Laura Parker Roerden writes, consults, and speaks about kids’ connection to themselves, each other, and the earth. She directs Ocean Matters, a nonprofit to help save threatened marine resources. She’s serious about peace; believes good food can connect us to ourselves, the earth and each other; and thinks today’s young people are reason to be hopeful about the many environmental problems facing us. She lives on Jo-Erl Farm, a fifth generation family farm in Massachusetts with her husband, three boys, and an assortment of fruit trees and farm animals.
Indulge me for a second, okay? Close your eyes and picture a farmer. What do you see? Perhaps you pictured something like this? (That’s my great-grandfather, grandfather, and uncle taking a well-deserved break from farming in the 1950s.)
Was your farmer a man over 55? (Demographically that would be the average farmer even today.) Here’s another picture from Jo-Erl Farm when everyone stopped for what must have been a summer Sunday dinner, which was always served mid-day to leave time for evening milking.
That’s my grandfather, great grandfather, my uncle John, and my dad all wearing jeans, overalls and t-shirts. But look again. My grandmother is on the right with her back to us in the pretty blue print dress. I never saw my grandmother on the farm in anything other than a dress. And you can bet she farmed too. If she had to feed chickens or haul water, she would simply put on an apron over her dress, and off she went. When I talk to other women farmers, we often joke about what we wear down to our barns. I have gone from a funeral straight to feed the animals in a black dress and pearls (stopping to change into my barn boots, of course.) The animals didn’t seem to notice.
So this is also what a famer looks like:
More and more women are farming. We now make up 14% of all farmers, increasing by 30% in the most recent census, outpacing miniscule increases in male farmers. And as women, you can no doubt we play many roles in our lives—many of us working in professional positions too. I just love the easy feel of this Karina Dress: a silky wrap-around Rita dress that honestly feels like you’re wearing a nightgown. It’s easy to move around in and forgiving for bending and reaching. I chose the blue paisley fabric because it reminded me of my grandmother (and went with my white barn boots with black gingham check trim).
So when Karina once joked to me that she wore her dresses to mow the lawn, I felt relieved to know I wasn’t the only one who thought her dresses worthy of keeping on when I went to my other job—the one outdoors.
My Rita Karina dress even looks great with leather and suede boots, but I save those for work in the garden. My winter barn boots are hot pink and trimmed in white fur. I wonder which Karina would look best with those?