Women have had vital roles in agriculture for centuries. Going back to 10,000 B.C., evidence shows women often gathered plant food. There wasn’t a significant boost in women’s participation in agriculture until the 1940s when women took over the farming and engineering jobs of men who were drafted into the war. Since this moment in history, the rise of women in agriculture has been continuous.
Women have made several contributions to technology in modern agriculture. For example, the first milking machine, advancements in refrigeration and food transportation, and the list goes on. Currently, there are more women than ever taking part in all aspects of agriculture.
The High Desert Food and Farm Alliance (HDFFA) and some of our wonderful Partners are great examples of influential women running farms and businesses that set a precedent in sustainable agriculture practices. We asked Emma Layden, an impressive female business partner of HDFFA, to share about their path to owning a successful business.
Feast Food Co.
Meet Emma Layden, part owner of Feast Food Co. Emma went to school for entrepreneurship and has always been interested in starting a business. She is now running a successful brick-and-mortar.
The entrepreneurial dream began in a food truck, which was voted the second best food truck in Redmond in 2022. In late 2022, Emma and her husband opened a restaurant. Their restaurant creates dishes revolving around a menu that features local and seasonal ingredients.
“We locally source everything we have, we also make everything from scratch right here in our kitchen. We cook interesting, delicious food, and serve it to you with hospitality and a sense of unpretentiousness,” states Emma.
Feast Food Co. is a hearty representation of a business that prioritizes local. Emma and her husband raise the bar for what good food means. It doesn’t have to mean expensive, it doesn’t always mean the fanciest ingredients — or even the healthiest. For them, good food is nutritious food grown with love, prepared with care, and served to the community in which it is grown.
Emma Layden – Feast Food Co.
Who Runs the World? Girls!
That’s right girls! According to a Resilinece.org article, women are more likely to start sustainability-focused farms and businesses. Yet, working in an industry with systemic sexism is not easy. Emma gave this advice: “Just put in the work. You’re going to be tired, but keep going. Know your worth, and keep pushing to get where you want to be.”
Women are vital to setting the trends for the future. Women started HDFFA, and it has been majority run by women ever since. When we asked Katrina, the co-founder and Executive Director of HDFFA, why, she stated, “I think this goes back to home economics. When I was in middle school (1987–88) the men took classes in the shop and women were taught to cook and sew. Not only were we taught these roles, albeit sexist, but generationally we also see this in our families. At the same time, women also tend to be nurturing and hard working, and of all the women in agriculture in Central Oregon are extremely passionate.”
Here is a list of some other amazing Central Oregon women-run farms and businesses.
Central Oregon Flower Collective
The need for good food cannot be denied. Emma herself has observed a need for more restaurants like the one she and her husband have started. “We get a lot of people in here that think it’s amazing how we locally source all of our ingredients. I think people are getting tired of crappy things making their way onto their plates and into their stores. I think we’ll be seeing a proper shift back into caring about where your food comes from.” Assuming you are a fan of HDFFA, we are sure you agree with Emma’s statement. We believe everyone deserves good food and hope to connect you with ways to make it a regular part of your life.
HDFFA has a robust network of farmers, ranchers, and producers that are also passionate about food. Getataste.org hosts all the information you need to learn more about Feast and the other women-run businesses mentioned. For a deeper look into High Desert Hogs read this Q&A. More than ever before, women are choosing agriculture as a career path. This isn’t new, but the recognition is. Let’s continue to support women in agriculture at every level.