  03833
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Ann Barker will be seeing clients on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at Balance Bethlehem. Call to book your appointment today! This non-invasive screening utilizes a thermal...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
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Sponsor: Ann Barker
Telephone: 603-897-9645
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Friday, April 27 - Sunday, April 29, 2018 April Ropes and Ritu Kapur Sohum’s 3rd Annual Retreat will be offered in Beautiful Berkshires, The Spirit Fire Meditative Retreat Center in...

Cost: $385

Where:
Spirit Fire Retreat Center
407 W. Leyden Road
Leyden, MA  01337
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Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
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April 27 - 29, 2018 What if there were 5 love languages in the bedroom…and you had a secret decoder ring? Imagine the erotic satisfaction you could unlock…for yourself and for...

Cost: $1097*/couple; Early bird $997* by Feb 14, 2018

Where:
Angel’s Rest Retreat Center
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01301
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Sponsor: Conscious Intimacy
Telephone: 415-244-1652
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
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Ann Barker will be seeing clients on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at Balance Bethlehem. Call to book your appointment today! This non-invasive screening utilizes a thermal...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
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Sponsor: Ann Barker
Telephone: 603-897-9645
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India Discovery Center is pleased to announce the next seminar in the “Let us explore the Cultural History of India.” The fourth event entitled “Seminar on the Golden Period,...

Cost: $20

Where:
Bemis Hall
15 Bedford Road
Lincoln, MA  01773
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Sponsor: India Discovery Center
Telephone: 781-259-0029
Contact Name: Bijoy Misra
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World Qigong Taichi Day is celebrated globally, and at Eastover, it is a day of free presentations, demonstrations and mini-classes offered by nationally recognized leaders in Taichi, Qigong,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East Street
Lenox, MA  01240
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Sponsor: Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
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April 28 - 29, 2018 Led by Marconics Teacher Practitioners:  Josh Brotherton and Nadine Muhammad To register:  From US:  Tel: 774-987-9449 Email: yourhealinglight@gmail.com...

Cost: $450

Where:
Suffield Massage Therapy and Wellness Center
230 Mountain Rd
Suffield, CT  06078
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Sponsor: Marconics
Telephone: 774-987-9449
Contact Name: Josh Brotherton
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With award winning author Nancy Smith. Starts April 28th, 7-month certification program about Akashic records. One Saturday a month, 10am - 4pm. womenofwisdominc.com

Cost: $860

Where:
Women of Wisdom
North Easton, MA


Telephone: 508-230-3860
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Cost: Free

Where:
Elm Park
Russell St
Worcester, MA  01609
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Sponsor: Kung Fu & Tai Chi Academy of New England
Telephone: (774) 321-6611
Contact Name: Sifu Gary
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Cost: Free admission

Where:
Taunton V.F.W.
82 Ingell Street
Taunton, MA  02780


Sponsor: The Enchanted Forest Taunton
Telephone: 774-208-6195
Contact Name: Brother Granite
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