Photographer Offers Fresh Take on the Female Farmer

Photographer Offers Fresh Take on the Female Farmer
From foodtank.com, by Sarah Small

From rural Washington state to Iceland, Audra Mulkern has her lens focused on the unique perspective of women in agriculture. Mulkern is the author of Rooted in the Valley: The Art and Color of The Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Markets, which offers a vivid perspective of the Carnation and Duvall farmers markets in western Washington's Snoqualmie Valley and the farm-to-table movement throughout the Pacific Northwest. With The Female Farmer Project, Mulkern shines the spotlight on women in agriculture throughout the world, chronicling the rise of the female farmer.

According to the U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA), roughly 14 percent of all United States farms were operated by women in 2007, up from five percent in 1978. While some women-operated farms had sales of US$1 million or more, most were smaller, more personal operations with sales of less than US$10,000. With the inclusion of non-operators, the USDA reported in 2013 that there were as many as 1 million U.S. female farm workers in 2007.

The Female Farmer Project shares the perspectives of women who find themselves balancing farm and family life. Through her work, Mulkern has uncovered an emerging generation of female farmers who often have surprising second jobs, including anthropologists, executives, scientists, and lawyers — all of whom bring with them unique perspectives and backgrounds to the business of farming. The Female Farmer Project aims to tell the stories of these women while inspiring others to forge their own paths in agriculture.

In 2014, Mulkern shared her accounts and photographs of female farmers at the Seattle Oxfam International Women's Day Celebration, and appeared as a featured speaker at the International Food Blogger Conference. PCC Farmland Trust recently hosted Mulkern in a workshop for farmers, food writers, and farm advocates, with a focus on photography as a storytelling tool.

An event planner by trade, Mulkern resides in a rural farming community, ripe with inspiration for her focus on agricultural photography. Her work with The Female Farmer Project has been featured in The Huffington Post and Modern Farmer, as well as numerous magazines. Mulkern's photographs evoke a sense of beauty and realism, depicting the hard work and simple satisfaction of women in the farm-to-table movement.

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