The question posed:
“In January of 1922, the editors of The Farmer’s Wife magazine sponsored a contest asking their readers to write essays answering the question: “If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in the light of your own experience, want her to marry a farmer?” Using their own perspectives and the context of that time period (positioned between the end of World War I and the Stock Market Crash of 1929), more than seven thousand readers responded. Two are available here as examples.”
The Farmer’s Wife Magazine responses give an insight into the culture of farming during the early 1920s. The year 1922 was at the cusp of great changes in American farm life. The Great War had just ended and a postwar recession brought hardship to the farms. The war also introduced many changes based on war technologies distributed to the public after the war. Farm consolidation was encouraged as monoculture cropping came into priority to produce farm goods for the ever-increasing connectivity of the country and world (Ag in the Classroom (Links to an external site.)).
The era painted in the Farmer’s Wife essays show us a time when farming and farm life was changing drastically. The era of increased technology brought the tractor and pesticides as well as the radio and roadways. In many ways, these times would have been exciting as farm life became more ‘civilized’. It was also the beginning of the era of agriculture that we find ourselves in today, which is highly technological, consolidated, and connected.
When I think about what I would want for my child, I certainly imagine food and animal husbandry as a part of their lives. In a few months, when I have my first child, my partner and I plan to eat from our yard and from the local small farms in our region. When that baby turns into a child, it will begin helping with chores outside including planting the garden, feeding chickens, composting scraps to build soil health, and harvesting our bounty. Whether this child is a boy or a girl, it will be connected to the cycle of life shown through the process of growing food. As this child becomes a young adult, I hope that they will hold onto the values that we will instill and perhaps he or she will also want to grow food, love land, and share the bounty with people. That would be a true success in my mind.
Whether I would let my child marry a farmer: Yes. Additionally, I encourage her to be a farmer herself before she marries and settles down. Female farmers are a growing demographic in this country (WFAN (Links to an external site.)). These female farmer’s hold a piece of the solution to our societies modern day cultural and environmental issues. Many women are involved in sustainable agriculture and the reasons are explored in the many books, websites, and regional organizing groups focused on the rising numbers of female farmers. Some of the benefits seen from female farmers include, “emphasizing personal, economic, and environmental sustainability, creating connections through the food system, and developing networks that emphasize collaboration and peer-to-peer education,” (University of Iowa Press (Links to an external site.)). Women in farming is not just good for the women of the United States. It has also been shown to increase the autonomy, economic livelihood, and improve environmental conditions for women in developing countries as well (IFOAM (Links to an external site.)).