Growing trend: local female flower farmer highlights increase of women in the field

Women now make up 36 percent of all farmers in Virginia and in America

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – More women are cropping up in the farming industry, as the growing trend stands in contrast to the decreasing number of men in the field. That’s according to the latest agricultural census numbers, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture released last month.

The number of female farmers in Virginia more than tripled from 2012 to 2017. Women now make up 36 percent of all farmers in Virginia and in America.

The number of men farming in the U.S. decreased slightly compared to five years prior.

10 News spoke with Botetourt County flower farmer Sarah Sowers to highlight her journey in the agriculture field.

Growing up, Sowers never thought that she'd be spending her time growing flowers.

On a typical day she does some weeding, waters flowers, cuts other flowers and puts together bouquets and arrangements, all while laying the groundwork for the next season.

“I feel like it’s a really good way to make a living. You feel like you’re making an honest living and you feel like you’re doing something that is positive,” Sowers said.

When she was a child, growing up on the same Botetourt County street where she now lives, her dad was in the farming industry.

“I never thought it would be something I was interested in,” she said. “I used to really grumble and hate getting up in the morning and picking the corn, but looking back it was a positive experience.”
In 2010, she met a flower farmer at a conference. At the time, she was a single mom with two kids.

Now, with her husband Mark helping, she’s owns the specialty cut-flower farm Sarah’s Petals, working full time to grow more than 200 varieties. She sells to florists, at farmers markets and in local stores. She also puts wedding arrangements together.

The male-dominated atmosphere of her father’s era is nowhere to be found on her farm.

“I think it’s time for people to rethink what a farmer is. You don’t have to have hundreds of acres to be a farmer,” Sowers said.

She’s looking into expanding, including setting up a greenhouse on her property, which would allow her to grow for three more months of the year. 

“Flowers bring a lot of joy to people. People have flowers for their weddings, for really important days in their lives,” she said.

Sowers grows without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.

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