It’s July and the homegrown tomatoes are starting to come in. There’s nothing that says summer more to me than a fresh tomato sandwich with lots of mayo (try it with a little just-picked basil chopped in) and just a little bit of salt.
So all these fresh summer vegetable dreams got me to thinking about organic food. The New York Times (www.nytimes.com) recently reported on the increasing number of organic farms run by women. In 1978, the number of women-run farms was just 5 percent – now it’s nearly 15 percent or approximately 250,000 American farms, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Nancy MacNamara, an organic berry farmer from Bovina, New York, (www.honeylocustfarmhouse.com), has a theory. “People – especially mothers – started to want to know where their food is coming from,” she said. Chefs are also paying top dollar for her berries. “My father thought I was crazy to produce so few berries…but he never could have imagined how much chefs would pay for them.”
Cheryl Rogowski (www.rogowskifarm.com) wants everyone to know she can run a forklift and shovel manure with the best of ‘em. But she also suggests that today’s farmers can benefit from a more feminine perspective. “Farming has changed and farmers now have to do things they are traditionally bad at: marketing, educating consumers, collective action, communication.” Sounds like a job for women!
I was a daddy’s girl. Okay, I still am. It was me, not my brother, who used to hang out with Dad in the garage with the power tools. I took shop class in 8th grade – took Home Ec in 7th grade – and I have to tell you that shop class was so much cooler than learning the proper way to crack an egg.
With women initiating more than 80 percent of all home improvement projects, including serious projects like plumbing and building decks, they’re using and purchasing more power tools than ever. More than 17 million single women own their own homes – making them their own handywomen around the house. And 67 percent of women now consider themselves DIYers.
And that’s where Barbara Kavovit comes in. She’s the founder of Barbara K! Enterprises, the makers of tools designed especially for women (www.barbarak.com). Check out her screwdrivers with built-in thumb rests and the springloaded handles on her pliers. Barbara K understands how women think. “Women don’t shop in terms of “I’ve got to go buy a hammer.” They think in terms of “I’ve got to get that picture hung. I’ve got to fix that leaky faucet. I want to hang those shelves.” And that’s why she packages her tools in kits. There’s a picture hanging kit, for example, called the Hang It Up kit that includes a hammer, level, tape measure and hanging hardware.
There’s also Tomboy Tools, (www.tomboytools.com) who sells power tools and kits for women through in-home parties. At these girl gatherings, a Tomboy Tools consultant teaches other women things like tool usage, drywall and plaster repair, painting techniques, leaky faucet and toilet repair, and woodworking.
Then there’s Be Jane, an online home improvement resource and community for women (www.be-jane.com). Visit their How To library, learn from their Tips & Tricks section, check out the home buying guide, and place your order for your very own pink toolbelt. Geez, can’t they come in another color?
How can you take advantage of the opportunities that the new women’s market represents?