Women in Agriculture - Uganda

Women in Agriculture

In Food Justice by Joan Shields, RN0 Comments

Joan Shields, RN
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Joan Shields, RN

A Registered Nurse in NY State with a BA in nursing , Joan spent 16 yrs. in the specialty area of post-op surgical nursing. She has also studied Geriatric Nursing and worked as a Geriatric Care Manager for 4 years and at the opposite end of the spectrum, worked as a school RN for 3 yrs. in the NYS Public School system. In 2005 she was diagnosed with Leukemia and changed her course of study to nutrition focusing on the relationship of the food we eat and how it affects our health. Currently, she is studying via the Elsevier Nutritional Course of Study. Being an organic gardener for over 30 years her areas of expertise include composting, crop rotation and companion planting. She is an active member of the National Wildlife Foundation, the Audubon Society, Beyond Pesticides & The National Resource Defense Council.
Joan Shields, RN
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Women in Agriculture - Uganda

Pineapple farmers in the Ntungamo district of Uganda. Photo by Neil Palmer (CIAT).

Women in Agriculture: Uganda

I’ve been busy partnering with some of the most innovative and inspiring women from around the world for food security in developing nations.

There are currently 7 billion+ people in the world. It is anticipated that there will be another 2 Billion people by 2050. For developing countries, the current pattern of agriculture has proven to make the soil depleted of nutrients, is not sustainable, is costly and ineffective. Donations of GMO corn, soy and rice help, but can not sustain a healthy lifestyle.

As part of a global initiative called #EmpoweringWomen organizations have been working toward educating women on ways to grow food for themselves and their families. Slow Food  has been teaching women to work the land and grow organic gardens that feed themselves, their families, the village and more. Their goal is to have 10,000 community gardens completed by 2018. The UN also has an educational program in place, teaching women to grow food, organically. the programs are geared toward developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America. They have been so successful that extra foods are grown are being sold at market for income that families never had. It is enabling families enough money to pay for education of their children!

Speaking with a Ugandan mom via a translator we learned of the lack of nutrition the food contained (given to them by the government). Genetically Modified Organism aka GMO corn & soy may supplement a diet but should not be the staple. People are malnourished. Today, the Slow Food and UN programs that were initiated in 2012 are thriving! Women have learned to dig water wells for irrigation, crop rotation, companion planting, saving seeds and more. They are teaching their children how to grow food as well.

“Before I had no money to buy fresh foods. We relied on donations that were always the same. Corn, soy, rice, not much nutrition or variety. We learned to grow our own food. We are feeding our own families healthy food. We grow greens, squashes, beans, so much food. We grow extra food to sell and with the money we can now afford to send our children to school.”

-Ugandan Mother

Sustainability is also occurring as a wonderful result. Women growing their own food do not have to be concerned about packaging, delivery (do you realize the amount of energy used to fuel a plane or cargo ship to deliver foods across the world?) The women couldn’t afford the chemical fertilizers or GMO seeds. GMO seeds that are developed to be sterile force the poor growers to pay for seeds they can’t afford. Now they rely on themselves and they are thriving! Can you imagine the burden it is for a parent who is unable to feed their child? I am thrilled to be a part of this! We have donated seeds to three different communities in South Africa. The follow-up to this part of the series will be so exciting to share with you. I can’t wait to see pics of the foods growing.

Meet the Women of Rise and Root Farm

Women in Agriculture

The women of Rise and Root farm, Orange County, New York.

Meet the women of Rise and Root Farm doing BIG things in Orange County, NY. I first learned of them via retweet of Washington on twitter. a compassionate grower, Karen shares her love and spirit which can be felt through her posts.

Karen is part of six women who were living in New York City, it’s been a dream that took four years in the making. But these days calling themselves, “Let’s Get Farming” the group of six members are now call Chester, NY, home. The group of women began fundraising  to raise $50,000 to help them start a farm. Thanks to the power of social media they surpassed their goal.

Briggette Sayegh, of News 12, Westchester, interviewed the women of Rise and Root Farm, “We were able to kind of draw on our community and say hey guys we need help. And people really stepped up. And so we actually have the money to buy the tools we need to buy and to actually get started in a successful way,” said Jane Hodge, co-founder of Rise & Root Farm.

Hodge has been involved in farming for close to ten years. She says that even though the group has only 3 out of the 75-acre plot in the Black Dirt Region, they plan to make the most of it. The women began planting in February, and plan to grow produce ranging from tomatoes to kale, and even some flowers. “Healthy food is not just for people who can afford to pay a lot of money for food, it’s for everybody,” said Hodge.

One of the group’s goals is to create a bridge between urban and rural farming. “We knew that we wanted to do something different and we wanted to be able to grow on a rural scale. And we want to still be able to have that connection to New York city, it’s really really important to us,” she said.

The group hopes to be selling their produce, such as collard greens and tomatoes, in New York City restaurants and markets.

They are also open to giving back on a local level, and has plans to one day transform their farm into a bed and breakfast. But, for now, it’s still baby steps. “Now’s our opportunity to really get dirty. The soil gets really really dirty and farm. This is what we wanted to do, so it means a lot,” said Hodge with a smile beaming across her face. Woohoo for Women!

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Rise and Rooot Farm, Orange County, New York

Today they have come so far,  Rise and Root Farm is now raising money to build a community kitchen.
Visit their web page for more info and pictures of these fabulously strong and dedicated women: riseandrootfarm.com

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