Farming: Not Just For Guys

Wyatt Andrews listens as Kim Tait explains her farming operation in Pennsylvania.
This is the third in a month-long series of reports called "Making Ends Meet" about how families are coping with the tough economy, unemployment and smaller retirement accounts.

You can find Kim Tait outside inspecting her crops, or in her retail store selling her fresh made jams and preserves.

She represents the fresh new face of agriculture: women who own, manage or market the American farm, reports CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

"I just knew there were enough people in this community that were interested in fresh food," says Tait, owner of Tait Farm Foods.

And enough people were interested in her unusual business. People don't just visit Tait's farm, they subscribe to it.

This year, 130 families paid an up front fee, up to $1,000, and every week they come to collect their share of what's been grown.

People never know what they're going to get.

"It's whatever's in season and available next," says Tait.

Penn State University professor Carolyn Sachs has studied what she calls an explosion of women on the farm.

"These women farmers are extraordinary marketers," says Sachs.

She found women manage 48 percent of American farms and 11 percent are fully owned by women.

And yes, there are some differences between male and female farms.

The study showed that women who own their own farms tend to have smaller farms, carry less debt, use fewer pesticides and have smaller niche markets for what they produce.

Sachs believes the image of the average American farmer ought to change.

"You know it is not a guy in overalls," she says.

Some women also make major profits. Tait inherited the operation from her late husband David. But when he died, it was she who launched the subscription business, opened the store and raised gross income five-fold.

The biggest difference between the two operations, she says, "is that I was willing to do year-round retail here on the farm. We just sort of created a season-to-season business."

What Kim shares with every farmer, man or woman, is that in this economy, only the creative survive. The struggle to be a farmer continues even as the gender of the farmer has changed.