Ladies of the Land tells the story of four women who never thought they'd be farmers — but today have dedicated their lives to goats, grains and green beans.
As small, family farms continue to disappear, and large, mechanized farms dominate American agriculture, a new kind of farmer is sprouting up across the land: women.
Although women have always been involved in farming, it has long been thought of as a "man's job." Traditionally, farm women have often identified themselves as something other than the "farmer."
That's all changing. According to the USDA, between 2002 and 2007, the number of women who identified themselves as farmers increased by 19 percent, and the number of women "principal operators" increased by 30 percent. Today, there are about one million women farmers in the U.S. - 30 percent of the total.
Women are a fast-growing demographic in American agriculture, and they are doing things differently. While the average farm size in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the last 50 years, women tend to run smaller operations. Many choose organic and natural methods, in contrast to the highly mechanized and chemically-dependent farming that dominates the rest of the agricultural industry. And many women strongly value their relationships with the community, from selling their products at local markets, to using their farms as "de facto community centers."
Ladies of the Land profiles four women who once never thought they'd be in charge of a farm, but today raise cattle, sell goat cheese and harvest organic vegetables. With commentary from Carolyn Sachs, PhD, one of the nation's leading experts on women in agriculture, and Amy Trauger, PhD, founder of the Pennsylvania Women's Agricultural Network, Ladies of the Land takes us on a journey through America's new heartland.
Ladies of the Land is the recipient of a 2007 Student Academy Award, a 2007 Gracie Allen Award, and financial support from the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is distributed to educational markets by The Cinema Guild, and has screened at numerous events and film festivals across the United States, including the EcoFocus Film Festival, where it won Runner Up, Audience Award for Best Short.
About the Filmmaker
Megan Thompson made Ladies of the Land while completing her master's degree at New York University. A native of Minnesota and Michigan, she has long been interested in issues of health, agriculture and the environment She works in television New York City, and is always looking for opportunities to get back out in the field (pun intended).
Contact her .
A Family Film About Family Farms
All the music for the film was composed and performed by the filmmaker's brother, Andy Thompson. Andy is a Minneapolis-based musician and a regular musical jack-of-all-trades. In addition to composing and recording his own work, he has performed and recorded with Dan Wilson, Mike Doughty and Jeremy Messersmith, and has scored television shows for NBC and the Cartoon Network. To find out more about what he's working on, visit him at andywho.com.