Farming is a profession where people typically imagine men, but more and more women across the nation are creating and seizing opportunities in the agricultural world. Whether it’s to help low-income women find jobs or to teach urban citizens about agricultural pursuits, women are opening up to farming like never before.
One of those women is Andrea Saladrigas, who in addition to being a senior marketing major, also created her own company, Master Honey. The company was created in an effort to help low-income women by training them to become beekeepers, which helps cultivate business skills like micro-finance and management.
In addition, the company ensures that honey production remains in Miami, supporting the local economy. North Dakota led honey production figures in 2013 with 33 million pounds produced, but a burgeoning urban beekeeping movement is currently sweeping the country.
Saladrigas is also the daughter of Florida’s third largest beekeeper, which she says provided a natural opportunity for Master Honey to form. As native Venezuelans, Saladrigas and her father saw members of their own family struggle to acquire jobs in the area. Growing up and working with her father, Saladrigas saw an opportunity to help people struggling with those same issues.
A similar concept provided motivation for Lacy Ingrao, who operates Bee Wise Farms, as well as multiple farmers and beekeepers from around Michigan. Ingrao and her partner grow fields of flowers like dahlias and irises while managing 25 hives in total.
In addition to running their own farm, Ingrao and her partner also offer a program called Heroes to Hives, which is one of the more unique agricultural pursuits in Michigan. This program focuses on helping veterans through a nine-month intensive course, in which participants will learn the ins and outs of beekeeping in order to cultivate a new career or hobby.
Ingrao is also behind several youth beekeeping programs, which help educate young adults on the importance of bees to the environment, as well as some basic beekeeping skills.
Ingrao believes the definition of farming is beginning to change. Rather than dismissing small-scale micro-farms like hers, more people are recognizing that these eco-startups and small businesses are actual farms.
Ingrao and Saladrigas are just two of the many women paving their own paths in farming to help others, but the future holds many more opportunities like the ones they’re offering.