March is National Women’s History Month. For those who aren’t aware of it, National Women’s History Month was started by the National Women’s History Project, (NWHP), a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1980. The group provides educational resources, materials, and information about the roles of women in American history.
In 1981, the NWHP successfully lobbied Congress to declare a Joint Congressional Resolution for “National Women’s History Week.” In 1987, Congress expanded the celebration to an entire month.
Each year, the NWHP picks honorees to highlight during the month. This year, since NWHP is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary, it is highlighting pivotal themes from previous years that recognize a different aspect of women’s achievements including ecology.
In fact, last year’s theme was “Women Taking the Lead to Save Our Planet.”
One of last year’s best known honorees was Alice Waters, the pioneering chef, restaurateur and food activist who created the Chez Panisse Foundation, to help students eat healthy food by bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to school cafeterias and developing organic school gardens.
But, here are some “lesser known” honorees from last year that have truly made a difference to our planet by working to preserve sustainable farms and farming:
- Anne P. Teller, owner/manager of Oak Hill Farm, in Glen Ellen, California, began growing vegetables mostly for her friends and family in the early 1980s. Today, the 700-acre farm is thriving and follows the family’s 50-year tradition of using sustainable farming methods and also serves as a protected wild lands. She grows and markets over 200 crops and fresh flowers that are sold at their Red Barn Store at their farm and various locations in Sonoma, and to restaurants throughout Sonoma and San Francisco. Because of this diversity, Oak Hill Farm is able to employ farm workers year-round, something else Teller feels is important to having a truly sustainable farm.
- Torrey Reade is the owner of the 126-acre Neptune Farm, in Salem, New Jersey. They raise grass-fed beef and sheep that they sell not only to individuals, but restaurants throughout the region. The farm is considered a model of sustainable farming, because as Torrey says, “We are using grass-fed animals to bring our soils back to life. Nutrients cycle from the grass through our cows and sheep, and wind up back in the soil. Healthy soil produces healthy plants and animals, and builds a resource for future generations.”
- Caroline Rose Foster created and donated the first outdoor living historical farm in New Jersey, Fosterfields. It remains a strong place for learning over thirty years after her death. Foster was an environmentalist who worked to preserve historic places in Morris County, New Jersey. Fosterfields is a living historical farm that uses farming methods and equipment from over one hundred years ago. Foster donated her farm because she wanted to give future generations the sights, smells, and sounds of rural life.
Want to show your support to farmers like these women? Consider joining a CSA. Get delicious fresh grown, seasonal produce and support your local farmers. It’s a win-win!