Instead, I'll congratulate Danica Patrick, the 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. Last week, Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at the Indy 500. She was the race's top qualified woman ever (4th), the highest placing woman ever (4th), and the second woman to win ROY since Lyn St. James won it in 1992. I think she is a descendant of my beloved A.E..
Another woman breaking new ground - both literally and figuratively - is Cheryl Rogowski, a farmer in Orange County, NY.
In 11 years, starting with a crop of chili peppers seeded in her bedroom and planted in a remote field, Ms. Rogowski has transformed Rogowski Farm, raising 250 varieties of produce and forming intimate connections to its customers and employees. For her innovations, she won a $500,000 "genius award" last year from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the first given to a full-time farmer.I thought this New York Times article about the face of female farming was fascinating. (And so alliterative!) It's also centered upstate New York, where a piece of my heart will always live.
"What I know about farming is this: It's not enough to just drive the tractor anymore," she said.
Ms. Rogowski, 43, is one of thousands of women who have changed the face of American farming. Though American farms have steadily declined in jobs and capital for years, the number of farms operated by women has more than doubled since 1978, from just over 100,000 to almost 250,000 today, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Almost 15 percent of American farms are now run primarily by women - a sea change from 1978, when the figure was 5 percent. On organic farms, according to the Organic Farming Research Foundation, the number is 22 percent.
The concentration is especially high in the Northeast, where a small farm near an urban area can now survive solely through farmers' markets, restaurants, farm memberships (in which customers pay in advance for a season's worth of produce) and other direct outlets. . . .
To expand her farm's business and its reach in its community, Ms. Rogowski arranged for weekly deliveries of produce to centers for the elderly, mentored immigrant farmers from Mexico and Guatemala, started a catering business that uses local produce, sells vegetables at eight weekly farmers' markets and is an activist for land use reform.
"Women farmers aren't a special-interest group," she said. "Our issues are the same as all American farmers - we all want to keep our farms, and we have to make money from them. But women have come up with a lot of the new ways of doing it."