Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Community Development and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Sarah N. Heiss

Abstract

Women farmers worldwide have long been under-recognized and undervalued in agricultural contexts. Traditionally, women farmers in the United States have experienced limited access to land, equipment and training, and women often bear the brunt of household responsibilities. Despite the significant challenges they face, women farmers have developed creative ways to access farming opportunities, including through alternative farming operations that use sustainable agricultural methods. Such strategies have allowed women farmers to remain resilient, while also bringing an array of benefits to the environmental, social, and economic well-being of rural communities.

Barriers that women farmers face in agriculture have been increasingly studied, but the unique strategies women enact to cope with environmental and economic challenges have not. Buzzanell’s (2010) Resilience Communication Theory suggests that forming and maintaining communication networks is essential to resilience processes. Other past research has suggested that the internet is a valuable platform for women farmers to network with others and find support for their farms and farm businesses.

This thesis uses data from semi-structured interviews with 42 women farmers in nine states to explore how women use communication networks for support on their farms. Drawing on responses to interviews, I show how communication networking contributes to and reifies the resilience of women farmers, their farm businesses, and the greater sustainable agriculture sector. I further examine how women farmers perceive the internet and social media as contributing to the resilience of their farming practices. Findings seek to increase knowledge of women farmers’ preferred networking practices, in order to better facilitate and support women in agriculture.

Language

en

Number of Pages

142 p.

Available for download on Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Included in

Agriculture Commons

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