Cory Hershberger
May 7, 2015

The Book For Farming Like a Girl (HobbyFarms.com)

At A Glance

Title: Woman-Powered Farm: Manual for a Sustainable Lifestyle from Homestead to Field
Author: Audrey Levatino
Publisher: The Countryman Press
Release Date: May 4, 2015
Cover Price: $24.95
Target Audience: Female farmers of any age or experience level; rural dreamers looking for inspiration and assurance that they can succeed

 

The best farming advice is experienced farming advice, no? When someone gives you surface-level tips—pun intended—on growing carrots or harvesting broccoli that you could have found through a quick Google search, it’s significantly less valuable than tricks of the trade that someone has discovered after toiling in the fields and is gracious enough to share with you. That brand of hard-won counsel is especially valuable in areas that are a little less well-trod, like the specific challenges of farming as a woman. Thankfully, Audrey Levatino, wise and experienced farmer that she is, has written Woman-Powered Farm, a guide to all aspects of agriculture for women—one of the first books of its kind.

“Women approach farming differently than men do, both emotionally and physically,” Levatino writes in the book’s introduction. “This book is written from a woman’s point of view and deals with issues that are unique to women.”

She delivers on that promise wholeheartedly. This book is packed to the gills with useful information on farming subjects far and wide, including livestock care, tool and equipment use, season extension, and even customer service advice—an often-overlooked aspect of marketing—all of which are approached from a female-centric perspective. There’s practical information on every page for experienced female farmers and beginning gardeners alike, from picking a shovel designed specifically for a woman’s body to the best tool for unscrewing tight jar lids of all varieties. (An oil-filter wrench: Who would have thought?)

I’m not kidding about the wise and experienced part, either: Thirteen years ago, Audrey and her husband Michael purchased their farm, Ted’s Last Stand, and kept it as a hobby farm while they both maintained off-farm jobs, she as a teacher and he in publishing. Eventually, Audrey left her teaching position, becoming the principal farm operator of their burgeoning cut-flower, herb and vegetable business. When she gives you advice how best to use llama manure in the garden or the best way to repair a tractor tire, you know it’s coming from a place of practical experience.

Levatino’s passion for both farming and helping female farmers find their footing is evident throughout. She very much has an all-in-this-together kind of attitude, and she wears that heart on her sleeve as she writes, regaling you with stories of farm experience won the hard way. (The Great Donkey Escape interlude, a section that legitimately made me laugh out loud, is of particular note: Let’s just say that the author found her two male donkeys in a local backyard after notifying Animal Control, who received a call from a concerned citizen—the caller mistook playful behavior for something far more … amorous.) However, her pro-woman standpoint doesn’t ever veer into man-hating or anything of the like—she merely acknowledges that women do things differently, and she’s here to help you understand how.

“I hope that you’ll gain inspiration and valuable practical skills so that you can help to continue to transform farming into a more natural, sustainable and compassionate pursuit that will continue to give women freedom and comfort,” Levatino writes. “Use it to begin weeding your own heart and soil and that of your community.” Hear, hear.

The Final Word: Woman-Powered Farm is a valuable book for female farmers across the country. It’s encouraging, it’s practical, and it’s a reminder that in this male-dominated culture, women can more than hold their own on a farm.

Read more book reviews on HobbyFarms.com:

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