Examining the Roles of Women in Sustainable Agriculture

Ryanne Pilgeram | » Download Full Abstract
Assistant Professor, Sociology and Anthropology Department

Sustainable agriculture is best understood as a way of producing food that “meets the needs ofthe present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"(Brundtland 1987:7). However, despite scholars’ and practitioners’ agreement about sustainableagriculture’s three broad goals—environmental health, economic profitability, and social andeconomic equity—there is growing criticism that the research on sustainable agriculture hasfocused primarily on the first two goals. Leading scholars in the field have suggested thatwomen’s voices and roles in sustainability have not been examined, and that work on womenand sustainability is particularly timely and important (Allen 2006; Allen and Sachs 2007). Thus,I am interested in examining women’s roles within sustainable agriculture. The Seed Grant willfund 36 interviews with female operators and co-operators of sustainable farms in Boise, ID,Moscow, ID, and Missoula, MT to explore how women access land to farm, the roles womenplay in sustainable farm networks, the challenges women face within sustainable agriculture, andthe resources they use to meet these challenges. Work on gender and sustainable agriculture isscarce. Therefore, this project will play an important function in advancing knowledge aboutwomen’s roles in shifting an agricultural system.