Celebrating the women who are moving agriculture forward.
As part of Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture (SAWA) project, CAHRC collected and published profiles of the many inspiring women who have chosen to build careers in agriculture.
Women bring valuable expertise, leadership, innovation, and dedication to a wide variety of roles. Their stories, their experiences, their backgrounds, their challenges, and their perspectives are all different, but they share a commitment to enhancing the strength and diversity of Canada's agriculture sector.
"We all need to continue to create awareness in agriculture and that there’s true strength in diversity.”
Mary’s family has been farming in Augustine Cove, PEI since 1810. She and her two cousins collectively manage their farm, potato packing business, crop input business and custom lime application business. In addition to her role as manager of Island Lime, she sits on several industry boards, is past president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture and recently became the first female to chair CAHRC.
"If I can do things that help others be happier, healthier, and achieve their goals, that's success to me."
After taking degrees in kinesiology and HR management, Nicole worked in engineering and hospitality before discovering the opportunities in agriculture. She is now the HR manager for Kasko Cattle Company.
"I'm at a point now where I can do work that makes more of an impact on people and society. It's exciting and a challenge."
Sara is an associate professor at the College of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph. Her research is helping the agriculture sector understand and address its labour challenges.
“Women need to lift each other up. Create an environment that they can be successful with each other, not in spite of each other.”
Over a 30-year career, Dawn's passion for managing people in agriculture has enabled her to work her way up from an entry-level position at The Andersons to her current role as the president of Thompsons Ltd.
"Whether you are asking for financing or permission for a project, the first step is to believe in yourself and your project."
Jeannine has been a farmer and entrepreneur in the Montérégie region of Quebec for the last 30 years. She grows high bush blueberries, asparagus, and cash crops, and also owns a “farm-to-table” restaurant.
"To me, we are the stewards of the earth – no one has their hands deeper in the earth than farmers."
Megan's varied agricultural career spans farming, hydroponics, and the wine industry. Five years ago, she launched Farm Dog Cycles, an agri-tourism business that offers guided wine tours in Harrow, Ontario.
"I still think working agriculture is one of the greatest professions. It grounds you and you learn to really pay attention to the world."
With no prior farming experience, Sandra took the plunge 16 years ago when the opportunity arose to buy a parcel of farm land. She now raises Red Angus cattle, is an advocate for the local food movement, and sits on several farming associations.
Mary and Susan Lester
"Agriculture is a lifestyle. It’s a challenge that has obstacles you must overcome daily. It’s also the greatest reward when you see the finished product of hard work."
Lester farms is a farm that is constantly reinventing itself. For more than 160 years, the Lester family has been working the land on Brookfield Road, outside St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Betty Lou Scott
"As kids, we all took turns on the farm. We had to milk the cows and collect the eggs."
A former teacher and guidance counsellor, Betty Lou Scott has also helped to run a farm since the 1970s. She has since earned numerous awards in recognition of her decades of dedication to agriculture.
Dr. Laura Halfyard
"For the aquaculture industry, three things will drive women leadership. Those are: education, demand, and opportunities."
A noted specialist who taught aquaculture education and R&D at the University of Newfoundland for more than 30 years, Dr. Laura Halfyard has also managed her family's organic mussel farming operation since 2012.
"My parents didn't raise us that way. They never said you can't do something because of gender."
After a family tragedy, Lori had to rise to the challenge of running the family farm at a young age. Today, she manages a three-business consortium, helps to run a produce marketing company, and is also on the board of the Crop Insurance Board.
"The innovation and environmentally approved practices that are in agriculture today are truly inspiring, and many women are at the forefront."
It wasn't until Lynda retired from a career in education that she began her second career in agriculture. She now co-owns Sisters Creek Farm, 600 acres in the Cariboo that produce chickens, eggs, BC Simmental beef cattle, and Standardbred horses.
"I think we need to do a much better job with educating the public about where their food comes from."
After earning a Master of Science in entomology, Rachael became a horticulture specialist, providing advice on pest and nutrient management to farms in Nova Scotia and site assessments for new farm land development.
"I was very involved in the farming community. I was on the Fair board and a Fair ambassador."
Interested in farming from a young age, Sara grew up to become a passionate advocate for Canada's agriculture sector. Through her board work, she helps to facilitate networking, create scholarships and bursaries, and raise awareness.
"Farming is the most challenging work I have ever done, but I love it. Every day is different."
After working around fresh produce for 14 years, Tamara took the plunge and became a farmer. She helps to run 110 acres that produce cereal, legume crops, forage, vegetables, culinary herbs, poultry, and hogs at Blue Mountain Biodynamic Farms.