Women who toil the earth for the food we eat

YUMA, Ariz. – Blanca Carro works alongside her male counterparts under the desert sun. The field is her office…tending to vegetables…her paperwork. “Yes, it’s hard work, a bit harder than for a man. Because we don’t have the same strength,” says Carro. The job is physically taxing, and Carro is fairly new to the business. “I used to work in restaurants and hotels,” said Carro.
But one year ago she made a career change to a job she feels is much harder. “I feel satisfied in accomplishing this work and I keep up with the guys out of necessity,” said Carro.
Carro is one of thousands of female field workers in Yuma County who toil the earth to produce the food we eat.  On the other side of town, Carmen Johannsson and Alia Koger harvest vegetables from their own two-acre garden. The two women partnered up last summer to grow and sell organic.
“It’s a lot of work, and my hands are always dirty. You know I don’t care about getting my nails done. So probably to most females it would be miserable for them but to me it’s…I love it, I love being outside,” said Johannsson.
Not shying away from hard work, they both launched the family-run Yuma Garden Company. Koger said,”Carmen and I do it all. Gracie, My nine-year-old loves to help. We tackle it as a family and a team. We all get out there, we weed together. We harvest together. My husband helps a lot. We all just work together as a team. And that’s how we make it happen.” Koger is a mother of three who makes the time to plant, pick and market the produce.”Right now my main goal is to teach my girls and my son, as many skills as possible we want the kids to know to want to learn everything that’s out there,” said Koger.
Johannsson herself learned to grow from her father and brother. She says the physical labor can be strenuous for a woman. “It’s a hard job, so for women I think it hurts their bodies more a little bit. And maybe they just need to take a different look at it or a different way to approach it,” said Johannsson.
But with teamwork the job gets done. The venture inspired Koger’s eldest daughter Grace to pick up farming skills too. “I’m proud that my mom can do this and she’s inspiring many people at the same time and it’s just inspiring to me,” said Grace. The women hope more young girls will embrace the agriculture community. “They should just try. Everyone should give farming a try,” said Johannsson.

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