Mother Earth. Mother Nature. Women have long been associated with the art and science behind the world of agriculture, and in the past few decades the number of women in America who are farm owners and operators has exploded. And yet, there’s still a strong perception of farmers as men.
With Mother’s Day fast approaching, this seems like the perfect time to challenge that idea by asking Nate to share his thoughts about Emily and her role as the Mom behind Silverthorn Farm’s success.
He started off with this observation. “You know, Farmer’s Wife Syndrome is a challenging subject within our community of small sustainable ag.” He went on to explain. “As the farmer, I get the glory most of the time. In some ways I am the one pulling the strings—but Emily is the one who’s supporting all those strings.
“First of all, she has a HUGE job taking care of our children. One of the reasons we started this farm was to raise our family in the country, be close to our kids, be impactful in their lives and let them learn about a different way of living. That’s massively important to Emily. Job One is our family and our kids.
“But as far as running the farm and making the decisions, there’s just no decision made without her and her input. As far as marketing, as far as supporting customer interactions and billing and accounting and website development and communicating with all of the partner farms we sell product with, be it through CSAs or Local Link, Emily is the one who’s making sure that all those pieces are moving. She’s the walking calendar who makes sure that all the things I need to have under control are taken care of. There’s no way to break down what she does on a daily basis. She’s the glue that holds the entire organism together.
“Beyond the actual, physical farm,” Nate says, “she’s the point person who makes sure everything runs smoothly. For most people, they think of a farm as a place where you grow food. That’s true, but in today’s world that’s not enough for us to be able to survive. We have to be both a farm in its physical organism, but also a farm in its community outreach and public life in order for us to maintain and grow the business. The farm is really two separate entities: the public perception and the physical reality.
“If it weren’t for Emily half of that equation would be missing. Things just aren’t going to get done. I couldn’t do it without her.”
Nate talked about Emily’s role as facilitator on the farm. “I’m a guy,” he says. “The majority of people on our farm are female and I don’t always see things through other’s eyes. I don’t always get the interactions between employees. They need that communication and comfort from Emily—there are times she can get people through situations better than I can.”
Nate went on to tell me about Emily’s willingness to tackle whatever needs to be done for the sake of their family and the farm. “She’s a dental hygienist and very much loves that position and job in life. So farming is different from anything she was used to and she’s had to adapt a lot and find those places where her strengths shine,” he says. “But that deep love for me and for the farm and for the legacy we’re trying to build for our family and our community—she 100% believes in it and she’s jumped in wholeheartedly.”
One example Nate cited is Emily’s skill in preserving the food they grow and using those skills to support their family and way of life. “It’s huge! It’s huge! We eat what we grow because it’s what we can afford, but it’s so much easier because of the things that she does,” he says. “Our whole goal from the very beginning was more of a homestead. We wanted to produce our own food and survive on that food by freezing and canning and live that way. That was our original goal, and that’s what she does.
“Other farming friends, they’re ordering pizzas and eating out. But every day at 6:00 p.m., no matter what, Emily has a healthy, nutritious dinner on the table for me and the kids. As much as we work and the hours we put in, we still share three meals a day with each other and that’s super important to us—and no small task.”
I asked Nate if there was anything he’d like to say especially for Mother’s Day. “What are the words that you use for mothers and women who support entire businesses, life, family, everything? I don’t think there are words. It’s just that Emily is an incredible mother and wife. It’s crazy, the things she does to support this lifestyle. It’s beyond me.”
About the Author:
Lorrie Wehr is a freelance writer, blog contributor and Silverthorn Farm member