Students had the opportunity to visit a woman-run vegetable farm located at Lundale Farm Inc. in Chester County, PA. Over 150 varieties of Certified Naturally Grown produce are grown there to provide for 60 plus CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members, two Farmer’s Markets and local restaurants. The Kneehigh Farm mission is to reinvigorate their relationship to the land, as well as with one another. They believe that shared conversation and collaboration over a meal are just as important as the ingredients used.
With only 13 percent of all farm operators in the United States being female farmers, Kneehigh Farm is out to change that number. By continuing to educate, empower and help the next generation of female farmers, one woman-powered business at a time.
Emma Cunniff, owner and operator of Kneehigh Farm, gave students, veterans and C.R.A.F.T. (Collaborative Regional Alliance Farmer Training) participants a tour of the seven-acre farm.
“The best thing is seeing somebody, especially a woman in her 20s, doing something like this and making it happen. “Our goal is to continue building a community,” said Lily Means, farm worker.
Students heard about some of the everyday hurdles Emma has to overcome being a woman farmer. One of the most common, she jokingly states is the "Can I talk to the farmer?" statement. This happened more frequently when she first started selling her produce at local farmers markets. Now that she has been around for a while, most people at the market know that they ARE talking to the farmer and love what she is selling. Emma does note that she is constantly having to go above and beyond with proving her knowledge of farming to people who aren't expecting a women farmer.
For Audrey and Alicia, the two women in the program, it was encouraging to see a young, successful woman running a farm, with women farm-hands, with so much enthusiasm. Hearing the preconceived notions people have of who a farmer should be, and the adaptations Emma has instituted to enable her to be efficient on her farm, started them thinking about how they would troubleshoot their own issues when they arise.
After the tour, students, veterans and farmers alike all gathered round some homemade gazpacho and pickles to continue with the exchanging of information. Many left with new connections in farming that they weren't expecting to make, just as Emma had planned.
“Don’t underestimate yourself. I think as a young lady or woman, a lot of times you get to feeling like you’re not capable of things other people are, especially in this industry, but if you really go after it you will find that you’re going to surprise yourself,” said Means.