I love a good news story but most days, good news is hard to find in the media or online. So when I came across a positive story hitting the mainstream media about women, agriculture and Saskatchewan, I was intrigued.
Tiffany Martinka, a farmer and agricultural professional from northeast Saskatchewan started a grassroots social media initiative called #womenofharvest15 and it has been gaining major traction. It all started when she sent a tweet asking women to share photos of themselves from the field, the combine cab or from wherever they happened to be helping out during this busy season.
For anyone unfamiliar with Twitter, it is an online social media forum that allows users to “follow” people they are interested in following, and share information to their own “followers” all in 140 characters or less. Brevity is key. (See what I did there?). Twitter users select a handle, for example mine is @tara_m_davidson, and you can send out photos or videos and messages to other interested people who follow your posts. You can use “tags” such as #farm365, #westcdnag, #loveCDNbeef or #ranchlife and other users searching for those tags will come across your brief, and theoretically witty, tweets. There are a lot of farmers and agricultural organizations using Twitter and I use the platform to market cattle, follow livestock conferences and events, or to find answers or provide solutions for mystery plants, animal health conundrums and other things. I follow everyone from our current Prime Minister to a peanut farmer from Alabama to Glamour magazine…I guess I have diverse interests. I also happen to follow Tiffany (@MartinkaTiffany) who inspired the #womenofharvest15 campaign.
Women have long played a valuable role during harvest, whether it is operating a combine, swathing, baling or trucking grain. Women also seem to get more than their fair share of work when it comes to keeping the revolving hampers of laundry flowing, servicing and fueling equipment, running for parts, providing nutritious meals for their family and field crews, and paying the bills for all the necessary-but-expensive agricultural items our male counterparts keep on buying. And like it or not, often women farmers are the ones to prop their family up during challenging times, low yields, poor weather, or yet another break down.
The #womenofharvest15 campaign shines a bright light on all of that. I’ve seen women tweet harvest photos from all across Saskatchewan and Canada and beyond, with many American farm women jumping on the (grain) cart too. There are pictures of friends, family members, former Agro classmates, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, pregnant gals and even infants, all proud to be out in the field, doing their part to bring their harvest home. I even participated myself, sharing a collage of three different pictures with each of my kids while I was out baling and raking.
Saskatchewan farms are incredibly diverse and whether harvesting means combining grain, baling hay, weaning calves, or managing the farm office, you can count on women to get the job done. The demands are constant and the stress may be high but the #womenofharvest15 movement demonstrates farmers supporting each other at a time of year when they may need it most. It’s one more example of fearless female farmers seeing opportunity all around them while they are out, standing in their fields.