In developing the press’s new list in food studies, acquisitions editor Catherine Cocks is talking to people who are active in the field. Recently, she spoke with Leigh Adcock, the executive director of the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, about her organization and its aims.
Catherine: According to your website, the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network exists to enable women in sustainable agriculture to talk with each other about the issues they face. Why do women need an organization of their own?
Leigh: As in other male-dominated fields, women in agriculture often prefer to network and learn from one another in an organization dedicated to them. Other women-in-ag networks exist for those engaged in more traditional commodity-based farming; WFAN is one of a small number of networks around the United States dedicated to women engaged in small-scale, diversified farming. We are the only one that engages in leadership development and policy advocacy on a national level.
Catherine: What are some of the issues that concern your members the most?
Leigh: Our last member survey showed that most women in sustainable ag are concerned about affordable health care for their families. That was the biggest barrier to success as small-scale farmers. Beyond that, their other concerns are similar to those of other farmers—access to land and capital.
Catherine: Since the informal founding of WFAN in 1994, the local/sustainable/organic food movement has grown exponentially. How has this growth affected women farmers and landowners?