FarmHer – Documenting Women in Agriculture Through Photography
By Lexi Marek, FarmHer Intern
We have all heard people say they wish they could “turn their passion into a job”. Well that is just what Marji Guyler-Alaniz did. In 2013, after more than a decade working at a successful career in corporate agribusiness, she decided it was time for a change in her life. During the 2013 Super Bowl, Dodge ran an ad that used farm images with the words of Paul Harvey’s now famous speech: “So God Made a Farmer.” While the dramatic ad quickly stirred up viral debate about the underlying message and intent, Marji clearly saw a missing piece: there were no women farmers in the ad, despite the fact that 30% of farm operators are female according to the last Census of Agriculture.
“When I first saw the commercial, I thought the ad was beautifully done and it really struck a chord within me as a lifelong Iowan with the powerful imagery and visuals,” explains Marji. “But then it hit, my “ah ha” moment if you will, that not only did this ad not show the women who are so pivotal in agriculture, but rarely in any mainstream media do we see such important images of females raising food or fiber.”
Rather than just vent and complain, Marji took action. “I grew up in rural Iowa with lots of farmers in my family, including many strong women who prioritized healthy food and home cooking.“ Building on a passion for photography, Marji set out to capture images of these women, resulting in FarmHer (http://www.farmher.com), now an ongoing project documenting a diversity of female farmers in their everyday setting.
“My goal is to capture the beauty in the every day and my style is to show who these women are through subtleties,” Marji adds. “Subtleties that show these are women and portray that they are agriculture. Too often in our world, the beauty of a woman is judged by her face. These are beautiful women, doing beautiful work and my goal is to bring an appreciation to what they do.”
Marji continues to promote women in agriculture by taking photos, but has grown FarmHer to include content providing inspiration and information as well. FarmHer now has merchandise, including T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, and hats, which can be found on the website. Women, and men, proudly wear their FarmHer gear around the world.
Marji is currently working on developing an online community where women in agriculture can communicate and connect. She is also developing an event focused on future FarmHers to inspire young women in agriculture living in Iowa. This first annual event will be held this fall and will continue throughout the years.
To be a part of the FarmHer adventure, follow the social media pages at @FarmHer1 and use the hashtag #FarmHer or #FarmHerLife to connect with other great women in agriculture who are making a positivite difference in the world.
Featured images are of Lois Reichert of Reichert’s Dairy Air, a goat micro dairy producing artisan cheese in Knoxville, Iowa, USA.